Holiday Letter 2021

Season’s greetings! We hope this letter finds you safe and well.

As with many things in 2020, the holiday letter went out the window. So, this will be a two year recap. 😉

Little did I know that taking a leap of faith into my own business in 2018 would prove helpful during a worldwide pandemic a year and a half later. I was already accustomed to working from home and had clients who relied on some of my services even more-so without in-person events. The 50-50 in 2020 organization had made the decision to dissolve after the candidate training cycle that concluded with the Blueprint for Winning Academy at the end of January 2020. We were able to wrap everything up neatly well before the pandemic hit. I knew this would be concluding when I first signed on with the organization, and the timing of everything proved to be impeccable.

Covid affected each of us differently. My favorite saying pertaining to this strange time has been, “We may all be in the same storm, but we are not in the same boat.” Each of us experienced a different reality. Thankfully my life was not disrupted to the extent others’ were. I was able to mostly work from home and stay safe and covid free. When the derecho hit Des Moines in August 2020, I experienced two and a half days without power and a fridge full of spoiled food. Once again, I counted my blessings.

My fifth niece Mary Josephine was born on July 18, 2020. With Covid restrictions in place, I was not able to visit the hospital and instead spent two days and one night as Nanny Mel for her older siblings in Bennett. We had a blast! And then, when my sister Sarah and brother-in-law-Jeremiah arrived home from the hospital, the kids surprised me by telling me that I would be the first to hold sweet Mary. So I am 6 for 6 with holding my nephew and nieces first after their parents!

The most trying part of 2020 was my mom’s 70-day stay in hospitals and rehab facilities after aspirating on food and enduring multiple complications from Parkinson’s disease. You can read previous blog posts for all of the details. She and my dad left home for routine appointments and errands on August 28 not knowing that she wouldn’t return until November 6. So thankful to have Mom at home again, albeit with a lot of new caregiving requirements.

Percy, Gemma, and I moved from Des Moines to Davenport on November 4, 2020. We found the perfect rental house in the McClellan Heights neighborhood complete with a porch and swing, fenced in back yard, and an amazing front room for our office. We love being back in the Quad Cities and closer to family. I enjoy more frequent visits from my nephew and nieces, as well as my once or twice weekly trips to Durant to see my parents.

While concert going and cross country and overseas trips were put on hold during these past two years, I was able to enjoy a few other fun times:

  • I read 67 books in 2020 and have read 55 books thus far in 2021.
  • The pups and I have explored many new trails and parks across the state of Iowa.
  • I took one weekend trip in 2020 to Omaha/Council Bluffs for cousins Allison and James’s high school graduation and great aunt Marilyn’s memorial service.
  • I visited my bestie Jen and her family, along with a few of my college friends, in Lee’s Summit, MO in July 2021.
  • I treated myself to a long weekend in Milwaukee when visiting the city for cousin Tess and Eugene’s wedding in August 2021.
  • My favorite kids resumed their weekend visits to my place in December 2020. While we were not able to venture out during the first round of visits, we are now visiting more of the Quad Cities including the Quad City Symphony Orchestra at the Adler Theater, Cafe d’Marie, Figge Art Museum, Freight House Farmers’ Market, Me & Billy, Putnam Museum, and multiple River Bandits minor league baseball games at Modern Woodmen Park.

As 2021 comes to a close and I reflect back on these past two years, I am amazed by all that has happened within a short window of time. I have learned to embrace change while becoming more resilient. By going through the tough times, I am learning how to better enjoy the good times. Let’s all unleash the joy during this holiday season, and let it carry us into 2022.

Love,
Melissa, Percy, and Gemma

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Five Years in Five Months

The last time I wrote a blog post, I was ten days away from moving from Des Moines to Davenport. And finally, nearly 90 days after moving, I have progressed enough with my life’s tasks to be making time to blog once again.

This was a pretty fast move. I had a move to the Quad Cities area in my sites for late 2021 or even 2022, but you know what they say about plans…..

My reason for moving back to the Quad Cities area was family, and specifically my mom. Her Parkinson’s has been progressing more rapidly since the summer of 2019, but with so many things, we always think we have more time.

Me and my mom enjoying an afternoon together, just one week before she was rushed to the ER in Davenport.

Then she aspirated while eating a donut on Friday, August 28, 2020, and ended up in the Genesis ER in Davenport, soon to be transported to the ICU at St. Francis Medical Center in Peoria, Illinois. It was the closest ICU bed open. (So yeah, those Covid-19 news briefings telling us that we had plenty of open hospital beds in Iowa at that time…..)

I went to Peoria the next day and stayed there for two nights even though I was not allowed into the hospital due to Covid restrictions. I went to support my dad, who was the only one allowed in to see my mom. I was his chauffeur and tour guide, selecting spots for outdoor fresh air relief and good meals.

During that Sunday in Peoria, I attended mass at St. Mary’s Cathedral, and that is when I was hit with a wave of “You need to move NOW.” OK, God. 10-4. Moving. ASAP.

So the next two months were a blur with rearranging my life and preparing for a move. Things seemed messy, but I knew they would work out. God told me they would. And they did, even better than I could have ever imagined.

While Mom was in Peoria, we were riding a roller coaster. She was better, and then she was sedated. She had g-tube surgery. And then a tracheotomy. She was also on a ventilator for a few weeks.

Mom was finally transferred to Select Specialty Hospital in Davenport and then to acute rehab at St. Luke’s in Cedar Rapids. While in Davenport and Cedar Rapids, I was able to visit her once a week. She was released to go home TWO DAYS after I moved to Davenport. Chills.

Pedi time!

Since moving, I have been able to continue to work from home and visit my parents an average of two times per week to help with Mom’s care. She has five g-tube feedings every day that include a combination of Parkinson’s medication and her liquid food, and Mom tells me I am a pro during my feeding shifts. She requires daily and monthly trach maintenance, and I have helped with some of that. I have also helped her shower, given some pretty awesome manis and pedis if I do say so, played solitaire, lost at UNO, colored, and baked with her.

My mom is a fighter. And she shows so much gratitude toward me every time I help her with something. I tell her that it is my privilege to be able to help her. I recently heard the term tragic privilege, and that sums up how I feel on the inside.

I am thankful that my mom is able to safely live at home, and that my dad is such a rockstar with shouldering 99% of the workload to care for her. I have a newfound admiration for caregivers and those living with Parkinson’s and other neurological diseases.

I feel like the past five months have actually been five years, based upon the emotional and spiritual journey I have embarked upon. This lady is not the same one who woke up on Friday morning, August 28, 2020.

While I wish my mom did not have a horrible disease that was robbing her of the life she once knew, I am thankful for how this experience has strengthened relationships, humbled me, and begun to transform me into a better person.

And if you are facing a really tough moment in your life, consider going to mass. You may sob the entire time and feel immensely vulnerable like I did, but you might also be quiet long enough to hear God telling you something important. 😉

The Cathedral of St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception – August 30, 2020

Downtown Davenport Adventures: People – City’s Nature

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During my two years and almost six months of living in Downtown Davenport, I have witnessed a lot of change in this small city. Most recently, this change has involved looking out my windows at night and seeing – gasp! – neighbors right at my sixth floor level across the street in nearly every direction.

Two sets of neighbors have rooftop patios, which I really want. They are small patios sans pools or gardens, as my dream patio would include. Yet they are still pretty cool. One even has tiki torches. And then at night time, I realize all of the downtown construction has yielded people in higher level lofts whose televisions I can see. Hmmm….if I can see them, they can see me. I am not a super risqué gal, and yet I should probably close the blinds during certain points of the evening and early morning.

Today I was reading the May issue of Vogue – love the magazine yet am perpetually two months behind with reading it – and one of the columnists stated that people are city’s nature. So true!

When I first moved to the downtown of “my small city,” as I like to call it, I was refreshed by a few weirdos here and there. I love walking around during the day time and especially on Saturdays. However, during weekday evenings and on Sundays, my small city can sometimes feel a bit deserted. So I welcome the new apartments and businesses with open arms. I need more action and somewhat crazy people, even if it does mean feeling obligated to close my blinds once in a while.

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River Walk Therapy

The sun was shining this morning, and I didn’t have anywhere I had to be.  I finally took a walk on the trail next to the Mississippi.  Wow.

The weather could not have been better.  A small part of the trail was flooded, but that added to the scenic beauty this morning.  I was close enough to touch two mallards taking an early morning bath.  While I am not a fan of birds in general, I appreciated them, along with the red-winged blackbird perched along the railroad tracks.

I briefly thought about going across the street to St. Anthony’s for worship this morning.  Instead I worshiped along the river, just me and God.  I knew I wouldn’t be going to Gloria Dei before this morning.  My church lady job is ending on Thursday, the tone has been tense during the past week, and I simply needed a break from those lately suffocating walls.

I was also going to a four hour CEW meeting this afternoon.

I enjoy most aspects of religious volunteering and service, but as a friend pointed out so eloquently a few days ago, there’s a big difference between faith/spirituality and organized religion.

I have seen the ugly side of organized religion but I do not condemn organized religion as a whole.  I just have a problem with putting the pomp and circumstance ahead of the true meaning of what it means to be a Christian or member of another faith tradition: to love others and serve on behalf of good causes.

Perhaps the largest benefit to organized religion is the community of support it provides.  But the members must be real and supportive.  Some churches don’t have that authenticity.

While we need community support to keep us going, we also need quiet alone time to meditate and take a deep breath or two.  That’s what this morning was all about.  I needed to get out into the open air and explore a new part of my new home.

I learned some tidbits from Davenport’s history.  We served a key location in the trail of slaves traveling from southern Missouri toward freedom.  Bix Beiderbecke was beloved by Louis Armstrong and other well known jazz musicians.  And he died before he turned 30.  Who knew?  I didn’t.

The area between the fountain and the freight house used to contain a large community pool.  The all-white pool finally opened up to blacks in the 1960s – but the blacks had their one day of the week just for them, and the pool was drained and refilled the next day for the whites.  So a family near downtown opened their pool to all races every day of the week.

Lots of people on the trail smiled and said hi.  And the trail is longer than I knew.  It’s paved with a yellow dotted line down the middle, just in case the traffic wants to meander to the wrong side of the road.

I love discovering new sites, smells, and facts.  I saw a man sitting in one of the seats facing the band shell in LeClaire Park.  I wonder if he is homeless.  Sad to be homeless but yet he gets to take in the entire day in the sun.  I don’t envy his situation, but I envy his free time.

My walk lasted just a little over an hour, and it was reinvigorating.  Just what I needed.  I (mostly) let go of my worries for that hour and enjoyed the newness of the trail along the Mississippi.  I hope to take walks like this more often.  When I am unable to do so, I plan to close my eyes, take a deep breath and visualize this morning’s walk.

“I love to think of nature as an unlimited broadcasting station, through which God speaks to us every hour, if we will only tune in.”

~George Washington Carver

Fridays with G: Enjoying the Moment

Routine activities become so much better when G is a part of them.  He forces me to slow down and notice things as I attempt to take him in the direction I want to go.

Scenario #1: Starbucks

G and I made our first non-drive thru visit to Starbucks together this past Friday, and he loved it.  He walked through the store, taking in the smells, products, decorations, and people.  We bought him some fruit snacks and oatmeal and found a table near the window.  Soon he was admiring the big comfy chair, perusing the Wall Street Journal, and smiling at the cars going through the drive thru.  He also enjoyed flirting with the baristas, who thought he was the cutest thing ever.

Scenario #2: Target

G and I have been to Target many times.  And since I work there, I often don’t pay attention to much when I am shopping.  G always points out the cool signs hanging from the ceiling and finds a One Spot toy to purchase.  And he will pick out his favorite foods from a mile away: Wheat Thins, cookies, and bananas.

Scenario #3: Mojo’s

I love the RME building in downtown Davenport and appreciate being close to free live music, especially after having lived in a small town for nearly four years.  But this isn’t something I’d necessarily expect G to appreciate.  G might like it as much as I do though.  My 20-month-old nephew can sit still for nearly an hour listening to the local musician play during the lunch hour, and he even does a little jig while sitting in his seat and munching on his sandwich.  He points out the guitar pictures on the wall, gazes up at the open ceiling, and keeps an eye on the traffic outside the big windows.  This past week, he even found interest in the floor.

Scenario #4: Cupcakes, Muffins and More

Of course G appreciates the cupcake shop.  He also plays with the big stuffed bear in the window and attempts to find a way to open the front of the glass display case that holds all of the goodies.  And once again, he really listens to the music, often jazz, in the background.  When G hears music he likes, he gets a very sweet smile on his face and does a bit of head bopping.

Scenario #5: Rides in the Car

G points to lots of stuff as we drive by in my car.  I find myself commenting on the things we see, and he talks back in his own baby language.  He rarely fusses in the car, but instead enjoys the scenery and even takes a nap every now and then.

Scenario #6: Walking Outside

G notices every vehicle and person when walking down the street.  He likes to point and laugh at bicyclists, maybe because they look humorous in their helmets and gear.  He adds sound effects to the big trucks, busses, and emergency vehicles.  And he will get sidetracked by a flower or a weed.  It’s amazing.  If there’s an animal in sight, hang on tight, because G will go for it.

G really pays attention to things around him.  He soaks it all in and has fun with it.  His carefree nature and inquisitiveness can wear me out, but it’s good for me nonetheless.

As you plod through your workday today, try to take a lesson from G and tune into the things around you while following this simple message:

Fridays with G: Baby Networking

G was actually still sleeping when I arrived at his house on Friday morning.  But by the time his dad left for work at 7:30 a.m., he was awake.  There was no mistaking it, as he was making siren noises from his crib.  He visited a Davenport fire station the week before and has a new obsession with fire trucks.

G also has a new room now, to make room for Baby #2, ETA May 18th.  I flipped on the light, said good morning, and he smiled and bounced up and down.  Then I received the biggest hug as I picked him up out of his crib.  And he snuggled for about 20 minutes.  After that, he was ready for breakfast and ready to take a ride in Smurfette.  He even put my shoes on for me!

putting on flip flops

G ready to go
Come on, Aunt Mel! I'm waiting!

This week’s new adventure was toddler story time at the Fairmount branch of the Davenport Public Library.  We arrived early and had time to play first.  I was so proud of myself – until I saw we had a leaking diaper, and of course I left the diaper bag in the car.  So we rushed to get changed and made it back just in time for story time.

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Kicking back with the Wells Fargo horse after story time. The name tag is still on!

Just take a moment now to imagine 20 toddlers with their parents and a few siblings, all together in a big room.  It would have been even more entertaining had I not been responsible for keeping one of them in line.  G actually did pretty well.  He kept the sticker name tag on his shirt.  He was just a bit clingy and wanted to take this session to observe before he just jumped in.  We had all sorts of toddlers there – from G’s age of not quite two years old, to four year olds who still haven’t mastered how to behave better than a toddler.  Not judging, just saying….

You had the immaculate kids with their prissy parents, the kids who obviously dressed themselves, the kids whose parents must obviously want them to be nerds their entire lives, and then the seemingly average kids.

I felt the other parents pass judgment on me as soon as the song time began and G didn’t want to stand up.  After song time was story time, and that’s when the real fun began.  A few of the kids had to wander, and the one kid who has to sit as close as possible to the reader was present and accounted for.  We also had the two brothers fighting over whether one could sit next to the other.

When the two stories were done, it was open play time, and the librarian opened up a cabinet of toys.  Of course G went for the Melissa & Doug buildable trucks toy – not only because of his fascination with trucks, but also because Aunt Mel couldn’t figure out what pieces went where.  (By the way, they have directions on the bottom of the truck bases – good to know.)

G befriended a boy named Jacob, whose dad seemed to be somewhat judgmental of me, given his looks in my direction.  I finally told him I was the aunt and this was our first story time.  That helped, a little bit.

Then we played with toddler Matilda and her grandmother, who insisted on calling Gabriel “Gabe”.  His name tag clearly stated Gabriel, and my sister secretly wants to deck anyone who calls him anything else.  This desire was building up in me also.  The grandmother continued to call Gabriel “Gabe” and me “Gabe’s mommy”.  I had corrected enough people on my relation to Gabriel by that point, and it would be tough to correct her on the mommy thing and not the Gabe thing.  So I let it all slide.  After all, Gabriel does call me Mommy.  We are diligently working on saying Aunt Mel.

I walked away from toddler story time feeling pretty good about our baby networking.  I was annoyed by the presence of politics in baby activities – there were definite status structures and relationships built there – but politics is everywhere, they say.  And I was proud of G for being open to something outside of his comfort zone.  He never ran away, screamed, or misbehaved.  He even shared toys with others.

We rewarded ourselves with some Culver’s fish, fries, and chocolate frozen custard.

Culver's frozen custard

Later that afternoon it appeared I had used up G’s allotment of behaving for the day.  He laid in his crib for over 30 minutes without taking a nap.  I’ll give you one guess what sound I heard during that entire time.

Appreciating Home

“A house is not a home unless it contains food and fire for the mind as well as the body.”  – Benjamin Franklin
While at cousin Tess’s 21st birthday festivities this weekend, the subject of home came up a few times.  Of course, small town Iowa and Minnesota were mentioned in the mix, but mostly as a launching ground more than a home.  Past, present, and future home cities Chicago, Davenport, Denver, Houston, Minneapolis, Seattle, and New York City were all mentioned.  (Now, I know Davenport isn’t even close to the size of the rest of those cities!)
When visiting another city or home, one can’t help but to compare it to his or her own home.  We realize we often take our own homes for granted, whether they offer solitude, city life, mountains, or great scenery.  Cost of living is another factor that inevitably makes its way into the discussion.
Last night, I realized that I am pretty comfy in my new Davenport home as I looked out the window at the Mississippi River and small city lights.  Each place I have lived has offered a different element of home for me.  Fredericksburg was the childhood home of familiarity.  Indianola was my college home.  Des Moines was my first adult home.  Houston was the out-of-my-comfort-zone and warm-weathered home.  And Durant was the transitional home to help me determine my next step. 
Not sure what the official role of my Davenport home will be.  I just know it was a welcome site on Sunday evening.

Main Street Davenport vs. Main Street Durant

Day 9 in my new digs at 324 North Main Street in Davenport, and I can’t help but compare and mostly contrast my new surroundings with the old.

I’m taking on a Letterman format with this one.

Top Ten Differences between Main Street Davenport and Main Street Durant, Iowa:

10.  On Main Street Davenport, I can open my windows.

On Main Street Durant, I could only open two of my twenty windows because they were either painted shut or too broken to open without losing the entire thing.

9.  On Main Street Davenport, I am within walking distance of the Figge, Redstone Room, restaurants, library, St. Anthony’s church, and a tattoo shop.

On Main Street Durant, I was within walking distance to nearly everything in town, with the hot spots being the Dew Drop, Westfair Drug, Jeff’s Market, and the American Legion.

8.  On Main Street Davenport, my apartment is small and cozy.

On Main Street Durant, my apartment was large and cozy.

7.  On Main Street Davenport, I am greeted by lots of people on the way to my car in the morning – apartment staff, the deli guys, a random homeless person, and a new person who wants to chat.

On Main Street Durant, I was greeted by people honking their horns thinking I noticed who was driving by.

6.  On Main Street Davenport, my new apartment was spotless when I moved in.

On Main Street Durant, I had to clean my apartment multiple times before it was suitable to live in.

5.  On Main Street Davenport, everyone seems to want to swing by and say hi.

On Main Street Durant, only friendly stalkers would want to swing by and say hi.  Everyone else would say, “Where’s Durant?”

4.  On Main Street Davenport, I hear random city noises, but the inside of the building is relatively quiet.

On Main Street Durant, no city noises existed.  I’d hear the occasional fire truck since the station was across the street, along with a teeny bopper squealing tires.  Inside, I could hear downstairs neighbor Kathy yelling at her grandson, arguing with her daughter, or talking to her dead husband.

3.  On Main Street Davenport, I say hi to the property owner in the hallway and the next day I have a discount on my rent.

On Main Street Durant, my landlord only visited the property when something had been broken and I repeatedly called to have it fixed.  And then I had to fight just to get my deposit back.

2.  On Main Street Davenport, I have some anonymity.

On Main Street Durant, everyone was watching.

1.  On Main Street Davenport, I feel at home.

On Main Street Durant, I felt at home for almost four years.

Camping Out in My Old Living Room

I wrote this on Saturday evening, February 12, 2011:

Silence – except for the humming of the old refrigerator.  I savor my glass of Yellow Tail Shiraz and Cadbury egg.  I watch Jag nose his way under the sleeping bag.

Then I become annoyed.  My wireless signal is weak.  No internet.  Am inspired to blog but now must physically write my thoughts in my notebook.

I moved today.  Finally.  From decision time to moving day was only 16 days, but that 16 days took forever.  And then it was almost here and I was scurrying to have everything packed by this morning at 9:00 a.m.

My official paying and move in date is in three days, so now I wait some more.  I’ve had my keys for nine days now.  Susan said to start moving in whenever I wanted to start.  So I took a couple of car loads earlier this week.  I don’t want to abuse my privilege and stay overnight there until the 15th though.  I prefer to pay courtesy with integrity and respect.

I am so excited!  The building is older, nothing too fancy.  But it is cute and downtown.  I feel life there.  One only has to look out from my top floor corner windows to see something happening.

Downtown Davenport

And then I return to my 99% empty apartment here.  I moved my TV with the 99% – figured it would be good to go without it for three nights.  But it’s weird not having the noise.  I won’t be home very early during these last nights here, but I like the late night re-run sitcom TV.  I am doing without it tonight.

I am camping out indoors.  My suitcase, sleeping bag, and netbook are within reach.  One final car load, after some final cleaning, and this home will be history.

I will read my Time magazine and go to bed.  I am physically exhausted even though I didn’t do any heavy lifting today.  Four adults and a toddler helped.  Many hands make for a smooth move, especially when they belong to my fabulous friends and family.

Now the process of unpacking begins.  Of course, I started that today also.  Old things seem new in a different place.  I guess the same applies to me.

From Small Town Mouse to Small City Mouse

Things have been a bit crazy since I last posted.  ‘Tis the season for filing taxes, assembling the annual Scott County Republican Women‘s directory, assembling packets for Gloria Dei’s annual meeting, and taking on new things every day.  The latest new item is moving from Durant to Davenport.

I received a certified letter from my landlord on the last Tuesday in January, notifying me that my rent was increasing by about 30% a month, effective March 1.  My heart sank.  What timing.  I’m totally finding my groove with my semi-hippie lifestyle (sans hallucinogens), and that is when he decides to raise my rent for the first time in almost four years.  True, my rent was cheap to begin with.  But in exchange for that, I accept that my landlord does not do snow removal and also slowly responds to maintenance requests (even when it’s an urgent thing like not having water).  However, raising my rent and having to deal with those slum-lord-ish issues is not acceptable.

I allowed myself to be angry for about ten minutes before I went into action mode.  Anyone who has talked to me about housing during the past four years knows I have continually planned to move to the Quad Cities, only to put it off for another few months or another year.  Now I had my sign.  It was time to do it once and for all.

I’ve had my eye on The Davenport apartment building since doing some work for Landmark Properties as a Victory Enterprises consultant in late 2009.  I called them up, and they had two open apartments.  I looked and fell in love.  Then I crunched the numbers.  With the Durant rent increase, it would cost the same to live in either place.  Within two days of receiving the terrible rent increase letter, I had sealed the deal on a new place and literally opened a new door in my journey.

I am more city girl than country girl, but I’ve been living in a town without a stop light for nearly four years.  How does that happen?  Convenience and cheap rent.  It was easy to move my furniture in storage only four blocks down the road, especially after having hauled it across the country from Houston.  It was easy to commit to cheap rent and no lease.  And it was easy to be in close (lately too close) proximity to family after missing them for so long.

While Davenport is no Houston, it offers just enough city life to get me excited.  I will be within short walking distance of the Mississippi River, Rhythm City Casino, RME, Figge, and various restaurants.  And days after my decision was made, I found out RAGBRAI would be ending on Bix weekend, with everyone celebrating in adjoining streets to my new place.  I’ve found a place to belong!

Durant isn’t bad – it just isn’t me.  I have been able to live here only because I didn’t grow up in this small town.  No one really knows me, and I don’t socialize much here.  It’s my bedroom community.  Working at the church has introduced me to more people, but even that becomes suffocating when people comment on what they saw me doing outside of my car that morning, whether it was checking oil, scraping car windows, or looking ridiculous hauling too much in one trip between my car and apartment.

Moving is a great chance to reflect on a segment of life in one residence, while looking forward to a new start in a new place.  Whether it is moving across town, to a nearby town, or across the country, the act itself can be therapeutic.  I think back to where I was when I moved into this apartment in March 2007 and marvel at all that has happened in life since then.  I recall hosting a bachelorette party here and naming the various rooms “Powder Room”, “Ladies’ Lair”, and “Diva’s Den”.  I think about seeing this place trashed when I moved in and gradually transforming it into a cute place, with help from a little carpet shampooing, paint, and friends and family.

And now I have the opportunity to create new memories in a sixth floor downtown apartment.  I can’t wait to be a small city mouse and have new places to explore and people to meet.  I have splendid visions of my new artsy-fartsy decor, as well as not having to shovel myself out of my apartment in the foreseeable future.

snowed in