In my senior year of college I reluctantly took over organizing several events for an organization I was part of.  It was my last year in college and just wanted to focus on classes and friends and soaking up what was the end of a really significant time in my life.  One that would be unlike any other.  Instead there I was, painting signs and making flyers and talking about budgets.

One particularly busy afternoon, I remember sitting in the organization’s office and thinking: I’m so tired of balancing all this with my class work and my life, but if I could do something like this as a job that could be pretty awesome.

Approximately seven years after that moment I decided to go to graduate school; seeking a degree that I would open the door to jobs in higher education.

Why did it take seven years?  There are countless reasons.  But one thing that I always come back to is the fact that I never thought to ask anyone who worked at the college how they got their job.  I had great relationships with several student affairs professionals, but it never crossed my mind to ask about their career paths.

I’m sure this just wasn’t on my 21-year-old mind at all.  I don’t blame myself, nor do I have regrets.  But I do find myself wanting to encourage others to ask the questions.

So if you’re sitting in a campus office or a coffee shop or a crowded hotel lobby tonight and you’re wondering how that person across the room or behind the bar or over there by the fireplace got where they are in this very moment – go ask them.  Who knows what you might learn about yourself through someone else’s story.



We got a new cookbook recently.  I knew on my first flip through it that I wanted to make this one particular recipe.  I called it Tangine up until a few days ago.  I also really knew nothing about it, except that in it’s picture it looked like an awesome winter meal; all chickpeas and sweet potato and broth and warmth.

So even thought I didn’t know what it was (or what it was correctly called) I couldn’t have been more right about how amazingly delicious it was.

In case you’re curious, Tagine is of  North African origin and named for the pot it was traditionally cooked in.  I learned this and got the awesome recipe from Kris Carr’s, Crazy Sexy Kitchen – which we’ve been cooking our way through for the last couple weeks.  Nothing has disappointed.  Seriously, nothing.  Love that!

All There

Be There Quote Printable

I can be a bit distracted at times.  Sometimes it’s external (oh wow, shiny objects); sometimes internal (ah right, that’s exactly what that character needs to do).  Remaining present in the here and now is something I am always working on and I love this little reminder.



Image from Shrimp Salad Circus (thanks!).



‘Tis the season of year-end lists.  And boy do I love a good list. (I’m currently making my way through Blue Ridge Outdoors’ “Essential 2012 Albums from the South”).  I got super excited about making my own list . . . movies and books and albums and restaurants – oh, my!  Except  I couldn’t think of more than a handful of movies I had seen or books I had read.  Somehow The 5 Movies I Saw This Year just doesn’t have the same ring as The Year’s Most Fabulous Movies Ever.  I was momentarily discouraged, feeling the dream of year-end list making slipping through my fingers.  But then, in a flicker of inspiration I realized there didn’t need to be such a standard theme.  There are lots of people, (probably more expert than I) counting down the best of the words written, songs sung and dishes prepared; so instead I give you my 2012 superlatives (in no particular order):

Album Played on Repeat for the Most Consecutive Days: a tie between I and Love and You, The Avett Brothers; and  The Lumineers, self-titled. (And yes I know The Avett Brothers have a new album this year – but this was the one I couldn’t get enough of.  That’s the beauty of this being my very own list!)

Best Place to Pick up that Skirt/Dress/Shirt  that will Make You Smile Every Time You Wear It: Ashby

Best Concert of the Year: Aquanett (Talk about smiling!  If you don’t leave this  show hoarse from singing along – you probably weren’t alive in the 80’s).

Best Random Yelp Recommendation: – The Pony Bar 

Most Unusual Beer I Drank: Rocky Mountain Oyster Stout (just click the link, you know you want to know)

The Saddest Restaurant/Bar Closure: the deck at Mulligan’s (it’s the end of an era, folks)

Most Awesome Place to Celebrate a Birthday: Brooklyn Bowl (40 or 4, they’ve got you covered)

Coolest “Found” Object: my parent’s 1970 KLH turntable (now resting comfortably in our living room, so lovely)

The Best Way to Eat Your Veggies: Crazy, Sexy, Kitchen 

The Far-Away Bar I Wish was in My Neighborhood: Euclid Hall (and not just because of the awesome poutine) (*poutine defined*)

All the best to you in 2013, my friends!

Merry & Bright . . .

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I’m enjoying my quiet, decorated house for a few more days until the new year. I find myself hoping that this holiday season has been joyous for each of you; but at the same time acknowledging that this isn’t always the easiest time of the year.  Sometimes holes left in the fabric of family and friends seem wider, more gaping somehow.  Or distance further than ever.  Scars deeper.  If it’s not the merriest, brightest season for you, than my wish for you is a sense of  peace as the season settles.

Carry You Home

Carry – to hold or support while moving.  Hold. Support. Move forward.  We all need a little of this sometimes, right?  To be carried.   Not some huge grand gesture, but instead small sign of support when we most need it.  The  kind words genuinely spoken.  A few minutes taken out of  the day to listen.  The reassuring words when they exist and gentle honesty when they don’t.  We can use someone hoping a little harder or having just a little more faith than us in that very moment.

Sometimes we carry each other in face-to-face tangible ways.  Maybe by baking a favorite dessert or listening over coffee (or beer, or wine).  Taking a moment to send a note or an e-mail.  Sometimes it’s as simple as a smile and a hug; a hand held.  Other times we may simply carry someone close to our heart; thinking of them first and last each day.

Near or far; known or unknown – doesn’t matter.  What matters is that we keep carrying each other.

Oh, my brother
Won’t you stand here beside me
We shall carry each other
And should your soul grow weary
And the strength leave your bones
Oh my brother
I will carry you home

*The beautiful words above belong to Robbie Schaefer.  The song is Oh My Brother performed by Eddie from Ohio.  It’s proved elusive online,  but if you have a way to look it up and listen I promise it will be time well spent.

Seen on Whenever (and a Little Quality Control)

Last time I blogged, I posted a picture of my half-eaten dinner.  It’s gross.

So why did I do it?  Clearly the beauty of a personal blog is that you are sole content editor.  You chose the subject matter, when to post it, whether to allow comments on it (By the way, it would have been fine to tell me my picture was disgusting.  It was quite polite of you not to mention it).  So why?  In a word: obligation.  The worst kind of obligation, in fact; Self-imposed Obligation.  It has an alias: Perfectionism.

I had this idea to post a picture once a week on Saturdays.  This Seen on Saturday was my way of blogging more than once a week without committing to two longer form posts.  It worked for a while.  Then it started to slip into Seen on Sunday.  Then it totally devolved into “It’s 9:00 on Sunday and I haven’t posted anything.  Hey look, there’s my half-eaten steak and mashed potatoes – perfect!”  And gross.

The crazy thing is I saw lots of great things on Saturday.  The people I usually see at the gym around 5:30am gathered around a table for brunch at the civilized hour of 9:00am.  The Christmas parade.  Pretty jewelry.  My married into family around a birthday table.  A holiday party full of wine and laughter.  It’s just that I never remember to take pictures.  I am in awe of folks who can and do.  The ones who can capture just the right moment, expression or gleam of the eye.

It’s not that I don’t see those moments.  It’s just that I’m more likely to fish around  in my purse for the small writer’s notebook I always carry.  Film is not my medium and therefore the worst thing to impose some crazy non-necessary deadline on.  So I’m changing it.  Because (ah ha!) I can.  Once a week, when I see something (other than my masticated food) I will take a picture and post it here when I have a moment.

Welcome to one small step to keeping my inner perfectionist in check.  Welcome to Seen This Week!


A couple times a week this little guy greets me on my walk to work.  I love cats, but am allergic to them.  So he’s my cat.  I haven’t named him yet, but trust that I will.

New (Blue!) Shoes

A little more than five years ago, I decided to run my first race.   I picked the 8K  that is run simultaneously with the Richmond Marathon (and now half marathon).  When I began training I threw on my gym shoes and hopped on the treadmill . . . and then walked around with aching shins for days.  Sure I hadn’t run in years.  Sure the last time I had seriously run was as a teenager.  And yes, running at nearly 30  is quite different from running at 15.  I knew all these things, but I also knew something wasn’t right.

I can’t remember exactly how I figured it out.  It may have been internet research, a conversation with a more seasoned runner or some memory of my brief stint on the track team in high school.  Perhaps a combination of all three.  Whatever the source, the answer was simple: shoes.  (And let’s face it – aren’t shoes often a good answer).  Not just any old athletic shoes, but actual running shoes.  The kind purchased at a running store with employees who watch you run and recommend the right shoe for you.  Locally, I’m a fan of Road Runner.

Which is where I went tonight for a long overdue replacement for the pair that saw me through this years 8K and countless additional miles.  Running purists will tell you to track the miles on your shoes and replace them after how many ever miles.  I just know it’s time for a new pair when I can’t clearly remember the last time I replaced them (and when the blisters start to show up).

So resting in my closet tonight is a lovely new pair of running shoes; ready for me to lace up in the morning.  Oh, and did I mention that they are blue.  And bright green.  And not particularly pink*.  Love that!

*For the record, I have no problem with pink.  It’s just nice to see the running shoe industry finally realize I might also  like other colors.


Small Gratitude

I try to start most days reflecting on the things that I am thankful for. Things like a spouse that loves, supports, inspires and challenges me. Parents who invested the time and patience to love consistently and genuinely. Who supported me in becoming authentically me. That I married into family full of love, without tension. The years I have had with my grandparents. Large gatherings with extended family. Quiet conversations and loud laughter with friends as close as family. My health. Work I enjoy. Food. Shelter. Time to write.

These are certainly the things that ground me. The ones that can help turn around those inevitable days that I feel too something. Too busy. Too tired. Too uncomfortable in my own skin. Too restless. Too uninspired. Too scared.

But there are also other things. Small things that sometimes get lost in all that too something-ness. So on this quiet Thanksgiving morning I’m taking a minute to be grateful for a few of them.

  • the delicious english muffin I just ate
  • orange marmalade
  • butter
  • locally roasted coffee
  • the North Park University mug (from a friend as close as family) that I’ve used for years
  • fuzzy socks
  • pajama pants
  • holidays and lazy mornings
  • Rhapsody
  • e-mail/social media
  • blogs
  • having one car (being able to walk to work/food/fun)
  • craft beer
  • home brew
  • local restaurants
  • movies
  • plays
  • pretty dresses
  • consignment shops
  • complicated recipes
  • beautiful words

Happy Thanksgiving!