"Hey, Kids, I heard on the news that an airline pilot spotted Santa's sleigh on its way in from New York City." ~Clark Griswald
Christmas is my favorite time of year. I love the lights, music and most of all being with family and friends. Every year I make an effort to watch all of my favorite Christmas movies because it helps me get into the spirit (as if I need any help.) Many Christmas movies are set in New York City including: Miracle on 34th Street, Elf and Home Alone 2. Because of this, I have always wanted to visit the Big Apple during the holiday season.
It only took 30 years, but I finally made my dream come true. Over Thanksgiving I went to visit my friend Mick in Baltimore. We spent a day exploring Charm City (Harm City as he calls it.) We visited the Inner Harbor, Fell's Point, stopped by the Clear Channel Radio building and then took in the memorable sites of Druid Park and the surrounding area.
On Thanksgiving day, Mick and I loaded up our bags and took a scenic six-hour car ride through Maryland, Pennsylvania and New York. We arrived at our final destination of Schenectady, New York just in time for Thanksgiving dinner with his family. I enjoyed spending the holiday with the Lee family. Our holiday was filled with delicious food, lots of vino, an intense game of Apples to Apples and then some hot tub action. With a belly full of food and a nice buzz, I retired to the guest bedroom to get some rest before our big trip to New York City the following day. However, I found it hard to sleep because I felt like a little kid on Christmas Eve. I was so excited because I was going to New York City the next morning...something I have waited my whole life to do!
We got up early the next day, enjoyed a nice breakfast with the fam, planned out our route into the city and then said our good-byes. I was very nervous about going to the city (part excitement and part fear that the city would eat me alive..or empty my wallet.) However, when we arrived I felt at home in a New York minute. We stayed in Mick's relatives' studio in Midtown, which had a nice view of the Chrysler Building.
Our first day in the city was filled with stops at every tourist attraction we could find...Rockefeller Plaza, Radio City Music Hall, Times Square, Macy's, Saks Fifth Avenue and Madison Square Garden. We went to Little Italy for an amazing dinner and enjoyed a decent bottle of wine. We then finished the evening with a visit to the World Trade Center site.
The second day in the city was just as busy. My friend Liz met us in the morning for some sightseeing. We hopped on the subway and made our way to Central Park for a horse drawn carriage ride in Central Park. While we were in the area, we stopped by FAO Schwarz so I could dance on the giant piano from the movie Big. My friends were slightly embarrased, but I didn't care. I have been dreaming of seeing and doing all of these things since I was a little girl, so I couldn't say no to performing my own butchered verison of Chopsticks on the "Big" piano. Later that day, we took train to Newark, NJ. This was my first visit to Jersey, but it was a must since I am trying to visit all 50 states. We went to the Prudential Center to see the NJ Devils take on the Philadelphia Flyers. I enjoy a good sporting event, especially when the tickets are free! I was also able to see two friends that work at the Prudential Center...love my arena Jersey boys. That night we went to an amazing Peruvian restaurant called Pio Pio. I was so excited because my friend Lauren (former Disney roommate) and her husband joined us for dinner. We managed to consume massive amounts of sangria and order some amazing dishes to share. My trip to the city was amazing because it was filled with new sites and experiences, yet it included old friends.
The following morning we left the city and drove back to Baltimore. We passed through Delaware (check that state off the list), but didn't even stop because I was on a schedule and needed to fly back to Portland. I am not sure how many miles we drove, but I know that I traveled 5,870 miles in the air.
New York City was incredible and I am so happy I was able to share this experience with good friends. Over a couple days I grew attached to the city and left definitely wanting more. Thomas Wolfe once said, “One belongs to New York instantly, one belongs to it as much in five minutes as in five years.” I couldn't agree more!
When I turned 30, I decided to create a list of 30 things I would do before my next birthday. I did a pretty good job of checking some big things off my list. I ran a 15k, walked the Portland Marathon, saw Jimmy Buffett in concert (and rocked a pencil thin mustache) and in less than a week I will visit New York City for the first time of my life!
I have had an amazing year...probably one of the best years of my life! People close to me (including my family) have told me that this is the happiest they have ever seen me. I think this is because I am finally figuring out who I am and what makes me tick...and I am becoming comfortable with that, even when others don't agree. New Zealand for example...I would say 50% of my family and friends think I am crazy, while the other half (and typically those who know me best) realize that this is an adventure of a lifetime and it is exactly what I am meant to do with my life. I also think that I love my life so much because I have formed some deep connections with like-minded people and I have had a blast rockin' life with my friends.
Since my birthday is only a few months away and with my big move on the horizon, I realized that I either needed to revise my list or admit defeat! Aut viam inveniam aut faciam! I shall either find a way or make one! So I decided to add a few BIG items and make it my goal to accomplish this entire list by the time I am 40. This gives me a solid 9 years to check everything off my list...I think I can handle that!
Move to a foreign country
Visit New York City
Go to a Jimmy Buffett concert (*October 19, 2010)
Meditate in a buddhist monastery
Volunteer & something meaningful
Play ball on the 50 yard line
Pacific NW Wine Tour (*February 15, 2010 & May 29, 2010)
"Hood to Coast" - Play in the snow & then jump in the ocean (*February 28. 2010)
"Without a struggle, there can be no progress." ~Frederick Douglass
I only have 28 workdays left and 43 days before I leave Portland. When I made this decision, I knew it wouldn't be an easy process to pack up my life and move across the world. As I close this chapter of my life, I am finding it a little more difficult to let go of my Portland life than I thought it would be. I love this city and I have some amazing friends here. My return ticket is booked for Portland and I am storing all of my stuff here, but my biggest fear is that I won't have a life to return to in this city.
My life is in limbo and I don't really feel like I belong anywhere right now. As much as I don't want to say good-bye and leave the City of Roses, I hate this feeling of being a temporary visitor. I am getting antsy for December 23. However, this extra time is important and has allowed me to check things off my list. I booked my traveler's insurance last week, canceled my car insurance, posted more items on Craigslist and secured my storage unit (Erin's house.) I swear my to-do list keeps growing, but I am slowly working my way through it.
Although I have some sad and stressful days, I need to focus on the adventure ahead. I need to come to terms with the fact that life will go on without me in Portland. As their lives move on, so will mine. 2011 is going to be a year of adventure and new experiences! So instead of missing the things I can't have in Portland, I must focus on the amazing things that are "down under".
“Out of clutter find simplicity; from discord find harmony; in the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.” ~Einstein
I posted my Xterra on Craigslist today! It was both liberating and sad. For those of you who have known me for a long time, you realize that the Xterra was more than just a vehicle to me...it was a sign of my independence. However, I realize it is just a material item and the true sign of independence is being able to sell it and move to New Zealand!
On the same day I posted my "for sale" ad, I saw this blog on Twitter - Explore for a year. The author talks about the process of selling your possessions and traveling abroad for a year. I felt like she was reading my mind, because I have the exact same thoughts: Will I need this when I come back to the states? I am selling this so much less than I bought it for? If I have to get a storage unit, I might as well keep it all, right?
She helped me see the positive side of selling my possessions and she had the following revelations:
Beautiful things are nice, but freedom is even better
Experiences make me happy, not things
The more I latch on, the harder it is for new things to flow into my life
Minimalism leads to clarity
I couldn't agree more!
Wish me luck as I try to sell the Xterra! She will be missed!
“Life is either a great adventure or nothing.” ~Helen Keller
By society's standards, I should be married, have two beautiful children, own a home in the suburbs and drive a minivan to the job of my dreams. However, I think I took a wrong turn on the road to the "American Dream." Instead, I am 30 and single. I don't own a home, but rather am the proud owner of an enormous amount of debt. Three years ago I moved across the country to Portland for my career, but I never got the promotion I was working towards. And I love my niece to pieces, but I am not cut out to be a mom right now because I can't even keep a plant alive, let alone a child.
With all that said, I wouldn't change a thing about my life. I love who I am, I cherish the experiences I have had and I have some of the best stories to tell.
However, I have found myself at crossroads in my life. I had a few things happen in my personal life that made me take a step back and look at the big picture. I asked myself some serious questions. What do you want to accomplish? What kind of person do you want to be? What is something you have always wanted to do and haven't been able to check off your bucket list? When I asked my myself these questions, it didn't take long for me to see the answer and thus formulate my plan. I have decided to break all the rules and embark of my biggest adventure of my life.
I recently turned in my letter of resignation and I am moving to New Zealand in January of 2011. I am not going for a job, I am not going for love...I am going for me! I am so excited to see what life has in-store for me. This blog will be not only a way to document my adventures and share them with family and friends, but it will allow me to express myself as I encounter new opportunities and challenges. I am going to write and be the author of my own story.