It’s a very special Eve here at Casa Weir del Norte… the night before a new adventure begins. Yes, I know those may be the most over-worked words in my vocabulary these days… but really, tomorrow is a 1st day of the rest of my life. On May 1, 2018, I’ll start my new career as the Director of Major Gifts and Planned Giving for the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation.
In a word… it’s amazing.
I am grateful beyond words.
I’ll likely bore you all with the whole story, and maybe even a few of the letters written along the way, but for now – this extraordinary opportunity is now before me. Years of dreaming and stalking and keeping in touch, and an incredible strike of lightening driven by karma, my postulate or simply the universe saying “yes, you were meant to make this move”. As of April 18th I accepted the offer to join the TRF Team (and that sure made last week’s farewell tour all the more sweet and fun!).
I’ll add the press release to this post sometime in the AM, and I’ll share that on FB and update my LinkedIn Profile ,and generally make a great big huge fuss to shout the news from the rooftops. For now, I’ll simply share the quote I shared with our TRF Media Relations guy, Fran LaBelle, this AM.
“It is a dream come true for me to join the TRF team in this new role. Combining my business background with my lifelong love for horses and racing, I will passionately promote the TRF mission to provide sanctuary to the horses upon whom the racing industry depends, when their racing days are done.”
Here’s to powerful postulates, good karma, prayer, love, and a huge tidal wave of love and good wishes… and maybe even a little unicorn dust – however this happened, I could not be more happy.
Looking forward to all the weird & wonderful-ness of a First Day! (And many thanks for all the good advice from many as I’ve pondered this first first in an eon. I’ll likely share all those soon too!)
Sort of feel like you just can’t get rid of me, doesn’t it? Well, as I have often promised/threatened, I am very hard to “shake”…and I do hate to leave loose ends. So, for a whole host of reasons, I am back in the Commonwealth for what really will be my last hurrah – for quite a while. My goal is to start snapping happy reunion pics at The Spa – soon!
Meanwhile, I must say it’s really fun to be back – with no responsibilities! Old Town is actually way more fun when on vacay (which is what I am calling this). My agenda is chock-full of all my favorite people & places (and a few logistical to dos too). Lots of pics below.
Based on a wonderful nugget of very happy news (which I promise to share in next post, in detail), this week has happily become a pure fun, farewell tour of story telling. Admittedly, I’m doing a lot of talking about myself, and I think I might be just about at the point when I am growing a little weary of the telling (although certainly not of the tale). The good news is that every time I tell the story of our journey over the past 16 months, I feel a little teeny bit more like I’m actually talking about myself and Bobby – rather than telling a happy fairytale about someone else. My gratitude for all the positive responses, affirmation, congratulations and encouragement from the folks who have so kindly heard me out over these recent days is complete. I’m especially gratified and humbled by the handful of folks who have told me that our story is giving them hope, optimism and inspiration… that all the pieces really CAN fall into place, and that it is possible reinvent.
I hope we’ll remain a symbol to guide our friends who are considering their own big changes or who are pursuing their own big goals and dreams. Please don’t hesitate to reach out any time if I can offer a pep talk, encouraging word or listening ear as you tackle something life-changing, I’m standing by to cheer!
Meanwhile, as I wind down this whirlwind week of visits & wonderful moments with dear friends, I’m excited about a shift of gears toward our fabulous weekend of girl-time on the Eastern Shore. Kendra and I are awaiting the arrival of Suzie Q tonight, then the rest of our travelers tomorrow, and we’ll all convene Chez Wolf tomorrow!
And then, before I know it I’ll be rolling back up the road – for “reels” & to get this new adventure moving forward. Eager to get started, in earnest with building this new life of ours.
Hoping you each enjoy the Spring flowers, sunshine and energy of the season!
I think it’s officially day 11 of the new adventure – as we started the “official” count on The Maven’ first day after wrapping up his govt contracting career chapter and the day we drove north to start the new adventure, together. We’re not quite two weeks in, and we’re not yet settled into any “real life” routines, but we sure have been having fun.
It’s a sort of weird & wonderful mashup of vacation+ stay-cation + unemployment/sabbatical…and we promise, for those who are worrying or wondering, it won’t go on much longer – but we are doing our best to make the most of it while we’re in it!
Highlights have included several fun Happy Hour excursions (Forno Bistro, PRIME, Amigos Cantina), a bunch of homemade lunches at home, several yummy & homey dinners a la Chef B, getting started with The Crown, struggling through early & exhausting CAPS games (Game 5 today!), walking to Five Points, shopping for house stuff, a lunch at Cracker Barrel, a trip to the “big” mall…and waking up every AM to find that it’s not all a dream.
Then, because even dreamers like us enjoy a change of scenery, and M had an appt scheduled in the city, we decided to make our first-of-many quick excursions to the Big Apple. We took the noon train from Albany on Thursday, and are heading back upstate this AM (Sat), so I can load up the Berry Bu and head south to VA for the truly “last hurrah” of visits before the new normal arrives in our Saratoga lives. (HINT: Big work-related announcement coming soon – no later than 5/1. 🙂
Our less than 48 hours in the city were chock-full of food, family, food, cocktails, friends & food. All delightful! I’ll add a few to my NYC faves list (insert link here), and list below – with pics to follow.
It remains amazing to us that we’ve made this happen – we are loving our new adventure and we so excited about the opportunities that this move will give us to see loved ones “up here” more often. Of course, the trade-off is that we’ll see our DC/Virginia dear ones a bit less (until they come visit!), but with that in mind I have scheduled a nonstop, action packed agenda of visits with an all-star list of friends while I am in town over the coming days. Stay tuned for lots of pics & a big wrapup post next weekend!
Enjoy your weekend – I hope it’s sunny & Springy wherever you are!!
Foodie highlights of this trip:
okonomi– amazing traditional Japanese breakfast in Brooklyn (fish!)
Tanner Smith’s – great bar, fantastic cocktails, terrific atmosphere, high top tables, candles, windows – but dark & cozy too. Highly recommend The Cotton Club (celery, cucumber, vodka) & The Winona (Manhattan meets a bottle of smoke.
It may be grey, cold and trying to snow on this mid-April Tuesday in Saratoga – but it was a pretty awesome day nevertheless.
While I am going to play coy on one key detail, suffice it to say that today totally manifested what we had envisioned over these many months. Today we were truly #livingthedream.
* a good night sleep, waking before the alarm;
* a walk (despite forecast of snow), extended version – with hellos to both Pat 1 & Pat 2 at Five Points;
* a first friendly wave & sighting of Aimee, wife of Brian, our next door neighbor;
* the Maven’s good chat with his Fig Guru (I will work on a guest post by the fig maker over coming months);
* reply to a great intro to a terrific Saratoga connection introduced by dear friend, Cathy F;
* a lovely & perfectly timed check-in by dear friend Rebecca, re: HL opportunity;
* a really good 2nd interview with the dream org…encouraging, but too afraid to jinx;
* insert more to tell later here
* off to Tuesday Happy Hour at Prime at Saratoga National – rocking the 4:30pm happy hour on Tues!!
* home to cheer for our CAPS & Bobby’s Wiz.
Lots of fun plans coming together for really-truly last week in VA next week. Yippee!!
M & M
Simple Favor? If you stumbled upon this post (and /or earlier versions), may I ask you to send me a note (email/text) or leave a comment? While I am still working on setting this up so that I can alert folks when I post, for now I am just curious if anyone is checking in from time to time. ?
Monday, April 9th began like so many countless mornings – the Maven up first, Kim making the bed & drying her hair while M shaved, both aiming to get out the door by 7:30am to face the traffic and the hustle of another day in the land of the beltway.
But, the “normal” ended there. We’d awoken in the warm & welcoming home of our dear friends the Meinharts who had been kindly housing the Maven since the Magpie headed north with the kitties on March 19th. While the Maven was on his way to work.. he knew he’d only be there a few hours, then off to HQ to sign some forms, then… The Magpie felt a little like she was on vacay – meeting a dear friend, Len, at the Silver Diner in Tysons then into MAVA for a wrapup conversation and hopefully an errand, aiming to be done by lunchtime.
The details of our respective final hours at work are better left to another time (or maybe never), but suffice it to say that we both somehow sort of suddenly found ourselves back at Casa Meinhart about 1pm. With a little bit more of a whimper than a bang, there was no denying that suddenly, we were both DONE. Just. Like. That. Weird doesn’t do it justice… but it’s a good starting point. BTW – my new motto is “Embrace the weirdness” (because I don’t think the alternative is an option).
Here’s what I’ve learned. When you finally actually reach the end of a journey you’ve been planning for months and years… there are no balloons, no big cosmic shift in perspective, but there’s just suddenly time & quiet and the profoundly weird/wonderful opportunity to say “OK, now what?”.
We went to lunch.
We didn’t explore, we didn’t exploit, we just went to the mall to use up the dregs of a gift card at Seasons 52 (thank you Auntie Sue) – but heck, when’s the last time the two of us went to lunch in Tysons together on a Monday? (HINT: Never) We had a nice lunch, we had a lovely chat with the saleswoman at Arhaus as we looked at some furniture, then we drifted back to Casa Meinhart to just sort of loiter about – Maven took a nap, I frittered about on email, and we just let time pass. It was sort of like a longer than necessary layover in a sort of boring airport – after the adrenaline rush of the mad dash to get that first connection to get out of town and start a big journey, then landing in no-where land to wait for the connecting flight to the “real” destination.. a bit anticlimactic. Not bad, just… weird.
Happily we had fun plans for dinner with the Meinharts… so we didn’t linger here in limbo for too long. It was probably just want we needed to start to process the milestones we’d passed in the AM (although I daresay my processing is probably going to take longer than the Maven’s).
We had a fabulous, fun, feast at Succotash at National Harbor – dirty chicken, friend green tomatoes, pimento cheese poppers and hummingbird cake (Alas, foiled again in my pursuit of Kentucky Winter – my bourbon slushie!) – and a great final photo! (see below)
Act 1; Scene 2 –
While it looked alot like the day before, waking in Casa Meinhart, we opened our eyes to a day unlike any other. The day we loaded up the car and drove – out of town, up the road, and into our new life. It was a sunny AM, we grabbed a coffee, joined the mayhem on the beltway (for one last hurrah), and enjoyed a one-way roadtrip to the town where we’ve spent our happiest moments over the past 20 years. #Saratogaherewecome
Departed VA about 9am. Arrived Saratoga about 4pm.
Hi Again – Yes, we’ve officially reached that time in the journey when I have few folks to talk to up here, so I’m going to write alot (don’t worry, Bobby will be here next week). In fact, I’m heading to VA this afternoon.
So, I have a few various & sundry thoughts I’ve been pondering and thought I’d like to capture in a post. This is that mash-up of various thoughts… looking back and looking forward.
One: The project plan – how did we get here?
May 2016 – Bobby’s 50th Bday
July 2026 – Kim’s first conversation about the future at MAVA
January 1, 2017 – New Year’s Day, we decided to make it happen.
April – sending the letter to Andy and signing the contract with Lisa
May – the figs get real (Preakness Day offer & Memorial Day start)
August – the vacation, the sanity check & decision to set all systems for “go”
September – the Labor Day trip, Clark Street, the TRF letter sent, the real conversation with Julia & the hard part begins
October – communicating with family, crazy frenzy of preparation, purge & projects
November 2 – 301 S Henry goes on the market!
December 2/3 – trip to Saratoga, first time we “met” 123 Madison Street
December 18-23 – the offer on 123 Madison
December 29 – the contract on 123 Madison
February 12 – the call from TRF
February 15 – the offer on 301 S Henry
February 16 – the close on 123 Madison
March 2 – the Magpie’s last day at MAVA
March 10 – the Sendoff Soiree at 301 S Henry
March 19 – the close on 301 S Henry/ the kitties & Kim arrive in Saratoga
March 20 – the movers arrived at 123 Madison
April 9 – the Maven’s last day
April 10th – the Story Begins.
Two: The building blocks – how do we build a life here? Initial pieces…
Yoga Home – Yoga Mandali
Exercise Program – Walking/ jogging/ yoga
Volunteering Home – Shelters of Saratoga &/or Franklin Community Center
Horsie Home – need to research barns
Coffee Home – Five Points Market (done!)
Political/Civic Home – Saratoga Democrats
Membership – Racing Museum Members (done!), Library, other?
Three: Making friends – who do we know? Introductions welcome!
Local friends: Joanne Thorburn & John, Jennifer Stevens (TRF), Jim Fabis (SWF), Seth Merrow, Mike McAdams, Bob Kimmerle & Viviana, Bob Nevins (SWF)
Not quite local, but within 2-3 hours (more or less): KC, John & Kate (Northampton), Marilyn, Melanie & Ben (NYC), Teresa, Alyssa & Adam (Brooklyn), Bob B (NYC), Elizabeth, Rob, Frannie & Margaret Bayston (Duxbury), Barb, Chris, Hannah & Haley Wixom (Boston), Kate Jeton (Maine), Nancy Wolf (VT?)
New (house related): Mark Fitzpatrick, Bergan Brown (Rodrigo & Jorge), Joe (& Kim) Gagne, Scott Dooley
New (met ’em on our own, as of 4/3/18): Brian Kelly (& Aimee), Frank (& Tammy), Maura (Five Points), Pat & Pat (Five Points), Gail & Russ Danforth (SoS), Jess Famiano (Saratoga Vet), Katie Rocque (Skidmore/ thank you Jerri)
And as of Tuesday, the Maven & Magpie will be reunited… and taking the next steps down this new road, together again. Can’t wait!
The sun is shining here in Saratoga…and it really feels like Spring is trying to make a breakthrough. We’re creeping up to 50 degrees today, but then I see a series of low 60s on the horizon – a far cry from the wintery Monday AM that greeted us in Northampton as Kate & KC headed out for their big day. (Photo below). Weather reports aside, I think the true sign of Spring will be when I walk out the door, turn left on Crescent toward the track and see my first horse galloping by…. I can feel it coming, but much like the crocus, it will be a wonderful surprise when it happens. Stay tuned!
To follow up on my last missive about the days following the big finale in VA + movers (week of March 19th), that week finished up with a much welcomed visit by Bobby and his mom, Marilyn. Yay people! My people! After an early AM visit by Jim the electrician, I ventured out to my first of (hopefully many) trips to the Rensselaer/Albany train station to meet them at 11am. Seems like the trip was smooth and easy, and I found the very beautiful train station with no trouble. We went straight to lunch at the Old Bryan Inn – very yummy! Upon arrival at Casa Weir I discovered that I had, in fact, totally hit the wall that had been awaiting me after all the hubbub of the week… the month. Wow. Call me a barnacle, I simply could not detach from ye old couch. So much for jumping into that big “let’s tackle the kitchen” project…. that seemed great on paper, but much less fun than a nap. While Bobby spent his energy trying to get our new (no cable) TV situation set up, I snoozed – it was great. We did actually get started with the kitchen eventually – and Marilyn was a tremendous help and cheerleader. After making a big mess the three of us called it quits and headed out for dinner – trying a new spot, the Barrelhouse on Beekman. Very casual, but tasty and hopping – and the waiter was terrific about finding us a table when they were filled to the gills.
It was wonderful to have a full house for the night, and I definitely slept better than I have in a long time. We got a great start on the day with a walk to the Five Points Market to pick up breakfast sandwiches – a first for us, and for Bobby to get his very own Five Points mug. Making ourselves locals!
We then got serious about the kitchen and set a goal of doing all we could before taking an afternoon break to go to the movies. Great teamwork, major progress and then we called it quits about 2:30 so we could make a run to the movies to see the Black Panther – loved it! Followed by wonderful Sunday dinner at the Brook Tavern – totally hopping with families gathered for Sunday supper. I had the salmon burger, Bobby the pork shoulder and Marilyn the burger and we were all very happy.
The quick visit was over too soon, but we were all up and rolling down the road by 7am on Monday to drop Bobby at the airport for his flight back to BWI, and Marilyn back on the train (her 3rd train trip) to the city.
For the record – both are really easy for us! The airport is about 30 min from the house and the train station 40 min, both are easy in and easy out and very modern, well-kept and no-stress for the traveler. Take a look at what might be easiest – and come visit!
Bobby and I had come to the realization that it didn’t make much sense for me to come back to VA this week when we have so much still to do here at the house, and nothing specifically calling me back to VA yet. So, we decided I’d wait til the weekend after Easter, to spend that weekend in VA and then we’ll drive back up here together in his car after his last day – April 9th! So, it’s just me, the cats and the boxes (and the painters… funny how that last bit drags on the most…) for a while longer.
Having made that decision, we REALLY ran straight into the “now what?”
My recipe for the days has been a combination of – MAVA stuff, boxes, walking, keeping in touch with folks, pursuing a few new job-related ideas, and trying not to “wish this part away”. It has been so very long since I’ve had unstructured time, I don’t want to miss the benefits… even if it’s a bit of a stretch to call my current status a vacation. I’m just trying to be in the moment, be grateful for this “me-time” and to just embrace this “in between” phase. Totally not my strength, but definitely something I know I need, something I wished for back in VA, just some white space, some unprogrammed time. To think – but not overthink. It’s so weird, but I know it’s good… I just have to try very hard not to try very hard to make it something specific.
Behind the scenes, for those watching/worrying from afar, I am working on a next chapter on the career front. I’m completely happy to be of assistance to the MAVA team as needed, but it looks more and more like they’ll need me less and less thanks to the awesome-ness of Jason & Bennett, the new, energetic, creative and talented team who have come on board over the last few months. I’m so grateful to Jason & Bennett for giving their all to MAVA, and to Julia, to keep the good momentum going at MAVA. I’ve been working through a long list of personal notes to my MAVA peeps to let them know of my changing role and dramatically new location, and letting them know how fortunate they are to have the new & improved MAVA team there to assist. As for what I’m working on – I just don’t feel I can share the details, for fear of “jinxing” anything. So, eventually (and perhaps sooner than later) I’ll have the opportunity to surprise all of you lovely, indulgent blog readers… but until then, the topic of that process is going to be touched on only lightly and obtusely, while my front door is wide open for as many good thoughts and positive vibes as you can muster. I do have a vision for what might happen next for me… and I’m now just trying to make it a reality, as we’ve made the rest of this dream come true. Fingers crossed!
Last word on that, for now, my gratitude to my dear friend Ellen for the phrase which has become my mantra “that which is for you, will not go past you“. Plus, I loved the post of my wonderfully cosmic friend Natasha Hennessy about the blue moon. She wrote “full blue sap libra moon in the midst of the aries sun and mercury retrograde highlights peace, patience and beautiful balance. when you want to get things going/growing! relax. be open. have faith. go with the flow.” EXACTLY what I needed to hear!
So, back to last week…. hmmm. It was not exactly action-packed. Highlights included several awesome phone calls (Shannnon Steene of Carpenter’s Shelter and Hawley Rogers former Head of Oldfields School), a bunch of very supportive emails (I may need to capture them all in a post, just to remind myself of all the good wishes when the going gets tough), getting my New York State Drivers License, a good yoga class on Wednesday, a lovely walk & coffee with my friend Joanne on Thursday, and then a really fun trifecta of new people (Maura, Pat & Pat ) met at Five Points Market. Plus, I made the decision to go visit my dear bestie, KC, in Northampton for Easter Weekend… which gave me a goal to work towards around the house. I had a major unpacking frenzy seize me, at last, on Friday and felt I made a really good dent before my weekend road trip. Plus, I’ve started freecycling to get rid of the first (of many) things that simply do NOT need to find a home in our new home… hoping the boxes are claimed soon.
Saturday AM the kitties and I enjoyed a beautiful sunrise, then I went for a walk with a few little “Easter errands” around the neighborhood and prepped the house for my first few days away – having squared away the kitties new babysitter, Jess, to come on Saturday night and twice on Sunday. It was a gorgeous day for the drive, and I had a super fun chat with my bestie Diane as she and her family were on their way to spring a spectacular surprise on her kiddos for Spring Break. Then, arrived on a lovely afternoon in Northampton for a wonderful Easter weekend with KC, Kate & John – and extra special visit with Wawa and Charlie on their way home to New Canaan on Saturday. SO MUCH FUN! Photos below – more details in next post!