Butterflies and Breathing… a Big Day Ahead

Good Morning! Happy Friday & Greetings from Saratoga!

Arrived last night about 11pm, waking to a grey day here in our new hometown.  Lots of emotions rolling around… yesterday was quite a day.  I think the image that best captures how I’m feeling is this –

As I drove the last few hours of the trip, up 87 (will I learn to call it the Northway? ), with Bobby dosing in his post-flu weariness and my good Summer of 2017 upbeat playlist keeping me company, I was struck by just how far away our destination felt and how very, very dark it was on that road. On the other hand, it was a good road, peaceful, traffic was mild, conditions were good, but it just felt like I was singing my way toward another planet.   There was no way to avoid that feeling of.. what are we doing? where are we going?  what will we find when we get there?  In a word – butterflies.

I would clarify that there’s a big difference between butterflies and cold feet.Honestly we’re just way too far down this path for the feet to be an option and it’s not really been a challenge to keep them warm. I think the pride we feel in doing this is because we are totally focused on looking forward and not looking back.  We spent years hemming & hawing, so once we made the decision last Spring to take the leap, it’s not been about to do or not to do, but just how to do…totally focused on execution (yes, that’s kind of my thing). Now that the excitement, energy and anticipation of execution is all about to play itself out, the big looming thing is to try to envision what our new life will look like.

I think the emotion comes from the sudden change of gears.  It’s taken so much animated & intentional oomph to purposefully break out of the inertia of our comfy, lovely life in Alexandria – that I now realize that the other half of the arc, the landing and settling process will be one that sheer force of will can’t and won’t make happen. It’s like we shot a leaf out of a cannon, and now we just have to wait & watch as it slowly floats and ultimately drifts and lands in the spot where it wants to be. We can’t tell it where to go, how to float, or rush it along. We are the leaf! (Mike Svedruzic should love that)

I’ll tell ya on a mid-February night, with 3 feet of dirty snow, a lot of closed restaurants, some wan looking Christmas lights and an empty hotel lobby bar, it looks pretty different than our last visit. In fact, it looks a lot like real life.  Not bad, but not a picnic – and in our case, we’re planning to picnic in a place where we don’t know anyone and where we don’t yet have a sense of how we’ll fit our piece into the puzzle of a new community.

Just to add to emotional mashup of the trip, we had a note from our agent before we left Alexandria that an offer might be coming our way. At last, a first, and talk about timely. Wow. I think the mojo in our universe has kicked in to crazy high gear.  I’m looking at you Chinese New Year – Happy Year of the Dog! About now I would love to reach out to my friend Natasha to ask her what’s up with my numerology, because it sure feels like a big shift just happened. I guess that’s the dragon lurching!

So as we drove through the long dark tunnel from the bustle of the NYC/New Jersey section of the drive up the road toward Albany, and beyond, we were constantly checking the phone for news.  For me, it was a relief to know someone was really ready to speak up for our wonderful home, but also kind of that sense of “don’t let the door hit you on the way out”.. we planned for this trip with the rather ill feeling of taking on two mortgages (not the ideal plan), and then as if on cue, we find that maybe not so much. We could actually go under contract to sell the Old Town house on the day we close on the Saratoga house… that’s just crazy, and I am now focusing on the breathing part. In fact, I think a yoga class tomorrow at my new studio, Yoga Mandali, is just what I need to stay in this moment. It’s all just going to play out the way it’s meant to play out, and while I put my postulate out there (thank you Dr. Ana) I’ve not really be in charge of any of this for quite some time.  It’s just gonna happen as it happens.

My dear friend Ellen has been sharing the same quote with me for many of the past months of this journey, and only today do I feel like it may have taken hold:

“That which is meant for you, will not go past you.” (OK grammarians, have at it… I’ll fix)

So here we go – big day ahead. Wish us luck!

And just like that….

Maggie & her Unicorn

Happy Valentine’s Day!  I imagine my penchant for remembering dates will always remember this Hallmark Holiday as the eve before the eve of our big day – the day we (hopefully!) become homeowners in Saratoga.  It doesn’t seem real yet – and for strange and inexplicable reasons we aren’t actually 100% confirmed to close on Friday, but we’re moving forward as if it’s going to happen.  Here’s hoping.

Isn’t funny how we humans can find a way to sort of grouse and whine about even those things we’ve absolutely, positively been wishing for all along?  It’s annoying really, and moreso when you hear yourself doing it. Thank goodness for patient, kind and forgiving friends who’ve been so sympathetic about my griping about the slow-roll we’ve been enduring for the past many weeks. And God love them for putting up with me when I then found it deep in my heart to dare complain when suddenly the whole process lurched forward this week and put me in the hot seat to finish “just one more thing” on the endless list of paperwork.   Really, I’m so glad we’re coming to the end of this particular stage of the journey, but it is just hard on the nerves to practice patience (poorly) for so long only to then feel rushed and harassed here at the end.  Ah well, these are problems one chuckles about when they are over.  Definitely the small stuff.

So, how do we feel about all of this? Hmmmm… excited for sure, but I think a little more incredulous still.  It’s literally the moment when our dreams and plans turn into our new reality – as residents of Saratoga Springs.   I guess I wonder how it will feel when we drive back “home” to Alexandria with the keys to our new life in our hand.  My guess is that it will mostly feel surreal… at least for a while. But the best kind of bizarre – the sort of “holy moly, what have we done?” kind.

Thought this was a timely quote to receive in my email today:

To accomplish great things, we must not only act but also dream. Not only plan but also believe.” Anatole France

For now, to think about what to bring in the car tomorrow.  Oh, and just in case, wish us luck!


Doldrums and Dragontails

So here we are, February 3rd and we find ourselves drifting forward – seeking to accept what we can’t control and to find ways to direct our energy into those things we can.  The struggle is real!  Certainly week by week, and often day by day, my mood rises & falls as we navigating this strange time.   The week of the 22nd was – thus far – the all time low of just complete doldrum-based depression.  No movement on our Alexandria house despite the decision to “improve” the price, and maddeningly slow progress on the seemingly short list of “to dos” to finish up the process on the Saratoga house.  While it is easy to blame the external things (aka real estate transactions) for my angst, I know it’s plain to all that my malaise was/is more rooted in the fundamentally unsettled state of affairs that has this girl-who-loves-a-plan (and a timeline and a goal) in a full blown funk.

The work situation is weird, by design, but inevitably awkward. It’s easy to lash out at those closest to us, so regrettably that’s what I guess was happening when I had my complete emotional meltdown at the office – uttering such unfortunate things as “I’m miserable here”, which are rather hard to put back in the bottle. Ugh.  Add to that a backdrop of day-long ugly crying, it was a redletter day of YUCK.  We are basically working with the understanding that my full-time role at MAVA will be done on Feb 28th, but we’re still not telling that to anyone – in the office, in our community, or even in my communication with all the people I’m working with in Saratoga on our new house. Nor do we have any clear outline of what the structure of my next role will be – and heaven forbid we actually talk about any of this or make a plan for transition.  The strain of that subterfuge is wearing me out. I’m far too much of a heart-on-my-sleeve type to manage this kind of complex coverup without some obvious cracking around the edges.

Meanwhile, my anxiety about what I’ll actually do with myself career-wise as of March 4th is pretty tremendous too.  My most coherent, but mostly unheard/unacknowledged, comment in the midst of my work meltdown was that by staying at MAVA these last two months (Jan & Feb) instead of moving on as I’d originally planned, may be a decision I acutely regret come March when my job search is barely out of Park when I need to be cruising along into a new gig kind of instantly.   It’s certainly no use critiquing this strategy now, but it is definitely not the well-planned, properly executed version of this transition that I’ve been telling to all those who are concerned about our decision to do this.  My working is a very key piece of this puzzle and, as as of today, I’m totally behind the 8 ball. Fun.

So, what to do?  Well, I have to say that I think I sort of had to wallow a little and let some tears out about this before I could move forward. It’s always a process for me, and I guess a little self-pity really does this body good sometimes. At least the tears release some of the pain, like squeezing the dirty water out of a dishtowel (yes, that’s my analogy of me as a dishtowel, pretty eh?).

Whether it was the tears, the yoga on Saturday AM, the increasing pace of action on the new house (tree & clear to close process), the distraction of work and other things (Anne’s bday party, worries about Dad)… and perhaps the power of the little red clay balls and the benefits of a scrub- within-an-inch-of-your-life by the funny & fierce ladies at Spa World, I made myself turn the corner last weekend.  Most of all I think the key was in finding things I could do, especially related to finding a new job that I will feel passionate and excited about, rather than focusing on how stuck and trapped I feel I am in a job where I am truly a short-timer and where I’m honestly just really, truly “done”. My heart is not in my work, and as someone who puts their full heart into their job, it’s a really an uncomfortable place to be. So – time to look up, raise my gaze and start seeking the next thing!

On Saturday (1/27) I dedicated myself to sending in at least one job application.  Sounded so easy, with all the links I’d saved in my LinkedIn Jobs App , until I ran straight into the buzzsaw of questions like “Tell us something unique about yourself in 150 characters or less – be creative”. Ack! Useful, but not easy!   Not to mention the one that wanted me to submit three examples of my work (PPT, Excel or Word) – no thanks, just not there yet.  I made myself focus on this one application all afternoon – even using some indirect approaches, like writing a cover letter to someone else about another long-shot-possible opportunity just to get the words flowing with my cover letter to a group of total strangers.   Wow, these are muscles I haven’t used in so long – the reality is I probably never ever had them.  Last time I had to introduce myself to a stranger to get a job was when I interviewed with a temp agency in DC in 1996. Rusty doesn’t start to describe my self-promotion skills.   OK, I’m listening to myself give you this blow by blow of my job search and even I’m finding it boring, so I promise I won’t take you through each application. But, as of the end of last weekend I had at least started a list of pro-active things I’d accomplished toward the goal of a new job. Yay!

And, I even came up with my less than 150 character thing… and I kind of like it:  “When my heart connects with a goal, I am undefatigable in my zeal to achieve it.”  Corny, yes, but it really does ring true. What do you think?

As for the dragontails, I finished this week with a wonderful visit to Dr. Ana my eastern medicine doctor and acupuncturist.  I shared with her my struggle through the doldrums and she said that Eastern Medicine would say that I am at the tail of the dragon.  While at the head you are thinking and planning, then you move down into the body where you are doing, acting, moving, processing, and then one day you are at the tail… waiting.  And then suddenly, the dragon moves and you are flying again.

There we are – on the tail of the dragon – holding on, trying to savor it, focusing on Exploit &  Explore and doing what we can, while waiting for this dragon to move forward in a lurch of motion which will set us flying toward the next phase, which I expect to be a full frenzy.  Bring it on!

Betwixt & Between

Ramble Alert: This one has been kicking around in my head all week and I’m hitting publish on a very rough first draft.  Hopefully I’ll come back to edit it, but I didn’t want to miss the moment. Good luck!

And then suddenly, a weird and sort of wonderful calm came over the process.

After nearly a year of pushing, thinking, pondering, considering, planning which started last January and picked up speed in April; after a Summer of imagining and envisioning; and then a super intense Fall dedicated to purging, fixing, painting and coordinating followed by an equally demanding season of communicating and, suddenly, negotiating.  And just like that we’ve woken up to the middle of January and found that there’s nothing more we can do, but wait and be.  It’s officially the season of Betwixt & Between – and it’s really strange, mostly pleasant, but nevertheless a little disorienting after all the frenzied, intentional, anti-inertia energy we’ve been investing in this journey for the past 12 months.

This pause in the action poses it’s own challenges.  There’s a great deal of relief in no longer being so very, somewhat terribly, “in charge” of this whole endeavor.  It’s also undeniably a gift of time, which I’m determined to make the most of, before the countdown clock begins again “for reels”. When it does, there will be no turning back. The clock will be ticking toward the end of a chapter that we have loved as we start one that we hope will be even better, but is rife with unknowns (both scary and exciting).  It’s very easy to complain about this strange interlude in the action, because it is such a time of waiting – and we tend to be impatient, us humans.  We like to complain about all that we must do, and then just as quickly we find ourselves tempted to (and falling to temptation) complain when there’s nothing we can do. Funny, eh?

Above all, I think this in between time is something very special and rare, which we must try very, very hard to savor… even if it’s hard to really, truly, totally enjoy.  When I think about all the months, years and countless hours I spent contemplating how to move on to the next chapter and I remember how hard it was to get things rolling… I am really grateful for the fact that we’re now definitely on the “other side” where the train has absolutely left the station and is rolling along on it’s own, at it’s own pace, and we’re now just passengers looking out the window – wondering when we’ll get there, but with no influence whatsoever on the engine or the timetable.

One of our favorite quotes here at Maven & Magpie comes from a chief that Bobby knew in his Navy days… this guy made such an impression on Bobby that I feel like I was there for the lecture (even though it happened years before we met).  The message of this Chief was one single truth: You Always Have  Choice.   I absolutely love this phrase and it is a truth I rely upon often in situations big and small.  Today, it’s particularly true, as we have a choice about how we handle this sure-to-be-brief time when there’s nothing required of us and there’s nothing we can do to change the timing of our process.  We can choose to wring our hands and be anxious or we can choose to simply BE.   Be present. Be appreciative. Be grateful. Be patient. Be certain. Be hopeful. Be peaceful. Be aware. Be mindful. Be open.  I suppose these are all things we can always be… but it’s suddenly much easier when there’s not some all-consuming other project to hide in (well, of course there ARE projects, but not as compelling as the imminent moving project).

It’s time to enjoy all the little things – not knowing quite when they will all end, but knowing they won’t be ours to enjoy forever.  I am trying to very intentionally choose to focus on being “in” this time of in-between (in fact that was my intention at yoga tonight).. but I have to admit that’s easier said than done.  I know for certain that I’ll look back and this “half-in, half-out” time will be teeny tiny blip on the timeline of our journey. Much like a first day at a new job, it’s a fragile, brief, mildly uncomfortable and uniquely weird time…. for me this time is bittersweet but also sort of dream-like and hazy.  I’m doing my best to cherish it and to explore how much of it we can rekindle when we’re on the other side of this transition, as a talisman to protect us from the always compelling and often all consuming pull of forward motion… which will have us back in the conductors seat in no time.

366 hours – and so begins the list.

Good morning! It’s a sunny, wintery Saturday here in Old Town – I think the car told me it was 12 degrees on the way over today.  I’m settling in to one of my favorite spots to tackle a myriad of “to dos” in a precious and purposeful 4 hour stint at my computer while logging another shift as a volunteer at the Front Desk of the Carpenter’s Shelter.

On my way here, I stopped for a latte at Misha’s and just had to take a photo – as I so often do – of the beautiful foam on this morning treat.  I always appreciate the beauty of the barista-artistry at Misha’s, and it’s really all the more amazing to me in light of the pace and vibe of this bustling local haunt.  It’s always busy, the baristas are working nonstop in a seamless herbie-free system of one server per customer and it’s a work of operational perfection (not a Herbie in sight)… and as fast as they push us through the process, they more often than not do so with a dollop of beauty. It’s such a gift.  As I took my photo, I commented to my neighbor as he chuckled at me, that I just wanted to take a moment to appreciate this pretty little thing. He nodded and said “so few people do that nowadays”.  I agreed. We all know that the hustle-bustle usually makes such a moment of gratitude seem like a luxury or a novelty we can certainly do without…. but at what cost?

The good news is that whatever the cost of not appreciating the little things, it’s a cost I’m planning to actively and intentionally avoid this month and for the next few months (and perhaps I’ll make it such a habit that I never stop!). The thing is, it struck me today, that we’ve now begun the “season of goodbyes”…. as the reality of our move is growing more certain by the day. With a contract on 123 Madison and hopes for an offer on 301 S. Henry within the next few weeks, the wheels are now very much in motion toward the end of one chapter – and the beginning of the next.

I’ve already started The List – of all the little (and big) things that I will miss when we’re gone.  Perhaps I’ll just start a new post of that list just to keep an inventory.  Meanwhile, I’m going to try to very hard manage what I know will be a rather teary and bittersweet process by focusing on saying “thank you” to each of these little things, and hoping that might lessen the “farewell” part of each thing I see, do, eat, drink or cherish for the last time over the coming weeks.  I’m absolutely determined that there will be no real “goodbyes” to the people I love so much here in Old Town – while I know that visits will be rarer, they will simply be more special and less taken for granted.  Yes, of course, there will be many great folks I’ve known and worked with for years and years, who I won’t necessarily see again at a networking event, but I know without a doubt that distance is a tremendous filter – I’ll surely see some folks often, and others will remain on FB and LinkedIn, and that’s really going to be OK. And, even the moments I’m tempted to think will be my last, are not gone forever… those that matter most will still be here to be enjoyed again when we come back – including the lattes at Misha’s.

So, what’s the deal with 366?   Well, the awesome folks at Carpenter’s have been using a volunteer tracking system for as long as I’ve been spending time here.  As of this AM I’ve logged 366 hours of service (400 as of today!), which looks to be just over 2 weeks of my life watching the ebb and flow of so many lives who have spent time within the Carpenter’s community.  I’m not sure how many more shifts I’ll take before we head north…. but rather than get teary, at least for now, I’m just going to settle in and make the most of my time here today – and saying Thank You.

The bustle and vibe at Misha’s
A thing of beauty – the lovely latte!
366 hours and counting – a window on the world of Carpenter’s.

Christmas Eve – waking up in the Hamptons

Good morning! Having spent a fair amount of the 9 hour trip playing with WordPress & GoDaddy to “lightly launch” Maven & Magpie, it’s a treat to start the day with something I can log in to and post. Yay for the small win! Much more to do once I can get my laptop on WiFi today – but for now, a start!

Thoughts this AM –

Grateful to have arrived here in this Happy, Loving & Christmas-Spirit filled home at the end of a long rainy day – thankful for Bobby’s safe & steady driving.

Grateful to know that all of my family and closest friends are healthy and happily tucked in where they want to be – Mom with friends in San Diego, Dad with Marley & lots of snow in SLC, Susan in Atlanta preparing her candelaria, Karen & Stuart and the kids enjoying a sunny Florida Christmas – and dearest friends with their loved ones in Paris, CT, MA, PA, NY, VA, DC, CO, CA, AZ and far beyond.

My heart is with those facing losses at this holiday season, and those who have lost loved ones and precious pets & homes over the course of the year. May memories of past Christmas Eves comfort them, while I know those bittersweet memories feel more bitter than sweet right now. Evelyn and Leslie I am especially thinking of you. ❤️

And on to the blog, a couple simple goals I have in mind.

1. Share my observations along the journey of everyday life – kicking off with the big move Bobby & I will be making this year.

2. Share our adventures – largely along the Food & Travel lines, with a big dose of Thoroughbred Racing & Saratoga Lifestyle.  Somewhere in this goal lies the original inspiration for the Maven and the Magpie – Bobby’s maven-like talent for picking & finding great spots to eat, drink & enjoy and my Magpie-like desire to share our discoveries so they can enjoy them too!

3. Promote places, people, causes, products, services, events, activities and organizations I believe in and think are worth the time & money for others to check out. A curated set of things this Magpie wants to support by spreading the word.

I can’t  wait to get started…in earnest. But first, coffee & a much anticipated chat with Meg in Paris when she gets home from shopping for Buche de Noel…while enjoying the pretty & peaceful scene here on this beautiful Christmas Eve AM.

Wishing everyone a joyful, peaceful & restorative day at the end of the hustle bustle & hurry that always precedes this day. Phew!!  ?☃️?☃️?