Pink, Blue and a Wave of Lasts (and Firsts)

Misty morning at my usual sunrise spot


Waterfront park.. in the mist
Oh heck, why not!

Good Morning Friends!

It’s a misty spring-like Sunday here in Old Town, one might say dreary, but I’m determined to shake the funk I let settle in yesterday.   I’m so grateful for the fact that I’m getting one more season with my beloved redbud tree – the pink flowers out our living room window are truly one of my favorite features of this house. A lovely gift from 301 S Henry to kickoff this season of “lasts”. Sigh

So, from the excitement of closing on Madison Street last Friday, the roller coaster of a cosmically timed offer & contract on S Henry Street last weekend, we finished this week with the ugly, no-fun, reality of  a long list of requests from our possible buyers following the inspection.  Ugh.  If that wasn’t enough to put me into full-tilt blues, I don’t know what would be. I’m fighting to control my bitter-betty instincts about these buyers, and I am grateful that B is stepping in to be the voice of reason as we work through these last icky steps in the journey.   As far as this transaction goes, my only comment for now is “we’ll see”.

On to other more (possibly?) interesting topics – what a week it was!  After all the hubbub of the week before the close, the travel and then spending our first night in the new house it was such a relief to share the story with a very special group of friends via the “soft-launch” of Maven and Magpie as began our trip “home” last Sunday.  Even that word is going to get a bit complicated over the days ahead  – because we sort of have two right now. Hopefully only briefly!

I’m so very grateful for the kind notes from each of you and I’ll likely do something with the wonderful words you each sent via email… just so I have them to encourage me as the going gets tougher, as I know it’s sure to do.  (And, as a gentle note – I’d welcome a first comment or two via the blog, if you’re comfortable with your kind words living on the web forever :-)).  By sharing the blog, I feel like I’m able to convey the whole context of the move in a way that a few rambling words in an email will be hard to do – although I think I need to write a draft of that email today, for the list of work-related folks who have no idea I’m making this move, but whom I wish to share it with.. if not in quite as much detail as you indulgent few might enjoy.

The return to reality on Monday was not easy, as Mondays  rarely are. It was likely my second-to-last Monday at the office in Arlington, so that was something to celebrate, but the grind of preparations for my last TechBUZZ are fairly merciless… just trying to keep nose to grindstone, while my heart and head are really looking past the 28th an into the exciting, but totally terrifying, new world that awaits me when this month is done.   I’m definitely feeling the strain of living what sort of feels like a double life – moving ahead with the move, sharing the news with friends, and trying to get the big transition project underway, while as much as possible acting like nothing’s happening at work. It’s pretty bizarre, and definitely exhausting.  I’m sure I’ll look back and wonder why I did it this way – and the only answer is the hard truth that I’m rather hopelessly a pleaser, and this is what was asked of me, so I did it – and I’ve possibly foregone the process of saying goodbye to alot of people I’ve known for a very, very long time. I almost said the “normal process”, but even I know there can’t really be a normal for leaving, uprooting, moving. While people absolutely do it all the time there simply isn’t a recipe for this, so I am just going to embrace that this is the way I’m doing it – and it will be what it will be.

A quick recap of the “lasts” that began this week – before I sign off for today.

  • Tuesday – My last (for a while!) Book Club visit with the girls – delighted to have been able to drop in for the late shift at Kendra’s on Tuesday, exploiting the fact that I have such a dear friend just a few blocks away and could drop in for wine and wonderful conversation with a gaggle of my favorite women after my Carpenters’ Bobcat Dinner.  This sort of easy access to dearest friends is something I’m so grateful for, cherishing and also accutely aware will take a long time to replace. Sniff!
  • Wednesday – My last WAABA Executive Committee Meeting on Wednesday – I’d sent notes to Dean Pulley and Paul Saville to formally convey my “resignation” due to my move, but this meeting was the first time I’d actually gone through the in-person process of being recognized in a group (not of girlfriends or family) for my departure.  It was very kind of Paul to say some nice words about me, and then he turned to me to share a brief recap of what we were doing.  Thank goodness for Maven & Magpie, I basically went with my “home page” verbage… and I guess it pretty much worked. 🙂  It was both a first and a last, and it also reminded me that my ties to W&M will be a wonderful network to tap in to once I’m in NY.  Something I definitely want to make the most of. Go Tribe
  • Thursday – My last (at least in person) Carpenters Shelter Development Committee meeting – while I plan to remain very involved in our big fundraising campaign, and to stay on the CS board as long as I can contribute, I do not expect to stay active in the working development committee for too much longer (or not past the cookoff & Spring to action) as I shift my energies to local Saratoga organizations. So, it was a pleasure to be there with the Dev Committee one last time, to again share my story – but also to affirm my continued participation from  a far. The Slow Fade  – that seems to be my M.O.
  • Saturday – My last (probably) volunteer stint at Carpenters Shelter – and I made it a first too!  While I don’t think I can allocate the 4 hours to the CS front desk when I’m feeling my moments in my beloved home are growing too few, I feel drawn to give as much as I can to this place that has been so important to me over my nearly 10 years in Old Town. So, I decided to try something new – to volunteer at David’s Place, where Carpenters provides the only daytime, drop in shelter for the chronically homeless in the City of Alexandria.  Really, I didn’t do much “volunteering” (although I did a fine job organizing the supply cabinet, I suppose), but I mostly soaked up the time with Sharon the David’s place monitor – an amazing woman – and listening and learning about the ebbs & flows of the diverse community of individuals who rely on David’s place as they navigate their lives.  I’m going to “put a pin” in the idea of writing about what I learned yesterday, certainly more interesting and meaningful than this me-me-me nonsense, but also something I might do better when I’m able to focus & think a bit more.
  • Saturday – My last (likely) leisurely Saturday on the couch at S Henry.  It was wonderful to be home, unscheduled and able to just sink in (and yes, wallow a little) on my couch, with the kitties, the fireplace, my book (Book Club on March 6th in SAratoga – I’m ready!), and time to just be in this home that I love.  Yes, I was pretty blue, I napped alot, I dodged some phone calls I should’ve made or taken, but I also just decided to BE… and waking up today, I’m glad I did.

So, here we go – one of my last Sundays at this home.  I decided to no longer be blue, and it seems to have worked.  I woke up fairly early, went for a nice walk in the misty morning, enjoyed a foggy froggy visit to the river and then settled in the Starbucks at Union & King to finish my book about President Garfield and do a few thank yous, before stopping by LPQ for my beloved chia pudding to take home.   And here I am!

A big week ahead – my last TechBUZZ, my last days at MAVA and who knows what else.

Thanks so much for listening.


Maggie and the Redbud… do you see where my inspiration for the M&M logo came from?
Better view of the Redbud.


Maven and Magpie – Soft Launch: Feb 18, 2018

Good morning Dear Friends!

I’m sending this note to a special handful of the beloved, lovely, wonderful, supportive and possibly indulgent friends who may find the “story” of our move to Saratoga of interest.  I’ve decided to write a blog about it, and I’ve named it Maven and Magpie.

The website is:  

It should show up in WordPress, if you search for it… I’m still figuring things out and Meg is providing invaluable assistance :-).  Consider it a “baby blog” as it’s still very much in it’s infancy.

My main inspiration for doing this is to have a place to park my feelings and experiences along this winding road. It’s basically an online diary (with photos and links), that may be fun to look back on as we get through the year ahead.  Plus, when I’m up in Saratoga starting from scratch in building a new life, this sort of gives me a way to talk to each of you and let you know how I’m doing. My plan is to give it a year and stick to it, with at least one post a week, just to see where it takes me.

Besides the journaling exercise, the website gives me a place to park a bunch of other things I like to share (and you know I like to share.. that’s why I’m the Magpie!) – projects, causes, photos, events… travel & restaurant recommendations, and who knows what else.  Sort of like my personalized FB page… with the benefit of a restart on who I overshare with. Lucky you!

A special shout out to Meg and Jean who each played a key role in my decision to launch this little project.  If you find it at all entertaining, thank them! If you find it totally self-absorbed and silly, blame me… I’m an only child, you know I can’t help myself!

Big hugs to each of you!

And then came the tears

The first of many in front of our new front door!

So  many cliches come to mind “be careful what you wish for, you just might get it” , “when it rains it pours”, “it’s all fun and games until someone pokes an eye out”… ok, maybe not that last one, but really, I feel like there must be some old adage that captures me and all my crazy over the past few days.

The good news – we are being overrun with good news. The great news – the maven, while trying to find something helpful to say to the sobbing mess that was me for most of yesterday, actually referred to the influence of karma and the bigger picture. That really made me happy and it may have gotten me through the worst of my tidal wave of sadness (at least yesterday).

Sadness, you ask?  What happened? Didn’t you just close on the house you are so excited about in the town you’ve been dreaming of for years… isn’t this exactly what you wanted. What’s your problem? All good questions!  In a word, reality, that’s what happened.

As I may have mentioned, as we were driving up the Northway (have confirmed the nomenclature with the locals at our closing), we received an offer on Henry Street.   It was, without a doubt, absolutely perfect timing – if we could’ve written the script, we would have walked in to our close on Madison Street with a offer in hand. And that’s exactly what we did. Grateful, fortunate, lucky us! Crazy in fact!

So, we walked out of our very happy, successful and delightfully uneventful closing process with keys in hand to our new home, our new life, and within 30 minutes we were on the phone with our agent in Alexandria talking through their offer and working on our counter.  Nothing to complain about, but so totally not what I thought we’d be doing to celebrate the first minutes/hours of our new status as homeowners in the Empire State. And you know, I like things in a certain order… and this was not that order.  So, we got that launched, and then celebrated with a drink a the bar at Chianti’s (we’d never been in the “new” location) and dinner at Henry Street Taproom (a fave – that scotch egg, it’s  winner).   As a sidenote, which only added to our sense of “this is a good thing”, we love the fact that we popped in no less than 4 totally packed bars (Max London’s, Wheatfields, Boca, Druther’s ) before landing in our happy spot at Chianti’s . This at 5:30 on a friday – the people in this town, they get Happy Hour, the seem to take it seriously. We think it’s awesome  – especially in the middle of Feb!

Anyhoo, I was happy on Friday – although pretty much exhausted, and much to the maven’s dismay, not visibly excited about the whole offer situation.  Numb was probably the right word, and it went downhill from there.   We got their counter to our counter, and I realized that was pretty much it – we were about to go under contract, and this whole happy dance of a magical move to Saratoga was about to turn into a much dreaded, postponed and in-denial process of saying goodbye to a home I love, a neighborhood I love, and a departure from a place where I’ve been very, very happy for 25 years.   I think I’ve been doing a darn good job putting all that sadness in a sack, and accepting this offer launched the start of the tidal wave.  While it was easy to use the details of the negotiation as the excuse for my total lack of joy about achieving the one, critically important piece of this puzzle, but I think the two key drivers are: I fundamentally love my house so much that I don’t think it’s being sold for what it’s worth (insert another cliche here) and much more fundamentally, this contract means my life in Alexandria is now to be measured in weeks and days.  My acute sadness is the simply measure of  how very, very happy I’ve been in our home and in our life in Old Town and in the DC area for all these years.

The poor Maven is miserable – he doesn’t know what to do with me. He keeps looking at my hopefully like “are you over it yet?”  I’m trying to just get him prepared for a lot of tears… I’ve honestly shed very few so far (by my standards & with a few notable breakdowns along the way), but I think that as exciting as this adventure will be – we’ve now entered the dark phase, and I think I just have to be a little miserable to mourn all that I’m leaving behind.  Of course I’ll come back, and I will not lose my friends, but there’s simply an end of an era that I’m going to have to process and grieve.  It won’t be pretty and I know it makes me look like an ingrate, but I don’t think skipping this part is an option.  I’m going to do my best to do it with grace and minimal number of moments I regret.

While it’s usually one door closes and another opens, for us, we’ll first be closing one beloved door before we open the next – which awaits us at The Spa.

Celebratory Cocktails at Chianti
Our new home – 123 Madison Street!

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!