Solo in D.C.

Recently, I had the good fortune of visiting one of my favorite cities, Washington, D.C. I tagged along with Hubs, who had to be there for several days for work.

Whilst Hubs was occupied with giving presentations, attending meetings, and working his IT magic to serve his agency’s mission of saving American lives from weather calamities, I took the opportunity to explore the D.C. area solo despite my anxiety about getting lost in the city or getting mugged or kidnapped.

I was inspired to embark on sightseeing in D.C. solo in part through reading Caitlin Kelly’s blog, Broadside.  Caitlin is far more worldly than I, to say the least.  She inspired me to get out into D.C. all by my lonesome, instead of staying in the safety of our hotel room in Silver Spring, MD, where I would no doubt be reading, writing, taking a dip or two in the pool, and watching movies on cable. All things I can do at home. I figured, if she could travel solo outside the U.S., I could certainly manage a couple of days on my own in D.C. And…YOLO, right?

I, of course, took a number of pictures on my D.C. adventure. So here’s my little “show and tell” of my time spent in our nation’s capital:

This is a picture of a picture in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History. I happened upon it in the Nature’s Best Photography Windland Smith Rice exhibit. It appears this lovely sea otter is praying. Or perhaps simply meditating?  Either way, this picture speaks to me spiritually. It’s very Zen, don’t you think?

 

 

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This one is from the American Democracy exhibit found in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. As a proud feminist and firm believer that women should play a much larger role in American politics, I couldn’t not share this picture.

 

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Let’s please put a woman in the white house in my lifetime mkay?

 

This is the first regal looking building I laid my eyes on after stepping off the metro. When I realized what it was, I wished with all my heart that I had a dozen eggs on hand.

 

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Trump International Hotel

Anyone recognize this staircase I’m about to climb? I was told on good authority (our friend John with whom we were dining in Georgetown that evening) that this was the staircase from which the priest was thrown at the end of the movie “The Exorcist”. It’s safe to say that I was more than happy to be climbing up it as opposed to down.

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My backside as I approached the famous staircase

This picture was taken from my perch at a nearby table in Martin’s Tavern. It has a rich history and is known to be the oldest dining establishment in the D.C. area. JFK proposed to Jackie here. The host, Mike, mingles around the tables of diners telling tales of the place. Dining here was indeed one of the highlights of our trip.

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Martin’s Tavern, Georgetown. Standing is Mike, the host with the most

This one was taken as I, covered in sweat due to the ridiculous heat and high humidity (not to mention having just reached 11,000 steps on my fitbit by 3 p.m.), leaned against a cement block and delighted in watching the youngins playing in the water feature without any cares in the world. A delightful break at that moment in time. I was thisclose to jumping in and frolicking around with those kiddos. But I figured it was weird enough for the parents of these children that I was all by myself taking this picture. 

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Georgetown Waterfront Park

And then there are those pics I only took in my mind. Like the one I saw through the window on the metro of graffiti framing the foliage on the other side of the track. To me it represented the beauty of nature and the grit of the city living in harmony. Or the one of my fabulous meal of lump crabmeat, fresh mushrooms, and squash in hollandaise sauce atop english muffins (known as the “Tavern Treat”) at Martin’s Tavern. Or the one of the beautiful mahogany bar housed at J.Paul’s in Georgetown. The bartender shared that the bar itself was formerly housed in the Chicago stockyards and rumor has it that Al Capone himself had enjoyed a beverage or two at it back in the day. J.Paul’s also features antique brass elevator doors brought over from New York’s Waldorf Astoria Hotel. Simply gorgeous.

Me & my Songbrain

I have what can only be described as a “songbrain”. How it works:  a certain word or phrase will be used in my presence, or a mood will strike me and a song starts up between my ears. It’s like a have some kind of jukebox that clicks on just the right song to match what’s going on with me emotionally in the moment. I don’t have to will the song to play, it just does. 

Now, readers who are familiar with my blog surely understand my deep and abiding love for music. I have been known to wax nostalgic about music from my growing up years  like I did here: Song Stories

I’ve also shared my love of making Google playlists for myself, like I did here: Music Therapy

Suffice it to say:

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Bottom line

 

This is the song that runs through my head on days when my 50 year old body is crack ‘a lacking and I forget what I came down to the kitchen pantry to get. Today, truth be told, is kinda one of those days. Thank the good lord I have a massage scheduled later.

 

This is the song in my head when I’m feeling sassy, playful, and I’m having a particularly good hair day.

This is the song Hubs and I could very much relate to when our spawn were, at 14 months apart, in the throes of those oh so fun teenage years. It allowed us to daydream for a bit. Thanks, Fastball.

This is a song I recently discovered while listening to The Current, a MPR station out of the twin cities, which has a show on Sunday mornings entitled “United States of Americana”. This is a song that really makes me think and feel. Now when I am reading or watching news reports about young black youth being harassed, beaten, or killed (as in the case of Trayvon Martin in Florida), I hear this song in my head. “With a pocketful of Skittles”. That line, to me, is the essence of the entire song. He was just a kid.

“My Sweet Lord” by the late, great George Harrison is so beautiful to me. It comes to mind for me when I’m feeling present, aware, and grateful for all of the blessings I have in this life of mine. It’s both comforting and worshipful to me.

Wednesday’s weird-ish wisdom

In honor of it being Wednesday, and on account of having a head full of snot (I hab a heb code at the bobent) along with a shit-ton of half baked blog post ideas in there as well, I write this post today. True focus is eluding me.

There. I have successfully lowered your expectations. Now things have nowhere to go but up, right?

Like all of us, I am a work in progress. I am also subject to change. Call me flaky. Whatever. In my 50 years on planet earth, I have nonetheless developed some amount of wisdom.

I always enjoyed Oprah’s column “What I know for sure”, which was planted at the end of each monthly magazine her empire churned out. It may still be a feature, but for whatever reason, I no longer subscribe. Anyhoo, here’s my own personal take on it:

What I think  I know for sure:

That we all need something to look forward to. It helps motivate you to get out of bed every morning, put one foot in front of the other, and navigate the ups and downs of daily existence.  Even if that “something” is  just a cupcake you’re going to enjoy on your afternoon break at work. Or a dinner out with friends. Or a family barbeque. Or a church picnic. Okay, secrets out. Food is indeed my biggest personal motivator. 

That not all my blog posts are as good as I think they are as I hit that “Publish” button.  Which sucks. But it also pushes me to pen a better post tomorrow. And the next day. And the next.

That regular exercise, even my moderately paced 25 minute walks around my neighborhood, makes me feel better and more capable, both mentally and physically.

That children in preschool and elementary school should be taught compassion in schools. As an actual part of the curriculum. We need more of that wonderful shit if we are going to have the good future we all want for this world.

That it is of extreme importance to me as a creative writer and human being on planet Earth to maintain my sense of curiosity about all things, big and little. My feeling is that if I lose this essential part of myself, I will cease to exist. Because I would die of boredom, of course.

That I will never regret starting this blog. I figure at the very least, it will be considered a legacy for my spawn and any spawn that have spawned or will spawn from my spawn. And if I made anyone laugh, that’s just the frosting on the brownie.

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That the most depressing phrase that seems to be trending is the following: “It is what it is”. The only upside, according to me, is if you allow it to turn into this one: “Let it Be”. Because sometimes that is the best and most simple thing you can do in a situation in which you feel you have little to no control.

That the concept of a “Gap Year” for 50 year olds, of course should most certainly become a thing. I speak from experience. Nothing could have been better for me, upon moving to Colorado one year ago, than pressing the pause button on my career. I’ve had time to work on improving myself through reading, volunteering, and creative writing via this blog. I can see much more clearly now.

Okay, my song brain has kicked in, so I will just leave you lovely folks with this…and you can sing along because the lyrics are attached!

 

1 Mantra, 7 ways

Call me crazy, but I believe in the power of a good mantra. When you have one (or two or 16) that you connect with, not just in your mind, but in your heart and soul, you have an ability to focus on what’s most important to you.

KISS.

This is my most used and helpful mantra. What I think is especially fabulous about it is just how ridiculously adaptable it is.

Many of you already are aware of the  translation of this acronym as “Keep It Simple Stupid”. That was how I glommed onto it initially. You see,  I have a fantastic ability to overthink everything in my life-from what I should have said to so and so, to what I should wear to church on Sunday, to what kind of part time job I should seek. Geez, if only overthinking was a skill I could get paid for. I wonder how much I could get an hour for that? Perhaps it’d be a salaried position? Maybe I could get paid extra for not taking health insurance as I can stay on Hubs plan? Okay, there I go again. That was not useful. Deep breath….ahhhh…KISS…..

Okay, I’m good.

Other ways I use the mantra KISS:

Note: I have determined that I will refer to the last “S” in KISS as “stupid” very sparingly. Because I think it’s important to be kind to oneself.

Keep it silly, sister. Because I firmly adhere to the notion that in order to have a successful, meaningful, and happy life, one should not take anything too seriously. Or anyone, for that matter.

Keep it specific, sister. This one came to me while I was using my wicked crafting skills  creative energy to put together my very first vision board. I firmly believe that having a physical picture of what you want in your life increases the chances of it becoming reality. For instance, instead of affixing a picture of, say, a wine bottle or grapes to my vision board,  I affixed a picture of Napa Valley because that is a place I very much wish to visit with Hubs, asap. Seeing it every day will keep it fresh in my mind, which is good because, I am 50.

Keep it sincere, sister. Bottom line-I’m just going to be me. I will continue to write (and live) with my heart in the right place. Which happens to be on my sleeve.

Keep it succinct, stupid. Yes, I know this sounds super boring. But not nearly as boring as it would be for you, dear patient readers (or anyone I am conversing with in real life),for me to ramble on, stream-of-consciousness style, taking my sweet, pokey time in getting to the damn point. It’s the opposite of verbose. An adjective that has been used to describe me (and sometimes, unfortunately, my writing) which I truly abhore.

Keep it smart, sister. This is possibly the most challenging use of this acronym for me. Because all my life I’ve struggled with feeling that I’m just not that smart. Thankfully, the successes I’ve had in this life along with the people I love who love me back, have helped me to no longer be hyper-focused on it. Keeping it smart, sister, is important to my writing.  I believe that if I’m going to put my opinion out there for the world to see, especially if it’s about current events, I need to know what I’m talking about. That’s why I spend time doing some research if I’m not fully confident that the opinion I’m preparing to put out there is based on facts.

Keep it sassy, sister. Because. THIS.

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So, fellow mantra users, which ones work for you?

Jar of Happiness

I got the idea of the “happiness jar” from the author Elizabeth Gilbert. I honestly can’t recall if I read about it in “Eat Pray Love” or if it was in a magazine article. Either way, thank you, Elizabeth.

When Hubs and I moved to Colorado, I was determined to utilize my free time, which I hadn’t had much of in my previous life as a social worker in Wisconsin, to improve myself. I have always been a big reader with a curious mind so in combination with reading various self help books (Bad Ass by Jen Sincero is the best one), I decided I would create my own “happiness jar”. Here it is:

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With the happiness jar,  each day, you write down the thing that made you happy that day. Then you pop it into a vessel of your choosing. The idea is that you will open up your jar on 12/31 and read your blurbs about what made you happy each day throughout the past year. It’s a way to reflect and take stock of all the good things that happened, both tiny and gigantic, many of which you may have long forgotten about.

The most beautiful thing to me about this practice of mine is that it forces me, each and every day, to remain as mindful as I can be, so at the end of the day, I am able to record at least one thing that truly brought me happiness. On some days, I find myself writing down 2 or even 3 things. Those are the best days!

Instead of waiting till 12/31, and because I’m going on about this in this post, I’m going to share a couple of random happiness notes from my jar. I promise I won’t choose them selectively. I will be super random. So here we go….

2/16: Got one follower on my blog and wrote a new post today 🙂 Made quesadillas and listened to Santana too.

Sounds like a decent day to me! You can’t beat quesadillas and Santana! And getting a new follower!

6/8: Enjoyed helping people at FISH today. The time flew!

FISH is the food bank I volunteer at once a week. And I get so much more than I give when I’m there, it’s kind of ridiculous. And no, that doesn’t mean I’m coming home with free food. It’s the feels. The appreciation. 

5/19: I made the house smell like chocolate chip cookies today.

Say what?! How on earth did I do that? Must have been that new aromatherapy oil I had just bought. Nevertheless, the scent of chocolate chip cookies would make me happy any day of the week. 

6/21: Spent the day interacting w/nature and great FCC peeps. Good for my spirit. That was this day:

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Hubs and I met up with folks from our former church in Wisconsin at Rocky Mountain National Park , to volunteer. We spent the day pulling invasive weeds out of the ground. It was so beautiful that day. I felt honored to be able to spend a whole day visiting with old friends, while doing something helpful for the environment, amidst this awe inspiring scenery.

After plucking these 4 little notes from my happiness jar, I’ve just reinforced my decision to continue the practice of jotting down what makes me happy as I go through my days this year.

What’s in your happiness jar? I’d love to hear about it.

 

 

 

 

 

Frivolity and dark chocolate

Anyone who truly knows me knows that I have an abiding love for dark chocolate. And words.

In my nerdy heart of hearts, I love words. Mostly because of the power they have to evoke an emotion or convey a thought. And partly because some of them are just plain fun to say.

Like the word “frivolity”, for instance. It’s not a commonly used word in our vernacular (another word I love). Wikipedia tells me that frivolity means: “lack of seriousness; lightheartedness”. Methinks this is an important word given the current state of affairs in our world. I am choosing not to expand upon that last line. Today is Friday and frivolity is the word of this day for me.

The other night, I received a message from my piece of dark chocolate. It implored me to buy something frivolous.

So this is what I bought on my Target run yesterday, because when chocolate speaks I listen. 

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As a means to maintain my current state of frivolity, I told Hubs that we are playing Mad Libs on our plane ride to Washington, D.C. this week. I cannot fathom a more frivolously fun activity to engage in while I am sipping Chardonnay in a plastic cup 35,000 feet up in the clouds.

Maybe my frivolous spirit will continue into the week and I’ll be able to take a selfie with this dude:

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We shall see.

Happy Frivolous Friday, my friends!

Blessings for Bobby

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I would like to present to you the reasons for good lord that we as Americans need to offer blessings for Bobby Mueller.

I do realize his name is Robert. However, I recently saw Tim Weiner (pronounced “whiner” not “wheener” like this dude below) on Rachel Maddow’s show refer to Mr. Mueller as Bobby, so I’m going with that. It seems more relatable to me to refer to this potential American hero using this likeable nickname.

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Mr. Weiner is a former New York Times reporter, author, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award. I think it’s fair to go with the assumption he knows Bobby on a personal level.

I write this post as a relatively well informed (politically) American, whose faith, often informed by my chosen religious denomination of the United Church of Christ, can’t help itself from co-mingling with my politics. Yes, my faith and my politics are colliding.

Not like the way a baseball bat collides with that dumb pinata from your kids birthday party that simply will not break open and supply you with all the sugar needed to line the pockets of your neighborhood dentist for eons. More like this:

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I am not telling you to pray to God. Or Yahweh, El, Allah, Dude, or any of the other monikers your religion dictates they be called.  But if any of those are your jam, by all means go for it.

I am by no means even directing you to pray. I believe atheists are good people too.

I am encouraging you to send this man positive energy, as you personally see fit. It might be in the form of meditating on a positive message for him along Boulder Creek on a cloudless August morn. It might be in the form of baking cookies that you deliver to him in person (I am going to be in D.C. soon). It might be making a giant, lit up, lawn sign that says “Find the Truth Bobby”. Whatever floats your boat.

My point is, this man needs all the good juju we can collectively send his way.

Fact is, he’s got a long, hard road ahead of him in his search for the truth. And regardless of where your political alliances reside, all of us as Americans will benefit from the full truth being brought to life.

So here’s my go at a prayer for Bobby:

Dear Infinite Spirit,

Are you there,  Creator? It’s me, Real Rhonda. No, this is not going to be me lamenting about my impending menopause.  As you are aware, I am fully ensconced in AARP land here in Colorado with my Hubs. And I believe in you.

As you undoubtedly are aware, the United States is in turmoil. The man narcissistic bully con-man serving as POTUS has turned everything upside down. He has recklessly pitted Americans against each other with his non-inclusive rhetoric and agenda. He appears hell-bent on taking this great country of ours down in flames. Most importantly, it appears he, along with his cadre of reprehensibles, have not only worked in cahoots with the Russian government to obtain the power they now enjoy, they are also likely benefitting financially from their evil endeavors.

Bobby Mueller needs your guidance, your strength, and your grace.

Please provide him these tools so that America can survive this assault on our democracy and begin to thrive again.

Please be present for him as he hires staff to help him with this investigation.

Please be present for him as he prepares the questions to be asked of those he subpoenas.

Please provide him with the physical, mental, and spiritual energy he will need for however long it takes for him to find the whole truth and present it to the American people.

Please provide him with the fortitude to successfully prosecute all of the individuals who are found to have broken the law.

Please, God, bless America.

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Can I get an amen?