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Fire and Ice

Before I begin, I should remind you that I am not a travel lifestyle blogger. I typically blog as I would compose a diary, to remind myself of where I was and what I experienced. This is going to be a long post because I want to capture the details that matter to me, and not boil down my travels to a perfectly-manicured and concise article on the time I went to Iceland. So, reader, you’ve been warned…

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There are people out there that say there is a particular sadness in leaving an immersive trip, the sadness that the incredible journey is now just a memory on its way to becoming a story.

I returned to Seattle after spending a week in Reykjavík, Iceland at the beginning of December 2015. The worst part about visiting Iceland is how badly it makes me want to go back now, so as not to let it become just something I remember. I suppose that delaying the completion of this post is my one way of pretending it isn’t over, but time has a way of slipping by regardless.

Everything I knew about Iceland made it seem like a fairy tale; although I had heard about the Northern Lights, the architecture, and the quaint feel of the only large city many times over, it was too fantastical to be believed. I had to see it for myself, and arriving in Iceland, it was truly like I had traveled somewhere other-worldly. It’s part of my story now–and I can recall the trip itself, still fresh like the snow we trudged through to and from the city each day.

Sunday, November 29th

John and I packed for most of that Saturday, when he insisted on bringing a laser pointer for no reason other than, “It’ll be fun.” On Sunday morning, we both went to the gym for one last WOD, then cleaned up and started loading my car.

Ari and B met us at noon, and we hauled away to Sea-Tac where John’s coworker let us park the car. She drove us to the airport, we checked in, and we sent all of our bags away; two free checked bags is a very comfortable policy, it turns out. Thanks, Icelandair!

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With parkas on and only our purses and small backpacks, we passed through security and on to our terminal. We grabbed a bite to eat and awaited our plane. I chatted with my mother on the phone, keeping an eye on the impatient crowd at the gate. Eventually, there was movement, and we all boarded the Boeing 757.

Once snugly in our seats, we settled in for the seven-hour ride. John and I had been moved to exit row seats, so our leg room was ample and the tray tables quite awkward. We set our watches eight hours ahead, took off through some low-lying Seattle clouds, then turned northeast and climbed on towards Canada. The sun was already low in the sky, and we spied pink snow-capped mountains out the window before the night sky took over.

With not too much to see, I split a snack with John and had some water before trying to snooze as much as possible. The woman on my other side was part of a group of three or four, traveling to Iceland for some kind of celebration; I never discerned what their reason was, although they were planning to spend time both in the city and somewhere outside of it. She ordered two mini bottles of wine, so I figured perhaps she was celebrating a birthday as well.

Spotify offline playlists kept me calm and soothed, and when my phone read “5:00AM,” I woke up and watched some of the in-flight offerings until we landed.

Monday, November 30th

The Seattle flight left at 3:45PM Pacific Time, which meant a 6:55AM Monday arrival. Once on the ground at Keflavík Airport, I marveled at the fact that I was on Icelandic soil for the first time; it was a wish come true.

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Customs was a quick process, as we were one of only a few arrivals at that dark, early hour, and after collecting our bags, we did some duty-free shopping. The thing to keep in mind about Iceland is that the liquor is expensive, but that it’s quite reasonable at the duty-free store. We grabbed a few choice bottles, including some Brennivin, along with some Garún Icelandic Stout NR.19 (Borg Brugghús), Einstök Toasted Porter, and an obscene amount of Viking Gylltur.

After shopping, it was time for juice and a snack, killing time before our 8:30AM shuttle to the Blue Lagoon. The freshness of the smoothie was much-needed after a long plane ride. However, what was even more needed came next.

The Blue Lagoon excursion immediately following arrival was one of our best ideas. Blue Lagoon is a major tourist destination, although one a traveler cannot miss; all my worldly friends stand by this, tourist trap and all. They make it so tourist-friendly anyway, it’s hard to say no.

Our shuttle bus driver stashed our luggage in the cargo hold, then drove us through the pitch black dark about 12km from the airport. We transferred our luggage to the bag storage at the end of the parking lot, where our group of three busses–ours only had about six people on it–parked; no other visitors had yet arrived, making our arrival seem even more special. We stopped in front of the Blue Lagoon sign to take a few celebratory selfies and sips of liquor, reveling in the cool winter air and the pre-dawn hush. Perfect snowflakes blanketed the ground and muted all the background noise, so it was just the trudging of our boots and our lowered voices in the air.

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We had pre-booked our visit, so once we reached the main building, we got in line and got squared away with our wristbands before heading to the luxurious locker rooms. Again, with relatively few visitors at the Lagoon, it was relaxed and peaceful. I remember the locker rooms being the perfect temperature, both in the air and beneath my feet. I changed into my favorite swimsuit and commented to Ari about how flattering the lighting and mirrors were; I actually looked like I work out as hard as I do! An added bonus to an already great experience.

Many people warn tourists about the showering process, where one must strip down before entering the Lagoon. No one mentioned the fact that there were single shower stalls in addition to the common shower. With no rush, there were plenty of single showers open. Spotting an open stall, I took it, and I relished the warm water and soap; after all, I had been on a plane all night. I made sure to load my hair with conditioner to stave off the minerals, then put my swimsuit back on and wandered out into the frigid morning.

To say my feet were then cold was not giving Iceland its due credit. The air was freezing, and the walkway surface was not much warmer. It behooved us to hang our towels as quickly as possible in order to get into the milky blue pool before turning into human icicles.

With dawn breaking and steam rising off the surface of the water, I couldn’t help but want to hurry on in, though. The Lagoon was heated to a comfortably hot temperature, somewhere between 98-104 degrees Fahrenheit, and again, after a seven-hour plane ride, it was just what I needed. We slowly ventured to the outer reaches of the Lagoon, with our visibility obscured by the thick steam and low light; thankfully, I didn’t fall into any unexpected deep spots (something you expect when you’re 5’1″).

Since it was a birthday celebration trip and all, our next order of business was to procure champagne, so off to the bar we went. In all actuality, this meant finding the stairs closest to the bar, dashing inside, dripping all over the floor whilst apologizing for doing such, and then ordering our drinks of choice. We were rung up with a swipe of the wristband, and back into the warm waters we went. (Luckily, for our next round, the swim-up bar was open; no more mad dashes for a beverage.)

We spent the next few hours wandering in the water, sitting in the steam rooms, and lounging in the jacuzzi areas. The water had a sort of soft quality to it, and only in the steam rooms did I ever sweat.

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Eventually, it was time to leave, so we reversed the process: showered, dried off, dressed, paid, ate lunch, retrieved our bags (and beer), and waited for the shuttle to the city.

We eventually made it to our Airbnb apartment, after transferring to a mini-bus due to the snow. The apartment’s “on-site manager” (so to speak) met us, let us in, and gave us essential pointers for our stay. We unpacked, freshened up, and were ready to see the city by foot. Icelandic fish ‘n’ chips were on the menu for dinner that night, so we were able to cross off one item on John’s “must do” list. Please note that we visited Reykjavik Fish Restaurant to get our fish ‘n’ chips; our friends had advised that they once tried to find fish ‘n’ chips in town and had ended up at a joint that had “fish ‘n’ chips” in the name, but alas, no actual fish ‘n’ chips. Reykjavik Fish, however, had a chalkboard with its offerings, and their hearty fish ‘n’ chips were just what we needed.

In addition to dinner, we took in the sights of a Christmasy-looking Reykjavik and wandered through a snow-covered cemetery before calling it a night and doing our best to ward off the jet lag.

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Tuesday, Dec. 1st

A winter storm rolled in on Tuesday, bringing lots of snow to the area. “Lots of snow” is an understatement, but I don’t have a much better way to quantify it. We took our time, after sleeping in, to bundle up and seek out the famous Sægreifinn lobster soup.

Let me tell you about lobster soup in the most succinct way possible: it’s incredible.

Warm, flavorful, perfectly salted, and rejuvenating, lobster soup became an instant favorite of mine. The menu at Sægreifinn is also wonderfully straight-forward: there’s the soup, fresh seafood skewers, and beverages–alcoholic and non–to choose from.

We warmed up at Sægreifinn (The Sea Baron), enjoying our soup and complimentary bread, as well as enjoying being out of the wind and snow. It was a good day for cozying up in coffee shops and bars–which is considered one of the best tourist activities when in Iceland–and generally just seeing all the city had to offer.

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We spent a good deal of time at the Culture House, a part of the National Museum of Iceland, where the exhibition Points of View was being housed. This was another good way to learn more about the country we were in, taking in art and history from centuries ago through the present. While we were in the building, I distinctly remember seeing large, fluffy clumps of snow falling past some of the windows. The relative quiet and stillness of the Culture House–along with the picturesque snowfall–was peaceful, a nice departure from the hustle of “real life.”

Other places of interest on this snowy day included Lebowski Bar and a book shop. White Russians and books, what could go wrong? We eventually wound up back at the house after trudging along through most of Reykjavik.

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(PS – I visited Lebowski Bar’s page in February, and I noticed that they were offering free bacon on all burgers for Valentine’s Day. First of all, that’s quite the way to celebrate; second of all, had I known about this sooner, I would have definitely pushed for a return visit slash date night.)

Wednesday, Dec. 2nd

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The morning was clear after the previous day’s winter storm, and after starting our day, we walked down to the Harpa Concert Hall to pick up tickets for a Sin Fang show later that night. We arrived at Harpa at just the right time, as the sun was high enough in the sky to throw some beautiful colors into the surroundings.

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Shortly thereafter, dark clouds, heavy with precipitation, rolled in, but instead of rain, they brought more snow. We wound up at Kex Hostel and Bar, where the restaurant/bar provided us with unnecessary amounts of delicious food: a spicy burger, salmon and kale, fresh sausages, and a simple yet much-needed green salad.

Later that evening, we went back to Harpa and watched the show. We were in one of the small auditoriums, looking down on the group. All the songs were in English, and all of the filler between songs was in Icelandic. This made for a pretty mellow experience for us. We didn’t understand any of the punchlines to the jokes, but we laughed along anyway. Young Boys was the subject of some kind of joke about it being a “gay anthem.” It’s fairly obvious upon listening to see how that could be; the song itself is one of my favorites now, and I encourage you to take a listen.

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After the concert, we quite likely ended up at Prikid, as we had time on our hands, and feet with which we could walk.

Thursday, Dec. 3rd

Or, the Day I Turned 30. And how else would I start the day but with a WOD at CrossFit Reykjavik? (Actually, it started with toast, skyr, some juice that I’m sad we can’t find Stateside, and an espresso from our grumbly espresso machine. But I digress.)

In order to get to the gym, we needed to take a cab; our driver got us there quickly, especially quick considering the snow-covered roads. Icelandic drivers mean business. We arrived in one piece, then wandered the perimeter of the building until we figured out we had to access the lower level to get to the gym. In our defense, the snow was obscuring the pathway.

CrossFit Reykjavik is, as another visitor noted, a fitness factory. A well-oiled machine, we dropped in during the block of time where classes start every twenty minutes. The space is organized to allow this type of rotation, with strictly timed warm-ups, skill or lifting sections, and the WOD.

Our coach led us through warm-ups, which were easy enough to follow, as the combination of Icelandic and body language were all we needed. He checked in with us Americans every now and then to make sure we understood what was going on, which was appreciated.

The day’s lift consisted of 8 minutes to find your 1-rep max overhead squat. With a cranky shoulder, no Olympic lifting shoes, no weight belt, and a few days of improper nutrition and jet lag, I still managed to PR my overhead squat by a few pounds. 50kg/110lbs., good enough for a birthday PR. The rest of my Seattle crew either matched or PR’d their OHS, as well.

Then there was the WOD. It came with a 12-minute time cap, and read:

For Time
400m run
then…
21-15-9
SDHP (55kg/35kg)
Box jump overs (60/50cm)
then…
400m run

I was worried about hitting the time cap, between all the aforementioned ailments and chronic asthma. However, I surprised myself partway through my first set of SDHPS, noticing the clock was not very far along.

I’m actually going to finish this, I thought. Since that was the case, it then was in my best interest to try and keep up as best as possible. My fitter half and two BFFs unsurprisingly came off of the middle part of the WOD ahead of me, and they were well into their closing 400m run when I joined in. At the least, the gym operators weren’t cruel enough to send us out into the snow and ice, so we ran 8 small laps around some of the equipment.

I had a small lead on a few of the local athletes, and I finished well under the time cap. John naturally finished in his favorite spot, “fastest in the class,” although he didn’t look at the right clock to log his time. His time is forgotten to all eternity.

(That’s not true; B was able to track both their times, and John logged his on our gym’s website. I just looked it up online, and his time was 8 minutes and 15 seconds.

Fine.)

Final time: 10 minutes, 25 seconds 

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After the WOD, we took advantage of the wrestling mat and stretching room, rolling out before heading into the locker rooms. We showered, then instead of getting dressed and going home, we put on swim suits and hopped in the gym’s hot tub. (And cold tub. They had both.)

We did not get to take advantage of the sauna, although I imagine that would have been glorious as well. Instead, once we showered and changed, B noticed a Hlöllabátar across the way, so off we were to acquire some ham boats for post-WOD sustenance. I had to run the page through Google Translate because I don’t speak Icelandic very well (that’s an understatement), but the sandwich–boat–in question is the “Skinkubátur.” All you need to know is these boats are reasonably-priced and tasty. No frills, just great boats.

After the boys wrangled a taxi in the parking lot of a grocery store, we were on our way back to the apartment to rest up before birthday dinner. Walking around and eating lots of things whilst on holiday is difficult, so we played some games to keep ourselves entertained. I’m not exactly sure when we brought out Milles Bornes, but that is a game I highly recommend bringing on vacation, along with Quiddler. Both are good, clean fun, and I don’t mean that in a sarcastic way. They’re a very good way just to have fun, and they take up little room in the suitcase.

Our friends Aaron and Michelle departed Edinburgh, Scotland via EasyJet, and were en route to Reykjavik by early evening. Ahead of their arrival in the city, the four of us Seattleites went out for dinner. For the first few days, the boys had been asking us ladies were we wanted to go for our special days. There were several very nice restaurants around, and most were serving special Christmas meals. We kept telling them that we would make a decision at some point.

Naturally, it being my 30th birthday and all, I decided on lobster soup.

So, lobster soup it was, with the added treat of fresh salmon and cod skewers, along with a sampling of all the Christmas beers the Sea Baron had. It was a hearty and peaceful dinner, as we got to sit upstairs in the old bunk room area.

Bunk room?

Yes–there are several bunks in the upstairs area, which used to be lent out to fisherman in need of respite. A whole different type of homey feel to the restaurant, and one that made this birthday seem all the more unique and special.

After soup and beers, we moved onto Kex where we met the two ex-patriates, and where we enjoyed Einstok beers and a chocolate flourless cake. Aaron, the gentleman he is, requested a candle on the cake for my birthday, and Kex delivered.

The cake slice arrived with extra whipped cream, and a tea candle placed gently atop the cake. I’ve never been more delighted!

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It was a special night to be celebrating my birthday in Reykjavik, turning 30 with five of my favorite people, all who entered my life at various points in time. I couldn’t have thought up a better way to turn 30, and the best present was knowing there was more of the trip still ahead of us. We kept it relatively under control on this night because we had to be up early for the Golden Circle Tour.

Friday, Dec. 4th

I would say we were up at the crack of dawn on this day, but considering dawn wasn’t going to happen for several hours, I will just say we were up early. We had booked tickets for the Golden Circle Tour, including bus pick-up near our Airbnb, and had to get up to meet the mini-bus.

Unfortunately for us, we were the last scheduled area for pick-up, so we waited maybe 45 minutes out in the cold–and I mean cold as in “far below freezing”–before we finally got to climb into a tiny bus. The waiting game was perhaps the biggest hiccup in our trip, but all things considered, it was not the worst thing in the world. No one was hurt in the process, and we eventually got to our big buses, where Aaron and Michelle had saved us all seats.

I fell asleep for most of the drive out to our first stop, which was a tomato hot house, Friðheimar. There we were able to sample some delicious tomato soup and bread, learn about the indoor tomato cultivation, and also pet some Icelandic horses. One particular horse was rolling around in the snow without a care in the world.

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Next on the list was the Geysir geothermal field. As the name might imply, there is quite a bit of geothermal activity here. It’s of utmost importance for tourists to keep to the path because even though it’s cold out, it’s quite ill-advised to touch the far-beyond-boiling water.

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One of the geysirs, looking hot.

We waited patiently for the Strokkur geysir to erupt, and we were eventually treated to a spout of water preceded by a big bubble.

We refueled in the restaurant, then boarded the bus to Gullfoss (Golden Falls). Gullfoss was incredible and worth the biting wind. The water plunges over 100ft., and in the cold winter, some of the spray froze to the edges of the cliffs, creating what essentially looked like another frozen waterfall. I’m not certain what else I can say about the waterfall, other than it was incredibly beautiful. Absolutely amazing.

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Last on the list was Thingvellir National Park, a geology lover’s dream come true. The tectonic plates are pulling apart here, creating steep, blocky walls. We could also overlook the original Parliment and the lake, again braving the cold wind.

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100% John’s camera and eye here.

Back in town, we rested up before embarking on a night out. It started with a card game at the house, included some ham boats and hot dogs, and ended at Prikid with dancing and realizing Icelanders bring their A-game on the weekends. I’ve not a clue how any of the women were able to pull off high heels and normal club clothes in the dead of winter, but I admire them for it.

Saturday, Dec. 5th

When we finally awoke on December 5th, it was Ari’s turn at 30. Neither one of us had experienced anything strange, such as losing a limb nor all of our hair spontaneously falling out at once, so it was looking like 30 would be just fine.

We paid a visit to the iconic Hallgrimskirkja, where we took the elevators to the top of the church and looked out over the city. To say it was gorgeous would be an understatement. Even in the winter fog, with the visibility reduced, it was worth the trip to the top. I can’t wait to go again in a future summer.

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John’s work, again. (By this point, the rest of us had quit trying to take photos because John’s camera was showing all of us up.)

After coffee at Reykjavik Roasters, we went to Snaps for a very late brunch. Brunch runs until 1600 at Snaps, so we were just fine between sleeping in and our wandering. Being the holiday season, there were some additional Christmas treats on the menu, including mulled wine, which I have a weak spot for. Even though I was at the point in the vacation where I needed to probably think about putting myself on a restrictive calorie diet, I ordered Eggs Norwegian, and there were no regrets. Eggs Benedict with smoked salmon? Heaven in a single dish, I would say. (Actually, this blogger basically said the same thing about Eggs Norwegian at another place. We can’t both be wrong.) Everything else we ordered was on-point, and we gladly indulged.

It was a wandering and food-centered kind of birthday, with a siesta of sorts at the house after brunch. Eventually, we trekked down to Kex yet again for birthday treats, and later, four of us made it to Slippbarrin for cocktails and accidental (?) free shots of whiskey.

Ringing in 30 in Reykjavik was a great choice.

Sunday, Dec. 6th

Sadly, all good things must come to an end. Sunday signified the end of the trip, and we begrudgingly packed up. John made one last trip to the neighborhood pool facility, and the rest of us went for coffee and a light pastry breakfast at Kaffihus Vesturbaejar. I had a croissant with some cheese and jam, and the bistro was calm and cozy, perfect for the close of a fantastic trip.

Also perfect was our bus ride to Keflavik, which began with another mini-bus pick-up. Our mini-bus driver was a natural at driving in the snow, and he wove up and down the side streets to gather other passengers and occasionally honk at pedestrians who were walking a bit too slow for his frantic pace. It was certainly a ride for which I buckled up, but when all was said and done, we not only were in one piece, but we had been thoroughly entertained by our young, relentless driver.

The longer ride from the central bus station to the airport was relaxing, with the sun illuminating the landscape outside. I snapped a few photos, but the dirty window and the moving bus diminished the quality of what I was really seeing.

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Once at Keflavik Airport and through security–and after we finally figured out the self-check system for the bags–we grabbed a hot meal of Icelandic meat soup and bread. I need that recipe in my arsenal, and I need Keflavik Airport’s food in my life more often. What a treat.

I also would not mind having the airport’s bars in my life more often, as the service and selection were both great. We enjoyed a few last drinks, including the last Einstok porter for awhile.

Soon enough, we were back on an airplane, and I snuggled up to the window seat. We hadn’t seen the Northern Lights the entire trip, but once we climbed high enough and the sky got dark, I looked out the window. Past the wing, there was a faint, green glow in the sky. At first, I thought it must have been a cloud, just catching the last rays of sunshine, but it persisted, and I knew it was the Northern Lights.

I nudged John and told him to look out the window, that the Northern Lights were just outside. We both craned our necks to watch them, until they were too far behind us to see any longer.

Turning our attention forward, we settled in, headed home to the Pacific Northwest, and said goodbye (for now) to the Land of Fire and Ice.

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The gang’s all here.

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PS – In case you were wondering, John forgot all about the laser pointer until he unpacked everything back in Seattle.

PPS – Photo credits for this post include John, B, Ari, Aaron, Michelle, and myself

2014: The Year in Review

I rang in 2014 on a Seattle sidewalk with lovely lady friends on a walk back from our neighbourhood Dick’s Drive-in.

Now I’m sitting on a couch in my jammies. In Scotland. Sore from two days of CrossFit in the midst of my two-week holiday from work and eating properly and regular work-outs.

A lot of things happened this year, a lot of good things. I’ve cut back on blogging because I’ve been busy in the gym and with my offline life. It’s been really fun, I have to say.

I have some 2015 goals, mostly in regards to what I do with my fitness.

Rehab and build up my shoulder strength.
Clean up some skills and technique.
Lift, because I love it.
Compete a few times.
Have fun, and keep proving myself wrong.
Etcetera.

Beyond the gym, well… Let’s see. I’m currently abroad, and it has been wonderful to see my friends in Scotland and also just generally explore a new place. It feels like a big sigh of relief after not going abroad for over three years.

I’d be lying, though, if I didn’t say I’m looking forward to seeing a certain someone in three or so days.

I’ve been pretty bad at checking off things on my old 30 Before 30 list, but I don’t seem to particularly care because things are constantly changing and my goals and wants have changed dynamically even in recent months. That’s okay. The most important item not on my list was apparently to get myself to a place where I could successfully pursue one big item on that old list: essentially, to cultivate a relationship that is healthy, and in which I can place my energy and feelings and be happy.

In a nutshell, my boyfriend is amazing and nice and wonderful and respectable and an entire slew of positive adjectives. (He’s not in Scotland with me, seeing that I booked the trip before we were dating; I get to Skype him from the future, though!)

That’s where much of my time and energy is invested. It is where I do everything I can to be present. And I think that’s the great theme of the present–to be present. To live life. (Accidentally typed, “To live lift,” just now, which is also true.) To have experiences. (And to also be content with mastering the art of doing nothing.)

What will 2015 bring? Many things, I’m sure. Things out of my control, things in my control, unexpected things, and little butterfly effects here and there. That seems alright.

I hope you all have a Happy New Year. Here’s to 2015.

And now, here are some photos from my Scotland trip (and not the rest of the year because I cleared all my photos off my phone before I left).

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A Woman Can Change Her Mind

Well, I did it again. I’ve found myself in yet another quarter-life/existential crisis. I think it has something to do with working at UW, and suddenly feeling like my professional-prep Master’s degree wasn’t as lofty as I could have achieved, and it has to do a bit with still trying to break the habit of jumping ahead of myself several years, and probably some other underlying aspects, including an insatiable love for learning and the inability to sit still for a second.

That’s all fine, though. I’ll work through this. It’ll just take some real talk with myself, and maybe some hiding in my room, mapping out my interests and strengths and identifying some goals and stuff.

In the same vein, I’ve been thinking about revising my 30 Before 30 again. I created my 30 Before 30 list when I was 24. It’s funny how quickly these things, my priorities, my interests, seem to change. I seem to do this every two years. That’s fine. I don’t know if a lot of this is doable financially, but whatever. Goals and dreams and goals and dreams, and I’m not going to get hunted down by the blogosphere if I don’t finish everything.

Alright. Here are the newest revisions. (With 30 approaching in less than two years, my prediction is that a number of revisions will occur more rapidly. And probably extending the list into a “30 before 40.”)

1. Visit E in Spain Done!
2. Visit the Italian town my ancestors are from (Monastero di Lanzo)
3. Visit Australia and New Zealand
4. Visit Kauai, Hawai’i
5. Learn to swim
6. Learn to ride a bike
7. Learn to make great cocktails on my own
8. Learn Spanish and Tagalog – Alright, well, I’ve signed up for Duolingo, and have been getting a few short lessons in each day. It’s better than nothing. I even tested out of a few initial skills; seems like I still remember some Spanish.
9. Meet my cousins and family in the Philippines
10. Earn a master’s degree in student affairs administration – Done!
11. Have one more Wenatchee summer – Done
12. Revised: Take another trip down the Oregon Coast
13. Get my CrossFit Level 1 Certificate – This one’s scary for several reasons: 1. I don’t have $1k to spend on a certificate; 2. I’m still not that great at CrossFit; 3. It might also mean pursuing my interest in coaching other newbies. (And thus, complimenting my academic side with my “want to run around in workout clothes all day” side.)
14. Hike the Enchantments
15. Hike part of the Pacific Crest trail (WA portion)
16. Revised: Go to Iceland
17. Make blogging a priority – In-progress; and lumping in a revised point #13: blog about CrossFit, having great (and maybe transformative) conversations with others, travel (including great food and drink in great Northwest cities). Basically, blog about the important things in life that contribute to physical, mental, and spiritual wellness.
18. Get a piece of poetry or a research article published/present at a conference – Presentation: complete!
19. Write a book and get it published – This has been in-progress for a long time, I guess.
20. Perform improv or stand-up
21. Be an extra in a movie
22. Get professional-quality headshots/model shots just for fun
23. Try out for a semi-pro/professional dance/cheer team – Done, to an extent.
24. Meet Neil Patrick Harris – Okay, probably not realistic…
25. Revised: Get fit, and have my body reflect it  – In-progress…
26. Save for a sweet city condo
27. Go to the Doctor Who Experience in Cardiff, Wales
28. Read more books
29. Take the train moreDone; I think after my last Christmas train experience, I’m good on American trains…
30. Have the BEST 30th birthday celebration w/ my closest friends somewhere far away

Still leaving my 31st bullet on here, though…

31. Meet someone amazing and give the relationship 100%.

These are all personal things, yeah? Yeah. They are. And maybe they seem scarier and more daunting than professional goals because there’s not as much structure in these things. My professional career is, in all actuality, pretty easy to grasp; I am having some trouble articulating what I want my future job to look like and in what functional area it should be, but it’s straight-forward: do a good job in my current role, seek out development, gain the skills, refine the interests, and take next steps when necessary. Boom.

I need the fire under myself to get me moving on other things, though. I don’t work well without some kind of guidance, which is why I’m finally meeting some personal goals through CrossFit and now Duolingo. There are milestones to reach, and there are mechanisms to keep me accountable. If I can find that kind of structure for the points above, especially the travel goals, I can put a lot more in-reach.

I’ve got some thinking to do for the rest of the week. I’ve got a lot of thinking to do (when don’t I, though?).

What’s keeping you going?

Don’t Rush Through It

I’ve been seeing posts here and there about a guide that will make transitions easier. Part of it is self-esteem, part of it is tackling demons that hold one back, and overall, it’s a nice little motivating package. And of course, the author is making money because it’s life coaching.

Here I am, blogging away about all the transitions that I experience, and it’s all at a monetary loss (e.g., paying for the domain, custom fonts, etc.). Granted, I’m not really giving anyone any advice on what to do with a transition. I’m letting anyone who happens across this come up with his or her own conclusions on how to best tackle life.

All in all, though, I’m not going to trade in my catharsis to give young adults advice on how to be sparkly and wonderful through all of life’s transitions. I’m not going to hand you a seven-step guidebook to tackling your fears. It’s not my niche. I’m going to keep on blogging about my misadventures in dating, my wanderlust, my CrossFit forays, and higher education. If I never author an official autobiography, at least I’ll have my blog.

Anyway.

You’ve probably noticed that the past two weeks have been spotty in terms of blog posts. Even today’s post isn’t on the correct day. Well, here’s what’s up:

– I went to Georgia for an awesome work conference/institute.- I came home and was very productive at work.
– Then, I hurried from work on Thursday night to catch a flight to LA. As much as I hate the Pacific Northwest’s rain, I will have to say that sacrificing leaving work at 6PM, driving 20 minutes to the international airport, and being through security by 6:35PM will be hard to leave if I ever choose to.
– I got a free mixed drink because Southwest knows how to celebrate Valentine’s Day.
– Once at LAX, I waited nearly an hour for the dumb hotel shuttle to come pick me up. I’m really sorry, hotel front desk guy, that you had to hear me in full tired hysterics more than once.
– Why was I in California? Good question. I was there to attend Gallifrey One, the annual North American celebration of Doctor Who. In a nutshell, it was awesome.
– I also had the chance to meet up with one of my best friends in the world for his birthday, in which we took a limo around town. We stopped by his old stand-by sports bar, an urban taco restaurant, the Hollywood Bowl Overlook, and House of Blues on Sunset. I unfortunately took some Advil on an empty stomach and felt terrible for awhile, but I powered through. Also got to meet up with my former director and one of my colleagues for a mini-reunion!
– Sometime on Saturday, I started to catch a cold (I also powered through that on Saturday night, but even with all the Vitamin C, it managed to turn into a full-blown cold). I’m still sitting around in my jammies because it–combined with air travel–has knocked me out.

Let’s go back to Gallifrey One, though! I can talk about how awesome it was for just a second.

My friend and I attended the convention. There were right around 3,600 attendees this year, many of which were cosplaying (e.g., wearing Doctor Who-themed fancy dress). I only cosplayed on Saturday, and I have great ideas for upcoming costumes. The convention featured actors and supporting players from all realms of Doctor Who (classic series, new series, audio series, etc. and so forth) in panels. There were fan tables and autograph halls, live action DW improv, and just all sorts of nerdy goodness.

Highlights from the convention included random conversations. For example, there was meeting two of the directors, Saul Metzstein and Douglas MacKinnon, while waiting for table at the bar, and discussing how the life of a director has so many transferable lessons to the world of higher education administration. Then, we went on our merry ways and enjoyed some beers and hockey.

We also happened to literally run into Shaun Dingwall as we were waiting for the escalator. We had a quick exchange about cosplaying and how I “must be melting!” wearing a pleather jacket. Genuinely nice, funny guy.

Oh, and the Inspector Spacetime (a.k.a., Untitled Web Series About a Space Traveler Who Can Also Travel Through Time) crew were hilarious. There’s something wonderfully nerdy about meeting the minds behind a web series based on a 15-second clip of a TV show which is clearly a reference to Doctor Who and then got its own internet fame as fans latched on and ran with the alternate universe (phew).

The panels were, to borrow a phrase, fantastic. There was insight into what it’s like to be a part of Doctor Who, as well as some academically-minded panels on female companions and their depictions, as well as Shakespeare (a good number of actors in DW are also very experienced in the world of Shakespeare productions). Many of the panels were just full of good laughs, like when Nicholas Briggs and Nicholas Pegg (the voice of the Daleks and one of the Dalek operators, respectively) discussed what it’s like doing a run-through of Dalek scenes. Or when Dan Starkey (a.k.a., Strax) was asked if he makes it a pastime to hurl insults at people and if he remembered any of the Sontaran Christmas carols. Or whenever Ian McNeice got a hold of the microphone. It was lovely. And listening to British and Scottish accents all day isn’t the worst thing that can happen to a lady.

Throughout all types of transitions, one must remember to never lose that sense of wonder. As I stood atop the Overlook this past weekend, I felt grateful for the life I live. It may be a life in which The Doctor isn’t real and that little blue box is just a story, but it’s a life that can be just as fantastical and wonderful as long as I allow it to be.

Two Doctors and the TARDIS

Ten and Nine, respectively.

Southern Exposure

This past Wednesday, I took off for Savannah, Georgia. I was headed to the NACADA Administrators’ Institute where I would join the advising divisional managers at my school to draft up some plans to do what we do better.

The trip was one of the most fun I’ve had, and that says quite a bit. From watching Lincoln and Argo on the flight over, to playing tourist in historic downtown Savannah, to finding myself at a country bar talked into riding a mechanical bull (a.k.a., “The Buffalo”), to playing spokesperson as we outlined our detailed plan of action, to making newly-friends… it was truly re-energizing.

I took back some of that new energy today, trying my best to draw out some more depth in my conversations with students today. Our advising model may not be perfect and we definitely have some challenges that come with growing pains, but even though I was dead tired (thanks to an all-day travel day yesterday), I got through it.

I’ve got to keep this up, keep this momentum going. Yes, that sounds like a good plan of action.

Again by the Atlantic

Again by the Atlantic

Sweet Georgia

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I am (and have been for a few days) in Savannah, GA for the NACADA Administrators’ Institute. As an advisor, I am learning much about leading from my current position. I even have a new energy about research and assessment. This opportunity is giving me the chance to think critically about what I do and how to carry out my career in a more impactful way. Hooray, professional development!

Now, time for more self-care and balance–dinner is soon.

A City Anew

I had something to write about, and I thought of it last night. Just having trouble remembering, as I’ve currently been laid up in pajamas all day.

Oh, right.

I’ve been cooking as part of this paleo challenge my gym is doing. We’re actually on a modified paleo challenge, allowing room for dairy, coffee, and some alcohol. What I’ve noticed so far is that I’m fuller longer, my energy is higher,(except today–c’mon, body, get it together), and I’m taking my creative cooking a step further. (Let’s not talk about a couple of the lunches I threw together, though; a sweet potato and/or a steak with a side of avocado is far from creative.)

This morning, I made a plantain hash, using a few modifications: chicken sausage instead of pork, salsa and goat cheese as toppings, a not-quite-brown plantain. Either way, it turned out deliciously. Then, I took a shower, put on my Slanket, and currently haven’t moved in about four hours. I’m pooped and will probably need a nap. (It’s about that time of year where something goes wrong with my immune system and I have to Google, “Do I have mono?”)

The other day, I made homemade almond butter. Almond. Butter. Basically, I conquered my fear of using my food processor and making something that I’ve only known to come from a jar at the supermarket, and you know what? It’s delicious. I ate it with a banana and some honey, and I’ve eaten a few spoonfuls plain. I almost darted out of my house on Saturday to proclaim my awesomeness to the entire neighborhood.

Other things I’ve done include baking chicken with coconut oil and a steak fajita bowl sans rice/tortillas and beans. I’m hoping this creative streak sticks, so even when I’m “allowed” to have corn and rice and pasta again, I’ll know how to moderate my carbs and balance my nutrients so I can continue to eat clean.

Also, I think I have officially crossed into “crazy” territory because not only am I doing CrossFit, but I’m sold on hot yoga. I picked up a $10 for 10 deal at a local yoga studio; I may go and try to sweat out the “hope this isn’t mono” tonight (and try not to be super-bummed that I’m missing another squat workout at my box), but I may also lie on my floor and try to just do a home work-out because that’s easier and my goodness, I feel like I’ve been hit by a bus. Typical.

Also, also, a lot of things have happened in this past year, and I’ve felt like I’m either on the run or treadmilling and can’t quite settle into my current situation. I’d like to put down some roots for the first time in a long time, and I don’t mean that I want to abandon my love of the world, but I’d like to focus on growing my strengths and skills in work, health, my personal life, and so forth. I can’t do that if I’m so obsessed with not missing on the baby steps towards the next big step. I need to bolster my savings something awful, and I think a good compromise will be minimizing how much “stuff” I have, so that I don’t feel weighed down by things; I want to feel tied to a place because I make that choice.

I think this decision came yesterday morning, as I walked downtown in the brisk winter air. I saw cafes and shops I had never noticed before, and I saw people in those cafes having conversations. I saw people walking through the streets, and some of the shops were closed, but the city was still alive. And I saw Portland the same way that I saw Madrid and London and all those cities I’ve visited, and I realized how lucky I am to once again live in a city where everything can feel new if you let it.

At the end of my trip in Madrid, I remembered feeling like I wasn’t a tourist anymore, that I had finally found my favorite local haunts. I knew there was still much to explore, and that kept the city dear to me. I don’t want to treat Portland like some kind of waypoint; I want to treat Portland as a milestone. Portland is every bit as fascinating and wonderful as the other cities after which I lust–it must just be that it seemed too easy, too good to be true that I ended up here after grad school.

Thank my lucky stars.

So, PDX, what do you say? Here’s to a lovely journey and many adventures to come.