Art, Food/Drink, Jordan, Mindfulness

Out and about.

Yesterday, I realized that it was exactly a month ago that the girls went back to the US and today was my second hair appointment in Amman, it is good to have a point of reference so you can think back to how you felt during a moment in time and see how far you have come. I can remember pretending to be confident as I left the apartment by myself for my appointment that morning to catch an Uber alone for the first time, I’m pretty sure it was the first time I did that in any country! But, I was scared because I didn’t know where I was going, I didn’t recognize the road names, the landmarks were completely unfamiliar to me and I couldn’t communicate with my driver. Once I arrived I did feel a little sense of accomplishment and by the time I left with my fresh cut and color I was feeling 100 times better. This is an example of mindfulness – if you are mentally present during the moments of your life as they are occurring then you can go back to them and acknowledge the feelings you were having and hopefully celebrate a bit of growth that you see in yourself. Today, I was cool and collected as I looked out the window recognizing so many landmarks! It’s easy for me to say because I’m experiencing so many new things but if you find yourself experiencing a negative emotion to something new like I did – let yourself really feel it in that moment because the next time you do it, you will be proud of yourself for how far you’ve come.

What I’ve been doing: so I had a birthday since my last post! Fifty-one woohoo! It was nice to be on the same continent with Mike for my birthday since we’ve been apart for the last 2. The following day I met Lareena for coffee before we went to teach class and she and our barista at Beard&Woman Coffee (LOL) sang Happy Birthday to me, it was so sweet!

Vanilla Almond Milk Latte, mmmmmm.

Class has been going great, we have had 16 students pretty steadily and they are reading, writing and speaking so well! To get a look at our classroom and read about the teaching/learning experience, this post can give you a feel of what we do. See my last post if you are interested in helping from afar, the more advanced English speakers are looking for native speakers to have conversations with over Skype. If you want to try it but are scared, my advice is to try it – you will only be adding value to the student and helping them to achieve their goals. I also mentioned in my last post about Hope Workshop, since then they’ve added some cute gnomes for Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day and Easter. Check them out here and if you buy something you will be empowering refugee women and the families that they are supporting while living in Jordan. So, good feelings all around!

One of the troubles we ran into is that the classroom is small and (thankfully) we have a lot of students. We have a window on one side of the class (you can see it in the post above) and we use a whiteboard – the glare from the window onto the whiteboard makes it impossible for students sitting on one side of the room to see what we are writing. I stood with a scarf blocking the light one time which gave us the idea to buy some fabric to cover the window. After class one day Lareena asked if I wanted to get lunch at Hashems, a well known falafel place downtown and to see if we could find some fabric. She can speak Arabic pretty well but to ask “where can we buy some fabric to cover a window” was tricky, but she spoke it into Google translate and we were directed to the area of town that was basically – the garment district! On our way there we walked through where the spice shops, the golden jewelry sellers and sugar cane juice stands are! We stopped for a glass and it was different, not what I thought it would be – but it was good!!! A blue door caught my eye so I stopped to take a picture and I called to Lareena to see if she wanted to go inside since it said “open to visitors”.

The Duke’s Diwan: https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/the-dukes-diwan-amman-jordan

We walked up the steep, well worn stone stairs to the residence; art and books were everywhere, jeweled colors, stained glass and billowy fabrics – we were so glad we checked it out.

Visually stimulating!
I’m already looking forward to going back.

We followed the directions to the fabric shops given to us from the man on the street and after a few stops in some vendor booths, we were able to find a nice fabric that fits perfectly over the window and our students can all see the white board!

I have been missing my houseplants, they are my leafy children and thanks to my friends back home in VA they are being cared for. There is a cactus and succulent shop in our neighborhood (Cacti) that we have passed by a few times…

…and I decided to go in and check it out this week and came away with a new crew of babies!

I’m planning to do some repotting when they get bigger.

Finally, today after my hair appointment in Weibdeh I walked to the Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts, which is two buildings separated by a lovely sculpture garden park.

Some sights along the way.

I went into the first building and once I reached the top floor I stopped for a vanilla soy latte and sat in the cafe – people watching and listening to music – “Shine on You Crazy Diamond” by Pink Floyd came on and I thought about my dad. As I was checking out the view of the beautiful King Abdullah Mosque an older women walked into the cafe and smiled at me so I said “you should see this nice view” and she looked in the direction I was pointing, looked back at me, smiled and returned to her crew.

I thought it was pretty cool.

After I finished my latte and bought a nice museum print to hang in the apartment, I walked out of the museum and down to the street. There, I saw a snazzy car picking up my new friend (LOL) and by the time I walked through the sculpture garden to the other building, her car was passing by being driven by a decked out military man. I thought “hmm guess she’s some kind of special” and headed in and checked out the gorgeous Mohanna Durra exhibit.

Now that I’m back home and writing (and researching) about my day, I checked out the FB page for the museum and while scrolling I recognized the women holding Queen Rania’s hand in this picture! She is a Jordanian Princess, artist and art historian – Wijdan Ali. So cool, my new friend is someone special and I’m guessing she has seen the mosque plenty of times but it was nice of her to humor me!!

Lots to look at in this one.
The museum.

What I’ve been reading: I finished “Educated: A Memoir” by Tara Westover, very interesting and fast read! What I’ve been watching: RUSSIAN DOLL – Mike and I watched it in one sitting on Saturday – SOOO GOOD! We also finished Sex Education, which is just a great show! I’m still keeping up with Riverdale on the CW app! What I’ve been listening to: XMU – streaming it here in Jordan on my Sonos and staying current on the new indie stuff. What I’ve been doing to keep active: free yoga on Sunday at the Embassy and some upper body weights once a week (I know that is a lame schedule, I need to start going more often) and my walks with Finn. Hey, it’s more active than I was at home – I’m averaging about 5,000 steps a day (if I have my phone with me every time I walk) so that’s about 4,000 more than what I was averaging. Still lame. I haven’t gone to a painting class yet, but I did find one closer to me. Word on my air freight delivery is that it should be here the last week of Feb/first week of March. Hope it is the last week of Feb since the first week of March I have arranged to see my girls in London! It is Jillian’s Spring Break from VCU and I miss those faces more than I could ever have imagined and can’t wait to see them! I’m proud that we are all doing our thang, but looking forward to kicking around London with my travel buddies.
Thanks for reading, feel your feelings, and meet art princesses if you have the chance – it is exciting after the fact. Bye for now.


Food/Drink, General, Jordan, Travel

Marhaba! Hello!

This Thursday was my 4 week “anniversary” living in Jordan and it is going by quickly. I’ve been filling my time with volunteering, sightseeing, learning and meeting new people. I think I just outlined the topics for this blog post, nice… so let’s begin!

What I’ve been doing: I was a guest speaker for my cousin’s third grade class on Long Island – they are learning about world geography and religions. She had a great idea to FaceTime with me using our iPads and displaying me over the Smartboard in her classroom! I went up the roof of my building so they could see and hear Amman and talked with the students about what is different and the same (as the US) about living in Jordan. It was nice to be able to show them the landscape, architecture, the sky and listen to the sounds – they could very faintly hear the evening call to prayer. They asked the best questions and what I didn’t know the answer to, I did a little research! If any other teachers are interested, just let me know!

Volunteering
I went to the Collateral Repair Project for the new volunteer orientation and met 12 like minded people from all over the world. Some were students themselves – studying Arabic abroad in Amman, some were previous recipients of the services that CRP provides, others were living in Amman like me and wanted to use their time towards a good cause; teaching English to refugees that are living here, too. I wasn’t sure that I was going to be doing any teaching because I am not certified but the very next day I got a message that the Pre-Intermediate class needed a co-teacher on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11-12. I’d already met Lareena (from Australia) during the orientation and was excited to begin this chapter in Amman with her. We decided that we would meet for coffee to plan our first class and then Uber together to the community center, we decided it is a nice ritual that sets a collaborative mood for the lesson. Read here about what it is like for a refugee and how the structure of taking classes and learning a language that they want to speak in a country where they hope to be resettled, is so important to them.
As of this writing, Lareena and I have taught two classes and… so far so good. We are very focused on bridging the basic lessons they have previously learned with the more advanced practices of speaking/reading/writing English. CRP has a wonderful volunteer opportunity for native English speakers who don’t live in Jordan to help over the internet. If you have an hour a week and want to help the advanced english students to practice, read here on how you can contribute by volunteering with the eLearning Language Exchange. If you are interested in TEFL, this could be a great first step. You can also donate to CRP so that they can provide food vouchers to refugee families living in Jordan. I will be sharing more about the Hope Workshop next month, they empower women by teaching them how to create beautiful crafts – and I heard that they sell out fast!

Sightseeing
Even though Jordan is a small country, there is so much to see. Mike had planned for the whole family to visit Jerash while the girls were here but the weather didn’t cooperate – we will surely be returning.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hadrian – Hadrian’s Arch
Corinthian Columned Street
Looking through the Oval Forum towards the Temple of Zeus and Southern Theater.
Temple of Artemis
In just a few hours at the site, we’d walked 10,512 steps and up 23 floors! (according to my iPhone “health” app!)

Our next stop was to Ya Hala restaurant in town for lunch. We had the WHOLE place to ourselves and this is a big place! I’d love to see it bustling sometime so hopefully when we go back, I will.

HEART EYES

I knew that being a vegetarian in Jordan would be easy but this Halloumi cheese is SOOOOO GOOD. It is high in protein and low in carbs and can be grilled like a meat or tofu. It *is* a high sodium cheese but since my blood pressure is on the low side, I think I’m safe (if I don’t over do it!). We had other dishes and I had a freshly squeezed Pomegranate juice (YUM) and Mike had Limonana.

This last weekend we were invited to visit the only craft brewery in Jordan; Carakale Brewing Company. It is about 20 minutes from where we live and a really lovely drive with a stunning location overlooking the hills of the Jordan Valley. During our earlier stay at the Red Sea, we ordered Carakale since we thought it was cool that Jordan even had “a beer” – and it was so good! I had no idea the source was right around the corner from where we live, I already can’t wait to go back. Great article on the trials and tribulations of establishing a brewery in Jordan it was particularly interesting to me since I am well aware of the hard work it took to stand up a brewery in Fredericksburg, VA thanks to my best friends’ place: Red Dragon Brewery.

Driving to the Brewery.
Flights are always in order when trying out a new brewery! My favorite was the Pineapple IPA!
The operation!
The banner above in English and the t-shirt I bought, in Arabic. I love their mascot – the Caracal, indigenous to Jordan.

Learning
I have enrolled in a free Arabic language class that is being offered at the Embassy. Today was my first day and we went over common greetings and phrases, I think I will have plenty of opportunity to use them since I frequently chat with the guards at the embassy when I go over for class or to see Mike or to get mail or to get lunch… it is so close! About 20 minutes after I got home from class 6 facilities guys were here to check on something in my bathroom! I was able to practice a bunch and they were so helpful and fun. Shukran, guys!

My class “notes”! I needed to know how to say THANK YOU SOOO MUCH! LOL

Meeting New People
Everyone I have met here has been friendly; at CRP, the people I’ve met in my building, at the Embassy, at coffeeshops, the brewery and restaurants. I went to a ladies Bunco Night and had a blast, Finn has been invited to a doggie play date and he can’t wait, we had cake and “bubbles” with our building neighbors to celebrate a birthday.
The last thing on my agenda is to attend painting classes at the Creative Art Center – Amman. I did send a message and got a quick response that there’s an Oil Painting class on Mondays and Wednesdays from 6:30-8:30. With my busy “retiree” schedule I think I can squeeze in a Monday night class! 🙂

What I’m waiting on: I mentioned in my last post that our air freight was delivered so next up is the household goods shipment with all of our artwork and kitchen (plates, glasses, COFFEE MUGS, glass water bottles and more silverware!) stuff, last word was it was set to leave on 1/26! Our Pathfinder is going to be shipped here as well and that was set to leave the US on 1/24.
Still looking for a nice family of renters to live in and take care of our house while we are gone. We’ve had a few showings but the weather in Virginia has been snowy, rainy and/or freezing cold! If you know anyone looking to rent for two years in Spotsylvania VA let me know and I can share the info!

Hope your January was everything you wished it would be (LOL I’m a January birthday girl and cannot take the hate on my month!!) My grandmother is a January birthday girl too, and turned 90 a few days ago. I hope she gets the notification that I did a new blog post – Happy birthday Grandma, you are such a funny and interesting person, with such a great sense of humor and a beautiful singing voice LOLOL – I hope you have a spectacular 90th year. Amazing.
Thanks for reading everyone, bye for now.

Art, Jordan, Travel

Settling in.

This last week has had a lot of ups and one down for me. It feels good to have some time in Amman under my belt, getting used to the different work week schedule (Sun-Thur), and settled into the timezone. In a couple of days is my three week anniversary here, crazy!

What I’ve been experiencing:

  • Sunday – First Uber trip without Mike – the girls and I met up with another pair of (awesome) sisters who were in Amman visiting their parents. We went to Rainbow Street which is a shopping area in the city with cobblestone streets! We went to Trinitae soap shop on the recommendation of a friend and absolutely fell in love. I needed to find a local source of handmade soaps which had to be approved by Amelia (she approved!). The shop is in an old home and is decorated with gorgeous artwork done by the grandmother of the family.
  • Next we went to Books@cafe as the result of some travel research that our new sisters did before coming to Jordan. We had a lovely lunch and did some much enjoyed book browsing.
  • Our final destination was Wild Jordan where we perused the Nature shop to check out the local artisan selections of crafts and picked up a couple of things. I hope they post some Adventures coming up, I’d love to be able to go on one of the eco-tour hikes.
Street cats outside Trinitae had the attention of my animal lovers.
One of many beautiful paintings, I can’t wait for my art supplies to arrive so I can paint!
Another scrumptious lunch in Amman. Mine is Feta ZA’ATAR; like a Lebanese calzone!
  • Monday – Second Uber trip, this time all by myself! You might recall from an earlier post that I lined up a stylist in Jordan so that I could get my hair done once I got here. Well, first solo Uber trip in another country was to see JeniD and I’m happy to report that I found her place and that my hair is just perfect! I texted Mike and the girls once I was done and since it was a little earlier than expected and they were still about a half hour away from meeting me I got out my phone and mapped myself a short walk to the Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts and slipped into the smaller of the two buildings to view the work on the first floor before I got the message to catch an Uber to meet my family at the Citadel.
  • It was a sunny, clear day but cold and SUPER windy, it made for an exciting trip to the highest of the seven hills of Amman to the Citadel. The Jordan Archaeological Museum is also here, it is a smaller museum with artifacts arranged in chronological order.
Here we are with the Temple of Hercules behind us! Our Smith Selfie.
Hercules, Hercules!
Walking toward the Umayyad Palace and Mosque, and Byzantine Church.
  • Tuesday – I went on a job interview (I was offered the job!!) While I’m here in Jordan my plans are to volunteer at CRP, practice yoga so that I can undo 25 years of sitting at my desk at GEICO :), practice my painting and do some work.
  • After my interview, the girls and I ventured back out into the city and took an Uber to the Jordan Museum – this experience solidified for us just how friendly (to foreigners!) the Jordanians are. The Uber dropped us off and we finished up our coffee in the courtyard before going through security and then up to the ticket booth. I was excited to be able to use my Jordan Residency card that I’d gotten the day before which allowed me to get the locals only price. We successfully communicated that the girls were over 18 and when I started to hand my credit card I could tell by the look on his face that it was cash only and sadly, I had none! There was a bank with an ATM somewhere outside of the museum and I turned to the girls to say “lets go see if we can find this bank” and when I turned back the ticket man was on the phone and gave me the universal gesture for ‘wait one minute’. He spoke for a few minutes, hung up and started typing on his computer and handed us our tickets for 0.00JD. We all smiled and thanked in English and Arabic (“shukran”) and enjoyed the beautiful and interactive Jordan Museum. I can’t wait to go back. One of the common characteristics of the Jordanians I’ve met is how welcoming and proud they are. Each person has made some sort of recommendation; about a local artist I should research, about a food I should try, an Arabic phrase I could use (to ask “how are you?” it is “kayf halakum”) – it really is a pleasantly surprising human experience.
We had fun hanging out with Al-Jahiz in the animal room!
Gorgeous!
‘Ain Ghazal Statues – nearly 10,000 years old, they are the world’s oldest full figure human statues!
  • Wednesday – Finally, the one thing about this entire move that made my heart sink every time I thought about it – getting Finn (aka Baby Face Finster) my Boston Terrier, to Amman from Virginia. He is a pretty resilient little guy but he hasn’t travelled much except for some car trips to Duck, NC. I researched, asked questions, made a decision and put my faith in Capital Pet Movers to make it happen. Which they did. Amazingly so.
  • He arrived at our apartment after Judith of Welcome Home Kennels in Amman handled all of the receiving tasks for bringing an animal into Jordan.
Everyone got to spend one whole day together, my heart was so happy!

Thursday – No bullet point needed for this one, the one down – sending the girls back to the US, it was my second most dreaded thought of this move because they’ve never flown on their own (or been this far away from me!). Of course they handled it like professionals, especially when they missed their connecting flight from JFK to National. True to their characters, Amelia was frustrated at the idiocy of the reason they missed their flight and Jillian was annoyed but motivated to make sure they got on the next flight to DC. I did have an Up moment they day they left – my air freight was delivered so I have some books, pillows, blankets, my clothes, and a few small rugs just enough to make the apartment a little more like our home. The timing was just right to distract me.
Back to the girls, I’m happy to report that they are in their apartments ready to start work and school and Finn is sitting next to me on the couch.
Exercise wise – We have been on a couple of almost a mile walks with Finn around our neighborhood, worked out at the Embassy gym and last night I attended my first of many Sunday evening Vinyasa Yoga classes at the Embassy.

What I’m watching: Mike has already watched but with the next season coming up he is watching again and I’m joining in – Peaky Blinders – already started season two! It’s pretty great.

I hope everyone has a nice week, thank you for reading! bye for now!

Jordan, Travel

Welcome to Jordan

I’ve made it, on December 20th when I wrote my last blog post I couldn’t imagine being where I am now. It was too stressful to think that far into the future – because it was a future that I couldn’t really fathom, I didn’t have anything to grasp onto in my mind to imagine where I’d be today. I followed my tried and true advice and I lived in the moment as best I could. Thinking of all the things I had to do stressed me out but I asked for and accepted help where I could. My new “team” – friends, neighbors and businesses – allowed me to get so many things done in just one week! December 27th – the girls and I headed off from DC to NYC to Amman with all of our tasks behind us!

What I’ve been doing: Landing in Amman, getting off the plane and walking right into a new country was pretty cool. After buying a tourist visa for our older daughter we went down to the luggage carousel to find our driver and wait for our luggage believe it or not, this was a first for the girls and I since we always carry on! – and then out into the airport where Mike was waiting to greet us! Driving to our apartment felt like being in any other place – on a highway from the airport and into the city, but once in Amman the driving got a little more ‘exciting’. Our neighborhood is Abdoun and has a lot of huge houses with lovely gardens. We back up to the US Embassy which means there are guards on either end of our street and farther up the road are the Gendarmerie, who are Jordanian security officers. Many places in Jordan have security, on our first outing we went to a grocery store and walked through a metal detector and had our bags scanned on an x-ray machine like at the airport, same process at the mall and at the hotels.

Falafel, hummus and tabouleh! Amman is perfect for this vegetarian.
Falafel, hummus tahini and tabouleh! Amman is perfect for this vegetarian.

What I’ve been eating: The food so far has been phenomenal, especially for a vegetarian. My older daughter is vegan and this trip has been the easiest for her to find satisfying meals. We walked to Zain Circle from our apartment and got an inexpensive meal that the whole family enjoyed. There is a Tandoori Oven right up the street and we picked up dinner there last night and it was AH-MAZE-ING. Also in our neighborhood is a coffee shop called Seven Pennies – with indoor and outdoor seating and a mission; for every JD (jordanian dollar) you spend you get to donate to your choice of 6 local causes.

Camel crossing

After getting settled into our apartment (I’ll share a few pictures once I get some of our things here – first batch should be arriving within the next couple of weeks and the second batch within the next couple of months!) and trying to get used to the 7 hour difference, we rented a car and took a 4 hour road trip to the Red Sea. The (bumpy) Desert Highway was just that, lots of stretches of desert and then we would slow down to go through small towns to quickly observe. There were people walking along the road or sitting out with their cars selling fruits and vegetables. We saw herds of sheep, herds of goats and the occasional camel.

Even though we saw the sign, I really didn’t think we would see a camel this close to the road!

After about 2 and a half hours on the road we drove through an area of Jordan called Wadi Rum which took our breath away. Check out the link – as you can see from the list of films that have been on location here, it is otherworldly. We will definitely be planning excursions to investigate further!

Mountains http://www.kinghussein.gov.jo/geo_env1.html

Our stay at the Intercontinental in Aqaba was exactly what this over stressed, over tired, over travelled lady needed and a great time to spend together as a family. We relaxed at the pool, at the sea and walked into the town where we had lunch, picked up some souvenirs and met the Imam of the local mosque; his nephew was the very nice souvenir salesman! 😊 We also saw some cool street art.

We were close to other counties, the sun is setting over the mountains in Israel.

What I’m reading: it has been so nice to be able to read again without the nagging worry of the things I needed to do for the big move. On Jillian’s recommendation I’m reading Just Kids – a memoir by Patti Smith. If you are a fan of music, art – really of any “scene” – you will find that Patti is a captivating writer about her experiences in NYC in the late 60s/early 70s. I hope I’m developing a writing style just like I hoped to have a painting style – I guess it does emerge over time if you are patient and stick with something. I also need to work on my blog photo process since I’m literally taking a picture with my iPhone and just uploading it to the blog without any edits. I’m not a fan of how they look once they are uploaded so I’ll work on that. Thank you for reading, bye for now.


Jordan, Knowledge Management, Music

Task list and milestones. Check em off and meet em.

It feels like today was two full days. I am a live in the moment kind of person so once I have my moment I move on and put things in my past. I emailed, phone called, texted, facebooked, instagrammed; I TCB’d to put it mildly and I barely remember anything! Thankfully I have a check list that I cross off once I have gotten something done so I have a record of my productivity. Yes, I have my mammogram scheduled and no, the mortgage company didn’t make it out to inspect my roof repairs – but some things are beyond one’s control and don’t get checked off and that is OK. Chunk it out, batch it – if it is in small groupings that you can tackle you will feel so good. Check off the little tasks until you meet your big milestones… I have a lot of tasks til my ‘arrive in Jordan’ milestone but I’m up for it!

Checklist
My checklist for the day.

What I’m doing: One of the most important things I did today was finding someone to color my hair in Jordan. This post is dedicated to knowledge management – I used many of the KM practices I utilized at work to find things out and get things done today. I am using my knowledge network to figure out all that I can before I arrive in Amman by belonging to a Facebook community of expats and it has helped greatly. “Any brunettes out there that have a colorist they love?” Asking a question last night using natural language got me some results by the time I woke up this morning! I shared what I learned by checking in with my subject matter expert (stylist)here at home who enthusiastically approved of the recommendation I’d gotten. She is going to transfer the knowledge (my color formula) of how I get my glorious color and hopefully there will not be any interruption of service and my roots will be as brown as the day I was born! I practiced knowledge elicitation by asking the property management company a bunch of questions that hopefully they can answer soon and I can make an informed decision and sign a contract to have them in charge of my house and who lives in it while we are gone! I also talked with a company that does pet relocation and am hopeful that they can get Finn (our Boston Terrier) and Gracie (our Graygirl Cat) to our new home in Amman with little fanfare. Gracie is an outside cat, she adopted us so we have done our best to have her live inside but she was raised in the wild and she ‘goes’ outdoors. In Jordan she will be an inside cat only – so tonight after dinner with Amelia – I got Gracie a litter box that Finn was more interested in than she! Not sure what he was expecting to happen, but he sat there in front of it after sniffing it a bunch. 

Finn wants to use the litter box.
Finn wants to use the litter box.

Using some more knowledge management practice I reviewed and followed the documentation; sprinkled in the litter – it is enhanced with an attractant *catnip – and placed it where the subject matter expert (my daughter) advised was the best spot; at the back door where Gracie usually goes out. We shall see, she has to use it because she will not be going outside in Amman unless she is wearing a leash. Tomorrow is chock full of tasks too; mail some records, make a deal on some American Girl doll stuff, and drop off coats to Micah

What I’m watching: just finished watching the latest episode of Riverdale. Love it.

What I’m listening to: I don’t know how many times today I listened to Jupiter 4 by Sharon Van Etten but it was a whole lot and I put it on again after Riverdale was over. I hadn’t listened to her stuff before but Comeback Kid and now Jupiter 4 from her upcoming record have both been awesome! I’m going to listen to it again, it reminds me of being young and wanting to be with Mike every waking moment, I’m glad that soon I will be with him all of the time. I’m listening again. bye for now.

Art, Jordan, Minimalism

What is next? Stay on track.

Next stop on my journey to Jordan was to move inside and upstairs and get my daughter’s rooms homogenized for rental photographs. Yesterday the pre-move surveyor arrived at 8am so we could go through all of my belongings and make determinations; what is going over by air, what is going by sea and what will remain in the US in storage. Thankfully, I started practicing minimalism two years ago and have already donated or disbursed of the things that no longer hold value to me or bring me joy. I cannot say the same thing for my older daughter – she loves the thought of my brand of minimalism but she is a collector like her dad – so she will have some belongings to contend with. But, minimalism doesn’t mean you get rid of everything or that you live with so little that you are depriving yourself, it is unique to each person’s practice.

What I’m doing: I feel good about what I accomplished yesterday, met with the moving rep, cleaned up my daughter’s rooms, mailed some records from my husband’s collection, bought pet food, wrote up a lil bio for the 25 year service award ceremony, met my older daughter for dinner and went to my final painting class at LibertyTown. This blog post is dedicated to oil painting and my final piece completed there as a student. I started taking classes in February 2017 after not having painted ever in my life. I feel that my first year of minimalism in 2016 (I watched The Minimalists documentary on New Years Eve 2015) allowed me to free my mind of mental clutter and my home of physical clutter which empowered me to pursue creativity; both personally and professionally.

Finn in Foyer.
Finn in Foyer.

Not only did I learn to paint from my teacher, I learned that having a process to follow is a great contributor to success and I have so enjoyed learning this process. We project a photograph to a canvas, sketch it in, apply a base and then start underpainting to block in the right values. From there you add your layers, colors and values of mixed oil paint until it looks like the image above – you sign in, varnish it and Voila it’s done!

Red!
Red!

I intend to continue painting while I am in Amman, I have an easel (It is a Bob Ross one!!) and some of my own oil paints, brushes and palette – I have the process down but will start flying on my own without my safety net of my teacher and fellow students. I’m looking forward to new subjects, new students and teachers and expanding my creativity so I can feel like a success when I finish another painting. 

What I’m listening to: Radiohead Hail to the Thief which turned 15 this year. Radiohead are in my top 5 favorite bands and the song Where I End and You Begin is up in my top songs of all time, I don’t know if it was written as a love song but it invokes that feeling in me. 
Now its time for me to do my homework so I’ll be prepared to meet with my finances guy later and then with my friends for a happy hour. I will celebrate my painting being finished, that I’m moving along in my process to join my husband in Jordan, and that I will get to see my daughters, my sisters, my nieces and nephews tomorrow morning as they wake up in my disheveled house. bye for now.

General, Jordan

The road to Jordan begins today. Focus.

Kinda…I picked a good week for my first day of retirement, current weather in my part of Virginia is 60 and sunny!

What I’m doing:  After a few chores inside the house this morning I took advantage of the sun and headed outside to ready my yard for the family that will hopefully rent my house soon! My first order of business before I make the trip to Jordan is to get our house rented. I have a realty and property management company picked out, just need to get the house ready to show and rent.

Leaves everywhere you look!

We live in the middle of the woods – which we love, lots of trees, wildlife and privacy but tons of leaves in the fall. I hadn’t had a chance to get out and do pre-emptive leaf blowing or raking so I decided to break it into sections today, the section above is next. 

This blog post is dedicated to the moss in my yard, I think moss is the coolest groundcover and if I could, I would have my entire yard covered in it. My front yard has some moss but the small cleared area in the back between the house and woods is a glorious green carpet right now and for the next few weeks I will admire it and hope that it is still here when I get back from Amman in a few years. I got as far as the extension cord on the leaf blower would let me, so I came inside for lunch and to get a blog post under my belt. I’m trying to figure out my style since the last blog I contributed to was my team blog at work. 

Moss in my yard.
Cleared the leaves to let the moss photosynthesize! 

What I’m listening to: currently listening to Deceased Ghostly White for the 20th time. If you like metal (heavy, speed, thrash, death) you’ll love it; my husband writes the music and plays guitar. Our younger daughter speaks and sings on it, too.

Now it’s time for me to make some phone calls to arrange for my ‘pack out’ of household items to ship to Amman and things that we will store here in the US while we are gone. Then off to tackle the leaves in picture number one above and sit and admire the moss from picture two. I did get a work “page” so fingers crossed that my G peers are able to quickly resolve the issues.

Hope everyone is having a great day, bye for now. 


Update: at 2:17 I got a page that the issue resolved. Coincidence? My finger crossing is magical!