Journey to Texas…or Ponderings of Moving

It’s been a few days since I returned from Spring, Texas where I visited with my sister, and I miss both my sister and the place already (though it is wonderful being back in my own bed).  There’s something about traveling to different places that makes me wonder why I’m still in the small town in which I grew up. It makes me wonder where I “should” be…or rather where I belong, where I fit.

Spring is a fairly large suburb of Houston with countless nail salons, tanning salons and fast food restaurants; it also has the novelty of summer-like weather for extended months in comparison with Virginia.  It also has the novelty of housing my sister, the one with whom I am closest in age and heart.  Maybe that’s why I have a soft spot for that bustling outlying area of East Texas.  Indeed, in 2011 (when last I visited my sister, or as I refer to her “thithta”…just say the word sister with a minor speech impediment) I was gung-ho to move there; and my sister being my sister said she’d support it if I did, but that starting a new life in a place where you don’t know anyone is hard. Very hard. She uttered the same sentiments during my visit this time around.  The difference is, I would know her and a couple of her friends who she has had the pleasure of knowing for the past three years.

I think the time has come in life to figure out what I want to do.  And, evidently, so do a few of my co-workers who honestly love me dearly; just yesterday, I was invited to lunch but politely declined as I’ve decided to start my Weight Watchers venture again (God, help me)  and upon their return, one of them mentioned that she believes it is time for me to do what I want to do and be where I want to be, because as she put it to me, “you have the whole world in front of you and no strings holding you here.” That lady has a point.

But, therein lies the question: Where do I want to be? Truth be told, I have no idea. I know that I’d like to be somewhere out west. I don’t know why that is other than for years, I’ve had an affinity with the west. Maybe it has something to do with a past-life reading I once had (evidently, I used to live out west).  But see, there is a problem: I know that the prospect of being far away from my family scares the living shit out of me. I’m a worrier; it’s what I do.  I’m afraid that the second I move, something will happen: one of my parents will get sick or hurt. I don’t know why I think that, but I do.  Who then will be there to help when help is needed? Maybe that’s a strange worry to have…maybe I should just realize that wherever I may go, I’m only a drive or a flight away. Maybe the problem is that I am so reliant upon my folks because they’ve been there for me when things got really, really shitty that the thought of not being able to be right there for them if they need me is truly the basis of the problem.

Here is a list of places I’ve thought of moving to throughout the past couple of years:

  • Spring, Texas
  • Colorado Springs
  • Denver
  • Charlottesville, VA
  • Austin, Texas (just because “Keep Austin Weird” is their motto)
  • Arizona (nowhere specifically, I just think the dry climate would be good for me)
  • Spring, Texas

I think my other problem is my fear of leaping, of making a big change, because in the event that I do make a big change, I have the very real probability of failing. So many things dictate the thing that we do in everyday life and I’ll admit that fear has been a big dictator throughout my existence.

What am I fearful of failing at, specifically? Well, I shall make you another handy list:

  • Not being able to get work
  • Hating said new job
  • Being lonely
  • Deciding that I actually hate the place where I choose to move
  • Something major happening with one or both of my parents

Obviously, the above fears will need to be a hurdle that I jump in order to move forward with my life.  Who knows, maybe admitting to my hang-ups and writing all of this out has been therapeutic and will actually aid in my quest to move forward.  With that said, anyone have ideas for the place I should move?

these are my options

these are my options


A Love Letter to Colorado

Dear Colorado,

Well, it’s official. I am in love with something far more grand than any man I could possibly dream up. I’m in love. Head over heals love with you. I’m sure that every part of you is spectacular, but I’m specifically enamored with Colorado Springs.  I don’t even know if I can dredge up the words to explain why. But, I’ll try my hardest.

First off, upon landing, I found your Denver International Airport was fantastically clean and easy to navigate. The train that runs to all the terminals runs every two and a half minutes (unlike every five in Dulles), so even if you just miss the train (like I did, coming down off the escalator), another one will be around directly.  The signage was well placed and it took no time at all to reach the area that I needed to be. I was quite impressed.

Perhaps I just had a good experience, but all of your children who I encountered were was so incredibly good natured and helpful. I’ve never experienced anything like it before. People stopped to let you cross the street, for goodness sake! People don’t do that where I’m from; we’re too close to DC for people to be nice. And one of your children who works for the Denver police department deserves a big ol’ hug! Charity and I ventured into downtown Denver right after landing in The Mile High City, and naturally, we had no idea where we were going so, after driving around aimlessly for a bit, we came to 18thand Glenarm where the road was blocked and a police officer stood.  The officer told us that the Taste of Colorado was going on, and that the best thing to do was to park in one of the many lots on the side streets and walk down. He then allowed us to pull into a lot on the blocked off street to park and when we were ready to leave (this is the best part), he stopped traffic for us to exit the blocked street! Not only did he do this for us, but he did it with a smile and then gave us directions to get to the interstate, I-25.

Your time zone is fantastic! God, I love Central Time! I gained two hours by coming to visit you, Colorado. I had a full day to spend with you since you gave me two whole extra hours! And time seemed to loll by at a leisurely pace.

Garden of the Gods: Truly a place fit for the gods

Colorado, I’m going to have a really hard time putting this into words, so I’ll say it simply.  You are purely stunning. Your sky is the bluest blue that I have ever seen. It’s a crisp, deep hue that completely mesmerized me. Your plot of land known as Garden of the Gods is AHmazing.  Your sandstone formations are magical, almost mythical in stature. I was completely blown away; even after reading about the purpose behind the Garden of the Gods and the fact that it is free and to be kept a free park for all to enjoy (and being impressed by this immensely), all of my expectations were blown out of the water.  It was almost other-worldly: massive red (and gray) giants jutting unexpectedly out of the earth, stretching upward, almost seeming to be pulled upward into the clear blue yonder. Upon glancing out of the car window and spotting the Kissing Camels, I was overwhelmed. So overwhelmed, my heart felt more full that it has felt in the longest time. Overwhelmed to the point of tears. I actually cried with a great big smile on my face. I even found the view from the places where mankind has marred your body with a system of paved roadways, of your farmland stretching as far as the eye can see, seemingly only stopped by massive mountains projecting upward on the horizon to be unconceivable.

Another very small item that you have that I found enthralling? You have actual tumbleweed! I saw a tumbleweed ‘a-tumblin’! Rolling across a street!

Your weather and moderate climate is pure divinity. I come from a place where humidity is the law of the land: muggy, damp and uncomfortable are familiar descriptors of the Old Dominion.  Your hospitable summer temperatures are pleasant coupled with your cheerful sunshine; I could actually walk without feeling like I was walking through an invisible curtain of water (as is how I feel most summer days in Virginia).

In short, Colorado, I’m bewitched, bothered & bewildered by you. I’m enthralled. I crave more time with you to experience more of your charms. I’ll be back, Colorado. To breathe your clean air, to view your majestic landscape and to learn as much as I possibly can of you.

Prelude to Colorado

This week is a prelude to my big trip: the big trip I’ve been waiting for since June. I have several hesitations about this trip, none of which have anything to do about where I’m going. Oh, where am I going? Colorado. That’s right: Colorful Colorado has been calling my name since I became friends with T and learned of all of its natural splendor.  I began hiking a year ago and found that plopping myself in the middle of the wilderness with a backpack stocked with water & food was the ultimate test for me.  It made me stop thinking and start pushing myself past my boundary of comfort.  I admit that since my last foray into the wilderness, I haven’t been back: dehydration in the middle of nowhere has a way of scaring the shit out of you. I intend to re-introduce myself to light hiking in the Garden of the Gods this coming weekend. Keep your fingers and toes crossed for me; being an exercise-induced asthmatic has put the fear of God into me about doing anything physical in a place with such a high elevation. Thin air and breathing problems do not mix, my friends.

At any rate, Friday, far before the crack of dawn I’ll be awake, face painted and in the car on the way to Dulles airport to catch a 6 a.m. flight to Denver. The greatest thing about flying out west? I’ll be gaining time. Yes, I’ll be zombie-like from being awake for several hours by the time my feet hit the ground in Denver, but it’ll only be 7 a.m. by the time I get there.  This means that I’ll have an entire day to explore Denver and part of Colorado Springs with my friend Charity, whom I have not seen in at least six years. Via email & Skype during the last three months, Charity and I have been scheming and planning, planning and scheming to pack as much as we can into this trip; after all, this is our “summer vacation”: three days albeit a short vacation, a vacation nonetheless. I’m lucky that my travel companion would prefer to plan on educational excursions like museums and historical monuments.  After tons of research, thumbing through a Colorado Springs guidebook, a Frommers Colorado book loaned to me by a generous friend, and lots of internet research hours, we’ve decided to hit a few, if very specific sites. We’ll be visiting the Colorado Wolf & Wildlife Center so that Charity can attain one of her life goals: to have her picture taken with a wolf. Then, we’ll be heading to the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo to see lions and tigers & bears (and monkeys and giraffes and…) oh my! I haven’t been to a zoo in a long while, so I’m super excited about this one.

I’ve been fascinated by the Garden of the Gods since learning about the magical rock formations a year ago: Balanced Rock, Kissing Camels, Cathedral Spires. I’ve built this place up in my mind to be almost mythical: huge rocks jutting out of the earth in robust colors resembling creatures and magnificent manmade structures. How did they get there and how did they get their form? I so excited about seeing this park in person and taking as many pictures as possible!  Our next destination, Manitou Cliff Dwellings holds the same mystical status in my mind. I’m fascinated by Native American cultures, so seeing the abode of Anazasi tribe will prove, I’m sure, to be thrilling. I’m debating the opportunity to experience the Pikes Peak Cog Railway.  This girl has breathing issues as it is at 410 feet above sea level, and I fear the problems may be amplified at 14,114 feet above sea level. However…when else will I have the opportunity to stand at the top of freaking Pikes Peak?

English: Balanced Rock in Garden of the Godsa segment of the "Cathedral Spires" ...

Kissing Camels red rocks from inside Garden of...

Kissing Camels red rocks from inside Garden of the Gods park in Colorado Springs, CO. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

With everything planned, now all I have to do is wait. And, anyone who knows me will agree that waiting is not my strong suite. Indeed, I’m incredibly impatient. The other hurdle that I have to hop is the three hour and forty-eight minute flight. Ugh. Flying. I’m not a fan. I’m good with the actual in-the-air part of flying…if I stay plugged into music, close my eyes, don’t peek out of the window at all and don’t think about the fact that I’m in a rather small enclosed space with over a hundred other people with recycled air. I’m not so good with the taking off and the landing parts of flying. Ugh. Flying.  I’ve decided, because I cannot drive to Colorado Springs in the time period allotted, that I can be an adult and grin and bear the flight. Honestly, I’m so excited about checking out Denver and Colorado Springs that I haven’t dwelled much on my fear of flying. Here’s to hoping that it stays that way!


Squats and Feelin’ Flat

I’ve been taking a bit of a hiatus from writing lately for a couple different reasons. Number one: to focus on working out (also known as sweating profusely in public) and transforming my body. The second reason: life has felt a little flat as of late. Not good, not bad, just…flat. This stagnant feeling has opened the door for me to do some serious thinking about life.

My training at the gym has been going fantastically. I’ll insert here that although I cannot truthfully say that I love squats and lunges, the hundreds nay, possibly thousands that I have done in the past three weeks are paying off. My thighs and butt are in a constant state of uncomfortable, but it’s the good kind of uncomfortable. It’s the uncomfortable that makes my internal voice say, “Hey, Lex? You’re doing it! Now, go back today and tomorrow and the day after that…keep going. You can do it.” My shoulders and arms are unyieldingly sore from the reps upon reps of push ups and brutal reps of burning triceps and biceps weights.  I’ve noticed that I’m not nearly as jiggley as I once was. My thighs are more toned and my rear end has more definition. Big changes are afoot! My body is physically changing for the better and it’s because I’m working at it like I’ve never done before.  My endurance is increasing and I’ve got far more strength in my legs than I have from “pushing past the point of pain” (thanks for that quote, T!).

Cardio is probably my least favorite of everything that my gym regimen has to offer.  I’ve reached a personal best on the StairMaster that I affectionately refer to as “The Beast”.  Every step on The Beast is agony: my heart feels as though it’s going to beat out of my chest, my breath is short, sweat drips into my eyes and down my back.  Thus far, my personal best is eighteen minutes. After eighteen minutes, my thighs feel like quivering jelly. But, that’s only the beginning of cardio hell. Next, I jump on an elliptical machine and crank up the resistance until it feels like I’m running through really thick mud. At this point, all I want to do is jump off and drop to the floor. But, I don’t. I do what’s known as intervals: I lower the resistance for a minute to give my heart a “working break”, and then I crank up the resistance again for a minute or three increasing my speed. And then I do this for at least thirty minutes. And then, I want to fall to the floor in a big whimpering, shaking pile. But, I stretch instead.

Maybe I should back up a bit and go into one of the motivators for throwing myself into this fitness regimen.  I did some thinking and decided that I wanted to get away this summer; really get away: get away from my comfort zone and go somewhere I’ve never been, somewhere I could experience a different ecosystem of nature. I wanted to see big mountains and see red sandstone formations. I decided that I wanted to go to Colorado. After my last hike, it was blatantly apparent that I was out of shape and had lost my endurance for hiking. So, I decided it was time to get my ass in shape so that when I get out west and am at 6,000 ft. above sea level, not only will I be able to breathe, I’ll be able to hike and enjoy the nature at hand.

Ok, so that part of my life is great. And, I’m really excited about my upcoming trip; I’m looking forward to experiencing another place (and more importantly, getting to experience it with a great friend). The rest of it though…it’s good, I can’t complain. I just feel stuck. Stagnant. I’m tired of living in a small town where I’m known as someone’s daughter, granddaughter or niece. Perhaps it’s time to investigate where I’d fit best?

A very insightful woman once gave me a really good piece of advice: When you are doing what you love, and love what you’re doing your transformation will become permanent. My turmoil stems from not really knowing what I love, and feeling a bit like a fish out of water in the place where I grew up. I like my job (I’m good at it, and I like anything I’m good at). But, I don’t necessarily believe it’s my calling. I was talking to an old friend yesterday and she asked me what I was passionate about. I just looked at her with a blank stare and said that I didn’t know. That confession made me sad. It’s time to delve deep into myself and figure it out. It’s never too late to decide what makes you happy.