Top 5 Things I Will Miss About DC/East Coast

5. Jumbo Slice/Duccinis/Pizza
I clearly love pizza so much that I post about it often. I know that nothing will compare to the pizza I love in DC and no one here will have halal beef pepperoni, so I will be forced to eat chicken pizza again. Nothing like a late night and hot, cheesy pizza to make you feel complete.  But there are great food options here and I am praying my soul is strong enough to stay away from all of the bad things I don’t need.

4. Riding by Howard
Howard was my home for 8 out of the last 11 years. I learned so much and received some of the greatest additions to my life there.  Educational institutions bring optimism, hope, and great memories.  I love Howard and am blessed to say that I was a Bison.

3. Being in 3 different States in a Matter of Minutes
I lived in MD but could be in VA or DC in a matter of minutes, to NY in 4 hours, Philly in 3, and SC or CT in 7/8.  The ability to change your surroundings quickly is a major plus of the east coast. It allows you to be very spontaneous and enjoy experiences on a budget when you need to.  No more megabus, quick turn around trips, or weekend trips up the road. Keep your money stacked cause we are flying in and out of here.

2. Our First Home
My husband said yesterday, “You are leaving the first home I bought you.”  That made me feel really special because he did buy that house for my son and I.  He wanted to make sure we had a safe place to stay and an asset for future use.  We had amazing neighbors and slowly made improvements that will benefit it’s future use as a rental property. Moving back into an apartment will be interesting but it’s all apart of the process.

1.  My Friends and Family
Being so far from my friends and family is going to be rough. Although we have all become so busy and immersed in our own lives, we still could get together and laugh when we wanted or needed to.  Thank God for technology and being able to eventually plan more family trips to fill that gap. I don’t easily disconnect from people and will always cherish and touch base with my team. 

DC has been an experience.  So much great sprinkled with some bad and ugly. I came, I conquered, I survived, I thrived, and I came home with everything I set off to accomplish 11 years ago in tow.

I am so full and so grateful to everyone who has made my life experience that much more special by just being who they are. By loving me, encouraging me, and building me up when I fell down.

The best is yet to come. Be you. Do you. Tell your own story. On your own terms.

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Do Not Feed the Fear

I am sure this has been said by many great thinkers and a few books have probably been written on this topic alone, but for me this statement is personal.  I have used this as my personal mantra to step into the unknown and believe that everything will work out.  At every major turning point in my life where I had to make a major decision, I was afraid and feared what I did not know.  Despite the fear that I had or that others had for me, I was able to focus on my dreams and not feed into my fear.

When I got accepted into college and did not have a plan in place to get me from one year to the next, I focused on graduation, making my family proud, and completing what I started.  When I studied for my nursing boards while working full-time, I focused on passing, making more money, and making the past 5 years of my life worth every moment.  When I decided to leave nursing and pursue a legal career, I focused on gaining knowledge, expanding my network, and having access to different opportunities.  You have to have a focus and it cannot be your fear.

As I countdown the days to embarking on a new journey, I naturally have fears that run through my mind as I pack, but I only allow them to rest for a moment.  I think about it and push it out by thinking of all of the great things that I know are coming and can come from this next opportunity.  Many times we begin to discuss our fears with others and allow that negative seed to plant and grow roots in our minds and spirit.  That fear keeps you awake at night, it keeps you from making sound decisions, and it keeps you from stepping into your destiny.

Someone recently told me, “You have to be comfortable with being uncomfortable.”  Although I initially thought that I hate being uncomfortable, I realized it is only when I am uncomfortable that I actually take the risks that yield great returns.  I have been in DC for 11 years and had plans on staying for at least 2 or 3 more. I had to be broken down and detached from my place of comfort, so that my heart would be open for this opportunity.  If I would have been presented with this opportunity months ago, I would have turned it down because I would have been waiting for my ideal job.  My brokenness, my desire to get back working, and my openness to my personal definition of “ideal” is what allowed me to interview for this position and move my entire family there knowing that this was the right decision for us.

What I have learned over this part of my journey is to Fear NOT.  I do not fear because God is with me.  I do not fear because my steps are ordered.  I do not fear because everything is working together for my good.  My faith has sustained me even when my mind could not rationalize my reality.  You have to grow through every season, especially the ones that are tough to get through.  Many people talk about having tunnel vision but never discuss how hard it is to get through the tunnel to the light. As you walk through the tunnel you have to stay focused on the light and not fear the darkness that surrounds you or your situation.

Do not feed the fear.  Let your faith sustain you.  Greater has to come.  Be you.  Do you.  Tell your own story.  On your own terms.

It is No Longer Just the Cost of Living but the Quality of Life

I am getting older and I am longing for a change of pace.  Although I live in the “suburbs” of DC, I still feel the pressure of the rat race every single day and it is exhausting.  I am longing for a simpler life that we can afford.  I want to expose my son to everything the world has to offer, including being apart of a tight knit community where people know your name.

We have been discussing moving to Houston even before we had our son and now it comes up in conversation more and more.  Houston is a great place if you have never been but what I love most is how every neighborhood has everything you need.  You drive outside of your suburban community and you arrive at the shopping center that houses your needs in a 4 block radius; Target, Krogers, Marshalls, Nail salon, Chuckie Cheese and great food! Although these seems like nothing, it helps to center the activities of that community into one central location.  You go to the same grocery store every week and you begin to connect with those who work and shop there.

I love DC and all it has given me over the past 11 years but something here is missing.  I know that every where we go there will be traffic, weather to complain about or disconnected aspects of a community but DC does not give me a feeling of being home.  The growth of the city is focused more on the young, hip and rich and less on working class families.  At one time I felt like I did not belong any place else, suddenly I feel completely out of place.

Some of it has to do with having a kid.  Strollers don’t fit into these cute shops and restaurants and people aren’t interested in hearing your baby have a temporary melt down in their cool, chic eatery.  Some of it has to do with having student loans.  I owe a mortgage in student loans and the pay off date doesn’t exist in this decade or the next or anyone close to that.  Some of it has to do with coming full circle.  Although I was born in Connecticut, my formative years were in Houston and I still have so many friends there.  I felt home when I was there and when I go, it always brings a breath of fresh air.

At this point in my life I am no longer focused just on the cost of living but on our quality of life.  Even if Houston is not our next stop on our journey, I know that our current location is coming to an end sooner than later.  I have accomplished more in these 11 years than I could have ever dreamed but there is so much more in the world and I think I could get a better view from a different place.

The book of life is full of chapters and subchapters.  This chapter of my life in DC has been long and filled with so many amazing memories.  I sense that it will be closing soon with all of its many subchapters finally coming to a complete end.

A new beginning is on the horizon and I am ready.  I don’t know when.  Maybe not today or tomorrow but soon.  Be you.  Do you. Tell your own story.  On your own terms.

To Do List: For Parents Looking for Things to Do with Children Under 2 (DMV Edition)

In a few days I will transition into being a full-time stay at home mom while I continue my search for a job.  Despite this being one of my biggest fears and something I did not expect, I am welcoming this opportunity with open arms! I will finally be able to spend guilt free moments with my son, without work, school or any other major responsibility looming over my head.  Although I hope this is only temporary, I want to make sure I make the most of this hopefully rare moment in our lives!

I started to get excited and started looking for things to do with my soon to be two-year old.  I began at the local recreation center, but they did not have anything for his age group.  I know of a few other child friendly places, but they were pretty expensive, and we are trying to have the most fun, using the least amount of money possible.  So, I did a little research and found plenty of inexpensive things to do in the DMV area with children 2 or around that age.

1. Your Local Library

Many of us remember going to the library as a kid, but as we grew up and the information age expanded to in home computers, iPads and endless cable channels, we forgot about this FREE gem that is the center of many communities.  Check your local library for age appropriate weekly events for your child and some may have special events that make spending time at the library even more fun.

We will be attending Toddler Story Time and a special event with a magic show and balloonery coming up in early August!

2. The National Children’s Museum at the National Harbor

The National Harbor is a work in progress, but one thing that they already have that is perfect for young children is the National Children’s Museum.  This museum focuses on engaging and educating children 8 and under through activities and programs that spark the imagination.  Although it is not free, it is moderately inexpensive with $10.00 tickets per child and adult.  For those who are local and may find themselves there a few times a year, a yearly membership for one adult and one child is $75 and $155 for a family of 6.

Thinking of investing in a yearly membership to get the most out of all the events that they have to offer.

Link: http://www.ccm.org

3. The Carousel and Playground at the National Harbor

There is more fun to be had at the Carousel and Playground at the National Harbor.  This activity is only $5 for your child and free for the accompanying adult.  Your child can enjoy unlimited time on the carousel and even more fun at the newly built playground that is bound to wear them out.  This site also has a nice set of picnic tables, if you want to pack a lunch and make it a full day at the Harbor.

This is high on the list of things to do when I need him to take a good nap for the day, so that I can get a few things done around the house!

Link: http://nationalharbor.com/things-to-do-in-dc/carousel/

4. To Be With Me Playseum

This amazing and interactive place was created by a mom who could not find places to go with her young children where she could stay and be involved.  Out of her void came a unique place where children can create, play or read and parents can connect or read books while their children are nearby.  General admission is only $7 per person, but they have a daily happy hour full of deals that fall within everyone’s budget! There are two locations, one in Barracks Row and another in Bethesda.

We will be frequenting this place with our DC friends and saving money by using a Happy Hour special!

Link: http://www.playseum.com/calendar.html

5. Great Waves at Cameron Run Regional Park

Who knew that there was a water park in the metro area?! I have never heard of this place, but I am super excited to get in at least one day at a fun water park with the kid! Especially since I heard he was uncomfortable this summer when our family took him to one down south.  Well, here is my chance to introduce him to the fun in the sun and water at Cameron Run! They have an age appropriate Kid Zone and the prices are not out of this world, $11.50-$15 for weekday or weekend passes.

We have to get one day in here just to say we went!

Link: http://www.greatwaveswaterpark.com/features-attractions/the-lagoon/

6. Pirate Adventures on the Chesapeake

Annapolis is a unchartered territory for many of us DMV transplants.  Even with a car, we can’t seem to find a reason to go “all the way” to Annapolis for anything.  But from what I hear, the food is amazing, the views are priceless and they even have fun things for the kiddies.  Jake and the Neverland Pirates is one of my son’s favorite shows and this would be an awesome adventure for him to experience.  Although I would love to say I went to Annapolis this summer with him, I think I am going to save this experience for his 3rd birthday party! Great location,  decorations provided, perfect theme and a moment he will hopefully cherish through memories or pictures.  (I will take it either way!)  This activity is a little more on the pricey side, but not completely out of reach.  General admission is $20 and $12 for children under 3.

Link: http://www.chesapeakepirates.com/party-room-update/

7. The Smithsonian’s National Zoo

The Zoo is an interesting place, but I am not sure how well a 2 or 3-year-old will do in such large crowds, mostly outside and around animals they may have not been introduced to yet.  Some parents may think this is a great idea, but I am going to lean towards waiting a little while longer before we experience the Zoo.  The admission into the Zoo is FREE but the parking costs $22.  There are two metro locations that are within a 1/2 mile but taking the metro with a child in a stroller is an adventure.  An adventure worth taking is up to you to decide.

Why I Am Perfect

Job hunting in a recovering economy is a job in itself.  Many of my classmates have worked diligently and found positions that will lay the foundation to their career.  Then there are the people like me: the one who passed over many positions instead of just applying and starting somewhere, to find a position that is idealistic.  I left my last career because I wanted to make a greater impact on people and patients outside of a hospital environment.  But over the last few months I have realized that there isn’t a job out there that encompasses all of the things that I desire to do, so I need to put my idealism to the side and find a job.

The hunt is on.  I am open to opportunities that will help me grow as a young attorney, while still giving me a great work/life balance.  Those two things I cannot compromise and will clearly express them in my interviews…when I get one.

One of my favorite questions is,”What makes you perfect for this job?”  As I enjoyed my moment of peace today, I started thinking about what makes me perfect for any job.  As we have progressed professionally, many of us have forgotten that degrees, resumes and life experiences alone don’t make a person perfect for a position, but their chemistry, their personality and their drive is what people are going to look at once they are at the table.

So for me, when I answer this question, I am going to speak to all of the things that make me perfect.  I am dedicated.  I have always taken the time to learn the necessary skills to be a great employee at every job that I have ever had; from Shop Rite, to being a server, a teller all the way to my job as a nurse.  I love being right, so I am going to do what is necessary to make sure that I am doing my job to the best of my ability.  I show up early, stay late and go above and beyond because I know that it is necessary for my growth.

I am a fast learner.  I love being right (clearly), so I try to learn my job, as well as other people’s jobs just in case I have to step in during a time of need.  When I first started as a student nurse at Hopkins, I was in Urology (shout out to the best team at the Johns Hopkins Hospital), and I learned all of the skills I needed to do those surgeries and took any opportunity available to learn from other technicians and nurses who worked in other specialties.  I enjoyed the challenges that came with learning new things.  My first weekend out of orientation as a nurse was one filled with trauma and emergencies, and no one could tell that was my first time at the rodeo.

I love to learn.  I love challenges.  I love people.  I love to be right (just in case you didn’t know, now you do).  I am perfect because I invest my all in everything that I do, which makes me right for any job that I am applying for.  These characteristics are not written on a resume, in the descriptions of any of my positions or clear through my transcripts (grades aren’t everything so beat it).  I am perfect for any job because of who I am.  My genuineness. My fortitude.  My passion.

This is a reminder to us all to look beyond what we have done and start to expressing who we really are outside of the obvious.  We are greater than the sums of our applications or any individual accomplishment or failure that we have experienced.  Our distinct differences are what makes us great people to be around, to learn from, to grow with.  We are all perfect in our own respects.  As long as you are only trying to be the best you that there is, there is no real competition out there that can challenge you or step to you for that title.  In a busy city setting, we are so used to passing out business cards, but we are immune to getting to know who people really are.

As we enjoy the sweet weeks of summer, challenge yourself to get to know people beyond their business card, job title or financial status.  For those of us mounting up to get back on the saddle and ride to our dream job and for those who have been on that road too long, know that you are great and all you need is an opportunity to get to the interview to tell them who you really are.  When asked this question, make sure you are not harping on just your experiences, but those unique details that set you apart from the rest.

Be perfect. Be you.  Do you.  Tell your own story.  On your own terms.