2016 Christmas Letter

Greetings Family and Friends,

I started writing a yearly Christmas Letter some years back. It is certainly a “highlights reel” of the year, which of course doesn’t mean that there were no moments of despair, melancholy, etc. But more of a reminder that at the end of the day (and year), it is important to focus on the good with gratitude and thankfulness.

When 2016 began, I had two main goals (outside of traveling) for the year. One was to move my blog from BlogSpot to WordPress. I finished that with help from my friend, Meaghan. The second was to finish the second anthology. The anthology is in the final stage with the publisher, and it will be done at the beginning of the year. It is called The Outpouring. I am very proud of it. Prepare yourself for lots of spam from me. I also joined the world of Instagram and Twitter. I love Instagram. I have closed my Twitter account because I spent way too much time being distracted on it.

For my yearly “big” trip, I went to Cape Town and Gaborone. I was in Cape Town for eight nights and Gaborone for four nights. The weather was super nice in Cape Town but a little on the hot side for me in Gaborone. I loved the beauty and vibe of Cape Town. It’s on the list of places I could live in or will at least go back to visit. If you want to read about my trip, it is in my blog. In case you missed it, here is the first entry.

Trip Highlights:

  • The best part of any trip is the wonderful people you encounter along the way.
  • I stayed at an Airbnb in Cape Town and enjoyed meeting my host, Gideon, and some of his friends. All very good people. I enjoyed the open conversations. It’s always nice to hear fresh perspectives because we often view life from our lens only. I also met a very nice woman named Jasmin, who I saw for at least a few minutes most of the days I was there.
  • It was awesome to visit Rachel in Gaborone and have conversations with her about life and relationships. It was also splendid meeting some of her friends who are all very good people. We had some great conversations, specifically around relationships and being single black women in this strange world and handling what society expects vs. where we are.
  • Each trip has a song that connects to it. This trip the song is “Hello” by Adele. I heard the album every day in Gaborone. Often with a request from me to play “Hello” again.
  • I loved the location of the Airbnb. It was in the Bo-Kaap district. I loved the colorful homes and the Muslim call to prayer that I would hear throughout the day (and early in the morning). I actually missed it the first few days in Gaborone.
  • Cape Town was so beautiful. I loved Table Mountain and the ocean. The city just had a really great heartbeat/pulse and vibe. It was interesting to see how neighborhoods are changing at such a fast rate worldwide.
  • Table Mountain was awesome. It was so peaceful there, and it would make a great retreat place to just journal and be at one with your thoughts. I spent hours on Table Mountain just journaling and walking around. I also met a woman, Nic, who was also by herself.
  • Visiting the Cape of Good Hope was so awesome. It was at the top of my list of things I wanted to do this trip.
  • I hadn’t planned a trip in a few years (I’ve been lazy and last minute and joining tours), so it was fun doing research for this particular adventure.
  • I enjoyed going to places like Slave Lodge and Robben Island to learn more of the history. It’s interesting that the more things change, the more things stay the same. One day we will learn from history or always be doomed to repeat it.
  • I loved going out to listen to music in Gaborone. Oh. And dancing. Every time I have a chance to dance, it reminds me how much I love it. I especially loved the Summer of 79 concert, which was complete with a Prince tribute. Snaps fingers at the Purple Rain memory.
  • I loved the stars in Gaborone (they were nice in Cape Town too). It reminded me of my summers stargazing as a child. I must get a telescope. If you have an old one laying around, think of me.
  • I was also inspired to write a short story. I haven’t been inspired to write in a long time so it was great getting it out.

https://latonjab.wordpress.com/2016/11/11/following-janes-advice/

I remain grateful for the gift of traveling. It is a reminder that regardless of  race, politics, religion, etc. people pretty much want the same thing.

Cape Town

Clockwise from top left: Some of the colorful homes in the Bo-Kaap, view of Cape Town from Table Mountain, with my host Gideon, walking around the city

Gaborone

Clockwise from top left: The beautiful sunset my first night there, with Rachel before a night on the town, there were tons of goats and cows in Gaborone, at a wonderful market

For more pictures: https://latonjab.shutterfly.com/

Password is: italia

In March, I took a quick trip to Long Beach for my job. I got to see my buddies from other port cities, so it is a very enjoyable business trip. Long days and exhausting but fun and a great time to catch up with some of the amazing people I have met in the port industry. I also had a chance to hang out with Samarah and Mary for a minute.

https://latonjab.wordpress.com/2016/03/03/lbc/

Clockwise from top left: with Samarah, PNW ports unite (Northwest Seaport Alliance, Prince Rupert, Portland, Vancouver (terminal operator)), with my buddy Randy, with (there is something about) Mary

In September, I took a trip to Houston for my job. It was another chance to catch up with port buddies. I even ran into some colleagues I had not seen in many years. There were some great after hour events like bowling and dancing/music at a blues club. The Mariners were in Houston, so I was able to go to a baseball game. I also raced an armadillo. I can cross that off the bucket list.

https://latonjab.wordpress.com/2016/10/01/houston-trip/

Clockwise from top left: with my buddy Randy after the armadillo race, watching the Mariners play the Astros, a church I loved, with my teammate Andre

The fitness journey I began in January 2014 continues. I am at the point where I am trying to maintain. I was able to get off of my blood pressure meds this year. In March, I did my fifth St. Patrick’s Day Dash, which is a 5K, with Kim and Steve. In June, I walked my fourth half-marathon (the Rock N Roll Seattle) with Crystal and Demetrius, and in November, I walked my fifth (the Seattle Marathon). I would still love to do the Rock N Roll in Lisbon, Madrid, Dublin, or Las Vegas. I also did a four mile business run (that I walked) while in Houston.

https://latonjab.wordpress.com/2016/03/14/st-patricks-day-dash/

https://latonjab.wordpress.com/2016/06/18/rock-and-roll-seattle/

https://latonjab.wordpress.com/2016/11/29/seattle-marathon/

Clockwise from top left, me at the beginning of the Seattle Marathon, with Kim and Steve at the end of the St. Patrick’s Day Dash, me somewhere in the middle of the Houston business run walk, with Crystal and Demetrius at the beginning of the Rock n Roll Seattle

I did a lot of classes in 2017. I did four paint nights (one with Sherise, one with Dreeny Paine, and one with Crystal, and one solo), two pasta making classes (one with Diane and one solo), made a bowl at a glass blowing class, took a photography class with Tiffany, and an Italian cooking class with Linda. There are still a few things I want to do on my bucket list like going horseback riding (mainly to conquer a fear), go on a helicopter ride, and take a ride in a hot air balloon. I need to check out Groupon.

https://latonjab.wordpress.com/2016/02/25/glassblowing-class/

https://latonjab.wordpress.com/2016/03/30/painting-class/

https://latonjab.wordpress.com/2016/05/10/may-activity-one-paint-night/

https://latonjab.wordpress.com/2016/05/22/italian-cooking-class/

https://latonjab.wordpress.com/2016/06/17/pasta-making-class/

https://latonjab.wordpress.com/2016/07/30/pasta-making-take-two/

https://latonjab.wordpress.com/2016/10/11/paint-night/

https://latonjab.wordpress.com/2016/11/12/ladies-night-paint-night-oh-what-a-night/

Clockwise from top left: Paint night with Crystal for her birthday, Italian cooking class with Linda for her birthday, me blowing glass, finished paint night project, paint night with Dreeny Paine for her birthday, pasta making class with Di for her birthday.

It’s hard to believe my church newsletter is entering its 16th year! Where did the time go? As I mentioned before, I am so excited to announce the second anthology is just about done. Writing is something I need to do more of. Writing has always helped me focus. It is something I am passionate about, and it is something that I have been gifted in. The time is there, I just need to use it. It just seems like there is always something there to distract me. I need to focus. I have some writing goals for 2017. It’s time to lay down the groundwork for where I want to go in the future. In 2016, I did start the year off strongly by posting some travel articles that I wrote.

https://latonjab.wordpress.com/2016/01/22/life-as-a-traveler-sage-advice/

https://latonjab.wordpress.com/2016/01/25/life-as-a-traveler-meeting-new-people/

https://latonjab.wordpress.com/2016/02/17/saving-for-travel/

2016 really brought up a lot of issues to me around social justice. I will keep saying that the rise of the far right concerns me. I will not be quiet on this.

https://latonjab.wordpress.com/2016/06/15/looking-at-the-man-in-the-mirror-first/

https://latonjab.wordpress.com/2016/04/24/blaming-the-victim/

https://latonjab.wordpress.com/2016/11/13/the-trump-factor/

I general, my prayer for 2017 is that something unexpected and lovely happens. I am not even sure what that would be. Insert lyrics fom Green Day’s Good Riddance, “It’s something unpredictable, but in the end is right, I hope you had the time of your life.” I am going to try living in a state of expectancy.

I did have a moment of melancholy this month. As most of you know, my job at the Port of Seattle was “seconded” into The Northwest Seaport Alliance. They expect to know the location of the headquarters for that organization by the end of 2017, and I have continued to work at P69, primarily. I attended the Port of Seattle employee party because I am still in the building. I was sitting there realizing that this could be my last employee party in the building. Then I thought how I have worked at P69 for 20+ years (October 1 was 20 years since I went there as a temp). So I had to remind myself that looking back can sometimes keep you from being open to good times and things that could be before you. I am sure there is a message there somewhere.

Like I said in opening, it is always good to reflect on the good. 2016 was a good year.

I hope you have a very Merry Christmas, and I wish you a Happy New Year!

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love. hug. xoxo.

ltb

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2015 Christmas Letter

Greetings Friends and Family,

2015 was a very interesting year. In full transparency, I am very glad to see it behind me. It was a year where I feel like I was waiting for time to let me out of situations. And time is a funny thing. We are either wanting it to slow down or speed up.

I don’t really consider myself an “emotional” person. I love to laugh and be happy. But other emotions that I am not used to dealing with were very close to the surface this year. I don’t much like it (smile). But regardless of where I am in my journey or season, I do hold on to my faith and belief that all things will work for my good. Things do have a way of working out how they are supposed to. I take comfort in that.

For my yearly “big” trip, I went to Spain and Portugal. Most of the trip was spent in Spain with three nights in Portugal. The weather was super nice. Both countries have always been on the list, and they finally happened. I have to say, I loved both places. There is so much history, especially in Southern Spain. With all that is happening in the world, it was nice to walk in places where at some point in time, Christians, Muslims, and Jewish people walked and lived together in peace as People of the Book. If you want to read about my trip, it is in my blog. In case you missed it, here is the first entry.

Trip Highlights:

  • Getting to know and hanging out with Leslie. We had many conversations about being single, family, work, relationships, exploration, politics, religion, and life in general. I love encountering other women who like to travel and are willing to cut out on their own to do so. There is much to see. Leslie, if you read this, I hope our paths cross again. You are good people (smile)!
  • Spending an evening in Valencia with Leslie where we met and ate with a Canadian named Ronald. He was very interesting. He is an energy therapist who had just spent 35 days doing the Camino de Santiago in Spain. Ronald is supposed to be praying to four Italian love angels on behalf of Leslie and me that we may find love. Please feel free to join him in those prayers. “I am ready for love…”
  • Visiting the Alhambra Palace in Granada. This is a place I have always wanted to visit. So rich with history. It was also cool to visit the Royal Chapel and see the crypts of Isabella and Ferdinand. Their conquering of Granada was a turning point in history with the resumption of the Inquisition as well as the continuation of the formation of modern day Spain, which their marriage was also a piece of. They also funded Columbus’ expeditions.
  • Spending a warm fall night with a waxing moon in Seville with Leslie listening to music in an open area where there was a mixture of locals, tourists, families, and single/dating young people enjoying themselves. Evenings like this one are my favorite part of traveling. I feel the most at one with the city.
  • Spending a few nights taking evening paseos (strolls) around the Triana neighborhood. The square there was very lively.
  • Taking a took-took (which reminds me of an auto rickshaw) ride through the Graca and Alfama areas of Lisbon during the pouring rain with Leslie. The driver was a woman named Maria, who is a student. She is a kindred spirit. She has a “yellow” personality like my friend Mary. They were great neighborhoods.
  • Spending an evening in Lisbon with Leslie at an Irish Pub where we met some awesome people, Miguel and Armando, and had awesome conversation. There is so much more we have in common as a human race. Why we are constantly being separated by race, religion, politics, etc. is beyond me. It’s exhausting, and we end up fighting each other rather than the real enemy, whoever that is. These days are too much like pre-War World II where people are creating an enemy or scapegoat for people to blame. “What can men do against such reckless hate?” King Theoden.
  • The beauty of Ponta da Piedade is something I loved. There are Stations of the Cross that lead to this spot, which is one of the most beautiful places I have seen. I also took my latest favorite picture there. It’s the hair.
  • Doing a spare-of-the-moment decision zip line ride in Toledo. I think the disturbance in the Force from my screams is still being felt.
  • When I first got to Madrid, I found it hectic like Athens. By the end, I found the pulse, and I loved walking around it. I enjoyed the museums in Madrid, especially the Prado. I liked the Thyssen-Bornemisz Museum as well. There was an Edvard Munch exhibit there. “I see people behind their masks…who restlessly scurry along a tortuous road to the end,” Edvard Munch. I’ve always liked his work.
With Leslie and Armando at the Irish Pub. He donned that outfit for the picture.

With Leslie and Armando at the Irish Pub. He donned that outfit for the picture.

Me zip lining in Toledo.

Me zip lining in Toledo.

For more pictures: https://latonjab.shutterfly.com/

Password is: italia

In March, I took a quick trip to Long Beach for my job. The reason I mention it is because I got to see my buddies from other port cities, so it is a very enjoyable business trip. Long days and exhausting but fun and a great time to catch up with some of the amazing people I have met in the port industry. I also had a chance to hangout with Samarah for a minute.

In May, I went to a monastery, Westminster Abbey, with Romanita and Toyia. It was great. The biggest message I got there was to declutter my life. My room there was very simple. There was a bed, desk, lamp, chair, nightstand and one picture on the wall. It was nice to not have cellphone coverage. So no Facebook, email, or texting. It was just being alone with my thoughts. I might need to go back LOL! The temptation to want to retreat into a monastic life is strong. The trip did send me on a mission to purge. I went through every drawer, box, nook, and cranny. I really did a deep clean, and it felt nice. The only part that was hard was my books, but I did get rid of a bookcase full of books a few years ago.

Me taking a stroll on the grounds of the monastery

Me taking a stroll on the grounds of the monastery

The fitness journey I began in January 2014 continues. I am at the point where I am trying to maintain. In March, I did my fourth St. Patrick’s Day Dash, which is a 5K. I did the Seattle Challenge in May. My team, the Nosey Nellie’s, finished 25 out of 285 teams and qualified for nationals! In June, I walked my second half-marathon (the Rock and Roll Seattle), and in November, I walked my third (the Seattle Marathon). My time for the Seattle Marathon, 3 hours and 25 minutes, beat my goal of 3 hours and 30 minutes. If you had told me a few years ago I would walk two half marathons in a year, I probably would have laughed. I am doing the Rock and Roll Seattle in June. One of these years, I would love to do it in Lisbon, Madrid, Dublin, or Las Vegas. The Vegas one is at night and part of it is along the strip. I also met an older woman who used to walk full marathons. I will need to marinate on that one.

Me, Erica, and Kim at the beginning of the St. Patrick's Day Dashes

Me, Erica, and Kim at the beginning of the St. Patrick’s Day Dashes

Erica, Kim, me, and Stacy at the Seattle Challenge finish line

Erica, Kim, me, and Stacy at the Seattle Challenge finish line

Janice, me, Kenna, and Des with our Rock and Roll Half Marathon finisher bling<

Janice, me, Kenna, and Des with our Rock and Roll Half Marathon finisher bling

Nita and I at the beginning of the Seattle Marathon. She ran; I walked.

Nita and I at the beginning of the Seattle Marathon. She ran; I walked.

2015 was a year of weddings! I was a bridesmaid in April for Kelly’s wedding and in September for Romanita’s. I read a poem at Desiree’s wedding in September. Late summer/early fall was full of bridal showers, bachelorette parties, and weddings. It was a great. I also rediscovered how much I love dancing. I am very happy for all of the newlyweds and wish them many years of happiness. Let the love flow.

With Nita at the wedding reception

With Nita at the wedding reception

Des and I before the wedding

Des and I before the wedding

I was able to get in two cooking classes in 2015. One was a French cooking class at the Hot Stove Society. The instructor was an American who has lived in France for 21 years. It was cool, and I was able to meet Tom Douglas, who is a Seattle restaurant legend, before the class. My favorite foods from the class were lovely lamb chops and excellent eggplant. The other class was for Des’ shower at Hipcooks. We made a variety of foods and had so much fun! My favorites were ceviche and this yummy chocolate mouse like dessert. Yummy!

With Linda during our French cooking class

With Linda during our French cooking class

Cooking class for Des' bridal shower.

Cooking class for Des’ bridal shower.

It’s hard to believe my church newsletter is entering its 15th year! Where did the time go? I am so excited to announce, I will be working on the second anthology in 2016. It will be great to have something productive to concentrate on.

I did spend part of 2015 on the ledge, so to speak. But even in my more trying seasons, I can always say God has been good to me. More than I can put in words. I am surrounded by love and support and that makes me very rich! And writing this Christmas letter has reminded me of the many good moments, so I will stop calling 2015 an off year (smile).

I expect 2016 will be a good year. I need to get myself together so to speak. It’s time to prepare for the next level. Winter is coming and there is preparation that needs to be done!

I hope you have a very Merry Christmas, and I wish you a Happy New Year!

love. hug. xoxo.

ltb

2014 Christmas Letter

Greetings Friends and Family,

2014 was a big year because I turned 40 in March! Wowsers! It was a year of reflection as I tried to figure out how I want the next 40 years of my life to look! To celebrate the big day, I had a get together with some of my favorite gal pals, and Romanita and I took a “This is 40’s” trip to Mexico in May.

40th Birthday Dinner

40th Birthday Dinner

Romanita and I in Mexico

Romanita and I in Mexico

http://latonja.blogspot.com/2014_03_01_archive.html

http://latonja.blogspot.com/2014/06/puerta-vallarta.html

For my yearly “big” trip, I went to Croatia, Slovenia, and Italy with a drive by in Bosnia and Montenegro in October. I had good weather, some rain, and snow one day in the mountains.

Most of the trip was spent in Croatia with nights in Opatija, Split, Dubrovnik, and Zagreb. I found the food to be good, the people to be friendly, and a very laid back and slow culture. Dubrovnik goes down as a place I could live! I spent a few nights in Slovenia in Bled, which was nice and relaxing. I spent the last three nights of vacation in Venice to reflect and write. I like Venice because it is one of the most beautiful places ever. It was just jarring after being so relaxed for so long, so I am removing it from my honeymoon spots, but I still have Lucerne and Santorini! I also met some very lovely women on my trip, two of who actually live in Seattle.

I really liked Dubrovnik. As I said earlier, it’s a place I could live. The water along the Adriatic Sea was just so beautiful. It sparkles, and it gave me peace. It was so magical and beautiful. I also enjoyed time in cities like Pula with its amazing Roman Amphitheater, Split with its great palace, and Zadar with its stunning water views. Zagreb was also pretty amazing, and I would love to go back to do nothing but walk around and look at the beautiful Austrian-empire buildings and people watch in the evening while having snacks in the main square.

Trip Highlights:

  • Journaling in Venice and Dubrovnik. I could sit by the water and journal and people watch all day, especially with the great weather.
  • Spending an evening in Zagreb with the lovely ladies (Sonia, Tammy, Angela, and Roseanne) I met. It was a wonderful evening of great conversation with amazing women. I felt like I had gone on the trip just for that night to spend with kindred spirits in honest and timely conversations about life. It was such an enjoyable evening.
  • Actually spending time with Sonia, Tammy, Angela, and Rosanne throughout the trip was good for my soul. Whether one-on-one, as a group, or subset, I enjoyed my time with them, and they are a big part of my trip memory.
  • I loved walking the loop around Lake Bled and smelling the fires burning from peoples’ fireplaces. It was nice to be in a slow, quiet place and enjoy nature, even if it was a little colder up there.
  • Enjoying a sit down lunch with a random person who ended up sitting down at the same time as me, who shared his chocolate with me.
  • During each trip, I enjoy walking in the old towns and stopping to people watch. Even after all of these years, the old towns continue to be a meeting place for people in the community. I loved my last night in Dubrovnik as a band played 80’s music in the main square and local kids were running around playing hide and go seek. Tears at the memory.
  • I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the very hot priest from Montenegro +_+. Are Orthodox priests allowed to marry? Joking!

Sadly, my pictures are still on my camera. Here is one I downloaded and one that was sent to me.

Angela, Tammy, Rosanne, Sonia, and I in Zagreb

Angela, Tammy, Rosanne, Sonia, and I in Zagreb

Me at the Bled Castle

Me at the Bled Castle

The most exciting thing on the church front was publishing the 50th Edition of the PCC Scroll! I was so excited when we did it. It was a big double-issue, and I felt a lot satisfaction when I hit send on that one. I’m currently working on the January 1 issue. 2015 will be year 14, which is just amazing to me! Wowzers! I still usher. It’s something I am good at and can function in, but it’s not a passion like the Scroll.

My hair is coming along. January 8 will make five years of locking. I said I would have it locked for at least five years! I love it. It’s so low maintenance, which is exactly what I need. People still ask me if it’s “all me” quite a bit, and yes it is. In fact, I was asked that a few days ago.

So I began a fitness journey in January 2014 as my 40th birthday loomed. One of the biggest things for me was making sure I started a regimen I could maintain easily. I began seeing a personal trainer twice a week, which has helped tremendously. I also try to walk during lunch and whenever I can get in some extra steps. In November, I walked my first half marathon. I was very proud when I finished! I am keeping my eyes open for different 5Ks and other half marathons I can participate in. So let me know if you know of any and want to do one with me!

The results? It’s been a little less than a year, and I have dropped some pounds (according to my last morning weigh in 25 pounds, but that number fluctuates). I sleep better, my mood is better, and I feel better. I try to make it less about the pounds and more about my overall health!

Before the race with my two teammates, Steve and Devlin, who ran the race.

Before the race with my two teammates, Steve and Devlin, who ran the race.

At the end with our medals! I walked the marathon with Erin and Candy!

At the end with our medals! I walked the marathon with Erin and Candy!

ttp://latonja.blogspot.com/2014/09/health-journey.html

http://latonja.blogspot.com/2014_11_01_archive.html

I am still working for the Port of Seattle. October 1, 2014, marked my 18th anniversary (included my temp time). I am still amazed how much time has gone by. Changes are afoot as the Seattle and Tacoma ports are forming a Seaport Alliance. I should know more about how that looks in March.

Here is an excerpt from my 2013 Letter:
I have no idea of what 2014 will bring, but I am excited! I haven’t had any big major changes in my life in a while, but I feel like I am ready to shake things up. Everything is the same: same company, same job, same place, same car, etc. I suppose this is good, but it could be time for a new challenge.

As they say, be careful what you ask for because you might just get it. Change is coming on my job. Things have been so stable for so long that it’s interesting to have a shakeup happen. Still not sure how I feel about it.

Oh, and I also took a cooking class this year at Il Fornaio. It was on baking bread, but please don’t ask me to bake any! LOL! My goal is to take other classes like making pizza, sauces, and fresh pasta!

Baking bread with Gaby!

Baking bread with Gaby!

As I was writing this, I was glancing back over some past blog entries from this year. I have so much to be thankful for. God has been amazing in my life, and I am more grateful than I can ever express. I have friends/family who love me. I have a roof over my head. I have enough food to eat. I have been blessed with a job that covers all of my needs and some wants as well. I have my health.

2015, I think, will be interesting. Things have been “stable” for so long but change is coming. I hope to handle it with grace and faith. And to always remember these words from my favorite Motley Crue song, “Just when things went right, doesn’t mean they were always wrong.”

I hope you have a very Merry Christmas, and I wish you a Happy New Year!

2013 Letter

Happy almost New Year Friends and Family,

2013 was a good year overall.

For my yearly “big” trip, I went to Germany, Austria, and Switzerland with a drive by in Lichtenstein in October. I had such great weather!

I started in Mainz and then to Heidelberg. In Switzerland, I spent a few nights in Lucerne and also went to Mount Pilatus. On the way to Austria, did a stop by in Lichtenstein. I went to Austria last year, but only to Vienna. This year, I went to Innsbruck and Salzburg. I spent most of my time in Germany in Munich (I think six nights). Plus some side trips from the various cities to Neuschwanstein Castle, Eagle’s Nest, Linderhof, and spent a few hours in Oberammergou. From Munich, I did day trips to Dachau and Regensburg.

I really liked Lucerne. It’s on my list of places that would make great honeymoon spots. It was so magical and beautiful. And being on Mount Pilatus was amazing. I kept trying to take a mental picture to remember the peace I felt up there so I can remember it during stressful times. I also enjoyed spending time in the Black Forest doing my own version of hiking. Seeing two of “Mad King” Ludwig’s castles was cool. Neuschwanstein Castle is supposed to have inspired Walt Disney so it got me thinking about my prince charming and happily ever after.

During the trip, I was trying to rank the churches and castles I have seen in my travel. It’s hard because they are all wonderful in their own unique ways.

Trip Highlights:

  • Going to the Gutenberg Museum and seeing the three Bibles. Also hearing about the history of printing was very timely since I was waiting on my books!
  • The beauty of Lucerne. It was very magical.
  • I was surprised how moved I was by the Lion Monument in Lucerne. Louis XVI had around 600 armed guards from Austria. When the revolution started and the people stormed the palace, he ordered his guards to not raise their swords. The guards obeyed and were killed. So this monument honors them. The Lion, looks so sad. His paw is on his shield and he’s crying and he has a spear in his side.
  • Peacefulness of Black Forest and Mount Pilatus. Moments I wish I could bottle up.
  • Magic of Neuschwanstein Castle and Linderhof. Ah the power of imagination.
  • Spending a nice, warm, fall day with new friends in the English Garden in Munich.

And perhaps the most enjoyable part of traveling is realizing how many feet have trod where I walked. Like the stone bridge in Regensburg that was built in 1146. Amazing!

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Me in Lucerne

Me in Lucerne

I traveled to Long Beach for my job in March. That was great because I got to so see some colleagues who I have grown quite fond of over the years. In May, I went to New England for the first time. It was nice visiting my friend and visiting another part of the country. During that trip, I liked Gloucester especially. It felt like a working waterfront, which is something I love.

Me in Gloucester

Me in Gloucester

I am still working for the Port of Seattle. October 1, 2013, marked my 17th anniversary (included my temp time). It’s crazy how quickly that time went, and I can say I have met some really amazing people through the organization. Hopefully the port and I can stay together as long as possible.

The most exciting thing on the church front was finishing the compiling, editing and publishing of the anthology for my church! It’s available online at Amazon as well as Barnes and Noble. It was a long effort, and I am quite pleased with the results. I am still working on the newsletter. The January issue will begin year 13! Totally crazy! And the April issue will make issue 50. Wowzers! I am excited for the double issue. I still usher. I was reminded of my “mean usher” days and it made me smile. How far we have come.

The book

The book

My hair is coming along. January 8 marked four years of locking. People ask me if it’s “all me” quite a bit, and yes, it is.

I have no idea of what 2014 will bring, but I am excited! I haven’t had any big major changes in my life in a while, but I feel like I am ready to shake things up. Everything is the same: same company, same job, same place, same car, etc. I suppose this is good, but it could be time for a new challenge. I know I want to express myself creatively more: writing, painting, and photography.

I hope you had a great Christmas, and I wish you a Happy New Year!

I took a seaplane ride for the first time. Seattle from the air.

I took a seaplane ride for the first time. Seattle from the air.

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2012 Letter

2012 was a good year. I haven’t had any big major changes in my life in a while, but some of the people around me have. I’m still with the same company, living in the same place, and driving the same car. So, my life has been pretty stable.

As you know, I have a goal to take one major trip each year. This year, I visited Poland, Hungary, Austria, and the Czech Republic. I also did a half day in Slovakia. It was a great trip, but it went by way too fast! In Poland, I was able to go to Auschwitz and see the Black Madonna. I stayed in Warsaw and Krakow. In Austria, I was in Budapest. My favorite spot was the Vajdahunyad Castle. It is so magical! It has four parts: a Romanesque Chapel, Gothic Gate, Renaissance castle and Baroque palace. The grounds were amazing. And the surroundings were kind of misty. In Austria, I went to Vienna. They have some impressive castles and architecture. In the Czech Republic, I went to Prague and Cesky Krumlov. I really liked the small-town of the latter. I also really enjoyed Bratislava in Slovakia. Small-town feel with some great historical points.

I also traveled to Long Beach for my job. That was great because I got to so see some colleagues who I have grown quite found of over the years.

I am still working for the Port of Seattle. October 1, 2012, marked my 16th anniversary (included my temp time). I am grateful to have a job. The first 16 years went by so fast. I assume the next 16 will go by just as quickly. Time is moving!

Church is going well. I just released the first issue of our twelfth year. It’s hard to believe it’s been that long. It continues to be something I enjoy. I know I was called to write, and my skills as an editor are improving. I am also an usher still. I have come a long way from my “mean usher” days. God has been good to me. God has surrounded me with wonderful people. I am truly blessed in this area. God has sent me a lot of love, and I am thankful for it. I am very excited about the anthology that is almost done.

My hair is coming along. January 8 marked three years of locking.

I have no idea of what 2013 will bring, but I am excited!

I hope you had a great Christmas, and I wish you a Happy New Year!

2011 Letter

2011 was a good year. I can’t remember anything major happening to me. It was more things happening to those around me.

As you know, I have a goal to take one major trip each year. This year, I visited my friend Alice who lives in Hong Kong. We also went to China and Macau. I liked Hong Kong. It was a city with a fast pulse. I particularly liked what I called the real Hong Kong. This is the Hong Kong outside of the tourist area. Macau was awesome. I would actually like spending some time just walking up and down their old roads. They had the best buns, and it made me want to go to Portugal! It had a really good feel to it. I had a small glimpse at China, and I am hungry for me. The greatest part of the trip was being able to hang out with a good friend.

I also traveled to NYC for my job. It was a great trip and my friend Sophia joined me. I was able to see the Spider Man show on Broadway. It was fun to just walk around, and we went to a comedy show that was actually funny.

This year, three great people passed away. It’s weird because on one hand, it seems like a lot of young people are passing away. On the other hand, it seems like a lot of mighty oaks are falling. The pastor from my youth, my grandmother, and my friend Yamini’s Aunt Mani who I spent time with in India all went to the other side.

I am still working for the Port of Seattle. October 1, 2011, marked my 15th anniversary (included my temp time). I am grateful to have a job, and especially grateful that it was upgraded. The first 15 years went by so fast. I assume the next 15 will go by just as quickly. Time is moving!

Church is going well. I am putting the final touches to the first issue of year 11 of our newsletter. It’s hard to believe it’s been that long. It continues to be something I enjoy. I know I was called to write, and my skills as an editor are improving. I am also an usher still. I have come a long way from my “mean usher” days. God has been good to me. God has surrounded me with wonderful people. I am truly blessed in this area. God has sent me a lot of love, and I am thankful for it. I am very excited about our plans to publish an anthology next year.

My hair is coming along. January 8 will mark two years of locking.

I have no idea of what 2012 will bring, but I am excited. I think it’s going to be a good year!

I pray that you had a Merry Christmas and will have a Happy New Year!

2010 in Review

2010 in Review

2010 has been a challenging but fruitful year. I’m learning to get over myself. I believe that the valuable lessons learned will lead to 2011 being a great year! I think it will be challenging, but I think my perspective and attitude will make all the difference. Basically, I need to learn to be less selfish. In some ways, I blame being single and having no children. My world revolves around me (smile).

As you know, I have a goal to take one major trip each year. This year, I visited Greece, Belgium, and the Netherlands. For the Greece portion, I joined a tour group. My experience emphasized that Rick Steves is the best company to tour with if you are going to tour, but I am bias. The highlights of this portion of the trip were going to Patmos and seeing the cave where John is believed to have written Revelation and going to Ephesus in Turkey and seeing the Grand Theater that is mentioned in the Book of Acts. Paul preached there! I also really loved Santorini. It would be a great place to go on my honeymoon! Belgium was a great place to relax. I loved a church called Church of Our Lady. It was such a peaceful place to visit each day I was there. I totally loved Amsterdam. I think a lot of people think of the Red Light District and drugs when they think of Amsterdam. I think of a great, historic city with tons of canals and bridges. It was so magical and is right up there with Dublin as one of my favorite places I’ve been to.

I also traveled to Los Angeles in May. My dear friend Samarah got married, and I was a bridesmaid. The week following, I went to NYC for my job. It was a great trip, and I managed to catch a couple of shows (Avenue Q and Rock of Ages).

This year there was a close death and birth in my life. My aunt that raised me pasted away. If I could go back, I would have done a lot of things differently, but sometimes we assume we have all the time to get things right. I am grateful that I was able to wish her a Happy Mother’s Day one last time. It was a painful reminder that you don’t know how long you have with people. It’s so important to clear the air with people and be present in their lives. My good friend Desiree had a baby boy in October! Another nephew to add to the mix. I am so happy for her family.

I am still working for the Port of Seattle. October 1, 2010, marked my 14th anniversary (included my temp time). I am grateful to have a job.

Church is going well. I am putting the final touches to the first issue of year ten of our newsletter. It’s hard to believe it’s been that long. It continues to be something I enjoy. I know I was called to write, and my skills as an editor are improving. I am also an usher still. I have come a long way from my “mean usher” days. God has been good to me. God has surrounded me with wonderful people. I am truly blessed in this area. God has sent me a lot of love, and I am thankful for it.

I started a new journey as I am locking my hair. I started January 8, 2010, and it’s come a long way. The hair has its own heartbeat. I love it! I so want to get a nose ring, but that will probably have to wait until I am self employed.

I have no idea of what 2011 will bring, but I am excited. God is doing amazing things and is ever patient with me.

I pray that you had a Merry Christmas and will have a Happy New Year!