Slowing down

Slowing down

We took some time to slow down amid a busy September last weekend.

Busy is just that, busy. It doesn’t necessarily mean that we are achieving, accomplishing. It doesn’t automatically mean that we are being productive or growing or stretching. It just means busy.

We’re still figuring out the balance. The rhythm. Of this new life, new home, new phase.

We walked down to the neighbor’s the other night and sat in their living room as the rain pounded down and just talked and talked for hours. Husband and I walked home in the dark, dodging the last of the rain drops. It was late, but it felt good to be making connections, making time, being, talking.

In an effort to make some of that time for ourselves, we took off for the mountains last weekend. It doesn’t happen nearly as often as we would like, but our little mountain excursions help bring us a bit of sanity, of slowing, of breathing, of being. It’s good for us.

A few photos and a few thoughts from our trip…

Sunset on the Blue Ridge Parkway

Our campsite at Sherando Lake State Recreation Area

So green at the lakes


Hiking Humpback Rocks Trail

The view from Humpback Rocks Trail

The pup made it to the top too

Enjoying the view, Blue Ridge Mountains

Peppermint tea

Peppermint tea

I’ve been struggling lately. I think my writing here reflects that.

Struggling with barely celebrating the holidays. Struggling with moving, again. Struggling with the desire to have a space of our own. Struggling with the whole home-buying process. And, of course, still struggling with loss.

There’s packing, cleaning, to-do lists and not enough hours in a day. But there isn’t a lot of Christmas for me this year.

It’s been tough.

But I’m tired of being tired of life.

The other night, Husband and I were exhausted and it was probably only 7:00. I made myself some peppermint tea, because that it my go-to solution for just about everything these days. I made a cup for Husband too.

It reminded me of a conversation I had about a decade ago. I was 16 or 17, talking to my brother’s then-girlfriend about guys. She was always trying to set me up with someone or another and I wasn’t having any part of it.

I remember telling her that I wanted to marry someone who could cook, because I hated cooking. And, to top that, he had to drink peppermint tea, because I love peppermint tea.

She looked at me askance. Cook? Drink peppermint tea?!

But you know what, Husband does both of those things and so many more.

So, even when life is more than I can handle and I’m tired through and through, I have to remember that I am blessed.

Blessed to be married to the perfect-for-me Husband. Blessed to have the life we do. Blessed to have my horse just a short drive away. Blessed to cuddle with a pup every cold evening. Blessed to have a job to go to every morning, and a safe, warm place to rest every night. Blessed to sip peppermint tea with Husband.

Hot tea

Four years

Four years

Some days I want to say, “Four years? It’s already been four years?!” Others it’s more like, “Only four years? Feels like a lifetime…”

I met Husband almost exactly four years ago, when I first moved to Virginia. I was working as a writing coach at the university where I was just beginning my master’s program. He was working as a chef in the university cafe, managing the place in the evenings. We both worked the late shift, getting off at 9pm.

I barely remember the first time I met Husband. He came into the writing center to visit with a friend. We were introduced, but by the next time he came in I had already forgotten his name (oops).

He also made friends with another writing coach, my friend Rachel. More often than not, Husband came wandering into the writing center looking for Rachel, with a snack for Rachel, or a proposition for Rachel. Funny, though, how often he came looking for her on the nights she wasn’t working.

“Oh?” he would say. “She’s not here? Then, here, you can have this salad and garlic bread.”

It was good garlic bread.

A few weeks later he made plans to teach Rachel how to surf, and then asked if I wanted to come along as well. Funny how he scheduled the surf lesson for during fall break, when Rachel was making a trip home.

My first surf lesson

A few days after the surf lesson, we went kayaking. I was ecstatic to be making a friend in a local, not a transient student, but someone who could tell me where the best spots were and the best things to do. And he had kayaks, that didn’t hurt at all.

He was testing me, or so he would later admit. We kayaked for four hours that day, him wanting to see if I could keep up. Me just enjoying the opportunity to be out on the water.

That’s how it all started. Our friendship. Over the next few months there were a number of fun outings, breakfasts, and many, many late conversations at work.

Eventually I caught on. He asked me out. I made him wait three weeks for an answer.

Two weeks later we were talking about wedding dates.

Three months after that we were engaged.

Our engagement

Six more months and we were married. Exactly one year after that first surf lesson and kayak paddle.

Our wedding

Maybe that’s why the past four years feels like both an hour and a lifetime. Because it has all gone so fast, things have changed–are changing–at a rapid pace. And because of that, life today is so vastly different than it was four short years ago that it seems it must have always been this way.

I’m afraid the next four years will go just as quickly…more changes await us. Our first house, to start.

I want to stop and savor the moments. I want to go camping more. I want to sit and share a glass of wine more. I want to take long drives through the country just because. I want to do less and be more.

That seems my ever elusive goal.

Did I mention Husband first met my parents in the middle of a snow storm? In West Virginia? And we were all snowed into a tiny cabin together for three days? Another story for another time…

Snow storm

PFG Food Show (aka The Perks of Being Married to a Chef)

PFG Food Show (aka The Perks of Being Married to a Chef)

Yesterday I mentioned that Husband and I had some business that took us to Richmond for a day (and allowed us to see the magnificent Maymont Mansion, seriously, take a look).

We were invited to attend the Performance Food Group Spring food show at the Greater Richmond Conference Center, so I eagerly asked off of work and joined Husband to watch him work and taste lots of a great food. PFG was kind enough to put us up for the night, so we were able to drive up the night before the food show. We stayed at the Richmond Omni hotel, which we loved, since we had stayed at the Newport News Omni on our honeymoon.

Getting there was a little…logistical. Husband and I aren’t newbies at navigating the city, but honestly, we live in Virginia Beach, which is incredibly sprawly and not very urban. So although we located the hotel fine, determining the proper parking deck took a little more effort.

Eventually we parked, grabbed our overnight bags and headed for the elevator that took us into a lavish indoor shopping center… Um, hotel? Ah, over there. The Omni (and neighboring Starbucks) were on the end of the shopping center. Our room was delux and lovely and we settled in for a fun overnight away from home.

Our view from the Omni Hotel in Richmond.

Reading at the Omni.

Loved the bathroom at the Omni!

A food show of this sort is basically where all of the vendors that supply PFG (the ones that make the tortillas or chicken fingers or hot sauce) come together so chefs and restaurateurs can sample their wares. It was set up in a large convention center room and we mosied around tasting just about everything that look appetizing.

Food tables at the food show.

We were even able to attend at seminar specifically on branding your restaurant, which was a lot of fun. And we got to talk to the suppliers, learn about how they make their products, and discuss everything with the food reps from PFG. Altogether, we left happy with our stomachs full of samples.

Fresh produce at the food show.

Yummy scone...

I’m one of the few I know who actually made it through high school, college and graduate school without ever working in a restaurant so a lot of this is new to me. But as I learn more about the restaurant industry I feel like I’m better able to support Husband in his career, which is important to me. And we had a lovely day together, what could be better than that?