The Best Thing About My New Neighborhood

The best thing about our new neighborhood so far is this: I am now, after a decade of living in the country, only fifteen minutes away from my local Trader Joe’s grocery store.

love Trader Joe’s. I fell in love with it in college, and I remained loyal and infatuated throughout my early twenties. I love their food, I love their snacks. I love how cozy and small the store is.

And I love love love how friendly the customers and the staff are. I have a friend who worked at Trader Joe’s for a long time and loved it, so I have a theory that the employees are super happy because they are well-treated AND because, just maybe, they love Trader Joe’s as much as I do. And the customers – well, they’re happy because they’re stocking up on amazing food and snacks at a store that’s yummier, smaller, and less crowded than other grocery stores.

The first Saturday we woke up at our new house, it was raining and I was solo with the boys, and hungry. So I packed them into the car and drove – only fifteen minutes! Then I put Jonas in the Ergo, Edgar in the grocery cart, and began the process of covering Edgar with Trader Joe’s groceries. It was 8 a.m., so I thought the store might be empty, but it wasn’t. There were about a dozen customers, and every single one of them smiled and said hello to me. A few of them stopped to chat and to make funny faces at Jonas. Edgar chose raspberries for his in-store snack and every time Jonas said, “More,” Edgar would sweetly say, “Here you go, Jo Jo,” and put a raspberry in his mouth.

It was magic.

This move has been a big change. So far, I’m enjoying it, but I’ve been nervous about such a major change to our lifestyle. But that day, at our neighborhood Trader Joe’s, I felt extremely positive about our move. Because I met friendly neighbors with a common interest and also because Trader Joe’s has the BEST SNACKS IN THE WORLD. It felt like a little sign – a happy moment the will precede lots of happy moments to come.

community · family

Local Bucket List & Neighborhood Surprises

One day earlier this week, Edgar and I drove to Hammerman Beach, a little beach on the Gunpowder River that is located in Gunpowder Falls State Park. Tamara and I have explored a lot of Gunpowder Falls, especially the section of river that runs through our area of Maryland, but not much of the eastern side of the park.

Today’s excursion was part of a little bucket list I’ve been writing in my head – things I want to do that are in my neighborhood. I’ve been thinking and writing about wanting to live more locally. (See my post on living local here!) I have a tendency to just sort of exist wherever I am – not really absorbing the world around me as thoroughly as I could. It’s one of the reasons I am a below-average tour guide. People ask me questions about the place where I’m living, and it’s rare for me to have the answers at my fingertips the way some excellent tour guides do.

Hammerman Beach isn’t exactly in my neighborhood, but it’s in Maryland, which is the state I’ve called home for ten years. TEN YEARS! That’s longer than I’ve lived anywhere other than New York. And while I’ve never been that into crabs or the Baltimore Ravens, I do enjoy getting to know the landscape and sights that are within a day’s drive. The beach was small, sweet, and beautiful; Edgar actually said the word “beautiful” for the first time, repeating after me as we looked out at the sparkling river.still-what-i-want-in-my-life-is-to-be-willing-to-be-dazzled-to-cast-aside-the-weight-of-facts-and-quote-1

Last weekend was another good chance to explore a local event. Our farm is about five minutes away from the New Freedom Farmers Market, but I’ve never attended; we don’t sell our produce there, and I didn’t realize just how close it was. Then a friend suggested that I attend an event held at the market once a year called Yogis Take The Park and IT WAS AMAZING. The vibe was very open, loving, hippie-esque – it reminded me of a lot of places I lived and visited in my twenties. I never thought I would find that kind of vibe so close to home. We have lots of great friends and neighbors who are open and liberal-minded, but I also am keenly aware that we live in the only district in Maryland that is represented by a Republican conservative. (FOR NOW. Election Day is November 6, 2018! Vote for Jesse Colvin!)

My local bucket list adventures will continue!  I’m so grateful to live in a place that has the familiarity of home and the potential for surprises.

community · family

Dreams Do Come True #heart #spirit

The giving and receiving of gifts is not one of my Love Languages.

(In case you have no idea what I’m talking about, you can read a mini-summary of Love Languages in this old post.)

The whole ritual of gifts is, from beginning to end, stressful to me.  I get extremely stressed when someone watches me open a gift.  I worry about what my expression and body language will tell the gift giver about what I think of the gift.  I also worry that my worrying will prevent me from having a genuine reaction to the gift, so that even if I looooove the gift, I’ll end up flashing the gift giver an awkward smile instead of a genuine grin.

Ugh.  I can’t imagine any overthinker really enjoying the process of gift giving.  There’s too much to overthink.

I also get really stressed while considering what to buy for others.  I don’t like this about myself, but I get extremely overwhelmed, especially during the holidays.  There’s no way I can come up with a perfect gift, that is thoughtful, generous, and is something the person would never buy for themselves (my three key factors for an awesome gift) for EVERY SINGLE PERSON I buy gifts for!  I also hate the obligation of gift giving.  I love when no gift is expected and I can surprise someone with a gift I know they’ll love.  But that’s not the case during the holidays.  And the pressure that I have to buy SOMETHING gets in the way of my capacity for being inspired to buy something meaningful.

I don’t share this particular anxiety with a lot of people.  If I really let loose and share my internal monologue related to gift giving, I get a lot of weird looks and sympathetic smiles.  Because, this is madness, right?  The giving of gifts is supposed to be joyful.

Yeah.  For me, not so much.

However, when I DO buy a present that someone loves, I feel absolutely delighted. (This happened during Christmas 2017 and it made me SO happy!) And when someone manages to get me with a gift that’s thoughtful and surprising, I am overwhelmed with gratitude.

Tee knocked it out of the park this Christmas:


There’s a long running and biking trail that cuts right through our property.  And, coming in spring 2018, there will be a Little Free Library right here at Wild Peace Farm!

books + reading · community

Living Local #heart #spirit #body

This week, my mind is full of thoughts and feelings about community and living local.

It was exciting to participate in a writers’ group at the library this week.  I was intimidated by the talent of others, but also inspired to see that there are people out there wanting to write and writing and trying to write better.

I really hope that this group becomes a regular part of my routine.  It’s partly about writing, but it’s also about feeling connected to my community.  One aspect of country living that I am struggling with is how freaking LONG it takes to get everywhere.  It feels extra long now that I have a toddler; I am often frantically trying to keep him awake in the backseat so that he won’t have a fifteen-minute car nap that interferes with a luxurious two-hour nap in his crib at home later in the day.

These “please please please don’t nap” car battles usually happen on my drives into the city.  I love living not-too-far from Baltimore, but most of our favorite places are a 30- or 40-minute drive away, and that’s not awesome for me or for Teddy.

So I’ve been enjoying finding little outings and activities that are in OUR neighborhood recently – simple things, like joining the local YMCA that’s only eight minutes from our house.  Tee and I have been taking Teddy there – I take Teddy swimming while she works out, and then she plays in the pool with him while I swim laps.

Our local library is only 16 minutes away.  My writing group was on Thursday evening, and then on Friday morning Teddy and I attended a baby story time there that was really sweet.  (Also, a bunch of grown-ups singing songs and doing matching hand movements is always hysterical to me.)  Before story time, Teddy and I stopped in at Dough Run, a little bakery/cafe in Monkton, for coffee and a maple muffin.  There was a train table in the cafe, so Teddy and I were both living our bliss.

One of my 2018 intentions is, ironically, to be intentional.  I want to do everything I do with more mindfulness and purpose.  The things I buy, the ways I spend my time, the books I read, the things I eat – everything. When I was in my early twenties, I boycotted Starbucks in favor of the local coffee shop.  Lately, I buy and eat and do whatever is convenient; my sister made a comment to me about “shopping local” for Christmas presents, and I realized that every single one of my presents was purchased on Amazon.  EVERY SINGLE ONE.

Now, I don’t have a problem with Amazon; I love it.  But if I pause, and think about how I want to spend my money – what businesses I want to support – I realize that I really value supporting local businesses.  If my local used bookstore, Ukazoo, went out of business, I’d be incredibly sad.  And there’s a funky gift shop in Hampden called Trohv that I adore; I would be bummed if it closed, and yet I did not support it at all during the holiday season, the time of year when I do most of my gift shopping.

When I reflect on the last decade of my life, one thing I have been constantly wanting but never quite getting is a tight community of friends.  I have a lot of good friends – some old, some more recent, a lot of them living hours away – but I’m always envious of people who have a tight-knit group of friends, an urban tribe. It’s embarrassing to write this – it sounds very middle school “I don’t have any frieeeeeends” to me – but it’s true.

That wish for a tight-knit group of friends might be part of my desire to live local.  I crave community – for me, for Tee, and especially for Teddy and any future kids.  And it’s been really fun to realize how much there is for us to do and see and explore that is NOT forty minutes away.





community · snapshots

#reflection #How’sMyBalance?

My last reflection – checking in to evaluate how I am doing at nourishing my heart, my soul, my mind, and my body – was on May 19.  mind_body_soul_heart

#heart: I take care of my #heart by spending time with family andfriends.  Since my last reflection, I’ve written eleven posts about nourishing my #heart.  (Yay KEM!)  This is a big improvement from previous reflections!  It may be due to springtime – I’m less of a homebody when it’s beautiful outside – or maybe I really am making progress with keeping myself balanced.

#soul: I take care of my soul by spending quiet time reflecting and meditating, and by finding meaningful ways to help others.  Since my last reflection, I’ve written seven posts about nourishing my soul.  I don’t think I’ve been making a lot of time for quiet reflection or for helping others.  That will be something to work on this week.

#body: I take care of my body by eating right, getting enough sleep, and exercising.  Since my last reflection, I’ve written only two posts about nourishing my body!  Now, I’ve definitely been maintaining my running habit – but when I mbslogorealized how little I’ve posted about #body, it led me to think that my body nourishment hasn’t been very diverse lately.  It’s been a long time since I’ve engaged in other kinds of exercise that I enjoy.  Maybe time to diversify?
#mind: I take care of my mind by learning and engaging my mind n lots of different ways.  Since my last reflection, I’ve written seven posts about nourishing my #mind.  This continues to be my easiest quadrant to address.