Tag Archives: travel

Best of Boston


Last week I spent 5 days with my sister in Boston. Bundled up in coats and scarves we wandered through the rain around the streets of Cambridge. When we were younger our relationship centered around doing gymnastic routines in the front yard, playing 20 questions at night in our bunk beds and arguing over who took whose schruchie. I kid you not. I was the bossy, commanding, older sister and she was the sweet, easy going, middle child. And even though we sometimes still fall into those constraining birth order roles, I think we have come a long way in learning to be both friends and sisters.

We spent a lot of time just talking; curled up on the couch, sitting over a cup of coffee, or sharing appetizers at dinner. We managed to fit in some dancing one night and shopping the next morning- both equally enjoyable especially when there is this wonderful thing called the free “coat check.” I had never experienced that before. And did you know there is no sales tax on clothes in Boston? yesssss. We spent a good number of miles walking which is a great in a city that caters to pedestrians. Imagine 4-way stops where floods of people cross every which way and the cars just wait. ha. We managed to take every form of public transportation possible- yes, we hopped on and off the T, waited for the bus, and hailed a taxi. Steph took me to one of her favorite cafes, Flour and I wandered around little bookstores with stacks of books and cute greeting cards.


I was so impressed by my sister, Stephanie. She has a meaningful job working with people from all different cultural and religious backgrounds. She creatively started and now organizes yearly events like Soccer Nights for the entire city of Cambridge (check it out here). She has incredible friends who love her and an adorable apartment on the 5th floor of a charming building right by Harvard Square. Not only did I get to enjoy Boston, but also I got to see part of Steph’s life. There is something about being present with someone that brings together what cell phone conversations and text messages cannot. Now if only I could have brought the sunshine with me.

Weff, thanks for letting me come stay with you! I am glad that I can call you sister and friend.

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When I Grow Up


When I was little this is what I wanted to be when I grew up. I kid you not. Most little kids imagine being a doctor or superhero or maybe even the person who flies the planes, but no…I wanted to be the person who directs the planes and tells them where to go.

For as long as I can remember I have loved airports and airplanes and all things that have to do with traveling. Before I was even able to read my parents would take me down to Ontario Airport where we would sit in the parking lot.

And just watch the planes.

Land and take off.

Land and take off.

What wonderfully, patient parents I had. For some reason I called planes be-bos and to this day I am not sure why. My parents helped foster my love (insert: obsession) of airplanes by reading me books from the local library about airports and airplanes. In fact they sent me on a plane by myself when I was just seven.

And remember how before the feds cracked down on airport security, it was common practice to actually go to the gate to meet someone? When my grandma would fly down from Seattle for her yearly visit the best part was waiting at the gate for her plane to arrive. With my hands glued to the metal gate I watched these airport workers with fluorescent vests and long flashlights “tell” the plane where to go. I decided that is what I wanted to do one day.

Fast-forward 20 years later
I am not in fact directing airplanes, (although I am sure this odd desire says something about my personality and my desire to be in charge, arranging and directing and telling students what to do) but I still do love airports.

I love airports because they remind me that traveling is about the process. I am convinced that if we could magically zap ourselves through some wrinkle in time to another city or country in an instant it would not hold the same appeal.

Traveling is about the process of packing and preparing. There is an anticipation and that looking forward to feeling. Traveling is contingent on lines and waiting and walking and then more lines, waiting and sitting. A process that sometimes feels inefficient and tiresome, but it reminds me that sometimes it’s not about me.

At any given time there are hundreds of passengers wandering around the airport, going a million different places, and you know what? We all want the same thing. We all want to make our flight and leave on time and get a good seat on a perfectly functioning plane that will arrive safely at our desired destination. So it’s not about really me and where I want to go per se. When I remember this I look around and notice what a fascinating place airports are- people of different cultures and countries and languages congregate in the same place for a few short hours: weary business men, adventurous backpackers and love struck honeymooners all wait for the same flight.

Contrary to how I usually do life, I actually enjoy this process.

The waiting.

And the watching.

And the sitting.

This is where surprising conversations happen with strangers and observant people watching skills come in handy. This also becomes my favorite book reading, magazine perusing and journal writing time. This process invites me to relax and let go. I cannot control the weather or make the line move any faster. I cannot hurry up the boarding process or change my seat. All I can do is enjoy the process and in that, there is a kind of freedom.

Tomorrow I get to embark on this process.
I will greet my first of three airports before the sun rises. And then arrive in Boston sometime tomorrow evening. I am looking forward to a day of travel, but even more so I am looking forward to spending 4 days with my incredible sister, Steph.

(And yes, I am still holding out for my dream: maybe one day I’ll get to sport the florescent vest and over-sized flashlights so I can “tell” the planes where to go)

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thank you, portland


photo credit: curly girl design (one my favorite greeting cards companies)

It’s been a while since I have taken time to write. Usually, when my blog post stays the same for weeks on end it either means one of two things:
a) Life has been too busy or b) Pure avoidance.

In my case it’s been a little bit of both these past few weeks. I notice these patterns. When my schedule is too full, and I spend more time trying to save the world than take care of myself, all of my creative energy gets buried somewhere between stacks of paper, my ever growing inbox and the lack of adequate hours of sleep. But that’s only part of the equation. The truth is when there is something nudging at my heart and being tossed back and forth in my mind I actually (almost purposefully) try to avoid it. Sometimes I wonder if my refusing to commit words to a page is my way of pretending that this thing, this internal voice, doesn’t exist. I can try and keep it at bay, where it is out of sight, but eventually it washes back up to shore.

Usually I don’t even notice it, that is until I get away. And then it whispers loudly, clearly and purposefully, echoing in my heart and head; and my whole being:

I am longing for some change.

So, I spent the weekend away- away in Portland, visiting a wonderful city with some truly fascinating people. I mean what’s not to love about Portland…no sales tax, buffalo exchange, cozy coffee shops, scarves and boots worn out of necessity, instead of an attempt to make a fashion statement, neighborhood churches in bars, autumn leaves, Laurelhurst park, cool bridges, 3 dollar movies, and places to walk to from almost every point on a map.

I got to see some friends from Westmont and spend a few days with Whitney. We’ve come full circle- I met this lovely girl when I was a college freshman at Westmont and she was just a little, bundle of 5th grade joy. Fast-forward 9 years and now she is a college freshman and I am, well…just getting older, but you get the point. I got a chance to re-live college dorm life and remember why I don’t think I will ever miss sharing a bathroom with 16 other girls.


Sometimes it takes being away-literally away- for me to get a glimpse of what I am really longing and hoping for. It’s almost like some switch goes off as soon as I leave the comfort and conveniences of familiarity, the responsibilities of work and the ever-growing list of should-do’s and could-do’s.

I listen. And I slow down. And I settle into a different rhythm. And it’s only then that I realize I am craving something new, some kind of change.

I wish I knew exactly what kind of change, because if I knew then I would obviously follow a three-step process and voilà, change complete. done and done. check it off. But I think, I, and probably you too, know that change doesn’t happen like that. Change is a process. And the more and more I pray through and listen to this process I wonder how much of my desire for change is based on changing my external surroundings or rather changing my internal state of being. And maybe it’s a both/and, not an either/or. But I still find myself wanting to make sense of it all; trying to find the “right” words to justify and explain the longing. I am learning that it is hard to give words to some internal feeling that is not grounded in any ounce of clarity, nor does it come with the slightest bit of convenience.

What I do know is that something needs to change in my life. I am just not sure what.

The truth is I really don’t have any clarity. The dots have not been connected. But Portland did something good for me. It reminded me to listen and not avoid that gentle, whisper that longs for something more.

Thank you, Portland. I will be back one day.

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Growing


I am back. Well, I have actually been back for over a week now, but I spent the first week back drowning in papers to grade, work emails, meetings and piles of laundry. Now, I feel like I am at least treading water. I have no complaints about Italy, but taking a week off a work in the middle of September is not exactly convenient.

But maybe convenience is overrated, right?

I had a wonderful time in Italy. It was so good to be with my sisters- it beats texting, gchatting, and using other forms of technology enhanced communication by far! Parts of out trip felt like a scenes straight out of Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants-and if you have no idea what I am talking about, well then you probably don’t have sisters.

Christine lives in a cute, little apartment right by the Ponte Vecchio and even though she had art classes most days, Steph and I were quite content sleeping in, drinking coffee, walking around Florence, sitting in cafes, reading, shopping and oh, eating. We successfully managed to get at least one cappuccino and gelato every day. We spent one day on a bike tour of Tuscany and another few days hiking along the coast in Cinque Terre.

One of my mentors, a wonderfully wise woman who appreciates life in ways I can only dream of, will often ask me to give her a word to describe a recent trip or an event that I attended. It seems a little simplistic at first, but try it. It’s actually unbelievably difficult to try and capture an entire trip or experience in a single word. But for some reason I like the task of trying.

So, when I think about my time in Italy the one word that comes to mind is: growing.

There was a moment one night at dinner where the three of us sat around and shared a bottle of wine and it hit me, wow, we’ve grown up. We had honest conversations about issues that don’t have simplistic Sunday school answers, and we laughed (mostly thanks to Christine’s undeniable gift of story telling) and we even cried a little (well, I did). What’s ironic about sisters is that even in these “grown-up” moments, we still have countless other moments where bickering, arguing and mocking each other are the go-to form of communication. I think part of the challenge for sisters, or maybe for all family for that matter, is learning how to see each other for who we are, not who we were. I think is this is part of the growing process.


In a lot of ways my sisters and I could not be more different. (Although Stephanie and I do look more and more alike every time we’re together, which is odd considering when we were growing up we looked nothing alike.) Stephanie has this beautiful balance of strength and gentleness that draws people to her. She can make the best out of almost any situation; it is almost like positivity flows through her blood. I somehow seemed to have missed out on that genetic trait. Christine has this creative spunk and empathetic spirit that makes her dream big dreams and care deeply about people–and animals for that matter. And she can make me laugh harder than anyone I know.

We decided that we should do an Italy reunion trip every 5 years. I’ll cheers to that!

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ciao.


In a little less than 24 hours I will be in ITALY with two of my favorite people in the whole wide world-my sisters!!! (you can tell, I am only a teeny, tiny bit excited)

It’s been a little stressful trying to make sub plans for next week, while also trying to finish up grading and planning and wrap up everything at work for this week. So, needless to say, I have not started packing (very uncharacteristic), and we don’t yet have a place to stay once we get there (not like me at all) and I would rather sit and watch the office tonight than try and figure all of this out (what is wrong with me?)

Regardless, I will, Lord willingly, get on a plane tomorrow afternoon and after three long flights and layovers in two different countries, arrive in Italy where my sisters and I will reunite. We decided upon seeing each other it is only fitting to jump up and down and make loud squealing noises…ya know, the ones that only girls and maybe small dolphins can decipher their meaning. Yes, these kind of events draw unwanted attention, but sometimes it’s just necessary.

For teachers, September is not exactly the best month to just pack up and take off for a week, but I am starting to feel that maybe this trip comes at a necessary time. Life gets busy, sometimes too busy and I can so easily fill every moment with unnecessary stress and pressure and a constant running list of things to do.

I want to listen more and create some space in my life. In fact I need to.

I love this quote from Henri Nouwen:

“In the spiritual life, the word discipline means, “the effort to create some space in which God can act.” Discipline means to prevent everything in your life from being filled up. Discipline means that somewhere you’re not occupied, and certainly not preoccupied. In the spiritual life, discipline means to create that space in which something can happen that you hadn’t planned or counted on.”

So on this trip to Italy I am going to create some space; some space in which something can happen that I didn’t plan on or count on. Some space to listen. and rest. and enjoy. I’m going to soak up slow mornings and sidewalk cafes with cappuccinos and gelato. And time with my sisters. Time to laugh. and talk. and simply be together.

Italy here I come.

But first, time to pack…and watch the office.

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