Making a YES for real.

dsc01316These days, there are so many things, places, and people to draw inspiration from, learn from, and follow. When the world is going at an increasingly fast pace and the “so much to do, so little time” mantra remains unchanged, the attention we pay to various things speaks volumes about the true value it holds in our life.

As my attempt at keeping up with the world, I have notes, lists, post-its – on my phone, on my fridge, on my desk – for literally everything I want to remember, for fear that I will lose out on a nugget of wisdom or a future million-dollar idea. It can really be quite the struggle to scale back. At some point, there ends up being way too many notes on notes on post-its with alllllll the ideas and to-do’s to keep track of and no work to show for it.

So what is the whole point to begin with?

When I started this journey almost two years ago, my inspiration and hunger was coming from a very similar place as today. It was the year of the olympics (and a leap year too). The first church that Alex and I have found and loved in Boston was closing. Thankfully, we had one more chance to step inside Our Lady of Victories, marvel at its beautiful stained glass windows and its rich history with the The Victorian Society in America New England Chapter before saying goodbye. It was a lovely moment, pushing me to reflect upon the many changes that have happened in my life up to that point and what I felt it was leading me towards at the time.

There must be something about February.

It could just be the winter blues. Maybe it’s because the new year is not so new anymore and the struggle to keep “resolutions” up is too real. Or, dare I say it, perhaps its the realization that although time is infinite, a lifetime in it is only so finite. There will always be things to try, to gain, to lose, and yet there’s only so much of life to have and enjoy.

This February, it’s also the sense that lent is coming (it’s here!), and now more than ever, I’m feeling the urge to really work on faithfaith in myself, faith in others, faith in the world, and faith, most important of all, in God. The fact that the day of love this year can mean much more than the love we can see, feel, or ever give is exciting and a challenge. One I hope to step into with more intention and the support of those who wish to take part in it.

And so, here we are.

To a YES in my life that is at the core of it all. The yes that has been resting in me, sitting with me and now nudging me, prodding me, and moving me in ways I have yet to understand. I have a feeling I’m bound for something I’ve been searching for a long time. Sometimes, I’m learning, saying YES for myself means saying NO to some things in the short term in order to focus on the important things requiring my best efforts first.

If you’d like to join me or follow along, I am getting ready for the Best Lent Ever. It will be nice to have a friend through it all – just let me know!

Meanwhile, the regular Always al Fresco programming will be starting back up too! It was a difficult few months of work, studying, and test-taking claiming the front seat for a little bit, but hey, we’ve got some good stuff on cue here for you.

Tell me, how has your February been?

Wishing you a love-filled Valentine’s/Galentine’s/Palentine’s Day!

Thanks for reading!

x,

Valerie

PS – Alex surprised me with quite the Valentine this year, which helped tie everything together for me and really jumpstart this journey (below). Let me know if you’d like to see more of that or if you have any questions and other thoughts. Feel free to link up with your related post or favorite related links as well!

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Golden Hour Thaw

There’s a whole other side of Boston beyond the quintessential brown stone buildings and cobbled streets. Down the blue line, getting lost to the airport, or through bridges and tunnels from downtown, you might get a sense of the grit and the richness, the up and coming, and the growing pains that the city is experiencing today. IMG_3919I’ve called Eastie home for the past almost two years. Most surprising to me, I’ve discovered more to appreciate about this life since the first moment I stepped out into Maverick Square. IMG_3920This journey has been unlike any other moves I’ve embarked before. This time around, Alex and I were to overcome it on our own. That fact has been the most rewarding part, though we ache to be closer to family and friends in Virginia or even farther away. But now we have Eastie, and it will forever hold a place in our story too.IMG_3921Alex and I saw Boston on a visit only once before calling ourselves residents a year later. Not knowing much about the city and keeping a hard budget in mind, we pretty much dropped a pin on a map, found our home, and made our big move. Little did we know how much we would come to enjoy this side of Boston that not many people get to see.IMG_3923IMG_3924It’s colorful and rough around the edges. Boston.gov‘s website provides a quick overview into the neighborhood and the Eastie wiki page is actually quite extensive. The internet gave me my only frame of reference before seeing Eastie for myself a couple of months before our move. I give all the credit to Alex, of course, for finding our diamond (apartment) in the rough. We’ve learned a lot about what we can live with and live without in order to enjoy our life here together and really define our priorities and our dreams.IMG_3925Would I pick a view of the cape over a view of road salt? Probably. But now I look at this and am in awe at how close I can be yet so far enough removed downtown that this can be kept so secret from many other Boston residents. I look at this and see the physical toils of hard work, the once cast off neighborhood that housed waves of immigrants over the years, and the beauty through the resilience within this diverse community that is now being challenged. Challenged perhaps by a wave of “new immigrants” like myself, even if I do care much about this neighborhood. IMG_3926IMG_3927There’s no question that Eastie is facing a lot of changes in a short period of time. Within the time we’ve lived here, we’ve seen new buildings, business changes, and cranes on a steady rotation. Universities offer eating and sightseeing guides of Eastie to students, like this BU Eastie feature, that anybody would be enticed by. The community, as a result, is going through a lot. We’re seeing the effects of those events directly impact our life too.IMG_3928IMG_3929IMG_3930I feel that those experiences tug at the heartstrings the most and pull people to care more and to do something. For right now, I’m at least wanting to pay closer attention to what is at Eastie’s core and truly imbibe in it. What comes next, I have yet to see.IMG_3931IMG_3932As the sun melts the last few drops of snow away on this last day of winter, the promise that comes with a new season gives this little neighborhood a new light.

It is golden.

IMG_3934(There’s me taking a break from behind the camera to sip on my Dunkies bottled iced coffee, no less.)

Please feel free to share your thoughts on the snaps and my stroll around East Boston below! Thanks for reading and following along 🙂

 

Valerie

 


These pictures were taken at American Legion Park in East Boston, MA.

For more information, check the Boston city website, find other parks in the city or learn more about East Boston directly. You may also want to check out www.eastietimes.com

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I’ll Always Say YES to Wine, Chocolates and This Kind of Love

Whether you’re celebrating Valentine’s Day with a significant other or Galentine’s/Palentine’s Day with your favorites, I hope you have a love-filled day today and always ♥

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This year will mark our fifth year since getting engaged and saying big YES’s many more times to the adventure that has been our life.  Alex and I are far from planning our long distance rendezvous a la John Meyer’s Love on the Weekend (if you’ve been there before, you’ll want to take a listen). We’re glad for that. Little did our twenty-something selves know how many changes, surprises, hurdles, and lessons we would be encountering along the way. And yes, I’d still choose this life and this love every. single. time.

While we often opt to have a nice night in on Valentine’s Day, this year felt different. Our second winter here in Boston is teaching us valuable lessons on patience, teamwork, faith, home, and ultimately love. It seems only fitting to celebrate though still close to home and try to get away if only for a few moments.

We’ve always had quite the unconventional story, whether by choice or by circumstance, but it’s always been the story of us. It isn’t always rom-com style romantic, but it is always with heart.

Because I’m feeling a bit reminiscent, here are some of our cherished images, both from my instax and our phones (look at these babies!), of that fall-like, love-filled winter day at Glass House Winery in Charlottesville.  This is just one of the vineyards Alex and I enjoyed in Virginia’s Wine Country (see others from our recent trip here) from going to school around the area. Glass House in particular makes delectable hand-made chocolates and awesome wines in a one-of-a-kind setting, which are just a few of my favorite things! My company that day wasn’t so bad either 😉 Please bear with the image quality. We were living up that post-grad life with a post-grad wallet in 2012.

Alex had such an odd, serious-one-moment then funny-but-nervous demeanor on the drive there. Apparently he had the ring in the box in his pocket just so blatantly visible and within a hand’s reach from the passenger seat. I just had absolutely NO clue.

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I was just sipping on some wine, nibbling on some chocolates, ring-less at this point, and TOTALLY oblivious.

It was such a blur and such a strong memory at the same time.

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The vineyard was fairly quiet that day, so we were grateful for the other visitors who were able to snap this shot of us.

img_3754Then here I am easily smiling ear-to-ear with my new shiny Diment ring 🙂 (get it??)

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We finished our bottle of wine and box of chocolates and bought a couple more for home.

Tomorrow we spend V-day in a restaurant just a few blocks from our house. I seriously cannot wait for all of the yummy food.

How do you plan to spend your day? Feel free to share in comment below!

 

Valerie

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And if you liked what I was wearing, find my recommendations to recreate the outfit here:

Date Night/Valentine's Day Outfit: Collared Top + Statement Skirt

 

<< also found this one last minute at 51% off and most sizes available in regular or petite: Banana Republic Factory Printed Mini! >>