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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When it all hits Home

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Hello, home!

What comes to mind when you think of “home”? I think, among other things: warmth (also meant quite literally because my parents like to keep the house toasty). My mama’s best chicken soup. Papa’s music playing in the background. Chatter and laughter in Tagalog/Filipino and English.

Since getting married and moving, thoughts of home have evolved to include Alex’s home-cooked meals and his music playing in the background. Being snuggled into ALL of the blankets on our super cozy bed. Silly inside jokes and impersonations. At it’s very essence, it’s all about comfort, protection, and love. Without these it’s hard to think about how to truly live, much less survive.¹

While a craving for home can be a universal feeling, “home” can mean something different for everyone. It can be very personal, even emotional. I’ve been contemplating these thoughts more deeply in recent weeks. The winter blues might be in full effect, but so are current events around (my) the world only a month into this new year. A lot of it is challenging and uncomfortable. And when things are the most uncertain, I yearn for family and all that is familiar that much more.

All around it seems our deepest passions, core values, and strongest beliefs are being put to the test. As if by design, the same challenges keep coming up at church as well: how the disciples left their homes and all that was familiar for a cause greater than themselves despite persecution; how to seek justice for the dignity of the human person, and remaining steadfast in what we are being called to do.

I think at the very root of it, we are all homesick. Sick for the home we love, or sick for fear of losing our grip with it. There’s nostalgia for the good old days, a desire to preserve even protect it, and the helplessness that comes in the feeling that home and we are changing.²

The good news is, as with many matters of the mind, we learn to adapt and take action. We may have different ways of coping through it: coming together, seeking help, keeping busy, or getting creative. It might also seem easy to simply live in the melancholy. But rather than getting stuck in the past, reflect upon it, and let it guide you in shaping your future.³ One that might have in it an even better home for you.

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A glimpse at our last apartment in VA

I’ve been there numerous times and I can say that it does get better. Homesickness in all its forms can be hard to put into words. I found the resources below extremely helpful, and hope that they offer you some support as well. Some of my favorite tips give you an excuse to go on an adventure and potentially unleash a whole other side you never knew was there.

WHAT YOU CAN DO TO COPE:

  1. Find and recreate what home means to you. Break down what it is about home that you miss, then tackle those items to find the fit in your new life. Is it the community? The conveniences? The security? Is it family? Put a name to it and map out your action plan to fill that hole with a suitable alternative. ° Or channel that fear into something productive.
  2. Get inspired by what’s worked for other people who have been there before and see what works for you. This might take some trial and error until you arrive at the solution that works best. To me, it has always helped to be a “local tourist” of sorts. Alex and I have created a bucket list of food, destinations, and activities we must do in order to officially declare ourselves “true locals.” We try to keep a routine for stability, play to our strengths, and help each other out where we struggle (e.g. he likes to cook, I like to clean). Best of all, we are carving out spaces where we feel we truly belong by connecting with people with similar experiences or passions as we do. °°
  3. Make sure to expose yourselves (or your kids) to opportunities to overcome homesickness and build that resilience. This applies to empty nesting as well. Tried a separate trip or day out? Allow yourself to go through those emotions and practice leaving a healthy amount of space between you and your loved ones. Comfort items or pictures can be simple go-to fallbacks as well. °°° °°°°

 

I know Alex and I are looking forward to creating our own traditions to establish a stronger sense of home, especially when we start a family with little ones of our own. As ironic as it sounds, I’m feeling more and more at home as I’m redefining what it means based on the memories and values we hold dear. I’m learning that this longing, while it can be sad at first, can be a sweet reminder of all the things that I care about; and finding a home for all that I love is up to me.

Valerie

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The drive up our street on a snowy day.

RESOURCES

Online Articles:

¹ Home sickness isn’t really about home (CNN)² The Little Known Medical History of Homesickness (NYMag/Science of Us)³ How to Handle Homesickness as an Adult

° How to Cope with Homesickness (UOregon)°° Ways to Reduce Homesickness Abroad (Go Overseas)°°° Homesickness and Empty Nest Syndrome – Coping with Separation (UAB)°°°° Homesickness (TeensHealth)

And if you’re still curious, some research articles and literature:

  1. Preventing and Treating Homesickness (AAP)
  2. Back to the Future: Nostalgia Increases Optimism (SAGE Journals)
  3. The Book of Human Emotions