Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Monticello: Grounds & Gardens on Lost in DC

"I am savage enough to prefer the woods, the wilds, and the independence of Monticello, to all the brilliant pleasures of this gay capital [Paris] . . . . for tho' there is less wealth there, there is more freedom, more ease, and less misery."                                                                       - Thomas Jefferson (to Baron Geismar), 1785
The front of the house at Monticello (top right of the collage, below) looks a lot like the back of the house.  The major differences are the drive in the front and the brick path in the back that winds around the West Lawn, a huge expanse of green.  [read more...] 

Monday, November 19, 2012

A Brief Visit to Monticello on Lost in DC

I have an announcement to make (quasi-proclamations are fun, you guys): I have been overthinking and putting off this post for too long.  Seth and I took this trip back in August, when it was still unbearably hot here in Virginia.  We didn't get to spend a lot of time in  Charlottesville or at the Monticello plantation, so I had endeavored to make my way back there before posting anything.  Or, at least, to do enough research to feel like I had an idea of what I was talking about.  In the end, there is just so much to learn about Monticello and Jefferson and far too many interesting things to write about the man, his ideas and the times he lived in, to do justice to any of the above.  Of course, since I also forgot my camera and had to use my cellphone for pictures, this isn't the ideal photojournal of the trip, either.  Thus, I am resigned to just enjoy writing what I do know and sharing with you the few decent pictures I managed to take.  I offer you a wealth of rainy-day cell-phone photos and my first impressions of/lingering thoughts about the places we saw, to start with.  As time allows, I will definitely be going back to Monticello to explore and do the other tours (hopefully, with a decent camera next time).  [read more...]

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Once in a Lifetime Kindness on Lost in DC

I want to put out there how much I appreciate Andi, of Once in a Lifetime Travel, for posting something related to Hurricane Sandy.  The particular blog she posted it on is usually about Italy, which is why I love reading it and checking out her Featured Photo Friday posts.  But yesterday Andi's post was titled Simple Kindness After Hurricane Sandy.  [read more...]

So...What Do You DO?

I have been thinking a lot lately about what people I know do for a living.  I know a lot of people who care about what they do.  But I believe I only know a few who truly enjoy, even love, their day jobs.  

I have had jobs which I did not look forward to on a daily basis, but when I was there I still gave it my all.  I have always cared enough to do my best because I knew it impacted other people.  That said, I can't think of a job I've had in which I truly didn't care.  Even when I knew it wasn't the right place for me anymore, I still gave a damn.  

Sometimes you have to accept that you are not the right person for the job.  And if that is the case, it will eventually make you miserable (and likely everyone around you, as well).  In those situations, you work as hard as you can and give plenty of notice when possible, because a firm work ethic means not leaving a mess behind.  Then again, many of us have had that experience where giving notice meant a swift kick out the door.  It's always a shock when someone you have worked so hard for takes it a bit too personally when you decide to move on.  

In any case, what I've found is that there is a big difference between wanting to be good at what you do and actually looking forward to showing up every day - with a huge smile on your face, ready for the next challenge.   I've also found that quite a few people think that the latter doesn't exist for them.  

Then again, for some it simply is not worth the sacrifices that sometimes come with searching for the right fit.  There are people who make a lot of money doing what they love.  It just happens that for some of us, what we really enjoy doing may never make us wealthy.  We also may never have the kind of stability that a standard office job tends to give.  

In 2012, I made three major life changes, simply because I knew things had to change somehow and the opportunity presented itself.  I moved to the East Coast from the West.  I gave up living alone (I can't begin to tell you how hard that was for a hermit like me) in order to be closer to my family.  And I decided to do the things I love, to see if I can earn a living without becoming miserable.  And by that, I do not mean normal ups and downs - there will always be bad days or weeks or even months.  It isn't about things being easy.  It's about them feeling worthwhile just the same.  

So I now have two jobs.  One is this blog, which some of you may have thought I'd quit, but it was more like a health hiatus mixed with being busy starting the other job.  And there was definitely some laziness and irresponsibility to blame, which seems to be something that only occurs when I'm self-employed.  Dangerous, that.  But I also admit to concentrating on the other job because it actually pays and it can take a long time before a blog generates revenue (granted, some of that is up to the keeper of that blog).  Balancing the two certainly presents its own set of challenges.

The second job is working in retail for a company I have wanted to work for since I first heard about them, several years ago.  It's a part-time job.  In a mall.  And some people who have known me for a long time are a bit horrified that I would take a job that doesn't pay what I'm used to and isn't behind a desk.  But most of the people I know are overjoyed because they know how much I love this company.  They know that office work isn't for everyone and that I'm happier than I've been in a long while.

Let me take a moment to describe how I feel when I arrive at work:  Relieved to be there, even though I'm still outside of my comfort zone.  Excited to see my coworkers and the regulars who are so charming and lovely and quirky like we are.  Genuinely interested in the things we sell and always curious to know more.  I honestly enjoy myself.  Not every day is perfect.  The work can be hard, people can be brutal and my feet, legs and lower back hurt by the time I walk out the door.  But I look forward to it anyway.  And when I'm not there, I'm usually thinking about it.  Reading up on new products, trying out items that I've brought home, or searching for new ways to apply the knowledge I already have.  I even dream about it sometimes.

The point is that I didn't want to just keep doing something because I knew I was good at it and making money.  I wanted to do something that would make me happy and bring back a part of my personality that I felt I'd lost.  The person I am on the sales floor is unrecognizable.  Every so often someone will remark on my enthusiasm and I am reminded just how delighted I really am to be where I am right now.  Money cannot buy this kind of joy.

Some questions for you guys:

Do you believe that what you do for a living reflects on who you are as a person?

Should making money and having stability be the most important factor when job hunting?

Or do you value creativity, a dynamic setting, believing in the company you work for, etc?

Three Things

1.  Being sick for a full month is stupid.  Therefore, I must be stupid.

2.  Today is the last day to vote early!  I also love that I can go online to find where I'm supposed to vote, because I'm so unbelievably lazy that I don't want to dig through my mail for that information.  

3.  If you neglect your blog for too long, spam happens.