Monthly Archives: December 2012

2012: A Stellar Year

Okay, obviously I haven’t been posting much lately on my blog. I started a new job and that’s definitely changed my schedule a little bit! But I promise I have lots of content coming up in the next few weeks.

I can’t believe it’s been almost a year since I started this blog. Not that I’ve been the most prolific blogger by any means, but still – pretty cool.

2012 has been the best year of my life. It feels a little crazy to say that, almost like I’m bragging. But it’s also incredibly rewarding. I managed to squeeze in lots of adventure into the last year, and it will be a challenge to match it all in 2013.

We started with the discovery that there is a little German town in Georgia. It’s called Helen and you will be able to gorge yourself on great beer, spaetzle, and wienerschnitzel. This can be overwhelming.

German food in Georgia

German food in Georgia

Xavier and his bratwurst

Xavier and his bratwurst

We also enjoyed exploring our adopted hometown of Atlanta. It’s full of unique and beautiful sights – urban treasures, if you will – and it’s always fun to discover them.

Relics in Atlanta

Relics in Atlanta

Atlanta also has a gorgeous old cemetery that’s full of photo opportunities. While some might find it odd to hang out in a place full of gravestones, it’s actually a peaceful and beautiful place with dramatic views of the skyline. After volunteering there during a community service opportunity, my friend Marie reported back that the cemetery caretakers wish the place was more like a park.

Exploring the cemetery...

Exploring the cemetery…

But Atlanta has real parks as well, and we spent our fair share of time in Piedmont Park. I love living right down the road from there. It’s a wonderful place to spend time with loved ones, including dogs.

Battling for a stick

Battling for a stick

Riley and Parley

Riley and Parley

We ventured away from Atlanta as well. Our biggest trip of the year was to Ecuador. This was my first trip and very much worth the wait! It was so great to spend time with Xavier’s family. I also loved seeing the amazing landscapes that the country had to offer.

El Panecillo, the Virgin overlooking Quito

El Panecillo, the Virgin overlooking Quito

An alleyway in Quito

An alleyway in Quito

Many homes in the city of Quito have embedded broken bottles in the concrete walls outside their homes - apparently they deter burglary.

Many homes in the city of Quito have embedded broken bottles in the concrete walls outside their homes – apparently they deter burglary.

We did venture outside the city of Quito and saw some beautiful sights in nature. I loved the volcano Cotopaxi – Xavier’s favorite place on earth – and was so excited to come across real wild horses while we hiked up there.

The volcano Cotopaxi

The snow-tipped peak of the volcano Cotopaxi, visible just beyond the winding path

We found this wild horse just up the pathway

We found this wild horse just up the pathway.

Two other fun trips we took were to New Orleans, which we did for Xavier’s birthday, and to Key Largo. I loved those.

Pretty scenery in New Orleans

Pretty scenery in New Orleans

And this year, I finally got to try two restaurants that I’ve been dying to taste for quite some time! The first was in New Orleans: you can’t go there without beignets from Cafe du Monde.

Cafe au lait and beignets

Cafe au lait and beignets

And we also tried a delicious burger from Shake Shack in Philadelphia! I loved it – and the concretes. Danny Meyer, can you please bring this to Atlanta?

Burgers from Shake Shack

Burgers from Shake Shack

The only thing better would have been eating that stuff with this view, which we enjoyed during our trip to Key Largo.

Key Largo... beautiful sunset

Key Largo… beautiful sunset

I think it’s pretty cool that in the space of a year I managed to try both skydiving and scuba diving. Low pressure, high pressure. Both were awesome, and I can’t wait until my next shot to try both.

Swimming with the fishes...

Swimming with the fishes in Key Largo… also, great hair day.

This is actually me, falling from the sky.

This is me falling from the sky.

My exercising took a great leap in this year, too! I guess I’ve been running for about six months now. I can’t say I’ve lost that much weight since muscle is much heavier than fat, but it was amazing to complete two 5K races and a 10K. I truly never thought I could do it. But I could, and it was even fun. Now I’m training for a half marathon in 2013!

Goofy grin for my cheering section

Goofy grin for my cheering section during my first 5K

Aside from all of my travels and adventures, I am really glad that at the end of 2012, I was able to begin a new job that I’m really enjoying so far. Yes, all in all, this was a truly great year. I can’t believe how fast it went by, and I can’t wait to see what 2013 has in store.

Hopefully more love…



…. and a few more hot dates!

All dressed up and going out on the town

All dressed up and going out on the town

Happy New Year, everyone!

What was the best part of 2012 for you?

love advice from the elderly


After a solid run, I am happy to report that I’ve moved on and gotten a new job. Although I was obviously motivated to seek different employment, there was much that I enjoyed about my former position. (I even wrote about it on this blog).

Throughout a year of working with the elderly, many stricken by dementia, I have heard a lot of interesting stories. My job consisted of essentially torturing folks: administering memory tests to people who came to us because they had lost the ability to remember. I often felt guilty about being the dealer of anguish. So when people went on tangents between tasks, it didn’t bother me much. My patients loved to talk about their spouses. If someone gushingly mentioned that they have been married for decades, it gave me a warm fuzzy feeling. I would almost always ask, “what’s the secret to staying happy for that long?” This has elicited many responses that I compiled and would now like to share.

What’s the secret to a long and happy marriage?

– “Well, I never hit my wife.”

– “Mutual respect and communication. If he has a problem with me, if I have a problem with him, we try to work it out together. Compromise.”

– “He traveled a lot over many years for his work. So I didn’t get tired of him.”

– “Well, I don’t know the secret to staying happy, but I can tell you we had a baby eight months after marriage and another one ten months after that.”

– “Talking. And respect. We talk all the time, and we respect each other.”

– “I call my wife the queen. And she rules with an iron fist.”

– “She never had to beat me…because I was honest. Always be honest.”

– “We’ve been married fifty years and it’s a lot of work. It’s hard. Anyone who tells you it isn’t hard is lying. And it’s not always 50/50 give and take, either…sometimes you have to give 100 percent and get nothing back!”

– “I married the right girl.”

– “Stay out of sight.”

– “I don’t know how we made it this long, but it probably wouldn’t happen again.”

– “We’ve been married for 70 years, and the secret is patience! Then again, he was also missing at war for a few years. When he came home we were bonded together. I think that kind of thing, if it doesn’t break you, it melds you together. A flat relationship when you just go to the movies, that’s not going to work.”

– “Let me tell you a story. We’ve been married 74 years. She’s been married 38 years and I’ve been married 38 years.”

Take from it what you will. I can tell you this. I’m a child of divorce. We hear lots of horror stories about relationships, and no matter how much you love someone in the moment, it’s hard to know what the future holds. But those people gave me faith. Faith that, while things won’t always be easy, they can be worth it. Faith that forever can really mean forever, that “till death do us part” doesn’t have to end in divorce.

And finally, from my grandpa, who has been married for 62 years:

“The secret is, you’re not the same person you were at first. We’ve each been five or six people since then. But every time one of us changed, we still liked who we became.”


My grandparents, married 62 years!