Thirty-One Days of New!!

After getting through the tough month of July, and the one year anniversary of Tim’s death I set a lofty goal for myself for the month of August! I decided to do something new each and every day of the month; a new place, new restaurant, new food, new experience! I came up with the idea not only to create new memories, but also to lift my spirits because of my sadness of being without my RV (named Memory Maker II) for the majority of the summer. (On July 4th, MM II had a brief altercation with a boulder in NY and required reconstructive surgery). Instead of being sad that I couldn’t go camping, I got out there and really embraced my new goal. This was a month just for me!

The “newest” and most exciting thing of the month was definitely the mention of my book “Being My Mom’s Mom” in the New York Times! It was unbelievable and there were pictures and everything! In addition, a college student working as an intern at a law firm specializing in Elder Law attended one of my presentations in PA and wrote a newspaper article about what she learned.

New Adventures

Watching the eclipse with co-workers was such a special day! There were about 15 of us on our floor out on a balcony sharing two sets of protective glasses. I feel lucky to have been a part of the group and experienced that extraordinary event!!

I spent one day at North Beach in Southern Maryland! It was extraordinary. It’s a really cool beach on the Chesapeake River, with a great boardwalk, a meditation garden, amazing scenery and cool restaurants. Throughout the day I read a book, walked for miles, and prayed in a meditation garden. One of the most amazing things about North Beach are the memorials on the park benches that lined the long boardwalk. I read most of them and some of them were extraordinary and heartbreakingly beautiful.

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I spent an afternoon in the Hirshhorn Museum taking in a fabulous exhibit by Ai Weiwei that showcased his LEGO portraits of political dissidents. Everyone I’d expected to see was there, including Martin Luther King, but there were so many portraits of people from outside the U.S. that I wasn’t familiar with. The portraits were amazing and the artist also used the curved LEGO pieces that allowed him to write the names of the people in cursive writing.

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From the museum I went to Jazz in the Park at the Sculpture Garden. I ordered a glass of sangria and a great salad. I enjoyed the music tremendously and met a great woman from CA and we had a great chat during the concert. I can’t believe I’d never ventured down to the jazz concerts before.

I tried a new workout program to fulfill my desire to learn Yoga. It’s called PiYo and combines Pilates and Yoga. It will take me quite a while to manage the posture and stretches. I learned how tough the yoga poses are and how much strength it takes too!!

One of the greatest surprises was my trip to Anacostia Park. I have no idea why I never been there before! I walked, rested, read and wrote in my journal during my all day stay. I had no idea that there was an outdoor skating rink within the park and skates issued by the National Park Service are available for rent. I went the day after the unrest in Charlottesville, and what I saw at the skating was a very racially diverse group of skaters laughing together, helping each other up when they fell and encouraging each other to try new moves on skates. It was a far cry from the racial unrest of the day before that had all of us glued to our TVs and feeling so dismayed by all the hate and violence. That scene at the skating rink renewed my faith in people and I prayed for a long time watching all the skaters roll around the rink so peacefully.

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I spent a second evening at an outdoor concert, this time at Yards Park near the Nationals Stadium. This band was also excellent and I enjoyed a picnic dinner that I made myself!

After a great Caregiver retreat in Reston, I headed to Meadowlark Botanical Gardens a few miles away. I had never heard of the place, but it was simply marvelous. I walked for miles, I prayed and wrote in my journal. It was so restorative for me!

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I also spent an afternoon at the National Portrait Gallery and the Smithsonian American Art Museum which I’d never been to because it’s not on the Mall with the rest of the museums and easy to overlook. I walked from work and had a wonderful time! The most powerful exhibit for me was the Struggle for Justice which focused on minority groups struggle over the last 100 years. Some of the people profiled I was very familiar with, while others I’d not heard of. It’s difficult to put into words how much I learned that afternoon!

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The last weekend of the month I headed to Fort McHenry in Baltimore, not only to get my National Park passport book stamped, but also to learn more about the Fort itself and the United States flag. It was such a worthwhile trip and I learned more facts than I thought possible.

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Food and Restaurants

First time restaurants – the star of the month was the Old Ebbitt Grill! I’ve spent my entire life in the Washington area, but had never been! The food and the ambiance were incredible, and the peanut butter pie was the hit of the night for me!

My next favorite is in my old Petworth neighborhood in DC. It’s called the Petworth Citizen. The food was good, but the main draw for me was the extraordinary reading room attached to the restaurant but a private and very quiet room. You could read and eat at the same time!!

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During my month of new food I tried oysters and loved them, had a California burger with a fried egg and avocado on it, a mushroom bowl with 5 types of mushrooms and other veggies, and purple rice at an Asian grill. One of the most amazing desserts of the month was made by my friend Vicky who had me over for dinner. It was grilled peaches with blue cheese and a balsamic glaze that was indescribably delicious! The culinary experiences I had this month will stay with me forever and has inspired me to keep exploring food!!

Overall Impressions

I gained much more than I had bargained for this August, and left out so many cool things that I could have shared, but this isn’t supposed to be a book. This month confirmed for me that I LOVE to learn new things, that there are an endless number of places where I can restore and recharge in the D.C. area and that I never want to stop finding new adventures. It’s who I am and also the best way I know of to honor Tim and all of our dreams! As I say in my new book Refreshment for the Caregiver’s Spirit, “Never Let the Sun Set on Your Spirit, Keep Moving Forward”, and I certainly plan to! I’m Blessed to have this life and all of the opportunities available to me!

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