It’s telling that in the past seven months, I have only managed to add to this blog three times. During a period in which I had nothing but time, I chose to use that time in other ways. On the eve of returning to a full-time job, I think it’s time to wrap things up and, once again, put the blog in a state of suspended animation. At least for now.
This blog has been a great vehicle for sharing adventures: first, in 2013, my three-month sabbatical, and later, our four-year experience of living in the Netherlands. It has helped me reflect and remember, kept me connected to friends, and provided an invaluable record of the past several years. I don’t want to imply that now that we’re back in Boston, the adventures will end. I know that’s not the case. But the truth is that the discipline and motivation to write regularly continues to elude me, even when I have the gift of unstructured time. The next few months will bring the start of a new job, the long-awaited completion of a graduate degree, and the usual time pressures of modern life, and I don’t see where the blog fits in among those other priorities.
You may wonder what on earth I have been doing with the past seven months. A fair question – I wonder sometimes myself. It’s easy for me to feel that I’ve wasted this time, or not used it as productively as I could have. But, in an effort to be more generous to myself, I’ve taken a look back at what I’ve done since returning to the U.S. in January, and really, it’s not too shabby:
- Made my first visit to the Massachusetts State House and joined a lobby day to support safer streets and improved cycling infrastructure
- Participated in the Winter Walk to end homelessness in Boston
- Set up a home office and launched a freelance editing and writing business, and completed projects for six clients
- Finished two classes towards my Master’s (two more to go!)
- Took a short vacation to London and Amsterdam; saw “Hamilton”, caught up with friends, and re-visited some of our favorite spots
- Knit a blanket (it’s there on the right) and a baby gift
- Went to my first professional hockey game (Bruins win! And there was a hat trick!)
- Joined the Board of the Boston Network for International Development (BNID)
- Volunteered to help one of my oldest friends launch a community art studio
- Had no fewer than 42 meetings, coffee dates, and informational interviews as part of my networking and job search
- Read 37 books, and counting
- Mastered a few new dinner recipes
- Fed my love of live music: two shows at the legendary Club Passim, plus another four concerts around Boston, including an amazing performance by Josh Ritter
- Started training for a December half marathon. To date, I’ve run 199.8 miles
- Continued (sort of) to maintain my French, mostly thanks to Hugo Cotton and his wonderful Inner French podcasts
- Returned to Fenway Park for a Sox game
- Visited the Harvard Natural History
Museums and the “new” Institute for Contemporary Art, both for the first time. Made a return visit to an old favorite, the Gardner Museum.
- Discovered the Danvers Rail Trail
- Spent a week in New York visiting family
- Went sailing on our friends’ new boat
- (I’ll be honest about this one: watched waaaay too much Netflix)
- Listened to fado and ate well at the Boston Portuguese Festival
- Walked the Greenway and enjoyed the summer pop-up beer and wine gardens
- Ate a lot of ice cream
- Caught up with some of the “kids” from my youth group (who are now in their mid- to late-20s!)
- Took an overnight trip to Maine for some adventures, including biking, hiking, and gelato eating
- Spent lots of time with friends, which not only helped us to reconnect with them, but also to re-start our lives in Boston
- Spent A LOT of time with my dear husband…I think we both worried that so much togetherness would drive us crazy, but in truth, it’s been wonderful. We’ve worked through what could have been a stressful time of unemployment and uncertainty. We’ve found creative ways to have fun and spend less money. We’ve re-ordered our priorities and we have a shared long-term plan for our life together. Team Amaral.
Tomorrow it’s back to the working world and I’m ready for it (except, maybe, for the commuting part). It has been a gift and a privilege to have had this time, and I know how fortunate we are that we could afford it. It’s also been a privilege to share our travels, adventures, mis-steps, reflections, and experiences with whoever is still reading my blog. Thanks for hanging in there with me. As I’ve said before, I wish you joy on the journey, and in the end.