Thankfully Connected

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Happy late Thanksgiving weekend, Living Daringly world! I hope everyone filled up on family traditions and conversations with friends. And stuffing, of course. That just goes without saying!

I started off the long, Thanksgiving weekend with beers and conversation with a friend on Wednesday night. We talked about a lot of things, but one of the topics that really stands out is the topic of connection. She and I were talking about it in the context of our respective dating lives. It seemed to us that there were quite a lot of people who say they want a strong, vulnerable connections with people, but who often aren’t really interested in that because of the work it entails. Certainly Brené Brown‘s work, and so many others, document the challenge of living an authentic, vulnerable, connected life. It’s no joke to choose to dare greatly and live daringly in your day-to-day life!

So throughout the weekend, the various activities in which I partook resonated with the idea of connection.

The next morning, I ran the 10k Tampa Bay Turkey Trot. It was my third year running the race. I got up on Thanksgiving morning with about 10,000 other people from the Tampa Bay area, and we all ran various distances. My friend, Steph over at OrangeSpoken.com, ran the 5k a little earlier than me. I ran into another friend while waiting to start the 10k.

It’s inspiring to run some of these big races. There’s such positive energy surrounding it. As I descended down the first hill, the fastest of the runners were already going up the next hill. There were so many people. Hundreds.

Then there were the people who came to cheer us on. They came with their coolers and lawn chairs. They came with their guitars and drums. They came with their coffee, beer, laughter, and love. (I’m feeling a little Seussical here.)

Even though I was running by myself among these thousands, it was hard not to feel connected to humanity. I laughed at the man with a life-sized turkey hat. I high-fived the little boy on the side of the road. I smiled and waved at those watching from the side of the road. 

The Turkey Trot has become a nice tradition in my life. I ran well, but a minute slower than last year.

After the race, I was exhausted. Nap time!!

My mom drove up from Ft. Lauderdale, and I had some time before she arrived. Once she pulled into my apartment complex we began a frenzied cooking spree in my teensy kitchen. Mom prepared her family-famous oyster stuffing. I prepared roasted, honey, cinnamon sweet potatoes. We took our potluck items a friend hosting Thanksgiving for misfit vagabonds in Tampa. Some of the other offerings once we arrived were: a smallish turkey, roasted peppers and eggplants with mozzarella cheese (spicy!), pumpkin banana pudding, taro fries, a delicious assortment of cheeses.. There was more, but I forget now. Everything was delicious. Probably more so, because I hadn’t had anything to eat except race food (e.g. banana, crackers) since I ran the 10k. We all bonded over Jurassic Park, delicious food, and biology stuff (since they are my friends from school).

After dinner, Mom and I went back to my place, and we connected with an old family tradition: putting up the holiday decorations. When I was a kid, we would have dinner at my Grandpa Tom’s (mentioned here) house. After dinner, we would always put up the decorations at his house.

The location is smaller (I’m still in my 400 sqft studio apartment), but we made the holiday decorating work. I made my own two-dimensional Yule tree this year!

The cross bars are bamboo stalks that I purchased at a craft store and cut down with my Dremel-equivalent. Even the creation of this tree involves connection, because my neighbor helped put the tree together. He contributed energy and 25# fishing line to hold it all together, and to provide line for the decorations to hang from. It’s still holding together. I think it looks really cute. I think I’m going to see if I can get some lights on it too… 

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Mom and me post-tree decorating.

Thursday I was connected in thought with my friend, Mary Mangiapia, who is circumnavigating Florida in a kayak. Thanksgiving day, she was still paddling up the east coast of Florida in pretty rough waters, and it occurred to me that she was both alone and dinner-free on this family holiday. A friend ended up meeting her over there though, and he took her a nice, vegetarian, home made Thanksgiving dinner. As of today, she’s still paddling, but she’s getting close to her goal. She’ll be the first woman to do this when she completes the trip. Go, Mary!!

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Mary and her Thanksgiving dinner. Andy said she didn’t eat all of that, but I’m not sure I believe him… 🙂

Friday, Mom and I got brunch at Daily Eats, my favorite place to have brunch (delicious varieties of eggs Benedict!). After we went for a walk on scenic Bayshore in Tampa.

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Me and Mom on Bayshore Avenue

We nearly got run over by a couple of bicyclists. We were never quite sure which way we should move, since one person tried to pass us on the right and another on the left… I’ve since learned they should be passing on the left.

We saw a ton of what I think were female and/or juvenile Greater Scaup on the Bay. Mom and I spent a goodly bit of time trying to figure out what they were. They were mostly just brown, the a white ring around their beaks was pretty distinctive. The below picture is pretty indicative of what I think I saw…

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After that, it was time for some work and a nap . (Since you aren’t familiar with traveling with me, or just with my life style in general, a nap is needed most days…)

We had salad and left overs (i.e. oyster stuffing) for dinner. We were going to go to karaoke, but decided against it because Mom was developing a cold. Instead we decided on grabbing beers, and I ordered a delicious pumpkin praline cupcake for desert at Datz. We connected with our young server over beer and wine smart phone apps.

Saturday I connected with my stylist, Donelle, at The Edge Salon. I’ve been Donelle’s client since I moved to Tampa back in 2010. I really like reconnecting with her every month, or six weeks, depending. We always have interesting conversations.

After my haircut, Mom and I ordered brunch at Brunchies, across the street from the salon. The eggs Benedict there aren’t as good as at Daily Eats, but still good. There were many other families enjoying their Saturday  morning together too. The question for breakfast was: “what did you want to be when you grew up?” Mom said a Secretary and a Singer. She’s an Executive Assistant for a yacht company, and she runs a karaoke business in Ft. Lauderdale. She’s living the dream!

I cycled through a number of science-y careers growing up, so I guess I am too! 

After brunch?  You guessed it. Nap time…

I do want to point out (just in case my adviser reads this) that I also got work done this weekend.

Saturday evening, Mom and I got reconnected with my uncle for sushi at Hook’s in St. Pete. We got a bit caught up on each other’s lives, talked about family stuff, ate delicious sushi. It was nice.

Mom and I were going to go to a show after sushi, but we were both sleepy. Mom left pretty early today, so we said our good-byes Saturday night.

Today, I went to the archery range and shot my bow. I really need to get better, or get a better arm guard. People are going to think that I’m shooting heroin. (Which I’m not, just for the record.) While there I connected with one of my new archery friends who I’ve seen at the range a few times. We chatted about this and that for a long time. He admitted that he doesn’t get much conversation at him, since it’s just him and his wife, so it was nice to realize that just by chatting with someone I was giving him something he seemed to need.

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I bought a custom-made arm guard on Etsy, it just hasn’t arrived yet. The artist just sent me a picture of the work in progress. The flower is LD logo, and it’s made to my measurements. It’s already gorgeous, but it’s going to be more so when she’s finished. Click on the picture to check out her site!

Since then I’ve gotten caught up on some work, and some errands, and some blogging!

So it’s back to the real world tomorrow, but I’m glad to have had this weekend full of friends, family, running, food, walking, archery, holiday decorating, etc… to rejuvenate me.

I just have to remember to hang on to that feeling of connection. I am connected to so many people, even when I don’t feel like I am…

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