And she’s back!

I know, I know you haven’t heard from me in quite awhile, for that I apologize. My trip officially ended when I drove into Seattle at the end of June. I was a mix of emotions; nervous, anxious, ecstatic, scared, happy, sad, excited…the list could go on.

The drive across the pass into Seattle highlighted the end of an amazing year, the completion of a huge goal.  I had found success in so many ways; navigated my way across the US, stretched my trip from the original six month plan to a full year, lost weight, met new and old friends, saw parts of the country I had never seen and yet there was still a small cloud of disappointment that it was all over.

When I left for this trip I had very distinct dreams of what this trip was going to mean to me and how it was going to end. I was going to come back refreshed, with a clear idea of who I was and what it was I wanted in life, oh and I was also going to be 80 pounds skinner and tan.

The reality was that my year on the road allowed me to step out of my daily routine, give some time and attention to the emotions I had surrounding the loss of my Mom and the resulting changes to my family. It allowed me to connect with amazing people, revisiting important relationships, moving them beyond the superficial occasional text and Facebook updates to a deeper connection.

I didn’t come back to town knowing what I wanted to be when I grew up but I did come back with the knowledge that what I do for work is just a small part of who I am, it is a tool which provides me a means to the end goal…living.

And since this blog is called “Losing Weight Off the Interstate” I should report that I lost 45 pounds, not the 80 I had dreamed of but 45 stubborn, difficult to lose pounds.  I am maintaining this loss and working towards losing more but for now I am going to stop apologizing that I only lost “45 pounds” and be proud for the huge accomplishment of this past year. Oh and if you were wondering, no, I am not tan either. I guess the next round of “Losing Weight off the Interstate” will be in warmer climates.

Until then, I will update my blog with more frequent posts about life and loss and most importantly…Living.

Up next: A trip back to NYC! (I type this as I am sitting in “my” apartment in Chelsea)




Boston Red Sox

I was quite excited to be able to add Boston to the Passport of this trip. I had an epic start, jumping on the Ride the Ducks within an hour of getting into town. My friend Tracy was taking a group and invited me to join. Every local person that I spoke with suggested that I take this tour, which shocked me but after taking the tour I would agree as it gives you a good idea of the layout and some history of the city.

The fun didn’t stop there, Tracy was able to get her hands on two tickets to the Boston Red Sox first Playoff Game at Fenway Park! Score! I had been wanting to see the the ballpark and it turns out my nephew Joe is a huge fan so it gave me an opportunity to text with him throughout the game, him watching at home me sitting in the stands. As you know by now, the Red Sox are in the World Series perhaps my attendance was good luck.

The next morning we rounded out my visit with a visit to a farmer’s market which was set up right on the beach. Fall colors were everywhere and reminded me why this was my favorite season, one of the best sounds in the world is a crunchy leaf under my foot.

The next few days were spent just outside Boston reconnecting with my friend Holly who had recently relocated from Seattle. We spent our days watching football, playing rummy by the fire and cooking. I was able to meet another good friend and his family at his home for brunch, having not seen each other in many years. This trip has really warmed my heart and reconnected me with so many wonderful people.

The friend hangout times were not to end there, my friend Patti flew in from Seattle to play tourist with me. It was great seeing such a good friend from home. We spent our time walking the Freedom Trail, laughing and crying. She then hopped into my car and we drove to New York City together. I was very anxious for the drive into NYC and was happy to have a co-pilot. I dropped Patti at her hotel and headed to my home for the next month or so. Yep, that’s right I will be settling in for a handful of weeks in the East Village!

Boston Farmers Market

Boston Freedome

2013-10-09 13.51.48

2013-10-09 14.13.16

Changing Leaves My Heart Full

Weld 1

It may seem to most that I am just randomly meandering the country, however there are places that I planned to be  at a specific time, namely the Northeast in early October. I was a bit fearful that I was going to be too early to see the seasonal color change but the colors were gorgeous, so gorgeous in fact that I almost drove off the road several times.

I was heading to a rural town, Weld Maine where a friend of mine, Anne, from Seattle had relocated with her boyfriend and son. They live in an adorable chalet/cabin at the back of 100 acres of property on his parents land. Check out their Airbnb listing here!

We shared a lovely dinner at the parent’s house of sauteed fresh vegetables, harvested from their garden. The desert was served when the entire family picked up various instruments and started jamming. I was in awe, tapping my foot declining an offer to join them in singing. It was better that way, believe me. Anne’s boyfriend Garnet and his brother Snow are in a band The Blakes which originally started in Seattle. The talent was dripping from every vocal and every touch of the piano keys.

The next day I joined Anne and Snow’s girlfriend Bri for a walk amongst the changing leaves. Bri was a wonderful wealth of information regarding a healthy diet. She recently had to undergo emergency surgery for a brain tumor. The surgery was a success and when speaking with her doctors about treatment options she was limited due to being pregnant. She has worked with a nutritionist to create a very specific diet. She shared some of her favorite snacks and plenty of hugs and support!

Her suggestions to me included pomegranates (you have to work to eat them and they are full of flavor and good for you!), freeze dried berries, rice cakes with almond butter, non gmo organic popcorn, oatmeal with dried fruits and nuts and roasted pumpkin seeds.

My trip to Weld was relaxing, supportive and loving and I walked away with a substantial pile of healthy snacks and The Blakes CDs. I drove off with a happy heart, a full stomach and music to my ears!

A carrot we harvested from the garden!

A carrot we harvested from the garden!

One of the many lakes on my drive through Maine.

One of the many lakes on my drive through Maine.

Cleveland Rocks!

SJM Weather

Chief Meteorologist here, weathering the storms of this trip, there has been plenty of sunshine, a rainbow or two and an occasional shower. Cleveland was a definite ray of light, I was hosted by two different groups of friends. To keep the post somewhat short I will be writing two posts.

My first two nights were spent with my friend Meagan and her family. One of the highlights of this trip is experiencing how other’s live. On my first morning Meagan and I got up early to drop her two daughters off at school, not being a parent this was my first school drop, let me tell you it is very much like you see in the movies. The kids were eager to hop out of the car having spotted their friends and they were off, it was like a whirlwind. We squealed (ok, not really) out of the school driveway eager to start our tour of downtown Cleveland.

On our agenda for the day was the West Side Market, Cleveland’s Public Market which recently celebrated their 100th anniversary. It is natural to compare things to your home, in this case Pike Place Market, however I couldn’t choose a market I preferred. I liked West Side for the set up of its food vendors, they were organized in square pods with a different vendor occupying one quarter of the space. I liked the ability to look around from one vantage point and see the various offerings of meats, poultry, seafood and cheeses. Pike Place seems a bit more disjointed in its placement of vendors. However, that said, I preferred the fruit and vegetable set up at Pike Place over The West Side Market. There seems to be more vendors, more variety and less heckling. As we walked through I felt like I was unable to shop in peace as the vendors were all yelling trying to get my attention.

We next headed to the Cleveland Museum of Art for a quick bite before perusing the exhibitions. The Provenence Cafe, was another museum surprise, offering locally sourced authentic cuisine. I ordered a tandoor-baked chicken claybread sandwich and a side salad. The man in charge, Chef Douglas Katz, hopes to align the food to the quality experience that art lovers encounter throughout the rest of the museum. If my meal was a representative of the rest of the menu I would say he is right on target! Our only complaint…the sandwich wasn’t served with a bib.

Our final stop of our tourist day was at the Lakeview Cemetery. It might seem like an odd stop, a cemetery where I knew no one residing there but it was a very interesting and informative visit. You can get a sense of the people who built a city by the engravings in the headstone. The Cemetery houses graves of some pretty prominent individuals to include President James A. Garfield, John D. Rockefeller and Eliot Ness.

There is a free tour of the monument of President Garfield, a quick hike up the stairs to the top of the building provides a birds eye view of the cemetery. Additionally, the Wade Memorial Chapel is not to be missed. This chapel was was designed by glass artist Louis Comfort Tiffany. The intricate details are breathtaking.

Our day was complete when I got to sit in on a filming of a pre-game show called Tailgate 19. It was my first time in a news studio and I was able to sneak in some time at the weather desk before heading off to dinner.

I had so much fun that there was danger to me extending my visit, however, I know that its best to leave when the ratings are high so I took my departure.

West Side Market

West Side Market

Cleveland Market 2

Westside Market

2013-09-20 09.35.40

Cleveland Museum of Art

Feeling Cocky

Feeling Cocky

President Garfield Monument

President Garfield Monument

President Garfield's Monument

President Garfield’s Monument

An Introduction: Julie Wilson: South Lake Union Therapy

Julie Wilson South Lake Union TherapyI have never been to a therapist. I am sure many of you are reading this and thinking, aha, that is what’s wrong with her! I just have never felt the need to seek therapy, though in reality I think it is probably good for everyone. The thought of telling a complete stranger my deepest feelings and having them analyze me has never been appealing. Lucky for me, my good friend Julie Wilson just completed her masters of arts in psychotherapy from Seattle University. We chatted before I departed and she suggested that while she couldn’t act as my therapist officially that it might be helpful to have her on my team to aide me through some of the things that pop up on this journey. The funny thing about Julie not being my therapist is I feel like she already has been for the past few years, I mean aren’t most of our friends like therapists?

Anyway, I think that it is always helpful to have someone you can bounce ideas off of and I would be happy to have a weekly scheduled call with a friend. We video chatted for the first time last week and she already has made some interesting observations. I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about my behaviors; why they exist and what they mean. Julie told me that some of my current behaviors are in conflict with one another. On one hand, I am most comfortable when I am in control of a situation, I like being in control, but I am not controlling. Interesting, and I can agree with this observation. The conflict comes when I quit my job, hop in a car and drive across country, stopping here and there, staying in people’s homes and not knowing what my next day is going to bring. I essentially have given up control for this trip. I don’t know what that means. I don’t know if I will find out and I definitely don’t know if I will ever share with you if I do find out.

I can’t tell you how much I will be sharing of these self discoveries, it will most likely be pretty private but I am open to share when I can and I am super excited to add Julie to my supportive team.

Julie is just building her practice, South Lake Union Therapy, and will be offering both individual and group therapy sessions. Check out her website, her small group offerings and like her on Facebook. Do it now! Oh wait, I guess I am controlling.

Center of the Universe aka Dowagiac, MI

When I told one of the Executives at my last Company what I was doing he was wildly supportive, in fact everyone has been supportive, what a lucky lady I am! Shortly after I went public with my idea he approached me to tell me that his parents were excited about my journey and wanted to host me in Dowagiac, Michigan. Where? I had never heard of this town which didn’t mean much because I had never even been to Michigan, it turns out it is a tiny town with a big personality.

Thelda and Fred Mathews welcomed me with open arms into their home. They had activities planned for the entirety of my trip beginning with a cook out at their son’s home down the road. The next day was followed by a tour of the local community college, Southwestern Michigan College which Fred played a major role in founding in 1964. The facilities were incredibly impressive complete with a huge well equipped gym and a climbing wall. I have never liked climbing. I don’t know which is more painful, gripping on to the side of an object with just my fingertips or wearing that unflattering harness. I hate that harness look so much that if I had to climb I might even consider risking my life to climb without those unflattering straps.

Back to the tour…after my morning at the College, Fred passed the baton off to Thelda who gave me a art tour around town. As the Chair of the local fine arts festival Thelda has been incredibly instrumental in getting sculptures placed throughout town. She has done such a good job that they dedicated the 14th sculpture in town, “Solitude” by artist Tuck Langland to her.

Due to her work with sculpture the Mathews have become good friends with sculptor Tuck Langland and his wife Janice. We were able to join them in their home for a tour of Tuck’s studio prior to heading to dinner at Notre Dame. The studio was amazing, to take a step into a working sculpting studio was incredibly inspiring. The talent was visible in every nook and cranny, finished and unfinished pieces alike showcasing Tuck’s skill. I have never truly tried to sculpt anything beyond my years in Play Doh but I wanted to dive my hands into that clay, however, I didn’t want to embarrass myself and our dinner bell aka reservations were calling.

I had little knowledge of my exact location and was surprised when they told me we were going to be dining at Notre Dame. Notre Dame? Like THE Notre Dame? Clueless. Any confusion was cleared up as we drove onto campus and I saw the infamous golden dome.

I had an amazing time being introduced to the “Center of the Universe” as the Mathews often referred to Dowagiac and am thankful to my hosts and my time spent there. It is always wonderful to meet new people doing cool things within their community. I also left with new friends and my heart swelled when Fred told me to call if I got into trouble, they would come to me if I needed them. Such wonderful people.

I sadly didn’t take pictures while I was visiting Dowagiac, not sure how I missed that important step. Below is an image taken from the dedication of the sculpture (from left to right Janice, Tuck and Thelda).

Langland Mathews

Janice & Tuck Langland and Thelda Mathews with “Solitude”

Meet in the Middle

Em & Sarah 4Wheeling

My friend Emily had suggested that I drop down to Indianapolis to check out her stomping grounds. It was appealing, a free place to stay but something was lacking….her. I about did a back flip when she called to tell me that her schedule was such that she could meet me and play my personal tour guide!

I picked her up at the airport, squealing with excitement upon seeing her and jumped out for a hug. There is something special about Emily. We were essentially set up on a blind friend date five years ago, her being the sister-in-law to one of my good friends who lived in New York. She was new to town, I was a girl about town so it was a perfect match. We hit it off immediately and proceeded to be the best of friends, our bond so strong it even survived her leaving me and Seattle for NYC.

I was so excited to see where she grew up and check out some of her favorite places (turns out Walmart is a favorite for people watching) and most of all hang out with a good friend. When we were walking the aisles in Walmart we decided that we needed a challenge. We each were to buy the other the most ridiculous thing for under ten dollars. I was pretty sure I had a winner with a black t-shirt with a large lion wearing a bow tie and glasses that said “If I said I wasn’t a nerd I would be lion” but Emily was victorious in her horribly placed horizontal striped tank top, hair scrunchies (they still make those, and I am considering bringing them back) and mesh hot pink gloves. This outfit was meant to be used for “Emily’s Bootcamp”, being the supportive friend she had “planned” a workout for us however the outfit ended up being used instead for a late night dance party and pottery throwing evening.

The time flew by fast and before we knew it goodbyes were being said. We each took a mesh glove Parent Trap style with plans to reunite them when I get to New York.

I wish I could take you through “Emily’s Bootcamp” however we ran out of time and decided instead to take a nice hike. I am better for having been to Indianapolis and Martinsville, Indiana, I am not skinnier, just better.

Complete with borrow glasses to complete the nerd look.

She thought she needed to borrow glasses to complete the nerd look. lol

Side pony pottery throwing.

Pottery throwing got a bit complicated.