Phoenix in Phoenix

Last week, during the snowmageddon that buried my family under a foot of snow, I was in Phoenix, Arizona, co-working with my team who I usually only interact with online: team Phoenix.

Phoenix in Phoenix.

We named ourselves after the mythical creature that rises from the ashes — not after the city — but somehow we ended up in the city of Phoenix anyway for our team meetup. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I could not get over the cacti. They were adorable. Cartoonish. I kept expecting them to jump up and run skitter away.

I’m terrible about photographing people, so here are my favorite non-people scenes from Phoenix².


Prickly Pear cactus?

Here’s what I think is a prickly pear, which tasted delicious in the prickly pear margarita.

PHX 10

The cacti on the mountain made me giggle.

PHX 14

Dense with spines, this looked fuzzy from far away.

PHX 11

Saguaro cactus


Also a saguaro? Shaped like a barrel.


Cactus fruit


Spikey ball

PHX 23

Wagon wheel bench in old town Scottsdale


Cave Creek, Arizona

Team Phoenix had one meetup before we changed to a different team structure. Now a portion of us are team Hedwig, like Harry Potter’s owl. Maybe next time we’ll meet up in London?

Weightless on the beach

We travelled to my home town of Tybee Island after Christmas, and there’s something about smelling the salt air and being near the ocean there that makes me feel unburdened. Weightless. The sky was overcast the whole time we were there, which makes the images feel heavy. I, however, still felt light. Here are some of my photographs from our trip for this week’s Daily Post Weight(less) photo challenge.

Black and white photo of kids at beach

Silhouette of kids at the beach at sunset.

Low tide, Tybee Island beach, December

Afternoon low tide at Tybee beach, December 2015.

Sea foam, Tybee Island, GA

Sea foam on a winter day.

Marsh and tidal creek, coastal Georgia

Tidal creek at the end of my parents’ dock.

Sunrise, Tybee Island, GA

Sunrise on a morning run.

2016 Resolutions: Create Balance

2015 was an exciting year: we bought a house, got kittens, and I helped organize a mini-conference for our company’s annual meeting. My only resolution in 2015 was to dedicate ten minutes per day to writing, and that resolution ultimately provided an opportunity for me to speak at WordCamp US.

I noticed, though, that by the end of 2015 my focus shifted so much towards work that I barely left my home office — some days I never even went outside — and I had little energy for relaxation or projects at home.

I love my job, and I also love the outside world, my home, and my family. This year I want to be mindful of balance in my life. Working too hard can lead to burnout, and it can also exhaust you so that you don’t have energy for your non-work life. I don’t want those things to happen. I don’t want to burn out on a job I love, and I don’t want to neglect my love of the outdoors, our home, or my family.

For 2016, I’ve made a list of a few simple things to do to help me create balance:

Work outside of my home twice per month
I work for an amazing company where I am able to work from anywhere I want: my home, coffee shops, RV parks, wherever. I’ve worked there for over a year and never once worked outside of my home. Until yesterday. I worked from a coffee shop for a few hours yesterday, and I loved it. I was among people and the clatter of coffee shop sounds, I was not dressed in pajamas or workout clothes, and I didn’t have to make my own coffee. I’m looking forward to doing this more.

Build plant, animal, and home care into my daily routine
We bought these awesome flower boxes back in Septemeber, and within a few weeks, all of our beautiful pansies had withered and died. None of us were in the habit of watering plants. My work schedule is flexible — I don’t have to work any specific hours, and I can make up my own schedule — so I’m slotting in one hour per day that is dedicated to tending plants, animals, and other home care.  By building it into my day, I will help build a habit.

Work on one home project per weekend
I had a lot of momentum when we first bought our house. I was a painting machine. I burned myself out, though, doing too much too fast and never taking a break. As a result, I stopped working on the house. We’ve got a million projects we’d like to do, though, and we have big ideas for our home. I don’t want to kill myself and never have time to relax, so I’m not going to work all weekend every weekend on house projects. I am, however, going to make sure I dedicate some time each weekend to making progress on our projects.

Hike twice per month
We live in the Appalachians. The hiking around here is ridiculously beautiful, and ridiculously accessible. It’s shameful how little hiking we did last year. This year I’m changing that.

Read through Massachusetts on my reading project
I am reading 3 books from each state in the United States for my Andrea Reads America project. 2015 was a year for writing, and 2016 will be a year for reading. I’m reading the states in alphabetical order and am currently reading Indiana. Completing Indiana through Massachussetts (8 states) would give me about 6 weeks to research, read, and write up each state’s three books. I’d also love to give my Andrea Reads America blog a makeover, but I don’t want to go too crazy here.

So there it is. I’ve transferred my scribbled resolutions from my private Moleskine to my public blog. That means I have to do them now, right? I’ve got a calendar for recording my hikes and coffee-shop work-days, I’ve got a time tracker to make sure I build in plant and home project time, and I’m reading Indiana. I’m ready for 2016.