Random 5 – Landmarks, Adventures, Immigrants and Connections

So I’m home for a few days before I blast off again (~sigh).  I enjoy what I do but I miss my home.  However, this is my “Triple Crown” week – the last of three with me traveling, yay! With that, here are my random observations over the past seven days:

1) Flying into Newark a week ago, I looked up from my book to take in a birds-eye view of One World Trade Center.  *Chills*.  The last time I was in the NY metro area, I was on a flight bound for Texas.  Oldest boy and I were moving with my job, Hubbs and I had fallen in love but were still just dating, albeit long-distance.  When I last looked out at that skyline …. our towers were still there.   And then, off to the right, I saw her – Lady Liberty.   And that new tower and her presence gave me comfort.

lady liberty

2. I’ve written a lot about saying YES to things I want to do – experiences, relationships, you name it.  First, I had to learn how to say “no,” and doing that helped me make space for more joy.  My flight got into D.C. early enough on Sunday that I had several hours to explore The Smithsonian Museums or stay in my room and work.  It didn’t take me long to head out into the throngs of people!

the count

Imagine my delight at discovering “The Count” at the Museum of American History? 🙂

3.  During a chat with a Senate staffer Tuesday a colleague and I were given passes to the Senate and House Galleries.   Several layers of security screenings later we found ourselves up in the Senate chamber watching votes being cast.  No pictures allowed and when I began jotting down names of Senators –  Stabenow, Peters, Paul, Franken, McCain, McDonnell, Feinstein and more …I felt a tap on my shoulder and a directive to stop writing.  Oops.  It was kind of like when you go on vacation, sometimes it’s best to just put the camera down and let your mind freeze frame the moment.  Later, as we exited the Capitol, we stepped out into a sea of K9 units, with barriers up and police officers everywhere — there had been a threat called in and the response was immediate.    This is a photos I was allowed to snap – Justice and History.    It’s fitting I think.

History and Justice sculpture_the Capitol

The sculpture Justice and History is located above the Senate bronze doors on the Capitol’s East Front. The draped female figures of Justice and History recline against a globe. Justice holds a book inscribed “Justice / Law / Order” in her left hand; her right hand rests on a pair of scales. History holds a scroll inscribed “History / July / 1776.”  source:

4.  We took taxis everywhere and I have a stack of receipts several inches high to show for it.  When the opportunity presented itself, I asked my drivers about their lives as I could tell most were immigrants.  I led with the fact I had been an immigrant once and sharing that opened the floodgates to conversation.  The countries they came from (Ghana, Sudan, Ethiopia, Nigeria,  Zimbabwe) were different from mine but their story was not.  Many spoke of previous careers as engineers, scientists, and mechanics.  All spoke of their families, hopes, dreams and happiness at just being here.  If you ever find yourself disillusioned with the state of things, take a taxi ride with a Ghanian engineer who plays classical music while joyfully pointing out landmarks and incredulity at his “most lucky life.” -Direct quote.


5.  A highlight of the week was meeting my blogging friend Dianna and her husband, Motor Man, on Thursday.   Last year when I blogged about visiting D.C. she mentioned they lived nearby (a 3 hour drive!) and that she’d love to meet up.  I tucked that comment away and this year, as my trip approached, I made contact and soon plans were formed.  It’s difficult to put into words what our meeting meant to me.  First I have to share Hubbs’ commentary: “You know this is how people go missing and end up dead, right?”  The same man who champions my work successes and pushes me to get in there and “show those boys how it’s done” was convinced meeting strangers was a terrible idea.  I couldn’t believe they were going to drive all that way for little old me!  And, when thinking about it, the only ones who ever had were: 1) Hubbs, 2) my sissy and 3) my cousin.

When I saw Dianna’s smiling face, we both rushed to share a hug and then another and maybe even a tear or two.  Over lunch, and in between a host of stories,  I spoke of Hubbs’ trepidation and her hubby teased “text him and tell him you’re in the trunk!” HA!   The conversation flowed, laughter came easily, and we talked about our backgrounds and updates on our lives and families.

Why did I make the trek to meet with people I don’t know? Here’s the rub: I did know.  I know, through her blog, that she is a loving wife to him and Momma bear to her son and others she cares for.  I know, through her encouraging words to me and others, that she is a kind and caring person.  I know, through our shared experiences and easy camaraderie, that she is someone with whom a soul connection just comes naturally.  Sometimes you just know and this was one of those times.


Dianna & me. “Soul connections are not often found and are worth every bit of fight left in you to keep.” -Shannon L. Alder

And how was your week?  What have you said YES to lately?  Have you ever made a soul connection in an unusual way?  When was the last time you took a risk and how did it turn out?



Categories: Attitude, Blogging, Confidence at any age, Determination, Faith, Friendship, Growth, Home, Joy, Life, Quotes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

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14 thoughts on “Random 5 – Landmarks, Adventures, Immigrants and Connections

  1. I flew into Newark a few weeks ago and the skyline caught my breath, as well.
    How neat that you got to meet Dianna!!!

    • You’re right – it was breath-taking!
      Sandi it was super neat to meet Dianna 🙂 Someday I hope I get to meet you! MJ

  2. How times have changed. In 1964, as a senior in high school, I won a contest that had as a prize a week in Washington with my Congressman and his wife. Talk about living the high life! I stayed in the Hotel Congressional, attended a dinner in Georgetown, shared bean soup in the Senate dining room. Best of all, I was free to roam as I pleased: through the tunnels, the office buildings, and so on. Those days are gone, I’m afraid. But it was wonderful.

    • That is a sweet memory 🙂 Even when we went to the Senate gallery the guards told us the reason for the lines was because they can only open up a portion of the gallery to the public after 9/11 … yes, everything has changed.


  3. What a whirlwind week you had, MJ — bittersweet (seeing that area after so many years and changes, both in your life and in our country), nostalgic (The Count), educational (the Senate), eye-opening (the threat) and ….how do I describe our meeting???? I’m so touched at your sweet description of our visit. It was so wonderful to meet you in person. I find myself wishing that we lived closer!
    Hopefully we’ll have another chance to meet (pehaps with Hubbs, too!?) and share more smiles, laughs and hugs!

    • It was a whirlwind of a week, that’s for sure. I felt like I had been gone 2 weeks!

      I agree, meeting in person was wonderful, and you were just as nice and fun as I pictured you would be 🙂 And who knows? Maybe we’ll get another opportunity to meet again, with Hubbs in tow, and laugh, visit and enjoy!! Cheers! MJ

  4. That was quite a week! You will deserve your chance to spend some time at home after all this traveling. You are so much better at traveling than I am. Then again, you plan well to make the best of your time.

    • I love to travel and especially for fun/vacation but this trip was a good mix of 90% work stuff (but 80% of that was very enjoyable!) + 10% personal. I am glad Dianna and I had the opportunity to meet up. She’s just as kind & lovely in person as she is on her blog! MJ

  5. Shirley Matthews Dunn

    Hi MJ, I just started reading your blog and really enjoy it, You are a very busy and interesting lady, Glad you and Dianna had a good time, We went to elem school together in Surry, VA and everything you said about her is true. She is a special person and I enjoy her blog too, Hope you and family have a good week and I look forward to many more of your blogs.

    • Hi Shirley and thank you for visiting 🙂 She’s one special gal and how neat that you have known her all this time! Please come back again, MJ

  6. I’ve met a few bloggers, and hope to meet more. In my experience, it seems like old friends meeting after a long absence. Who knew blogging would turn out this way?

    • Had no idea, Patti. I have found the blogging community to be (mostly) encouraging and friendly folks – there have been a few competitive types but I have since moved on. Not interested.

      It’s pretty neat 🙂 MJ

  7. What a fabulous trip to DC! And meeting Dianna had to be a joy. I met her too – right here in Lexington, VA and in one afternoon we shared a whole lot of memory making. 🙂

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