‘Burst’ing With Talent

My friend Jaxon made a bold move to follow his passion and change careers from working in a cube to working behind a camera. I participated in the fitness section of his portfolio. It was a blast! Photos by Kelohimography

“Don’t let a win go to your head, or a loss go to your heart. Keep the faith and trust in the process, put the work in and your time will come.” – Brooks Laich (my fav athlete because of his talent as a hockey player and his life values)

What’s SUP? (Stand-Up Paddle Boarding)

Stand-Up Paddle Boarding Lesson With Surf Reston
Instructor: Steve
Class: 2 hours
Location: Lake Anne, Reston, Va.

My best friend Jenny knows me well; she booked paddle boarding lessons for us for my birthday! We arrived at Lake Anne and met our instructor Steve, a chill and encouraging dude, along with eight other class participants. Steve spent about 15 minutes at the start of the lesson teaching us about our equipment. He explained that we should use the handle (aka soap dish) in the center of our board as a marker on where to stand.

We also learned about the three strokes:

  • Forward Stroke used for moving forward; catch (the water), power (pull the paddle through) and recovery (back to the front and repeat on the other side) (CPR)
  • Stop Stroke used for stopping; also known as the reverse sweep
  • Sweep Stroke used for turning your board around

Fun Facts: SUP is a slang term used by boarders that stands for Stand-Up Paddle Boarding. The end of the paddle is shaped at an angle to mimic a swimmer’s hand and cut through the water!

Ready for our adventure, we launched off the shore of the lake kneeling on our boards with our paddles across the front of us – from that point we were supposed to slowly stand. It was a hot, sunny and VERY windy day. About five minutes into being on the water before standing, I headed right into a massive shrubbery section on the side of the lake. All good, nothing to see people, I shouted! (I was happy that Jenny didn’t have access to a camera. 😀 ) I quickly recovered, stood and paddled away for the remaining hour+. It was more fun than I ever expected and an amazing abs and arms workout. I cannot wait to return and do it again, especially since Surf Reston offers a discount for repeat business and yoga paddle boarding classes. You cannot bring your phone with you while you’re boarding in case you fall in the lake, but Steve took photos for everyone and posted them on Flickr.

I have an evolving bucket list, which is how my Gal on the Go blog originated. I say evolving because there are some items on the list that I knew about when I created it, and some activities that I was unaware of and added along the way … like when I was “co-pilot” of a plane in Vermont and paddle boarding in my area. The paddle boarding lesson was a day I will never forget; a shared life experience with a friend is priceless and what Gal on the Go is all about!

Power of Positivity

My boyfriend who was mean and dismissive is now out of my life, as Bono eloquently put it, “What you don’t have you don’t need it now.” I joined a fitness Meetup group to keep busy, which has resulted in friendships with amazing people who have all added joy to my life. We gather every Saturday morning at the Reston Town Center. Our fearless leader Irina always brings enthusiasm and provides us with a kick butt workout. One Saturday, she had us run the stairs of the five garages, and when we reached the top of each garage we paused to appreciate the beautiful views of Reston and take silly pictures. Another Saturday, she had us alternate single and double steps up seven flights of stairs in variation for 40 minutes with a loop run every time we reached the rooftop. There is genuine camaraderie among the group, which consists of individuals at all fitness levels. Members look out for each other during the workouts and yell “you go girl” or “you can do it.” We share photos of our time together at the end of each Meetup and Irina adds inspirational fitness quotes to them. A fun way to spend mornings!

Starbucks Morning Motley Crew


Mike and I

Mike and I (I am now a proud honorary motley crew member!)

My office shut down this week due to the Blizzard of ’16 and I’ve been walking to Starbucks every morning to hang out. My friends tease that I should have gotten a job there to support my latte habit. During my mornings at Starbucks, I befriended a group led by seasoned gentlemen who meet there daily Monday through Friday in the range of 7 a.m. to 10 a.m.

Art, the founder and eldest member of the group, is 83 years young and has been coming to this Starbucks every morning for more than 10 years since his wife passed away. He spent 20 years serving in the army, retired as a colonel and moved on to a second career working as a procurement officer at a bank where he then also retired. Art was married for 50 years and hails from a generation he said that is “modest”, which is why he asked to not be photographed. He feels that the values of the younger generations are lost. Back in the day Art said, when you needed work done, you could count on someone to give you a fair price and a handshake was your word of honor. Not the case today, he said, where multiple bids are placed and endless contract pages are drafted, reviewed and signed for a job to be done. The things that bring Art the most enjoyment every day are doing The Washington Post Daily Crossword and reading the trivia blurbs in the corner pages of USA TODAY.

Mike has been a member of the crew for eight years. He’s a very busy man, as part owner of 28 Popeyes in the VA/MD/DC area. He has lived in Northern Virginia his entire life and witnessed a lot of changes. Mike shared a story of when he was little and there was a similar blizzard. In addition to the snow removal problem, he said heating the school so kids could return was a big challenge. They had coal fed radiators at the time, which was a lot of work for the janitors. He said that school in Centreville still exists today, but has been modernized and is now a school for troubled teens. Mike also shared that the coolest job he ever had was before the Bicentennial when the company he worked for was tasked with installing air conditioning in the Washington Monument. During the job, he and one of his buddies wrote their names and the date inside the peak of the monument. Mike said it cost $1 million to do the renovation work at that time in 1976. He said he’ll never forget the 898 steps because him and his crew had to remove each step to sandblast them clean, as an insurance man sat in his car every day monitoring the work being done.

Craig, a sweet and soft-spoken man, wears a signature blue plaid jacket and enjoys a tall coffee straight-up while sitting reserved on the side.

Other members of the Starbucks morning motley crew include: Tom and Connie, a couple, who are both retired police officers; Bob, a friendly car salesman; and Sharon, a real estate professional in her late 30s, who joins the group on Fridays and is the youngest of the bunch.

It’s been a privilege getting to know everyone. I’m happy that with the winter storm also came new friendships. I’m back to work at my office and miss those entertaining mornings with the crew. As Art poetically stated … “When one comes, one has to go.”

Power of Influence

I attended the funeral of a beloved friend today. When describing her to others I said “she was like a mother to me”. I realized I use that type of description for many people in my life. It suddenly hit me … I am the product of it takes a village! I didn’t have reliable parental figures growing up, but I have been fortunate to know amazing people who stepped up to the plate and showed me love, compassion and guided me with valuable life lessons. Aunts and uncles who filled parental roles, close friends who filled sibling roles, and co-workers/others who filled advisory roles and became like family. I am grateful for each person who makes up the village and the time they have spent (and continue to spend) investing in me. I greatly miss my friend physically being part of the village, but I cherish the memories and wisdom she left behind.


My friend Birgit is from Germany and she graciously hosted a party at her home to share her culture. It was a fun evening with friends, laughter and eight different German wines. She showed us some of her special cultural items adorning her home like:

  • A wood-carved cuckoo clock with little wood-carved figurines hanging on the wall.
  • A beautiful wood-carved candle chandelier (or so I thought) hanging from the ceiling that she explained is actually a traditional German Advent candle holder that she keeps out all year for enjoyment. It has amazing carved details – I never saw anything like it.
  • Various figurines carved out of wood scattered on her fireplace mantel that she explained are German smokers or Rauchermen. You remove the top of the figurine; place a small incense cone inside, light it, put the top back on and incense smoke comes out of the figurine’s pipe. Cute and entertaining! (Her collection consists of more than 40 smokers, but she only puts about 15 out at once and rotates them throughout the year.)

Fun Fact: German smokers are unique because they are generally carved in the image of the “every day man” like farmers and miners, rather than political or religious figures. They are believed to have been popular throughout history because they honor the work of the common man, instead of more visible/famous figures of ancient and modern times.

Birgit covered her dining table in black, red and yellow to look like a big German flag and all the plates and napkins were black, red and yellow. She put out pewter utensils for everyone to use and a huge delicious spread of food from bratwurst to German chocolate cake. We all left very full!