I love to hike and in Connecticut the hiking is spectacular. When I quit smoking I was on a mission to get healthy and I was desperate to take up hiking again. There were no groups nearby so I started my own hiking group (Central Fairfield County Hikers) and promoted it on Meetup.com.
Nobody came to the first meetup.
People have been known to call me a bulldog, because I never give up. Persistence and willpower made me keep this group going. The next hike, one person came and we had a great time. By the time I left Connecticut eight months later, the group had over a hundred members and there was a waiting list for every hike. Central Fairfield County Hikers is still going strong today.
Around the same time I also started running. Really it was walking at first, but every time I went out I ran a little bit, then a little bit more, then a little bit more.
I still remember the first time I ran an entire 5K without stopping. I couldn’t stop smiling that entire day.
I ran in my first (and only) official 5K race in March of 2009 at 48 years old. Not only did I finish, I came in at a respectable 33:30.[Update 2017: I stopped running for several years due to an injury, and took it up again in late 2015. After only 4 months (and six years older) I ran in another 5K with a time only 8 seconds slower than my first 5K.]
Software Design and Usability Evangelism
In the late 70’s when I was forced to choose a college major, computer science was the domain of mathematicians and engineers — geeky weirdos with starched white short-sleeve shirts and pocket protectors. In my freshman year I took a required computer science class and got a D. Clearly this was not my bag.
Thinking I could solve my emotional problems myself, I decided on a psychology major and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology 1982. Clearly it didn’t occur to me that this credential would get me exactly nowhere.
However, that little bit of training helped me tremendously in my later career, as I needed to understand human behavior and how it relates to user-friendly software design.
After I got hooked on computers in the mid-80’s (my first work computer was a state of the art dual-floppy drive 40-pound IBM behemoth with about 2K of RAM), my life path was pretty much set. I became a self-taught computer geek, and even decided to build my own PC from scratch in 1999 using parts I bought on eBay and at Radio Shack.
Somewhere around that same time I started my web development consulting company and simultaneously went back to school for my Master’s degree – this time in Information Technology. I graduated with high honors in 2002.
In my late 20’s and having no marriage prospects I was determined to own my own home before I was 30. I bought my first condo in Norwalk, Connecticut on July 1st, 1990 at age 29. I met my husband-to-be a year later.
Together we have purchased nine more properties (and sold six) of them since then. Six were primary residences, two were investment properties, and one was a vacation home. One of the vacation rentals is currently up for sale… interested?
Every sale netted a profit.
Gardening is one of my life passions. At my last house in Newtown Connecticut I had the most beautiful gardens. I started with practically nothing and created a wonderful landscape with new hardscaping, land contours, foundation plantings, and a huge flower garden that surrounded the entire house.
I love gardening so much that I went and got myself a Master Gardener certificate. If you’ve read my Education page you know that I love school and learning. I got into the UConn Master Gardener program by the skin of my teeth. I didn’t even get picked the first time around. Somebody canceled and I got their seat about a week before the course was scheduled to start. It was a grueling program. I loved every minute of it.
After the MG training I looked into some local design classes since my own gardens were kind of willy nilly in terms of style. The New York Botanical Garden was about an hour drive from my house, and is an amazing place. I took one design class at NYBG and loved it. I took another class and loved that one too. Lather, rinse, repeat. Halfway through the program I said what the heck, and went the whole way. It’s a prestigious school with a tough program. I loved every minute of it.
In 2006 my husband and I decided we were done with the cold winters, rude New Yorkers, high taxes and exorbitant cost of living in Fairfield County, Connecticut. Not to mention I had terrible allergies and the Fall and Winter seasons there were just awful for me.
We had previously purchased a vacation home/rental property in Colonial Beach, Virginia and really liked the area, so we decided to move there. Colonial Beach was too remote and a bit red-neck for our taste, so we settled on Fredericksburg.
We created a two-year plan and carefully followed it. Over the next two years we slowly and rather painfully extracted ourselves from our lives in Connecticut and moved to Virginia in 2008. We had many doubts along the way — nobody wanted us to leave and we were met with resistance from every direction.
It was the best decision we ever made, and we will never move back. We may never move anywhere ever again. (Incidentally, I have said that before.)[Update 2017: We have moved twice since then and now live in Northern Virginia. The traffic kinda sucks and the cost of real estate is kinda high, but it’s a pretty nice area with lots of conveniences and beautiful trails right out our back door. We’ll probably move one more time, but that will be it.]