Sparking Joy in New York City

What an amazing few weeks it’s been! Just now finding time to share with everyone the incredible experience of attending the KonMari™ Consultant Training seminar in New York City!

Eric decided to come along, and explore the city, while I was at the seminar. He had never been to NYC before, and enjoyed the experience very much. We flew in to La Guardia on Thursday evening, and took the metro over to Manhattan. The masses of people still overwhelm me – even in retrospect! But we enjoyed the experience of riding above the city, before going down under the river, and then the metro being fully underground in Manhattan.

We found our hotel, which was about a mile from Home Studios on Broadway, the chosen venue for the seminar. Then we enjoyed a delicious dinner at an Irish Pub around the corner from our hotel. After a good night’s sleep, I excitedly began preparing for my first day!

The venue was beautiful, very light and airy, with large round tables seating 8 people at each one. Cold water pitchers with fruit infused, sat in the center, and our workbooks were placed at each spot. Certified consultants helped us get checked in and gave us our name badges. Then we got to choose a spot from any of the tables in the room. Their only request was that we choose a different table each day, so we would get to know more of the friends who are sharing our journey. All pictures credit of Ryan Soule.

The venue before the flowers and water pitchers were placed in the center of each table.
My table the first day, missing my friend Kate, from South Africa, and me.

On Tuesday evening, we had been informed that there would be a professional movie crew from VICE, for HBO, filming us for a special program on ‘what it takes to become a KonMari™ consultant’. Then when we arrived on Friday morning, we found there was an additional film crew from Japan, filming a special for the Japanese equivalent of the BBC. Both crews were extremely respectful and considerate, not pushy, but open to any questions we had, or interviews we would like to give them. In addition, there was a photographer hired for the occasion to allow us to have photos of our memorable weekend.

The Japanese film crew, doing what they do best!

Soon, Christina gave a short welcome speech, and introduced the KonMari™ Media team from Japan, including Marie’s husband. Then – the moment each one of us was waiting for – Marie came out with such grace, humility, and beauty, and welcomed us all – sharing her joy with us that we were there, then adding sweetly, ‘But I still can’t believe you all want to do this’. Which is, of course, an additional reason we all want to ‘do this’.

Christina, Consultant contact for KonMari™ Media

Marie took several moments to intentionally make eye contact with each person, to take note of the excitement and energy that was palpable in the room, and to crystallize the memories of the first few moments into her memory bank – which encouraged us to do the same. She is a beautiful, petite lady, who has quite a warm personality. When she started sharing her belief that gratitude was an important cornerstone of the KonMari method, I realized with even greater certainty, that I was exactly in the right place.


Another highlight for me, was that nearly the entire seminar was in Japanese, and translated into English by the very talented Celine. She had an incredible ability to convey, not only the words being expressed in a different language, but the emotions as well.

Marie and Celine

On Friday, the topics covered included the philosophy of Marie Kondo, the important Code of consultants, which include the following five things:

  1. Take initiative to lead a life that sparks joy.
  2. Support clients in achieving a life that sparks joy, in addition to helping them finish tidying.
  3. Hone your knowledge and skills as a professional organizing consultant.
  4. Always remember to have respect for homes and objects.
  5. Spark more joy in the KonMari consultant community by encouraging each other.

Then we went on to the practical aspects of how to get from where we were sitting, to a ‘real-life certified KonMari™ organizing consultant’. So many interesting and worthwhile topics, and the mix of sharing from the front, and round-table discussion was just perfect.

Visiting with my friend Sophie, from Australia

Every day we had delicious food catered for lunch, with some new dishes I had never seen before – and boy do I wish I could get the recipes – especially of the shrimp and sugar snap pea salad. Yum!!!

Shrimp, corn, and sugar snap pea salad. Incredible deliciousness!
My table friends on Day 2


My beautiful friend, Jaime, from New York, sharing parts of her journey with me. She also happens to be the Broadway dancer who was in the news when her fiancé’, Mark Stuart, proposed to her on the stage of the Bandstand show last September! Such an amazing and sweet story!
My beautiful friend, and only other aspiring consultant from Virginia, Brigid.

The last day,  we wrapped up our learning session with a Q&A panel from five certified consultants already using their skills to spark joy in the world.

Q&A panel with five consultants already certified.
This special moment!

Then, the moment all of us had been waiting for – receiving our seminar completion certificates, and getting our books signed by Marie, and then our picture taken with her. What a fun and joyous moment!

Altogether, there were 88 of us from 17 countries around the globe. What an incredible opportunity to experience a rich, unforgettable few days together, that will be the starting point of worldwide enriching relationships from here on out. So much Joy and Life-changing Magic!

Oregon Adventures

I tried awakening my little guy, who had fallen asleep in the seat next to me. “Channing, we are about to land in Portland! We’re almost to Eliza’s!” It was almost midnight according to his body clock, so it took me a few more tries before he fully awoke. But then – one excited kid!

Our first day in Portland, we drove out to Cannon Beach, eating a delicious lunch at Tom’s Fish and Chips.

Then we headed to the beach. Even though it was a windy, cold, wet day, the beach was beautiful! What fun walking on the shore, picking out our favorite oceanside houses, and looking for beach treasures in the sand!

When we were good and cold, we headed over to Insomnia Coffee. What a darling place!

I could have stayed in their cozy chairs with a book and coffee, for the rest of the day. Channing and Eliza, though – not so much! They thoroughly enjoyed their hot cocoas, then were ready to move on!

So we enjoyed some more ocean views, and drove through the incredibly beautiful Ecola State Park.

It was Downtown Portland by rail the next day, getting lunch from the famous food cart block. Visiting Powell’s books, drinking more coffee, and enjoying all the sasquatch lore that is integral to the Oregon culture.

So many interesting sights, diversity, and authenticity in the city. There was a genuine friendliness that was refreshing. The main social imperative in Portland seems to be – “whatever you are, be a good one”. Okay, I’ll take that.


Pine Street Market – a lovely indoor food court, with many local restaurant choices all in one place. A great stop if you would like a roof over your head, but don’t want ordinary….

Channing’s first zoo experience was in Portland. A small, but well-designed, and beautiful place. He especially loved seeing the tiger.

The turtle statue adds so much fun, imagination, and whimsy to this little corner of the zoo!


Eliza is turning 8! And we get to help her celebrate!! What can be more fun than a Narwhal Birthday Party?  Just add a delicious Arctic Wildlife cake – baked and decorated by the big sisters!


Then it’s home we go! Channing is such a good little traveller! Patient when there are delays, fast when we have to hurry to catch the next flight. I see the potential for a lot of traveling in his future!


The incredible views out the plane window remind us that there’s many more adventures yet to come… the world is an oyster –

Chicago – so far I’ve only experienced your airport. The best thing about it is this gorgeous reminder to dream, find your way, and go explore the world……

All the fun, the time zone changes, plus extra time in the airport due to a delayed flight, finally caught up with him…..

Home again – the special experience of flying into a small airport. Walking the tarmac like a boss. We love you, CHO!



Jack’s Shop Kitchen

Breakfast with a friend. Someplace that makes you feel welcomed. Where the seats are inviting you to sit down and stay awhile. To share your hearts long after the coffee gets cold, and the plates are empty. Someplace to savor the gift of friendship, and the rare treat of two mama’s getting a bit of free time on a Saturday morning. Such is the atmosphere of Jack’s Shop Kitchen. It’s more than just a place to get food.

The casual, vintage building invites you to step back to a time where life seemed more simple, where you regularly sat across from your loved ones and shared the gift of nourishment – no screens, buzzers, sirens, and text alerts slicing through the happy aura of togetherness and connection. To a time where the one who made your breakfast might have even fed the chickens that morning, that clucked over the very eggs on your plate. There’s an intentional honoring of the hard work that goes into the food we eat. A celebration of ingredients well-prepared.

The restaurant is the creation of a chef turned farmer/chef. He and his family own a farm, and share the bounty with the community through Jack’s Shop Kitchen. They also collaborate with other farms to create a beautiful, well-thought-out variety of fresh local offerings.

As you enter the circa 1940’s building, you will step into an airy front lobby with comfortable sofa settings, a large selection of local Virginia wines, honeys, and a number of other intriguing items, from home decor to Red Rocker Candy.

Wander over to the deli case, and see what local goods you may need for lunch tomorrow. Order it up on the spot, and while you’re waiting, take a look at all the vintage farm items that are tastefully incorporated into the room.

Check out the menu, which features very Virginia style sandwiches, such as Smoked Ham and Havarti, and Fried Green Tomato BLT’s. Blue Crab Cobb Salad gives a nod to the Eastern Shore, and the Smoked VA Trout Salad reminds you that there are some cold water rivers not too far away. Maybe you’re in the mood for Roasted Sweet Potato Soup? Simple kid-friendly choices include chicken fingers, fruit salad, and grilled cheese, among other things.

There’s Carrot Cake with honey and yogurt icing, as well as an Apple and Almond Tart, a recognition of our regions’ abundance of apple orchards. The beverages are served in unique glassware, and the hot drinks in real stoneware mugs.

Bring a friend, find a seat, and you can settle in for a nice long chat over delicious, farm-fresh offerings.

Jack’s Shop Kitchen is open daily, 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. for breakfast, lunch, and take-out dinner. They also offer catering for events. Cooking classes are coming soon!

For more info, browse their website at Or you can go visit them for your next meal, at 14843 Spotswood Trail, Ruckersville, Virginia.


“That place you’ve never been, but it feels like Home”

Traveling to new places is exhilarating to me…. I’ve been to 45 states in North America, and all the Eastern provinces of Canada. Many of those places I’ve seen multiple times. A few places found a permanent home in my heart. Sarasota, Florida. Camden Harbor, Maine. Prince Edward Island. Charleston, South Carolina. Silverton, Colorado.

Eric and I lived in the Fort Worth, Texas area for 11 years after we got married. We have a lot of friends there, many that I still consider family. But I’m just gonna spit it out – I really disliked the area. Flat, Hot, Dry – the things they call trees are few and far between, and nominally taller than the average car. So when we moved back to my Mid-Atlantic hometown of Charlottesville, Virginia, I was elated! Still love it here, almost 13 years later! And through the process, I discovered I was a green girl. I love trees, ferns, moss, rivers, oceans, and rainy days. I was pretty convinced there wasn’t a place in North America that could truly compare. And honestly, I didn’t want to believe differently.


Path to the Pacific

Recently, my long-held beliefs were upended in one short, root-jerking weekend. Up-ended in a way that reminds me there are still places to be explored and unexpected surprises around the bend – we just don’t know which bend!

Some of our friends moved to Portland, Oregon. There was a lot of talk around here about how far away it was, and – why Oregon? what’s so neat about Oregon? I had some suspicions that it might be kinda pretty there, but I was also set on staying neutral. Because it just seemed that there was too much general swooning in the online world, over the Pacific Northwest. I mean, seriously, people, it couldn’t be that much better than other places. Pipe it down a notch.


Path to Cannon Beach
That Exhilarating Feeling of the Pacific Coast

Recently, my littlest guy and I, flew out to visit our friends. Can I just say that I fell off my pedestal of intentional indifference with a very loud thud. Within 24 hours. And it was January.


Kids and the beach – No matter the weather. Haystack Rock
Our friends looking for beach treasures

What’s so amazing about the Pacific Northwest? Well, to this green-loving, tree-loving, moss-fern-river-ocean-loving girl – all of the above. Greener than green evergreens of all kinds. Moss everywhere, including covering any trees that dared to have bare branches. Ferns larger than I’ve ever seen. Crystal clear rivers leading to a coast that overwhelms the senses with the depth and variety of textures and shapes.  Oh! And rainy days. Did I mention rainy days! ALLL Rainy days while I was there!! In fact, even too many for this pluviophile. (Go look it up.) But they tell me there is sunshine in the summer.

This phrase from a song, kept going through my head the whole weekend – “That place you’ve never been, but it feels like home…..”

International Rose Test Garden


No. We’re not moving. We’re fully and entirely planted in our beautiful Mid-Atlantic community. It suits us perfectly for this stage of our lives.

But sometimes it’s just good for me to fall and lose my breath. To be proven wrong so completely that I have no choice but to admit it. So – to all those Pacific Northwest lovers that I was convinced were exaggerating – Forgive me. You were right.


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