New Year's Eve

Foggy Everglades morning on New Year's Eve

A New Year's Poem
Yours truly}

Upon this eve of New Year’s Day
The morning fog sits low and grey
And whispers ‘round as if to say,
“Do you dare? Oh come what may!”

It’s taunt is loud and hovers near
I wait for the heavy clouds to clear
To see the sun and not to fear
The unknown path ahead that’s drear.

But then the white light turns to gold
And beams flicker through the heavy folds.
The sun is strong and takes a hold
And calms and hushes worries untold.

For here comes the New Year’s Day
With light and hope to break away
Regret and fear that’s gone astray
To guide us new with hope I pray.

So open up to the sun’s warm glow
And rid of heavy mist and woe.
A bright new start swirls high and low
Like a twinkling painting from Van Gough.

The New Year’s bells will loudly cheer,
“Leave all your burdens and your fear!
Show love and joy to those so dear
And have a very happy New Year!”

Wishing you and yours the most wonderful New Year!
--Is anyone else in complete disbelief that its 2015?--


Buon Natale

Merriest of Christmases!  Wishing you and yours a warm and lovely holiday season!

The Macuens


Winter on the Brighton Seminole Indian Reservation

Winter on the Brighton Reservation.
Lovely, cool breezes drift through the ancient oaks that are covered in thick green moss and grey Spanish moss.  Wild oranges break up the never ending sea of green.  Light dances on the saw palmetto leaves and I feel like I have time travelled a thousand years back in time.


soul mate

My twin sister Jessica is my soul mate.  I mean, we were split in two so I'm pretty sure we each have part of the same soul.

The day we headed off to college was one of the saddest days of my life.  I remember laying awake in my tiny bed, in my new dorm room, on my first night and not knowing how to feel or how to be.  How would I make friends without my best friend by my side?  How would I survive class?  How would I go to the grocery store by myself?  Who was going to tell me that my outfit should never see the light of day?

The next years were hard, but we both grew.  We became braver and more independent.  We experienced things the other did not.  We took trips, met friends, got our hearts broken, fell in love and graduated.  The next years were even harder.  I headed off to Texas for graduate school and took a blind leap into the unknown, alone.  I was so used to everyone knowing I was a twin back home that it was a strange feeling for new people in my life to not automatically know this about me.  Our whole life we had been known as "The Twins" which always annoyed me. But here, hundreds of miles away from home, I wished and hoped that just once someone would refer to me as one of "The Twins".  

Life has taken us both down different paths and we are happy in our careers and little families.  And even though its been years since we lived in the same state and we've grown accustomed to these separate lives, we miss each other with all of our hearts.  I guess we've become grownups during this time because lets face it, it would have been crazy for us to not have learned how to function in the real world without the other nearby.   

But you see, the truth is, even though we are grownups and we live wonderful, independent lives, I just don't function my best without her.  

On the rarest of rare days that we can't talk I feel like there is a hole in my day.  Who can I tell that for a brief second after lunch it smelled exactly like the skating rink we used to go to when we were little?  And there's no doubt that she will understand completely---my co-workers at lunch would just look at me weird!  Or what if I have to describe a color and the only description I can come up with is that it is that shimmery color from that one ride in Disney World?  And of course my sister would say, "Oh right! The one with the dragon.  I know that color."  

I usually talk to Jessica on my way home from work each evening which can last from 5 minutes to an hour :) .  The minute we say, "hi" a feeling of complete contentment washes over me. 

Even living 2000 miles away, our lives are interwoven.  They are forever connected.  You always hear of twin struggles--of those twins who yearn to be their own self and independent of each other.  At least for us, this is impossible.  While we have our own distinct personalties and preferred nail polish color, we are our most true selves when we are together.  We are soul mates.


Happy Birthday to my sister.  I'm glad I get to share this special day with you always!


Latin Grammys

Bobby tiredly rolled in at 8am this morning after a week long trip to Las Vegas for the Latin Grammys!  

Wow what a trip!  

Unfortunately Palo! did not take home a Latin Grammy this year, but we are all so proud of them (especially my husband) for their talent and passion for making great music!

Aurelia and I anxiously watched the entire show, not knowing exactly when their category would be up.  Luckily their category was one of only a few to be broadcast on TV.  Everyone looked beautiful and sparkly and I put into practice my high school level Spanish!

 Trying on the tux before heading out!

 Palo! heading to the award ceremony

 On the Green carpet at the MGM Grand

 Aurelia, anxiously waiting!

 Nominated for Best Contemporary Tropical Album!

Steve and Bobby heading home

Until next year!


Winter Quiet

Big Cypress National Preserve // photo credit

Yesterday my soul soared;  I was cold. 

I awoke to temperatures in the low 50's and I could barely hold back a smile as I grabbed my peacoat (untouched since last Christmas) off the coat rack and pranced to my car.  My mug of hot coffee felt good in my hands and I plugged my iPod into my car and quickly scrolled until I found my 4 million Christmas tunes.  

The heater in the car smelled slightly of burning dust and a flood of memories overtook me.  I was back in Colorado, on the first cold morning of Fall.  

The drive out to Big Cypress felt different yesterday morning.  The sun barely peaked out of the cloud covered sky and the wind pulled and tugged angrily at the car.  Even though my day was packed full of meetings and projects, I wished I could have called in "sick" to stay home to snuggle on the couch and watch the misty rain from the window.  The animals were quiet and there was no sign of the alligators in the water.  I knew they could be found at the bottom of the deep canals, preserving their body heat. A winter quiet had creeped onto the reservation over night.

My blood has thinned and my tolerance has grown lean to chilly weather.  My mom reminded me of how I used to make fun of the Floridians who bundled up in 65 degree weather.  And now I have become one of them.  I miss the cold and snow, I really do.  Or maybe I just miss the idea of it.  Snow is so magical and sparkly and makes the dead winter branches look so beautiful.  I miss those snowy nights, long after I was supposed to be asleep, when I would sit huddled in my blankets with my chin resting on my window ledge.  I would stare out the window for what felt like forever, watching giant snowflakes fall under the orange glow of the street lamp and hoping and praying for a snow day.  I miss snowy mornings, waking up to a muted light and heavy silence.  I knew it had snowed before I even saw the white covered ground.  I would peak out the window and see a winter wonderland of diamonds.  I would hurry back into my warm bed and wait for my mom to make her rounds, singing each of my sisters and I the Snow poem:

Oh, it snowed last night 
It snowed last night. 
The sky bears had a pillow fight, 

Tore up all the clouds in sight and tossed them down as feathers white.  

This cold snap has brought refreshment to my soul and even though it will be short lived, I am enjoying being "cold".  


Tribal Council Meeting

When I walk into Tribal Headquarters in Hollywood I am transported into another world from the familiar Big Cypress Swamp.  Business suits swarm the halls and there are lots of very important looking people.  I always make sure to put my confidence face on and spend a little extra time on my hair these days. 

Today was Tribal Council Meeting, which is once a month.  I don't usually have to attend, but the Council was passing a resolution on a matter that myself and co-workers had worked months and months on.  (It passed!)

This is what I observed today.

I watched as grown men nervously took the stand to read resolutions before the Council and get pummeled with question after question.  You never know what kinds of questions will get thrown your way and so when people flail under this scrutiny I can hear my dad in my head saying, "Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance".  Perhaps one day I will have to present, but for each time I don't, I am forever grateful!

I stared at the oil paintings of past council members hanging on the council chamber walls, wondering just how different it would have been 50 years ago.

I giggled silently to myself as I heard someone behind me knock over their water bottle in the back row and watched as it noisily rolled its way down the slightly inclined floor, under rows and rows of seats until it hit the shoes of my Executive Director...in the front row.

I saw huge business deals being agreed upon, projects for bettering the tribal community approved, and heard the new President of FSU give a presentation on strengthening their relationship with the Tribe.

I was reminded that I am a small fish in a big pond.  Working for only 1 of 60 tribal departments.

I watched democracy happen, with reservation representatives advocating for their community's best interest.

TGIF (even though it was a short week for me with Veteran's Day).  I'm so sleepy I think I may actually go to bed at 8:30.  Is that pathetic?  

And not to rub it in anyone's cold cold face, but it was a balmy 80 degrees today so anyone who wants to come visit me the door is open!



5 y e a r s

As I waited for the plane to taxi into the Kansas City airport, my stomach dropped as my phone dinged to let me know I had a voicemail.  I quickly dialed and listened as someone in the HR department asked if I would call them back as soon as possible.

2009 : My first Florida picture from my hotel room the night before my interview

I was returning from an interview and knew that this was "the call".  I had either gotten the job or hadn't.  

As I scurried off the plane, I scanned the busy airport for a quiet place to make my phone call.  I stepped aside as my shaky fingers dialed the number.  

After the required formalities, Josh from HR got to the point.  They wanted to hire me for the position.  I couldn't believe it!  It had been a whirlwind.  I had applied to the position, the next day had a phone interview, and here I was only hours gone from the actual interview and they were offering me the job. Was it meant to be?

Christmas 2010 : The first time wearing my winter coat!

I blurted out a yes as fast I could.  Yes, I would take the job.

After I hung up, the reality struck.  What in the world had I just done?  My current job at a museum in Denver was coming to an end.  I needed a job, but Florida?  It was possibly the furthest place I could move from my Colorado home.  Bobby and I had talked about the "what if" but suddenly I worried maybe he wouldn't come with me.  I mean, we had been dating for almost 5 years, but still how could I ask him to move across the country for me to the foreign land of Florida.  

2011 : petting a panther

While waiting for my connecting flight back to Denver, I made the calls to Bobby and my family.  Everyone was overjoyed for me, but I could tell that they were also very sad.  I was moving away.

The next month was busy.  Packing, finding a place to live, getting work things in order, and starting to say our goodbyes.  

The night before my mom, Bobby and I embarked on our 3 day journey to the southern tip of the United States, we had dinner with Bobby's family and spent the rest of the evening with mine.  I could barely look at my sisters as we hugged goodbye.  We slept on the floor of my older sister's living room that night, but we didn't really sleep.  We both had butterflies in our stomach and tears in our eyes.  I remember though, feeling some peace as I realized I wasn't doing this alone--that Bobby would be my side. 

2012: I got married!

I often look back at the journey and can't believe that I did it.  I survived it.  
I jumped full force into my new job and loved it.  It took awhile longer for Bobby to adjust and find his niche, but he did.  The first few months our GPS was a life saver.  We learned which grocery store was better than others and that I would never have straight hair again :) .  

My mom always says that Colorado will always be my home and she is right.  Its where our family is and many of our close friends.  But Florida is our home too.  We are making a life here and after 5 years it feels like our space-- our own tiny world. 

2013: Weeki Wachee Springs

Florida will always be the place where I grew up.  In 5 years, a lot has changed and I still continue to grow, but looking back at my first few weeks here compared to now, I am different.  Good different!

Aurelia: A sweet addition to the family

Remember this? My first blog post!  I started this blog as a ways to document this journey and I love looking back at my posts to see how far I've come amidst the ups and downs.  I love looking back at major life choices and knowing that I made the right one.  I can see how it all fits together like a puzzle and that sometimes it only makes sense looking back years later. 

Life is good here in Florida and I look forward to the next 5 years!

2014: Miami


Birthday Boy!!

Yesterday was Bobby's 30th birthday.  

I asked him, "When did we become grownups?"

What a year this has been and his 30s are already starting off with a bang.  

Here's to a wonderful 30th year my dear husband!  Let the adventure begin.


Florida's Autumn

Glorious, beautiful, warm Autumn.

It's finally here, even if for a few days, and I am soaking up every minute!  Besides the cooler mornings and lower humidity, it is not always easy to see the signs of Fall in South Florida.  But after living here for awhile, you begin to see the small changes and appreciate Florida's Autumn.

 Baby alligator enjoying the afternoon sun

 Juvenile Ibis 
 Cypress needles changing and getting ready to fall
 Early morning at work, with smoke from the traditional fire pit

Blue October sky out on the Boardwalk


Nail Polish

I had to go to the doctors today. 
Its taken almost a year to make myself go so needless to say, I was very proud of myself for going.
When we were younger, my mom would make the doctor experience a little bit better by taking us to Longs Drug, the local drug store, after our appointments.  She would let us pick out a magazine or a new nail polish!  My sisters and I would browse the aisles, looking for the most perfect shade of pink to paint our toes.
So today, on my way home from the doctor's I continued the tradition and picked out a nice new nail polish color!
It made me feel much better :)
 Aurelia wanted her nails done too.


Goodbye and a Box

We hosted a going away shin-dig for my friend Robin the other night, who is moving back to North Carolina.  She's been the Conservator at the Museum for the past year and its been so nice to have a friend who lives just down the street.  Its always hard to say goodbye.  I think Florida has an evil plan to send away all of my friends...

Another friend provided the decorations, along with a giant box that we filled with cards and helium balloons.  We ate delicious food, laughed, listened to good music, and even drank a little champagne.

I haven't quite decided what I'm going to do with this giant box.
Although it seems Aurelia has already found a perfectly good use for it.


And The Nominees Are...

Tonight we are smiling from ear to ear!

The Latin Grammy nominees are in and Palo! has been nominated!!

I am so proud of my husband and the work he has done!

A few years ago, Bobby told me that his big goal for his 30th birthday was to have been nominated for a grammy.  Well, with just 24 days to spare, I think you have accomplished that goal!! 



Work Scenes

Work has been chugging along lately and although I don't think I can ever say I am not busy, I am feeling like I am finally getting caught up after a whirlwind summer!  I recently hired a new Collections Assistant and she is, to use the coolest 1990's term ever, da'bomb.  

Some days are quiet, other days staff are running through the office like their chair just caught on fire :).    It amazes some people the amount of activity that goes on in our preservation office and museum, being so far away from the metropolis.  But appearances are deceiving and our little trailer full of offices is like a buzzing bee hive. 

Today one of the tribal elders/ Chief Justice invited me to lunch and I escaped my desk for an enjoyable break over at Billie Swamp Safari. Mostly though, my days are spent at my desk or in the Lab, multitasking like its nobody's business.  Every few hours, I step outside onto our tiny porch and look out at our campus.  

The white Ibis are back, sauntering with their long beaks through the grass.  A hawk circles overhead and Mr. Raccoon sneakily slips inside the trashcan.  

I can feel a change in the air.  The sky is a slightly different shade of blue these days and the mornings are staying darker later.  Soon my commute will be dark both ways and I will watch the giant ball of fire sleepily rise over the Everglades, casting lean shadows and turning everything orange.



I'm feeling quite patriotic these days.  And if you know me, that usually only happens on the 4th of July with firecrackers overhead and cherry pie in my tummy.

I have a good friend who is about to help her boyfriend, Juan, celebrate a monumental moment in his life.

He is becoming a U.S. citizen on Friday. 

The last month has been a horrible and scary journey for them, with a threatening USCIS officer who was trying to get him deported.  I felt for my friend everyday, who wondered and stressed about what the outcome would be.  Her boyfriend moved to the United States from Columbia when he was 10, and is an educated, hardworking airline pilot.  We couldn't believe what was happening.

Thankfully Juan heard good news last week and everything has all worked out.  Bobby and I went to their house last night to help celebrate that his Oath of Allegiance ceremony had been scheduled.  We drank refajos (beer and Coumbiana soda) and ate Columbian hotdogs (hotdogs, pineapple, "fancy sauce", cheese, and potato chips!).  And even as the rain beat against the windows, it did nothing to dampen everyone's spirits.  We already have talked about throwing the ultimate American themed party once his ceremony is over!

Last year I came across a wonderful discovery during my family research project.  My great grandmother's naturalization record.  There, on a tiny index card was her signature from May 8th, 1939. 

I can't imagine what she must have felt when signing her name or pledging her allegiance to a brand new country.  Did she feel a little bit sad?  Was she overcome with joy?  I am thankful for my great-grandparents coming here.  For making incredible sacrifices, leaps of faith, and for leaving everything they knew for a dream.   

It is something most of us take for granted everyday.  Watching Juan go through this journey has been inspiring and a reminder that so many still believe in the opportunities of this country.  


Saturday Happenings

A storm came to visit on Friday and has brought with it dreary days and lots of rain.  Bobby and I did a few things around the house today, ran some errands, and watched a really cheesy movie.  Its been a pleasant day and I hope everyone's weekend is off to a great start!



This morning at one of the general sessions at the conference, a guest speaker highlighted a quote from the famous anthropologist Margaret Mead.
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed it's the only thing that ever has.

Anytime I travel alone, I tend to stay close to my hotel room.  I like to explore new cities, but not by myself.  Tonight I find myself alone at "my" desk, reviewing for tomorrow and catching up on work e-mails.  The rain is splattering against my 15th story window.  Its how I prefer to spend the evening.

When I'm alone in my room, my mind always wanders to my work, to my life, to whatever I'm doing at the present time.  I feel inspired to write something down, but I'm not quite sure what.  I keep repeating the quote in my head, wondering if I will ever be part of something world changing.  Will the work I do count for anything?  I hope so.