I have been a resident of Winston Salem for a little over a month. I have been thinking alot about what it was like to live in Houston and how things are going here in NC. Although I loved Houston for many reasons (friends, good jobs, excellent restaurants, no cold winter, nice places to run, good yoga…), I have wanted to move to NC for years - to be in a smaller town, close to my family, in a place with 4 full seasons. The traffic, crowds, and hot weather in Houston just became too much for me. A 45 minute drive for an 8-mile commute just did me in.
I came here on business about 4 years ago and was impressed with the people I met and the town itself. I did a lot of homework, reading about the town, checking out all the amenities (is there yoga? good grocery stores? What is there to do on the weekend? Is there an independent movie theatre? Are there art classes? What do the universities have to offer? Good, close day trips?) My theory has always been to find a college town (a real university, not just a branch of a real university), with good medical care, close to a big airport, near my family. I looked quite extensively at the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill area but it just didn't feel right. I am so happy that I have landed here. I have yet to find full time work, and I don't have any friends, but I am sure it will all come. I have faith that it will all work out, if I just keep my head up, and my eyes and heart open. In the meantime, besides my house that I already love, there are a number of things about Winston-Salem that are just fabulous. So here are 5 things I already love!
Recycling is easy. I have this huge cart and they pick it up curbside every other week. You can mix everything together for pick up. Some places in Houston had these carts but not me. I still had this little box to haul to the street every week. This is so convenient. In addition, there are recycling centers around town. The fire station near me has three huge dumpsters just for cardboard recycling. I was able to break down all my moving boxes and drop them off there. So nice!
The Fall I love so much comes with a lot of leaf raking! I know from living in Virginia that it can take lots of time and effort to keep up with all the leaves that fall. Winston Salem has the best service. Beginning in November, they work their way through the city picking up leaves. All you do is rake them into big piles at the side of your yard by the curb and they pick them all up for recycling. They make three sweeps through the city, ending in January or so. You check the website for when they expect to get to your neighborhood so you can get them ready. You've got three chances to get them all cleaned up. I think that is just so convenient!
Sawtooth School for Visual Art is a community art school that offers all sorts of reasonably priced classes and workshops. It is right downtown and has a wide variety of offerings for all ages and skill levels. I love to try new creative things and am so excited to get started with their programs. I took pottery classes for awhile in Houston and can't wait to try again here. Although I wasn't an exceptional potter, it was really fun. Unfortunately I am too late to start the pottery classes for this session, but I found a few other things I can't wait to try. In October/November there are several workshops I want to attend: Art Journaling, Felted Scarf, Painted Book, Acrylic Landscape Painting, Word and Image Mixed Media, Art for Healing and Stress, and Wood Book Covers and Bookbinding. I can't do them all but I plan to get to at least a couple. And for the next session, pottery!
I got my library card last week. I am a huge book lover and have spent way too much money on books over the years. I decided to start using the library for at least some of the books I want to read. The central library downtown will be really close to me, but it is under rennovation and won't be open until 2017. The next closest branch was really underwhelming. Mostly old books and really not much selection. The best thing however is the online resources! The whole state is part of a consortium and the electronic selection is amazing. Only a set number of people can read a book at a time, but you can put in a "hold" request and you get on the list to get it in turn. There are so many good selections. I have 6 books on request. I am number 87 (really 227 but they have multiple copies!) for the new Sue Grafton, but I should get some of the others soon. You can read magazines online as well. Eating Well, Yoga Journal, Runners World, Better Homes and Gardens, Architectural Digest, Mother Earth News, Martha Steward, Oprah. So many good ones! You can get the current and past issues on your ipad. So nice. Although i haven't tried it, music and videos are available as well. I still like a "real" book but this is such a cost efficient option for so many books that I want to read but not buy.
So that sweet picture of Domino has nothing to do with the 5th thing I love about Winston Salem, but it was so cute I had to include it. The last thing is that I can get anywhere I need to go around town in 15 minutes or less. Amazing. I haven't had to commute to work, but so far everything I need is really fast to get to. Trader Joes, Whole Foods, Harris Teeter, Ace Hardware, Starbucks, the cool bakery-coffee shop downtown, the independent movie theater….all are 5 minutes or so. Really! It takes a little longer to get to the part of town that has all the big box stores like Costco, World Market, Target, Lowes….(maybe 10 minutes or 15 with traffic). Wake Forest University, Reynolda House, Old Salem, BB&T stadium (home of the Dash and lots of events), downtown with the all the art galleries, Sawtooth, the theaters….10 minutes. A doctor that I met at my meeting with Novant who lives a few blocks from me says you can get anywhere you need to be in 15 minutes or less. I hate sitting in traffic in the car so this is perfect. On Saturday, Tom and I decided at the last minute to go downtown for dinner. Within 15 minutes, we were downtown, parked and seated in a nice place. As a matter of fact, I got my drivers license in 30 minutes. That includes driving there, waiting in line, and taking my tests. Same thing with registering my car. Unbelieveable!
Anyway, this is rather a random post, but like everything I write, it really does have to do with health. Small things that aggravate you cause stress, and stress has all sorts of bad effects on your body. Finding the joy in small things is one way to keep stress at bay. And it seems moving to a small town may be just what I needed!