Justin Ferriman

personal

This week Lorena and I arrived in Mexico to visit family, and to attend the presentation of our nephew, Diego, in the Catholic Church. In the ceremony, we were also confirmed as Diego’s Godparents. I am incredibly honored that my sister-in-law asked us to take on this role.

After the ceremony, there was a celebration with Lorena’s family (and let me just say, she has a huge family). I met family members that I have yet to meet, so I really enjoyed that. This also gave me an opportunity to further practice my Spanish. I must say that Spanish is coming along decently. The language is slowing down for me at times, making communication less stressful. I still have a long way to go, though.

We’ll be staying here in Mexico for an extended amount of time. In not so pleasant news, Lorena’s aunt Mica passed away after a hard fight with cancer. I had the opportunity to meet her last year when we visited Chicago for Christmas. We are awaiting word on when her ceremony will be back here in Mexico. She was a beautiful person, and even though I only met her once, I will miss her.

The trip is full of plans with friends and family, and also we will be going to Cancun for our one-year anniversary. I can’t believe it has already been a year, and what a year it has been!

#personal


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Well, it finally happened. The news in this country has pushed me to purchase a security system. These companies are selling piece of mind, and I’m buying!

Over the past month or so, I have been poking around with security systems. This is a really cool industry with numerous major players. Just as many review sites and YouTubers as well! You can quickly go down a rabbit hole trying to determine what is “best” for you.

For me, “the best” means having some cameras in place to detect activity inside and outside the home. I thought for a while that it would make sense to have an alarm system as well, but that feels a little unnecessary with the cameras. I also saw that some studies have shown that anyone who wants to break into your place isn't really concerned about alarms.

In any event, I decided to go with just some cameras. There are about a dozen recommended brands on the market – each with extensive reviews and opinions in Reddit. Of course, in my typical fashion, I ended up going with one of the brands that isn’t nearly as popular as the top five. 😆

Sticking with my newfound paranoia, I’m not going to share the brand of camera I purchased. Because you know… bad guys!

While I was on this shopping spree, I also decided to purchase a mesh router. I didn’t even know what this was until doing research on cameras. I guess it’ll help the signal of your internet (including to your cameras).

So, here’s to both getting safer and getting rid of those pesky internet dead zones!

#personal


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Today Lorena and I are flying to California, and earlier this week we learned that the mask mandate was lifted for airliners. All the airlines now have an optional mask policy.

This was discouraging news to us because honestly, flying has been one of the least stressful things to do in the pandemic up to now. Everyone was just rockin’ their masks.

It’s not the plane that I’m all that concerned with as the air filtration is pretty solid, it’s the airport and the boarding process. Airports are incubators of illness.

When I think back to the pre-pandemic days, I feel like there was a 40% chance I would get sick after flying, especially around the holidays. Everyone is just sitting around coughing and sneezing, multiplied by thousands. I’m not saying I think we need a mask mandate for public places, but yes for public transit. That seems like an insanely obvious choice. At least until we progress more combating COVID.

In any event, we continue to wear our masks. I won’t be mad at someone if they don’t have a mask on, they are just doing what they are permitted to do and to each their own. I’m just annoyed that this happened right before our trip.

And well, chances are that mask mandate will come back by the end of the year given the usual spike of cases.

#personal


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Lorena and I just got back from a trip to see family in both Connecticut and Michigan. As has become custom in the pandemic era, we were gone for an extended amount of time. This has its pros and cons (more pros, of course). It also means that we really look forward to our return home once the trip comes to an end.

But this trip home will be short-lived.

Soon we head out to California, followed by Mexico, which means that we will probably be back in Austin in early June. Similar to the most recent travel, these are family oriented trips.

The time in Mexico will kick off with the presentation of our nephew to the church (we are to be his Godparents). We will also try to plan a trip somewhere while in Mexico to celebrate our one-year anniversary!

Even though this is a busy time, I like the idea of living life instead of life living me (if that makes any sense).

On the professional side of life, there are a few things in the work for both of us that I am excited to write about once we progress a bit further.

#personal


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After the holidays, Lorena and I were pretty wiped-out from the travel. We hopped between five different places in just a few weeks, and the added stress of the COVID spike drained us mentally. When we got back to Austin in January, we were content to stay in one place for a while.

Earlier in March we took a short trip to California to look at some homes for sale. That trip was nice for a variety of reasons, but I didn’t sleep too well. Our AirBNB had paper thin walls and floors, and every night the person living below us snored so loud that I had to sleep on the couch in the living room.

So aside from that small trip, we have been in our routine in Austin, and at this point we feel ready to travel again to see family.

The realities of living far away from family.

When we feel the desire to go see family, Lorena and I try to plan our trips so that we can see several people in one go. This often means that we are on the road for extended lengths of time, which in of itself is not so bad, but does often lead to the burnout that we experienced at the end of 2021.

But this is the reality of living far away from family. Instead of short trips, we do extended visits in “batches” numerous times a year.

For this trip, we are headed to Connecticut, Michigan, and Ohio. We then have a short break in Texas before heading to California followed by Mexico.

This family circuit will bring us to early summer, at which point Lorena and I will probably take a moment to catch our breath in Austin before plotting out our next travels. Which, if I’m honest, will be pretty quick since the summers in Texas are absolutely brutal.

#personal


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It’s a few months into 2022, and we have booked our first trip!

Instead of one of our planned travel destinations, Lorena and I have decided to head out to SoCal for a last minute mini-getaway. This came about rather suddenly, which made it exciting to plan in just a few hours time.

This is the result of both of us were feeling like we needed a little break from the everyday routine and location. The recent weather in Texas hasn’t been doing us any favors either as it has been gray, rain, and chilly for the entire week.

So, to cure us of these blues, we’ll be heading to southern California for a little sun and a change of pace. We’ll be looking at a little real estate while there as well – because, why not? We won’t be in Texas forever, so we are keeping an eye out for inspiration.

We booked our Airbnb in Orange County and will be exploring the beach towns that it has to offer. And I must admit, I am looking forward to hearing, seeing, and smelling the ocean!

#personal


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Unquestionably, last year was a very full year for us, full of major life events that we will always remember. We also spent about a third of the year (perhaps more) away from home.

The travel was fun, but also exhausting – especially over the holidays, in large part due to the multiple COVID scares that Lorena and I had.

I like to travel. I wouldn’t say that I love it like some folks do, but overall, I like to experience new places. In the past year, our numerous trips to Mexico have been a highlight. The country is incredible, and I feel like I am barely scratching the surface. There are many other places in the country that I want to visit, such as Guadalajara and Oaxaca.

Lorena and I also talk about taking an extended trip in Europe. The challenge with overseas trips is to not do too many things. We haven’t discussed it in great length quite yet, but I think a likely visit could include Portugal and Italy.

Lorena and I have yet to take a “typical” vacation.

I hate talking about COVID because it’s all the world seems to talk about today. But, it’s the reality of the world, and its impacts are far-reaching. Most noticeably for me is how it has impacted expectations and feelings around travel.

In both 2020 and 2021, our travel was mostly for visiting family. Sure, we would add some other mini-trips (like when we went to San Miguel de Allende for Lorena’s birthday), but the primary reason for traveling was to see family. I very much appreciated this time in Mexico and Michigan, but both of us are feeling the desire to take a trip for us. The “old” way of vacationing.

Thing is, I don’t think either of us are comfortable enough with the entire COVID situation to fully enjoy a vacation, and therein lies the issue of it all. At what point do we become okay with COVID that we can plan a trip and not be worried throughout it is a question to which we currently don’t have an answer.

Travel plans this year will be similar to last year.

Like the end of 2020 and all of 2021, this year’s travel will most likely revolve around planned family gatherings. Last year we did get a chance to visit Lake Tahoe as we were thinking about potentially buying a house there. We want to visit Salt Lake City for a similar purpose, but beyond that, we don’t have any hard-set travel ideas.

So for now, it looks like we’ll make some rounds to Mexico, Michigan, Ohio, Connecticut, and Chicago to meet up with family, and it is likely we’ll throw in a few days of personal time during those trips.

I do feel incredibly fortunate to be in a situation where we can travel in the first place. Lorena and I will continue to get whatever booster they make available so that we're able to maintain some level of confidence until the picture is a bit more clear around COVID and what to expect in the years ahead.

#personal


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The new year has started and with it, I have a few goals in mind, one of which being my desire to progress to a more advanced level of Spanish.

Last year I spent most of my time in informal conversations. I just didn’t have the energy to study formally with my teacher, so we would spend our hour-long Zoom calls just chatting.

In addition, Lorena and I spent six weeks in Mexico, and I felt like that helped to improve my comfort in conversations. I had my good days and bad days. It can be incredibly frustrating trying to learn a language in a world where everyone wears a mask.

Now that we have returned from yet another extended stay in Mexico, I feel like I am trapped at my current language level. If I am honest with myself, I would say that my comprehension and speaking abilities are at a B2. Not an advanced B2 by any means. There are days when I would say that I am B1, especially if I am tired.

My goal is to be advanced B2 (or low C1) by the end of 2022.

My first year of learning Spanish was 2020. I didn’t know any, and by the end of the year I was at a pretty good A2 level. It wasn’t easy getting there, but my gains were very noticeable as I was starting from nothing.

During that time, I had three to four classes per week with my tutor. We went through the structured workbook during our time together, and outside my lessons I would read, study vocabulary, and try to watch shows in Spanish (with subtitles).

2021 was the year of conversations, as I mentioned.

Which brings me to this year. I have a strong desire to progress to that next level, and I know that I need to follow a similar strategy as 2020 to achieve it. This means I need my lessons with my tutor to be more structured again so that I can learn the more advanced grammatical structures and vocabulary.

I am up for the challenge. My primary motivation is to better communicate with Lorena and her family in their native language. I also want to better understand Mexican culture, and the best way to do that is through language.

No sense in waiting, either, as my lessons start up again this week.

#personal


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It is the end of the year, and while I am quite busy with family events during the holiday, I am also keenly aware of the impact 2021 will forever have in my life.

The coming year will have milestones as well, but there was something special about this year that will be hard to beat. Things like:

  1. Getting married

  2. Selling my business

  3. Visiting (and shopping for a home) in Lake Tahoe

  4. Progressing in Spanish

  5. Traveling to Mexico

  6. Getting vaccinated

And so much more – such as having the opportunity to travel to Dallas, Vegas, Denver, Michigan, and Connecticut with Lorena.

Of course, this year has also had its hardships. Most notably, I lost my grandmother. That has been tough, and I find myself thinking about her daily. In a way, her passing has reminded me of how precious life actually is, and to not take anything, or anyone, for granted.

For now, we are ending the year in the same way that it started: busy and with family! We will be in Chicago, Michigan, Cancun, and Mexico City over the coming weeks.

After which, we come back to Austin – but only for a short period of time, as Lorena and I will be looking to make somewhere else our home in 2022.

Merry Christmas, and see you in the new year!

#personal


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