Saturday, December 31, 2011

Wrapping Up 2011, Reinventing Yourself, and Finding Balance

Above: City of Olympia Mayor Doug Mah, left, speaks with incoming city councilmember Nathaniel Jones, middle, and incoming mayor Stephen Buxbaum after the December 16th ribbon cutting of the new playground at Percival Landing in downtown Olympia.

by Janine Unsoeld

"What are the best cities to start over in so you could reinvent yourself?"

Ah...don't we all ask that question of ourselves from time to time. That question is just one of my favorite (unpublished) comments that I received this past year in response to a story posted on my blog. My answer is that Olympia is certainly one of the best places.

Little did I realize in May when I accepted a couple of new caregiving jobs that I wouldn't be able to keep up with my blog, Janine's Little Hollywood. For several months, my hours often totalled 80 plus hours a week. I know these kind of hours are not unusual for many people in our community. Paid and unpaid, we have an abundance of dedicated people who devote their time, energy and talents doing great work. But it's taken me some time to admit: I can't do it all. At least, not all at the same time.

Some know that I am a caregiver for seniors, and that is what I do to pay my mortgage and bills, and support my family. While my hours have tapered off recently, I still work fulltime and am immensely devoted to my wonderful clients for as long as they will have me in their service.

It's clear my stories have been missed, and your concerns have been appreciated! Many want me to continue what I love to do for my community - capturing special moments, documenting meetings, and covering controversies through my writing and photography. Thank you!

I've heard via email from a former Olympian who now lives in Maine, and relied on my reporting to know what was really going on in Olympia. A local businessperson in Olympia called me, and dreadfully convinced herself that I had been seriously injured on my new scooter (see the South Sound Green Pages president's message, Summer 2011, at No such accident occurred. And just last night, another concerned citizen who appreciates my work wondered if I was a trust fund hippie who really didn't need to write to earn a living. I explained to her that I earn very little income from my blog and other community endeavors, and no, I am not a trust fund hippie. I did graduate from Evergreen though.

So, while - at this time - I can't attend meetings like I used to, it does not mean I am no less informed about what's going on. I have stayed active and informed in a variety of ways. If anything, I have become more informed about what's going on in the lives of many hardworking people throughout the South Sound. I have a lot of story ideas, and will get to them as I can, especially with your continued positive feedback and financial support for independent journalism. So keep your emails and story ideas coming, please.

Life is about balance and remembering to have fun along the way. Keeping that in mind as we head into 2012, I wish you all peace and happiness, and oh yes, fulfilling employment and volunteer work, affordable healthcare and education, food and shelter, accessible social services and resources, environmental and economic justice, and equal rights for all.

So, for now, here's a few snapshots of what I've been up to since May. Enjoy!

Above: Golden Paintbrush at the West Rocky Prairie property in Maytown. The tour of the property was sponsored by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. For the story, see the Summer 2011 issue of the South Sound Green Pages at

Above: A resident at Patriot's Landing in Dupont enjoys fun and games at a July 4th community celebration.

Above: Janine enters a few photographs at the Thurston County Fair in August and wins a few ribbons.

Above: Percival Landing sports a few familiar names.

Above: Christie Krueger, second from left, is one of several volunteers to graduate in October from SIDEWALK's first class of trained advocates and greeters for Olympia's new homeless intake center. Phil Owen of Bread and Roses is at the podium. For more information, go to

Above: Sous Chef Leroy Keener prepares fabulous meals at Mercato Ristorante in downtown Olympia.

Above: Mt. Rainier at sunrise in October.

Above: Janine reaches Camp Muir (10,188 feet) on Mt. Rainier in October.

Above: Olympians on the steps of the Capitol Building in November express their opposition to the Keystone pipeline .

Above: Finding balance, love and joy, Janine Gates and Krag Unsoeld are married on December 9th.