Of Monuments and Maple Syrup

The Beautiful Washington Monument

So I think I have begun a lifelong love affair with the Washington Monument.  Its simplicity is what I first noticed about this monument and when you are in downtown DC, it seems to follow you everywhere you go.  It is a reminder of courage, strength and perseverance, no matter what the circumstances.  Its beauty is that it emanates these qualities in a simple, understated way.

Side note; what’s the real difference between a monument and a memorial?  My team and I had this very meta debate whilst driving around the New Mexico desert last summer on our way to see the world’s largest telescope (#nerds).  And please believe me when I say the answer is not so clear cut.  Irrespective of the definition, I am still fascinated with the Washington Monument.

When you sign up for a Pulse assignment, you know there will be new experiences, new surroundings new people and a very different perspective on your life and how it is lived.  I recently met up with a fellow Pulser in DC and we chatted about this.   The net of our discussion is we were looking to do some good in the world.  An output of this experience is that it would provide the perspective we needed to keep moving forward in our careers and personal lives.

I am now almost four months into my assignment.  I have experienced and accomplished so much in that timeframe, at times, it boggles the mind to comprehend.  What has amazed me most is the incredible way in which my Save the Children team in DC and I have bonded.  We are this beautiful tight knit unit.  We embrace our many different personalities, our individual talents and love our quirks.

The Great DC Maple Syrup Off

Enter…Maple Syrup. It is worth mentioning that I am a Canadian living in the US and have a healthy love of the delicious sugary treat .  My Line Manager in the US and I (for some weird reason) got to talking about Maple syrup…net of discussion…Canadian Maple Syrup better than Vermont’s.  From there, the first annual Save the Children Maple Syrup off was born.  The event was set.  Ten Save the Children employees…6 different variations of Maple Syrup to try…winner with the most votes takes the title of Best Maple Syrup.  We had to sample six different types of maple syrup – 1 from Canada, the rest from Vermont, Connecticut & CVS.  We sat in a bland meeting room for an hour and immersed ourselves in the taste testing.  That much sugar at eleven am in the morning should come with a warning from the Surgeon General.  However, what the event did come with was from the tip of your nose to the tip of your toe’s laughter.  Sadly, Canadian Maple Syrup lost to Connecticut…but what we gained was an even tighter team.  And the knowledge that 6 shots of Maple Syrup gives you enough energy to run a marathon.

The Maple Syrup Off led me to start thinking about relationships.  I have forged so many new relationships in DC and New Mexico in such a short period of time.  And as a card carrying member of the introvert’s club…who knew this was possible and even better; I enjoyed it.  I have also been thinking about the relationships I left back home.  The ones that were already on solid footing are now even deeper and stronger and the ones where I wanted to take a step back and evaluate have been put into much needed perspective.  

The Monument is now a constant presence in my life.  Being away from home has reminded me of who I am and what I represent to my family, friends and loved ones.  It has also reminded me of my capabilities in all facets of my life. This beautiful beacon symbolizes all this to me. It reminds me on how far I have come not just in physical distance or professional development, but in my own personal development. 

With just six weeks to go in my assignment, I am waiting for the perfect sunset shot to carry its simple strength, beauty and courage with me as I continue my own life’s path of discovery.



  1. This is a such beautiful post @Angie – and a perfect ‘net’ to everything – why people chose to do PULSE, what they gain and how one may discover/re-discover parts of their personality & perspectives they may not have known before 🙂 Love the idea of the maple syrup competition – how sweet …:) literally & metaphorically ! Best wishes, Manu.

  2. I really enjoy reading your latest blog posts Angie & hearing all about your reflections from your assignment, the people you meet & living in a new environment. I would have loved to have joined in on the maple syrup off!

  3. Being a Vermonter, I would have been prejudiced as well! Maple syrup varies greatly not only from year to year, but also from week to week totally dependent on the weather and what the magic syrup fairies feel like awarding! So, I’m sure another day, the Canadian syrup would have won!

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