Travel

Intentional. Purposeful. Disciplined. Now…

I have just had the most amazing few days. Austin, Texas, for my business’s annual convention. Let me start by saying this post is NOT an advertisement for my business – really. So please don’t stop reading. But I will say that if you like anything you hear, we should have a conversation. My business is something I somewhat accidentally fell into, but that has enhanced my life in so many ways over the past 2 1/2 years.

What I want to talk about today is being intentional and purposeful and disciplined about personal development.

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No matter WHO you are or WHAT you do, or WHERE you live or HOW you get through each day, you should make time to intentionally and purposefully allow yourself to grow, learn, develop, stretch, lean in, reach out. Because if you do, it WILL make you a better person and has the potential to dramatically change…your…life.

Believe me – I know it’s not always easy to do. We all get busy, and some of this stuff costs money. So in many cases, that “stuff” gets put on the back burner, and we hope that maybe our current employer, if we have one, will invest in some developmental opportunities for us! If they do, that’s great, but often those programs focus more on how you can work to help the organization than on how you can develop and learn about yourself, your dreams, your strengths – just YOU!

So – a sidebar – as I drove from Fort Worth to Austin, I couldn’t help but notice the vast Texas sky – bluer than blue, with white fluffy clouds coasting lazily by. As I looked up, all I saw was vast opportunity – the world is SO big – the sky is the limit! And the Texas sky illustrates the limitless potential of every little person living under its canopy!

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I carefully selected my breakout sessions at Convention – ones I knew could help me in ALL areas of my life – not just with my business. One was called “Live a Life You Love: Be a Healthier, Happier, More Passionate You,” and was presented by a medical Doctor that realized her dream was NOT being a Doctor, but actually a writer and dancer. She literally changed her life following her “compass” of dreams – and now practices as a Physician part time but also writes AND teaches Flamenco dancing! What I took away from this session was that in all areas of life, you must be authentic, and you must find your passion, then incorporate that passion in some way, even if in a small way, into your life. Authenticity. “Real.”   ME.    Just me – who I truly am.

One of the presenter’s recommendations was to reach back into your memory and childhood, and try to remember what you wanted to “be” when you were about 8 years old. Why? Because by then, you do have a good sense for who you “are,” even if you are not mature enough to turn that into something at that time. In Christian terms, I think that would be called your “bent.” How are you wired? What do you love? What is your passion? And if you can remember that, you should incorporate that in some way into your life.

Some other advice she gave (medically and psychologically)?

  1. Get enough sleep – medically and physiologically, it’s imperative! Your entire personality can change if you are sleep deprived!
  2. Surround yourself with positivity – positive people, authentic people, people wPositiveho lift you up rather than tear you down. Does that mean a “yes” person? No! It means someone close enough to you that can tell you the truth you need to hear while also building you up. It’s a gift to have those people in your life.
  3. Eat breakfast! A big breakfast! For real! It makes your brain and body work for the day!
  4. Eat protein and green vegetables later in the day – a salad with just greens does not contain enough energy to sustain what your body needs.
  5. ….there is more….but I know you will only read so much at one time.

So many of us are pointed in a direction – well meaning, of course – and end up doing things in life we aren’t necessarily passionate about. For the record, that is not me, but I know many people who took that path. And there comes a time they wonder how they got where they are and resent the fact that their “real” self got lost along the way. Her advice? Find yourself again – then start living the life you want and that you will love, instead of tolerating a life you just want to escape.

Easy? No. Simplistic? Yes. Would love to talk with you more if you are in that place. And I can share more of what I learned. One thing I did learn is that my company is much more than the product it provides. It’s a movement…a groundswell…an amazing group of people connected by common passion for family, time and financial freedom, independent spirit, camaraderie, charity, and entrepreneurialism – and one willing to develop ME into my real self – simply and truly inspiring. If you don’t have that in your life, then we should talk.

There’s more to come, because I had more than one breakout session – and I am SO excited to share it with all of you! In the meantime, if you’re missing some of your inspiration or passion for life, look back into YOUR childhood and try to remember what YOU loved! I’d love to hear all about it!

Taylor’s move…

Little Taylor…my baby…my biggest baby but my youngest…my loudest baby, my cuddliest baby…this is her move experience.

So when we first announced we were moving to Texas, and Colton and Lauren immediately cried, Taylor was the one literally fist-pumping while shouting, “YES!” I’m not sure what she thought was so cool about it all since she really didn’t know much, but this is my fearless girl – the one who laughs in the face of danger and challenge, and is a little reckless when it comes to attempting new physical feats – YIKES for mommy and daddy!

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So she’s been going along, great with everything, her normal silly self…right up until the movers came on that first day to pack our things. Then, I think it got “real” for her. Keep her busy on things during the day, and she’s great – but when nighttime came, the hidden uncertainty and fears presented themselves in the form of dreams, I think. Taylor has always been a great sleeper, snuggled up next to mommy, but suddenly there was this streak of kicking, fussing, crying and waking that seemed to plague our last few nights in our home.

Sometimes there would be middle-of-the-night conversations about her missing her house or her friends, but by morning she’d be her normal silly fun self! As a mommy I was glad for that, but it sure did add to the exhaustion factor! I sort of felt like I had an infant again, waking every 2-3 hours for a feeding!

As the final move drew near, she seemed to worry about her friends, Miss Brooke (our nanny) and Miss Rapsis (her most recent teacher) – bothered that she might never see them again! But we talked through it, and I promised they would all visit someday, and that, plus the distraction of being awake and active seemed to relieve most of that stress.

IMG_0120Once we got on the road, Taylor was an angel…patient and kind…but she did ask, practical as she is, why we weren’t just taking an airplane to Texas! After all, it’s faster! LOL

She is such a smart, beautiful, spunky little DIVA, and I look forward to watching her grow into her new life as a Southern girl!

A little nostalgia along the way…

One of the highlights of our trip from NH to TX was a stop in Monroe, LouisianIMG_0098a – my old college town! The home of what used to be Northeast Louisiana University but is now University of Louisiana at Monroe (formerly the Indians, now the Warhawks thanks to the political correctness of our day)!

We realized somewhere along the way that I hadn’t been through Monroe in 19 years, so as you can imagine, a LOT has changed! All of the old dorms that I had lived in have since been demolished, replaced by what appear to be luxury apartments on campus! Jealous! There are also some incredible new buildings, including a beautiful library, and renovations to just about everything – and a Starbucks right on campus!

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There are so many memories, I couldn’t begin to share (what happens at college stays at college), but one thing I will share is that when I was accepted to NLU, I was awarded a “work” scholarship, meaning that I would be assigned to someone – a professor, one of the admin offices, somewhere, to work 10 hours per week. And ironic, considering my current career, I was assigned to Mr. Duff, HR Director, in the campus HR office, who admittedly actually had no use for a student for 10 hours.

I spent those 10 hours per week mostly filing and stuffing paychecks (while desperately trying to keep my eyes open) – it was so incredibly boring, except for the payroll lady that was a bit of a nut, so from time to time, her shenanigans would liven things up a bit. But while there, Mr. Duff became a 2nd Dad for me away from home, and he looked out for me, gave me advice, and told me to watch out for all the boys because “they were only after one thing!” He and I have kept in touch over the years, and we IMG_0089were fortunate enough to meet up with him for dinner the night we stayed in Monroe on our trip.

Nineteen years later, we reminisced, laughing about the time I was there, and the HR experiences we’ve both had over the years. I am so lucky to have been assigned to his office and made a lifelong friend and mentor. And I was so proud to introduce him to the Littles, who didn’t hesitate to shower him with their sweet hugs, somehow knowing he is special to me.

The next day, we visited the bookstore and picked up some ULM gear, IMG_0097then trekked across campus so I could show the Littles the natatorium where I spent so many hours swimming with the team as a walk-on. Good times – ones I’ll always cherish. Unfortunately, the “Nat” as we called it was closed – no team anymore. Sad, but maybe someday they’ll get another one going.IMG_0100

We also went by the waterski ramp on the Bayou Desiard, where we used to swim out and sunbathe during off-times – tons of fun! And imagine – this school has a National Championship Waterski Team that actually practices on the bayou!

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And another couple of fun memories – Peking Restaurant – which always had the most amazing Chinese food buffet – we would load up after swimming (and when we had money)! Can’t believe it’s still there!

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And for those of you who have heard me speak of this and didn’t believe me – yes, it’s true – and here is a real photo – of the drive-thru daquiri place! When I was there, it was called Daquiri’s Unlimited, and now is called The Oasis Daquiris – complete with drive thru window! One of my favorite places when I was a student there! Only in Louisiana!  😉

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It was certainly a nice walk down memory lane, even having changed so much! The best part? Taylor exclaimed as we drove away, “Mommy, I’m going to go to college here too!” Who knows? Maybe! Go Indians! Oops…I mean Go Warhawks!

 

 

Thirty hours, three Littles, fourteen states, and two loaded cars…

I’ve you’ve never done it, I highly recommend it! That is, as long as you have movies in the car, iPads and other entertainment items – a HUGE thank you to everyone who gifted us fun car activities! They came in super handy!

First let me say (brag) that our Littles were nothing short of nearly perfect on the ride – the whole way! They were patient, kind, and a lot of fun! Inquisitive, curious, nostalgic for our NH home, but excited about the adventure!

It was a VERY long drive, but hubby Steve did a great job of mapping it all out for us, complete with lunch stops and hotel stays. That gave us a great goal to shoot for each day, and provided enough progress AND the opportunity for the Littles to play in the pool and wear themselves out before bed! Score!

And if you haven’t ever had the opportunity to drive cross-USA – you should plan to – we are all so truly fortunate to live in such a beautiful country – rich with gifts, culture, history and humor – and you’ll appreciate every bit you come across, even if in different ways.

Our first day was a fairly short one from a drive perspective, only from NH to Fishkill, NY – an area we have seen many many times. That morning, we finished up laundry in our house, cleaned, patched holes, and packed the cars, heading out around 1 p.m. The drive to Fishkill was uneventful but for the usual summer New England traffic on the Mass Pike that held us up for a full extra hour…of course!

Day two…on the docket…Fishkill, NY to Knoxville, TN! Our longest planned day – 11 hours! Got up early, hoping the Littles would be sleepy enough to pass out and give us at least a couple hours of quiet progress. It was a spectacular morning, with a beautiful blue sky and not a cloud in sight. The perfect driving day. Not too long into the drive we were gifted with the sight of two hot air balloons drifslide-16ting not-too-high above the trees – they were just beautiful! When Taylor saw it, she enthusiastically exclaimed, “I want to go hot-air-ballooning!” Of course you do, my little DareDevil!  😉

Not too long after that, we started climbing into the mountains – where we were met with this amazingly beautiful fog draped among the trees – nothing that interfered with driving, but it was just mysterious and made me marvel at the wonders God can create to make a morning even more spectacular.

The Littles, ate, slept, played, observed, sang, danced, and even wondered out loud why we didn’t just take a plane to get to Texas – smart little stinkers! And I’m not sure if they are buying the whole story of needing to get the cars down there…but the complaining was not incredible.

So some observations along the way – and some things that make you go “hmmmm….”

1. For anyone who is God-fearing and worried about this country and where it is headed – feel comforted that there are a great many people and communities that are worshipping in a big way. Starting as soon as Eastern Pennsylvania, there was an obvious presence of Christian movement, evident by the frequency and sheer size of the churches and crosses adorning the sides of the interstate. Add to that the “God” billboards, and yLoveThyNeighborAsThyself-300x176ou are reminded the entire drive that He is working on people in this great country!

2. There is so much history along the East Coast and down to Dixie! The beautiful Shenandoah Valley is full of Civil War historical stops – and we wished we had time to stop and explore.

3. The 18-wheeler that had this painted on the back of the cab…”Don’t sweat the petty stuff…just pet the sweaty stuff.” Ummmm…ewwww!

4. The increasing frequency of fireworks stores! Most memorable? “Bimbo’s Fireworks!”

5. The dwindling signs for Dunkin’ Donuts off the highway and the increasing signs for Bojangles, Popeye’s Chicken, Waffle House and Cracker Barrel!

6. Sweet tea from Tennessee down – a Southern staple! I’m in! The way it should be!

7. The proud billboard for a liquor store, proclaiming, “We have YER moonshine!”

8. The kudzu, simultaneously beautiful and destructive, blanketing the trees and foliage alongside the highway…creating these mysterious looking mounds that make you wonder what’s underneath…

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It certainly is beautiful, and I couldn’t help but stare at it as we drove by.

9. The speed limit increases the farther you move South…yes, really! By the time we reached I-20, the speed limit reached 75! Woo hoo! That meant that making really great time toward the end of our trip!

10. Clearly Alabama and Louisiana are sorely lacking in the highway funding department! 😉

11. The gentile demeanor of those beneath the Mason-Dixon line – the friendliness, the slow (very slow) hospitality (why the rush?) – it will be an adjustment for us after 13+ years up North, but it will be a welcome change…a reminder to slow down, enjoy people, establish a more gentle pace. It’s absolutely something we look forward to…

12. This store…who wouldn’t want to shop here?DC_THO2

I’m quite sure there are a hundred more things that will come to mind, but I wanted to memorialize this drive while I remembered some of these details…again, I highly recommend a good long road trip with your loved ones…the discoveries, and even the quiet contemplation while driving is worth its weight in gold!

Finally arrived in DFW! Ready to close on our new home and share more with you soon! Godspeed!

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NO room for error!

So we are on official final countdown! After all the anticipation, preparation, excitement, and so on, we’re now down to the wire! We leave – driving – next Saturday! T minus 10 days and counting! There are blessings in life, big and small, and while God has been busy with all of the bigger things in life, He has found… Read more →

HOT, tired, and grateful!

On a plane once again…headed back to New Hampshire…after a very FULL, very HOT 2 days of house hunting in our new city. First let me say our Realtor was…awesome. Simply awesome. If you are ever in the market for a home in St. Louis OR in DFW, seek out Laura Garafola at Keller Williams. Seriously. She is a WORKER! Here she is – she’s is a bundle of energy and a ‘tell-it-like-it-is’ kind of person – which is EXACTLY what you need when doing this under pressure.  And boy were we under pressure. The Littles had sent us on a mission to find a home with “great bedrooms” and a pool, and we didn’t want to disappoint!

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So day one…saw about 9 homes (you lose count after a while). Two at the top of our list. One at the VERY top of our budget. It was beautiful, but it’s a seller’s market right now – as it seems to be every time we move – and we just had no wiggle room should there be a multiple offer situation; and…as fabulous as the home was, the master bathroom was a bit weird!

The second option was pretty and had a ton of potential with little work, but I just wasn’t in “love” with it – and I really wanted to be! So we headed back to our hotel room feeling a bit stressed and a little discouraged.

Inventory low, prices high, hot as hell! But as we caught our breath and a few ‘zzzzzzz’s’ in our hotel room, she drummed up about 20 more listing WITH pools for us to visit on day two.

We started early, and went at them efficiently with optimism that had waned from the day before. And suddenly, there it was. Our home…both Steve and I just knew it. But we also knew it wouldn’t be easy.

Just on the market, it was already in a multiple offer situation. So reaching to our extensive experience in HGTV watching, we decided on the offer, then carefully drafted a heartfelt letter to the sellers about how much we loved the home and wanted to make it ours. We even included a photo of our precious Littles to show them who would be sharing their home should they decide to choose us. Emotions running high, Laura submitted the offer and promised we would know something that evening.

Tick tock, tick tock. Steve and I decided to head to our favorite Tex Mex place, Pappasito’s Cantina, for some beef fajitas (yum!) and a glass of wine (or two…or three). We checked in wondering if this would end up being a celebratory dinner or one we would always remember sadly.

Shortly after getting there and getting served their famous chips and salsa, we got the call. But before I tell you about that, just take a look at this photo – come on! YUM! Best chips and salsa – ever!

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Ok…the call…drum roll…

We GOT the house! I guess I really had no idea how high my emotions had been running, because I just sat down, and tears just started streaming! Happy tears, of course – just knowing that we’d be able to go home and tell the Littles that we had gotten what they wanted!

Needless to say, dinner turned into a celebration, with our server Blake enjoying our reverie and showering us with some free wine and a free brownie dessert! Laura joined us there for a drink and some signatures, and we enjoyed every minute! We even got the full “Mariachi” treatment! Here are some photos that clearly show our level of excitement (and our amazing food)!

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IMG_3860IMG_3861IMG_3865Today, on the plane, nothing but gratitude and relief. God is good! Can’t wait to get moved in and have visitors!

 

 

 

 

 

The house-hunting trip…and all that entails!

So we’re on a plane – the hubs and I – just the two of us. Headed to DFW to “power shop” for a new home. Sounds fun, right? Sure! I LOVE house hunting! Especially in Texas, where the homes are big and beautiful, and have the rustic style that I especially like. And the model homes – new construction – yessss! Love that more than just about anything!

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So this should be a piece of cake, right? Well, maybe not so much. First, let me state for the record that I am a (very) nervous flyer. And to top that off, I am having major anxiety about hubby and I flying alone…together…and leaving the Littles behind. I always tell him I want to take separate flights, you know, just in case. But when you are married to a guy who has spent his entire life in the airline and travel business, of course you sound a little ridiculous making such a request. “Safest way to travel” I know….

So I am channeling my inner Dierks Bentley – not “getting drunk on a plane,” but more like “drinking wine on a plane….to get calm on a plane….away from my Littles…” Those of you with this fear will completely understand.

Toss in the fact that before bed last night, my ultra super sweet favorite baby boy in the whole world was a little sad about our leaving, and actually said to me quietly, “what if you don’t come home?” Gaaaaaaaah! Heartbreak and fear completely consuming me as I hugged and kissed him, promising that I would never leave him – ever!

The Good Lord above probably got 10 years worth of praying last night from me…and I had all 3 of my precious Littles snuggled up in bed with me for what was a very short night…up at 3:15 a.m. for this early flight…on which I am still praying and drinking wine.

The upside to all this? I ought to be ultra relaxed when the house hunting starts in only a couple of hours!

#LoveDelta #EconomyComfort #MissingMyLittles #HubbyRelaxed #CaliforniaMerlot

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How to (not) tell the Littles we’re moving…

Showing a home…not hard, but, ok…a little hard. It always has to be clean, picked up, things put away (even if there are things just jammed in a closet), clutter removed. In other words, while you are still living there, it needs to look like you are not!

Family photos, kid photos, all personal photos need to come down, replaced by a fresh coat of paint – presumably so the family looking can envision their own family here instead of yours. I get it. But it’s not as easy as you’d think. See our newly painted foyer and hallway, which used to be a gallery of Littles photos!

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Of course, my hubby, anal-retentive as he is, LOVES the thought that everything is A-W-A-Y, out of sight, and if left up to him, NEVER to be seen again! Of course, with Littles….I-M-P-O-S-S-I-B-L-E!

So here’s how you sell a home, and get it ready for moving, with Littles:

1. You tell them that the house is being shown and everything has to be put away or the people looking at the house will take everything! (That, believe it or not, is enough to ensure they are cooperative and protecting their ‘stuff’)

So this little scenario needs to be taken care of:

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2. When you do have a contract, you DON’T UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES tell them that it is sold! First of all, they won’t understand why you are not immediately vacating the home for a new one, AND second, they know enough to understand that means no more showings so the CRAP can come back out and overtake the house without threat of disappearing!

So long story short….mums the word! Even though we are under contract, as far as they are concerned, we could have a showing any…minute…now. So they sort of acclimate to everything being gone…for now. Gone…but not forgotten.

Trust me…it works!

 

I know it when I see it…

House hunting. Stressful for most, but not for me! I know it when I see it. A good girlfriend of mine will attest to this very fact. I remember her being completely stressed out when she and I went looking in model homes for our first home in Dallas. We walked into a model home, probably one of the first we looked at, and I knew it was the one. I vividly remember her saying, “but you really should look at some more!” But I was resolute, and Steve and I began the build. She is probably still shaking her head about that to this day (you know who you are)! But we made it our home for 3 years and loved every minute of it. It was a great house.

The same happened when we moved to New England. We did see several homes that time, but that was largely due to the sticker shock that comes with moving from Texas to the NE area – we had to be eased into the idea that we could (and would have to) spend 2.5 times what our home in Texas cost! Seriously! But when we found it, that was it! No question, no hesitation – and once again, brand new! I am so spoiled!

So here we are, headed to Texas this week for yet another house hunt, and don’t you know I have already found exactly what I want online! Does that mean I’ll actually GET it? The jury is still out on that one, but I am tenacious if not patient. So I just may have, wink wink, signed a contract on a home I haven’t even seen in person yet, but somehow I just know it’s the one. No worries, it has some contingencies, like “we have to see it first” this week.

I will be channeling my “Scarlett O’Hara” and imagining my baby girls’ and their friends prom photos on a glamorous Southern staircase! Drop a pool in the backyard (an absolute MUST down there) and it will be our little family oasis!

So wish us luck in our “hunt,” and stay tuned for more updates! We are truly excited! Snip20150718_1

The cat is out of the bag…yes, Littles, we are moving…

The cat is out of the bag. Which means, in short, that we’ve told the Littles we will be moving. That, in itself, was, let’s say, interesting. Colton went straight to tears, Lauren then immediately joined him – but I believe that was more about loyalty to her most admired and loved brother (they are so close) than it was about the move – and Taylor, in her usual optimistic and life-loving style, fist-pumped in the air while shouting “YES!”

After some discovery about why Colton was upset, we learned a few things. First, he will be missing his good buddy, Seamus – but we promised that we would appeal to Seamus’ mom about a possible future visit to the Big D! Second, I think he believed that we just “move” on to a new place, leaving everything behind, including his beloved LEGOs! But after a lengthy explanation of the process….moving company, packing everything up, loading  everything in a truck, and driving to our new home, where we would unpack everything and all would be well, things seemed to calm down.

Bottom line…the LEGOs will be there, little man! I promise!

Once that was all settled and Big Brother was happy, Lauren seemed to get right on board with the whole thing; and Taylor, who has been bugging me for a guinea pig for weeks now, has settled comfortably on the promise that once we get settled in our new home, we will welcome a new pet named “Cinderella” or “Twinkle Toes” or whatever she decides on at the moment of acquisition.

A visit to Pottery Barn Kids has inspired the Littles’ imagination about what their “new” rooms will look like, which makes me both excited about pleasing them and fearful for what shopping demons I have created! Bunk beds, princess bedding, big-boy desks, night lights, and more…oh, my!

Remain excited, and grateful for the Littles’ confidence and self-assurance…we must be doing something right!

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