Thank you

smiling this big right now

Aspen BLR

(This was taken on a trip to Aspen in October. Ahhh…nature!)

I’ve gotten a bunch of texts today as my Team Awesome is up in Vermont continuing to prep and build our surprise community give back gift for Play It Forward. (We will reveal the surprise 2 weeks from today at 2PM, at Willow Park in Bennington. Join us!) I’m bummed I can’t be there to help, but I’m so proud to be in such great company of people who have come together to create this gift.

Meanwhile, back at the work ranch when I was getting messages about the project in my hometown, I got a notification from a former client who tagged me in a recommendation to someone that’s feeling stuck and needs help:

“Diane was a godsend to help my husband and I work through some stuff in our bedroom before a renovation. Not only is she the least judgmental person on the planet, but she has extensive experience working with people who are emotionally attached to their stuff (ahem, my husband and I weren’t her first clients to need her services and we won’t be her last = you are in good company.) Do not feel embarrassed at all, reaching out for this assistance will seriously take a weight off your back.” 

This combo has completely made my day! This entire week has been an overwhelming positive inundation of happiness. Spending my time doing things that I love and having those things result in helping others and doing good? My face hurts from smiling.

I hope this inspires you to keep doing all the things that mean something to you.

 #Share #GiveBack #LessStuffMoreFreedomHappyLife
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a february friendsgiving

It’s funny how for no rhyme or reason this crazy life sends us in 1,000 different mood directions on any given day. It’s like this never ending game on figuring out which end is up.

I like a good challenge.

Today was good. Productive with client work, a run, and busy cranking that to-do list, yet I wondered why I woke up this morning feeling like crap and a little blah all day long. Reason? Nothing? Anything specific going on? Not really. I don’t know how all this works, either, people- I just try my best to bound out of bed and make things happen- even when I wake up feeling like someone stole my puppy.

My favorite part of the day today to turn my frown upside down was my 2-hour Skype Happy Hour wine time with an old friend from back home. Have you tried this? It is so fun, and something you might never think of doing. (I have my friends Dana & Erik in Chicago to thank for the idea.) So tonight, sipping wine, talking into the screen on my laptop with an old friend who’s known me since 1st grade, both of us in pajamas even though it was only 6pm felt so nice. There’s something to be said for someone you have to explain nothing to. This friend and I are so different we may as well be oil and water, but we know and love each other like sisters and would pretty much take that bullet if needed. This is a person that I feel lucky to have. I know no matter where I go and what I do, this is someone who will always be there, period.

I hope you all reading this are lucky enough to have someone like this is your life. It sure makes me feel thankful. If you don’t have a person like this, they are available and out there, you just have to be willing to barf your feelings, problems, nutty thoughts, excitements, hopes, dreams, heartbreaks, and more to them. They will do the same, and in return you will find a friendship/family in letting your freak flag fly. It often takes a long time to get to the full-acceptance place with a friend like this, but when you do it will be very much worth the hard work and wait. Sipping wine in PJ’s, Thursday night after work talking about life- the real gritty stuff that most people hate talking about, while laughing your ass off with a good pal, in the judgement-free zone is fantastic.

Lucky, lucky me.

So after my friend Skype-fest, I was sitting here working away on my laptop, clearing out my inbox and returning an email to yet another old friend. I wrote to him how much I think about and miss my friends Katie and Sam who both died last year. Everyday seems more surreal that they are gone. On my run today I saw a Jetta, and as usual I expected it to be Sam (because that’s the car he drove.) As I shared with this friend about how much I missed the two, I listened again to a voicemail Katie left me on August 20, 2012. I love that I saved this message. I saved it because it was the sweetest and kindest message about a dream I made happen and only a friend like Katie would’ve known how much it meant to me. Something I was super proud of and most people would tell me good job! – but Katie, really just knew. She was a less words is more kind of gal. Not a phone talker or babbler like me at all, but on this particular day she happened to babble on for 1 minute and 10 seconds on my voicemail. I’m sure glad she did.

Her message on my phone from nearly 4 years ago, is one of my most cherished things.

So tonight I listened to it again, and cried. Again.

I don’t think I cry when I listen to that particular message because I miss Katie. I think I cry because Katie was the absolute epitome of a person who truly cared about and loved me, and I won’t see her in this world again. She was that friend who knew the good, the bad, the ugly. She was the friend who you’d never have to explain anything to, she just got it and was always there even if we didn’t talk all the time. I always knew that, and it was so special. She accepted me just as is. When you have a funky day and can’t explain it. When life feels hard, when you think that no one cares – about anything in the world, it is always nice to know there are some people who do care. They will Skype Happy Hour wine time with you for hours, or they’ll remind you on a voicemail, just how much they always noticed you trying your best to follow your dreams.

Whether I can talk to Katie in person or on Skype, or It’s another amazing girl friend who I can still see on the other end of a screen, at the end of a day like today I feel loved. Thank goodness for solid old friends! When technology so often fails at helping us feel truly connected to the people we love, tonight it proved otherwise for me. Far, far away can somehow feel so close, just when you need it.

How do you stay connected with your good friends?

#Friendship #LessStuffMoreLoveHappyLife #RememberCelebrateLive

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G-L-A-M-O-R-O-U-S

I flew to Lubbock, Texas last week.

In first class.

(I’m not sure I thought I’d ever type either of those things.)

It was an accidental first class booking, or at least, lets assume so- and it was the best accident ever. The night before my flight when I saw “first” in the email confirmation, I jumped for joy, spun around, called to confirm that could possibly be correct, squealed, clapped, texted a few people with lots of smiley-face emoticons, screeched, and then of course, could not stop singing & dancing to this:

We flying the first class
Up in the sky
Poppin’ champagne
Livin’ the life…

All 50 states and 17 countries, 20+ years of travel and I have never once flown first class until now. What?! Seems crazy but true. Never a bump up, freebie, not one single “Attention ladies and gentleman in the concourse…we have overbooked! If anyone would kindly volunteer to give up their seat, we will put you on the next flight in first class, love you forever, give you a unicorn, and award you a 6 billion dollar voucher for your next flight.”

Never.

I always say I have really expensive taste, but I don’t practice it/use it often. I’d rather spend $500 going out to 10 lunches or dinners with friends, or on 10 gas fill-ups for my car to go see my family, than on a first class upgrade- but man, after my experience last week, I can sort of see what all the fuss is about. (And from what I understand, my first class experience was pretty low-key compared to overseas flights/flights on newer planes.)

Giddy me boarded so early it was still dark out, but that didn’t stop me from ordering a mimosa pre-flight, just because I could:

Boozin' at Dawn

…and then another as soon as we took off:

Breakfast of Champions

…you know- just because I could…again.

It was so fun. Mimosa at 6:48am felt a bit strange, but the triathlete guy sitting next to me had 2 Baileys with coffee, so I convinced myself I was still a responsible adult on a Thursday morning watching the sunrise:

Airplane Morning

The window could’ve used a little cleaning, but I was in heaven, streaks and all. Then a bit later, this gorgeous blue view:

IMG_4682

For a small town, coach-flying, minimalist girl- this was a treat like no other. What kind of 37 year old get’s that excited about a first class flight? Me. Loved every minute of it. For all the fancy freshest-ever food & wine I’ve ever consumed, and all the highfalutin events I’ve ended up at somehow during my adventures, I’ve likely rolled up in a $20 dress and driving my 2004 Honda Civic with 220k miles on it. I hope I never turn a shoulder to my frugal habits or my nerd-alert excitement for occasional posh things either. It’s a good things to experience both sides, feel spoiled- and still always remember what’s truly important. For now I still feel high from that flight and I can’t wait to squeal and screech like a kid when the next bonus thing like CLT>LBB drops in my lap.

So fun.

When did you last get all buzzy and fuzzy because of a treat?

#TheOtherHalf #Appreciation #FancyPants

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shutting up and being grateful

I ran across this today. A good read. I’d like to hang out with the author, Mark.

On my soap box, especially lately, I’ve preached the word practice a lot, and still don’t understand why yoga seems to have stolen that word from everything else in the world. Why don’t we think about practicing every aspect of our lives, not just yoga, or sports in general? Shouldn’t we be practicing everyday, to be a good sister, daughter, friend, employee, neighbor, or just a good, fun, productive & generous human who’s nice and friendly just to be nice and friendly?

I just walked into Starbucks to hunker down for an afternoon of work and was greeted extra cheerily by a very overweight, nerdy, scruffy, awkward-looking barista guy. This particular Starbucks is in the center of the city and never fail, is always 110% filled with the most strapping looking fit businessmen you could imagine. (Occasionally these groups of men are sprinkled with an equally gorgeous high-heeled business woman or two.) It looks like the J.Crew or Abercrombie & Fitch catalogs exploded in here and the people on the pages came alive. So here’s this barista guy with the biggest smile in a scene of go go go perfectly coiffed, seriously focused executives, who aren’t smiling- throwing in his cheery personality, clearly practicing to genuinely enjoy his work and not be intimidated by this otherwise potentially intimidating scene.

As it becomes my turn to order:

Him: “Hey hey hey! How are you today?!” (in the cutest, upbeat tone)

Me: “Im great- thank you, that was the nicest greeting! Thank you!”

Him: “Why, you’re welcome- what can I get for ya?”

I order, he asks for my name, I tell him Diane, he thinks I says Diana and I roll with it.

Him: “That’s Wonder Woman’s Name! Spin around!”

To his surprise, I spin around.

We both laugh.

Me: “If only I could spin around like that and fix all the problems in the world!”

We laugh again, and agree “yeah…”

I thank him, turn to walk away, and he exclaims- “Have a great day, Wonder Woman!”

So totally adorable.

By a landslide, this very overweight, nerdy, scruffy, awkward barista guy is the most attractive, impressive, magnetic man, in this otherwise model-looking crowd I’m among right now.

In the article above, the author writes “I’m the last one to pretend everything is unicorns and rainbows.” I’m with him on that. It’s often hard to see the forest through the trees, and even harder to be grateful during sad times. It’s not easy to shut up (at least it hasn’t been in the past for me), It’s not easy to keep thinking your minutes will add up to something when you’ve felt like you’re getting nowhere fast. It’s not easy to say goodbye, It’s not easy to feel alone/lost/stuck – most things are not easy, but we all must push and motivate to practice each day, being grateful for the tiny beautiful things.

Let’s practice together!

Right at this moment I’m grateful for the luncheon I just went to with delicious food, the new people I met and connected with. I’m grateful for the notes, check-ins, and congratulations during the past few days from friends & family about a big event I had yesterday. I’m grateful to be able to work from anywhere and do what I love. I’m grateful for the huge challenges I’ve faced during the past 6 months and the lessons I’ve learned. I’m grateful for the few late hours I spent with a good friend last night scrubbing, vacuuming, and sweeping out the last bits of her apartment for a move, as we both exhaustedly and filthily stuffed our faces with a pizza-on-paper-towel party, and laughed about the chaos. I’m grateful that I could still laugh at myself, and this crazy life, as I sweat my butt off in my little car, looking like The Clampetts yesterday while talking to my little brother and almost getting pulled over by the police:

Moving…again

I’m even grateful for the wrinkles around my eyes in this photo. They mean I have smiled a lot:) Mostly today, which kicks off Breast Cancer Awareness Month- I’m incredibly grateful to have called Kaitlin McLellan not only a tried and true friend, but a very best one, and for many, many years.

Lucky, lucky me. So, so, very grateful.

Enjoy it now, and be grateful my readers- this life, this amazing, nutty life…is far to short not to.

Thank you, Mr. Barista, for making me spin around and bringing extra sunshine to me on a day I’ve been missing my dear friend. I won’t forget it.

#AlwaysLearning #AlwaysAdventuring #AlwaysGrateful

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go get ’em, girls!

I feel like such a proud Mamma today.

Long ago I hired a mousey, quiet, seemingly timid college kid named Crystal to work for me. I saw something special in her I knew for sure most people missed. In the 10+ years since then, I’ve watched her do amazing work in the communities she’s lived in and grow into this strong, intelligent woman who knows exactly who she is. She’s this perfect mix of sweet, kind, and silly, but serious and driven too. One of those watch out, you’ll never see me coming in all my awesomeness, but I’m going to continue changing the world into more of a positive place kind of people. She posted something on Facebook this morning about her new adventures on the west coast and a new job she’s starting. She decided she wanted to move there, made a plan and just did it. No surprise she’s already “making it”- she believes in herself and goes for it. Love that girl and her spirit. It has been an honor to tell her potential employers over the years they’d be fools not to hire her because she’s the best.

I got an email today from one of my BLR Play It Forward year #1 scholarship winners, Raheema. She graduated in June and told me she was going to SUNY Cortland in the fall. She’ll be majoring in athletic training, and doing indoor & outdoor track. Though I’ve only seen her in person a couple times since 2012, I can sense how much she’s grown and I have no doubt she will do amazing things. According to my hometown Mount Anthony Union High School 2015 yearbook, she’s Most unforgettable:

Unforgettable Raheemah

I agree! Another person I’ve been lucky enough to come across who embodies that undeniable zest for life that always makes everyone she meets, smile.

Then there comes other BLR Memorial Scholarship winners Mercedes Chen & Jami Mathers who came bounding into Willow Park last month for our Alumni Soccer Game portion of BLR Play It Forward, 2015 – with big grins, words of thanks, and gifts for me from their trips they took with their earned scholarship funds:

BLR girls

Unfortunately I didn’t get to spend but a few seconds with them as I was running around trying to make sure to cover all my event organizer bases, but I could feel from their thanks, and see from their excited faces in the short time we had together- their lives are never going to be the same. They’ve seen new parts of the world and new parts of themselves. That was precisely my hope, my biggest goal and dream when starting the Blue Lollipop Road Memorial Scholarship Fund.

Life gets crazy, It’s not always easy, there are good times and bad, and you wonder if you’re ever doing anything right. Then days like today happen and you truly feel the gift that it was indeed possible you made a positive difference in someones life. This is a beautiful feeling.

I’m so proud of these young ladies, so thankful to all the ladies in my life, (some still on this earth, and some in  other places), who’ve inspired and supported me always. I can’t wait to do more to give back for all that’s been given to me.

#Unforgettable #PlayForwardGiveBack #Believe

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community support = awesome

What a happy surprise to arrive at my office today from the Bank Of Bennington!

Scholarship Donations

One of our alumni friends works for Bank Of Bennington, and now for 2 years in a row, they’ve matched her donation to the Blue Lollipop Road Memorial Scholarship fund. Now that’s what I call awesome! I dig companies who do good.

Thanks Bank Of Bennington! Your support helps give students the opportunity to travel and see a world they might not otherwise have the chance to.

#Community #DoGood #PlayItForward

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today is the day; play it forward 2015

Huge thanks to The Bennington Banner for this article about our event today!

Play It Forward is so much bigger than just a soccer game. It is about bringing people together, honoring loved ones no longer here, and celebrating memories and time together. It is a reminder about what’s important, where we came from, and is meant to inspire us all to truly live while we are living.

All hands in

This is year four, and I can’t believe it! Countless hours and efforts have been put in and I as I type this with a big smile I could not be more proud. I am humbled and honored to host this event, and so thankful for all the love, support & help from so many friends, family, alumni and community members.

BLR Play It Forward 2015…here we go!

Remember. Celebrate. Live.

#PlayForwardGiveBack #StrongMojo #Community

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stuffed with thanks

I’d like to think I live a life of thanks giving. I wake up everyday, think about why I started Blue Lollipop Road, and why it is so important to me to do work that matters and be around people I love. I’m constantly reminded that time is precious and as I’ve written recently- I’ve thought about my own fate more lately than ever. Not a bad thing- just a holy sh*t thing; I’m not getting any younger and I have more and more of a desire than ever to live as much as possible. “They”, those people that told me years ago “Time passes even quicker as you get older- just wait.” They were right! I believe them now.

The Thanksgiving Holiday for me this year was a “Friendsgiving” once again. If you know me, you know I love my family more than anything, but I sort of boycotted the holiday stress/expensive/madness/freak-out/travel/shop/expectation-fest years ago, so I don’t usually spend any actual holidays with my blood. We talk nearly everyday in some fashion, we make a point to see each other several times a year, and well- if I can pat us all on the back for a second, I think we all have our priorities pretty straight about that. We don’t want to fight traffic, we don’t care about gifts, we’d rather spend the 100 bucks on 5 breakfasts out at our favorite diner when we visit back home, we save up and buy the gas or (much cheaper off-peak time) plane ticket to travel to see each other, and when we get there, we usually do little more than hang out, take walks, and chat over coffee and a treat of some kind on a patio together.

I’m so thankful for my unconventional family.

Back to this years’ turkey feast at a friends house, we set a pretty table:

Thanksgiving dnner

…and took in a pretty sunset:

A view from turkey time

Lucky us.

Of course my family and I were having a photo text-off about what we were cooking as I enjoyed time with my friends. Love technology for that. If only Thanksgiving day text messages came through with those delicious food smells…

How do you celebrate the season?

#AlwaysThanksgiving #FeastWithFriends #Framily

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365 days of blue lollipop road; day 26

1.26.14

Today is my Mom’s birthday!

Because #1 she’s the best Mom a kid could have, and #2 she gave me life, this BLR is in celebration of her:

To all the amazing Mom’s out there who teach us to live authentically, those who cheer us on to believe that absolutely anything is possible, and those who support us to never give up on any of our dreams…we thank you!

Love you, Mom. Thanks for being the best. HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!! 

This is what my road looks like today. What’s happening on yours?

#BLR365 #LifeOnTheBlueLollipopRoad #MyMomRocks.

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