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the best leaders know how to play

A week ago I road tripped to Charleston with LeaderSurf Founder, Brian Formato for PitchBreakfast:

(Link to video here. Around 11:30 I pop in a two thumbs up testimonial.)

If you’ve been following here this summer, you know I attended the LeaderSurf June class in Nicaragua. Anyone I know has heard about this program and what an amazing, insightful experience I had, about a zillion times at this point. I’ve joked that I’m a walking billboard for Brian’s leadership development + learn to surf program. This single experience feels like it has completely catapulted my personal and professional life into places I never expected. Serious positive impact.

I’ve always been a travel pusher; The person who encourages exploration, trying new things, and the importance living outside the drone zone. I’ve traipsed the globe, and had a hell of a lot of fun doing it. Of all the fun I’ve had during my travel, the fun hasn’t even come close to comparing to what I’ve learned by stretching myself in foreign environments. I really stretched some muscles that have needed it for a while now during my LeaderSurf time, and saw my fellow participants come alive and become inspired again about work, too. It was awesome.

I think all of us adults have forgotten that we can have fun AND be incredibly productive and responsible. It seems like there’s some kind of rule that we have to sit inside a classroom, boardroom, or conference center to learn anything new about our company, our jobs, or ourselves. Who the heck had that terrible idea? People are uninspired. They lack drive in their everyday because their passions are squashed. They’re not encouraged to keep cultivating their talents and interests and relate them back to their work. They’re bored out of their minds in training situations because they are in cold and vanilla spaces.

Maybe we should shake it up a little around here?

It seems like common sense for any organization to jump at the chance to send their executives to a leadership development program like LeaderSurf; Throw your best and brightest outside of their comfort zones to learn a new skill in a foreign place. They meet other executive peers, learn more about themselves, and have a blast doing it, then come back to your company refreshed and ready to take on the world.

Send your people to step out of the gerbil wheel and let some waves hit them in the face. It will be a challenge, but they will love every minute of it, and then love you for sending them. Who wins? Everybody.

#LifeOutsideTheDroneZone #StepOutside #WorkUnstuck

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celebrating with my girls

Tonight I’m having dinner with some of my home base gal pals. A few of my besties/girl tribe/bishes/(insert whatever ridiculous or funny name you call your peeps here.) These are ladies in my life who make up just a small portion of badass women who know my crap, call me out when I need it, and who make me laugh until both my face and stomach hurt. I like to refer to some of our antics as complete jackassery, but really our gatherings are pretty tame; food, drink, and conversation about any and everything- no judgments, secrets, or bs, just love, support, and fun, while lots of hours fly by.

Lucky me to have these people.

We will be celebrating my birthday a week late, because last Tuesday (on my actual birthday), I was playing around at Glacier National Park:

Glacier National Park

That trip was a gift from another set of ladies who mean the world to me, my BLR Play It Forward alumni crew. They gifted me a “travel scholarship” at our annual event in July. These ladies thanked me for providing travel scholarships to students in our home town during our first 5 events, and this was their give back to me. In reality, they are the very reason I’ve been able to pull off making Play It Forward a thing all these years.

Lucky me to have these people.

More girls? These two, who are the backbone and continued inspiration for everything Blue Lollipop Road:

Maria and blue tongue

(Yes, that would be a blue lollipop tongue:)

Brandy suited up

August 18th marked 23 years of them gone. It still doesn’t seem possible.

Lucky me to have had time I did with them, even if it was far too short.

Yet another girl bestie (can a girl really have too many besties? I don’t think so. Is it permissible to use the term “bestie” for your gal pals when you’re 39 years old? I think so), this one:

Sweet Katie

Sweet Katie

Today would be her 39th birthday, too. I wrote this on one of the days in this life where a piece of my heart forever broke.

Lucky me to have had time I did with her, even if it was far too short.

I will celebrate tonight with and for girls I can, and cannot see. I will celebrate tomorrow the same. (And with guys too!) I will continue to celebrate everyday. I will never apologize for laughing too loud, having too much fun. I won’t be worried about telling someone I love them, even if there are a lot of “them” (as in, people- that probably includes many of you reading this), because life is only so long, and the one thing I know for sure is that there’s no reason to wait…or to be afraid.

I hope you will raise a glass of any kind tonight, too with/for yourself, or with the good people around you, celebrating the luck in every healthy minute you have.

Cheers!

#RespectTheClock #TodayIsTheDay #HopToIt

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intention and execution

Some months ago after a goal-setting meeting with a friend who also works for herself, I went directly to the store to buy these two dry erase boards:

Intention Boards

They hang on the wall near my desk, and beside a bunch of things that inspire me like photos of my friends, family, travel, and a print my brother brought me back from Thailand for. Every day I write on them. The top one I use for anything and everything personal, and the bottom is for anything and everything professional. Any words, terms, thoughts, wishes…anything that pops into my mind. It usually takes me about 10 seconds to fill both of these boards. There’s nothing over-analytical about this practice, no perfect penmanship, no plan, just a quick flow of words and feelings.

Stay with me here. I’m not going to tell you to run out and join a drum circle. (Although that would be super fun.)

Since the day I started taking 10 seconds to actually WRITE down in the wide open of the space (literally and figuratively) I live in, exactly what I want- every, single, thing has either started to come to fruition, happened, become true, or dropped magically into my life. Even the unicorn I wished for.

Holding yourself accountable, um…to yourself, is a beautiful thing!

I’m the kind of girl who has set a lot of intention during my lifetime. I’m just not so sure before 2017, if I ever truly asked for what I’ve always known I’m worth. I feel like the doors have blown off my life in the best way, and only because at some point this year I put my foot down to stick up for my value. It all started with taking a tiny amount of time each morning with a dry erase marker.

Writing goals down and then spinning happily in your butterfly and rainbow party only gets you so far, though. The busting and showing your ass part is key. Without execution, intention is nothing. If you need a kick in the pants for whatever kind of existence you’re dreaming up, here’s a good start for this week:

*Write down what you want. (Even if it is as simple as chocolate.)

*Tell a stranger some deep dark secrets. (Yes, the dirty ones. We all have them. Let it fly, baby.)

*Laugh a little. (Like maybe too loud.)

*Remember where you came from. (You can run, but you can’t hide.)

*Get outside and get moving. (Can we play some more, please? Adults could really use to have a little more fun.)

*Learn something new. (Stretch yourself, embarrass yourself; Humble pie is delicious.)

*Ask for what you’re worth. (What have you got to lose?)

Set the loftiest goals you can imagine, and start running hard. The world wants all of you.

#TimeToHustle #TodayIsTheDay #LifeOutsisdeTheDroneZone

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good thing I had sunscreen on

I just spent the better part of 2 hours on a pier in the blazing sun talking to a dad (I’m guessing this guy was 60-ish) about his college-aged daughters, and travel. I was waiting to get on a boat for a cruise on the river where I’m staying and the boat was having some issues, so as we patiently stood there, we started the typical friendly conversation about the gorgeous weather and scenery.

York River Pier

(I took this photo last night looking back at some of the cottages from halfway down the pier right before sunset.)

Our chat quickly launched into who I was connected to here, and how long this friend (who invited me), and I have known each other. (I’m the only non-family member, mixed among generations upon generations of people who’ve come together in this 24 cottage community for 4th of July weekend for the past 90 years.) We talked about where I was from and that lead to me sharing I’m on a road trip north for Play It Forward. I mentioned that I love being on the water and that I just got back from a leadership development program where I learned how to surf. After excitedly telling him about my Nicaragua time like a kid telling her friend about a favorite toy she just got for Christmas, he shared that his older daughter is currently in NYC at an internship for photography and she loves to travel, too. This adorable proud dad told me all about his two girls who both started school in one place, decided they didn’t fit, moved to spots that fit better, started focusing more on what they’re each truly passionate about, and now seem to be well on their way, much happier in their lives.

Yeah!

There were about 50 people at the pier all around us, eating, drinking, swimming, socializing, getting on boats…the total summer scene. This man and I were so engrossed in this conversation, there could’ve been a fireworks display overhead and neither of us would’ve picked up our heads. He sweetly bragged details about his hard working kids, we collectively agreed that we wished travel was seen as more an investment in oneself, and I thanked him for being the kind of parent that would encourage and support his offspring to chase the things that light them up.

If you’re a parent reading this and you have a child (of any age) who feels a burn enough to speak up and tell you they’re not happy in their current school, life, whatever (even though they might think they’ll be an incredible disappointment to you)…please listen. Be the cheerleader along the way as they change what’s not working. Make sure they know you’ll love them even if they quit and start again 100 times, as long as they promise to always speak and live their truth.

Thanks, Mom!

#Travel #GoForIt #ConversationsFromTheRoad

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let my people go surfing

A week ago yesterday, I woke up in warm, peaceful, palm tree riddled Nicaragua:

Nicaragua Palm Trees

It was glorious. That day was my travel home day from a leadership development program I participated in called LeaderSurf. By the time planes, trains, and automobiles got me to my place in Charlotte around midnight and I opened my windows and balcony door, the city had shut down, and all was quiet and dark. Late night Sunday night transition was lucky timing for me as I was already feeling overwhelmed by the ding, ding, dings on my phone after choosing to be unplugged for 10 days. I woke up Monday morning to get my run in and was met on the streets with screeching, honking, red-light running cars…and before it was even 7:30AM. This morning was exactly the same. Cement city, a mad dash rush before the business day even started, and drivers looking fired up. (I’m not sure this fired up meant anything excited or happy about where they were going, either.)

You could say I miss the Nica Life.

Back to my stint in learning paradise:

LeaderSurf is based on experiential learning. It focuses on enhancing leadership capability by taking business leaders out of their comfort zones to teach them more about themselves. My time in Nicaragua and in this program was one of the best times in my adult life. I learned a ton:

Business Challenge

That’s me presenting my business challenge looking very serious. Being in the hot seat isn’t easy! OK, that’s a fib, because this is where the hot seat is:

Tiki Classroom

Tiki Classroom

…now that’s what I call a classroom!

Founder Brian, the Buena Onda Resort staff, and the surf instructors were all wonderful hosts and teachers:

Buena Onda Staff

Brian LeaderSurf

LeaderSurf Instructors

Surf Lessons

…the views were gorgeous:

Mag Rock

Buena Onda Resort

Buena Onda Resort

Buena Onda Resort

Buena Onda Resort

Nicaragua Sunset

…and I had a total blast, surfing, and wiping out:

Surfing Nicaragua

Surfing Nicaragua

Surfing Nicaragua

This one is my oh my god I just learned how to surf and I have no idea how to control this board yet, so please don’t make me run into my new friend, look:

Surfing Nicaragua

Later in the day we were both so excited we were up we didn’t realize we were heading right towards each other until the last second. Abandon ship!

Surfing Nicaragua

We didn’t event come close to hitting each other, but our faces?! No matter how many times I look at some of our group photos I cannot stop laughing. Donald, the photographer who was with us all week really knows how to capture a moment.

Surfing NicaraguaSurfing Nicaragua

Best? We got to give back:

LeaderSurf Community Project

The community we visited doesn’t have a source of clean drinking water. We brought 16 water filtration systems that we helped show these community members how to use. One of the filters can provide 100 gallons of clean drinking water per day:

Community Project: LeaderSurf

LeaderSurf Community Project

I won’t ever look at or drink a glass of water the same again. Here’s a portion of an email I wrote to my fellow LeaderSurfers the morning after I got home:

Late last night after getting back, the last thing I unpacked was my backpack and in the very last pocket I found the tiny round piece of a bucket that one of you had taken out to install one of the water filtration systems and handed to me on the community project day. That piece now has a home on my desk. Right after I found that piece I poured myself a glass of water out of the refrigerator on my way to bed and had an unexpected moment seeing that clean water flow out so easily. I will never forget it. After that I couldn’t sleep all night. Needless to say, lots more perspective than I ever imagined after this trip. I am so incredibly thankful!

LeaderSurf Community Project

2 days after getting back, I had a meeting at a local brewery. I swear when I saw this on the wall behind the bar, the world went silent for a minute and my jaw dropped to the floor as if I had never laid eyes on anything like it before:

Water on Tap

A water tap. Bottomless. Just hanging out, free-flowing, clear, and safe, for all to enjoy. I’ve been to that brewery before, but had never noticed this. Oh how eyes are so much more wide open after traveling to a new place that doesn’t have the everyday amenities I do.

We all brought school supplies for the kids:LeaderSurf Community Project

One of my most favorite parts, was handing out blue lollipops. It was like sharing a piece of myself. To me they always represent a small moment of magic. Smiles all around:

Giving blue lollipops

LeaderSurf Community Project

Wish I/we could’ve done more? Yes. Motivated to give and appreciate now more than ever. Yes. Living even more consciously than I was before? Absolutely.

I made what I hope will be some lifelong friendships with the other participants.

Sunset Reflections

When you have an adventure like this and all cards go on the table, the playing field equals. It’s the perfect way to step outside yourself and let others in. There’s an instant perspective shift that happens that’s like a new window to every part of your life. It’s as if you bond in an instant with the people around you even if they were perfect strangers the day before. You realize (especially in the silent moments alone) that the world is so much bigger than you ever imagined:

Great learning environment

Sunset Reflections

Sunset Reflections

Our Sunset Reflection times were in a beautiful spot for us to share what we learned each day. It felt so good to actually be IN the moments. I’m so glad I committed to going unplugged. I need to do that more!

Coming right off this LeaderSurf program and into my 6th annual Play It Forward event is like riding this totally indescribable wave (no pun intended) of positive energy. A serious force to be reckoned with! The passion I had before, coupled with the buckets of life and work lessons I learned during my week surfing, will help me be a better leader moving forward. I feel like I already am!

In case it’s not completely obvious, I’m a huge fan of LeaderSurf. The experience I had goes unmatched. I wish there were more programs out there like it, I’d be signing up left and right! Maybe I’ll have to create my own?! (Wink.)

Staying active and challenging yourself to anything outside of the environment you’re used to, is the fastest route to your truth. Be open to alternative ways of learning. Be vulnerable. Encourage the people around you to do things that light them on fire. Stay on fire yourself. Share. Be selfless. Always try new things, and never stop having fun…even when you’re working!

#ExperientialLearning #LifeOutsideTheDroneZone #ServantLeadership

*If you don’t recognize the reference in my title, it’s to this this great book I’d recommend to anyone. Here’s the Author Yvon Chouinard on NPR‘s How I Built This, too. So good!

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my bluebird of happiness

In the fall of 2011, Honda sponsored a road trip for me. Honda fans voted on where to send me on my Blue Lollipop Road adventure and fortunately that included all east coast spots. That made it easy on me to pick up the car I got to drive in New Jersey, and also put me close to all things Northeast where I had an excuse to see some family and friends. I hadn’t seen this girl in years, but as soon as I dropped in out of nowhere, she was thrilled to host me in New Hampshire:

Play It Forward 2015

Lucky me.

(This photo was taken at BLR Play It Forward 2015.)

I remember sitting in Kate Emma’s living room after kids and hubby were in bed, talking about our friends and past memories of good times in high school. She made a suggestion that we should have a reunion soccer game, and that I host it. Neither of us had any idea what all of this would become next, but that one night of conversation would end up turning into something so much bigger and more powerful than we would ever imagine. Now here we are, about to kick off our 6th Annual BLR Play It Forward event.

As soon as I arrived back in Chicago (where I lived at the time) from my Honda trip, I got to work putting together this alumni soccer game idea, added in some community social events, and a travel scholarship fund. I keep in touch with a lot of people, but for whatever reason I had barely any connections to, or communication with old soccer friends at that time, and I sure as heck didn’t know how to go about starting a scholarship fund. This was one of those times when social media came in very handy. Finding alumni around the world I’d either never met or hadn’t talked to in years would’ve been nearly impossible otherwise.

I remember sitting in my apartment in Old Town on the 23rd floor right above Second City for HOURS and DAYS planning, planning, planning, and not coming up for air during the fall and winter of 2011/2012. I was clueless on all of it but I had never felt so sure about anything in my life, so I just kept calling, asking, messaging, and asking more, and I knew it would all work.

August 18th, 2012 was our first event, and it was by far the most incredible and bittersweet day of my life. I’ve never been able to put into words what that day felt like. All I know is it was this beautiful blur of celebration perfection for these two people who brought so much joy to the world. I’ve never felt sun on my face since, as warmly as I did at that moment we released those blue balloons in the sky after the game:

Balloons in the sky

Everyday since then, I always look up at the sky and clouds in a different way, reflecting on how lucky I am to have time with people who bring so much love and laughter to my life.

Two weeks from today will kick off our event once again. As I thought about writing this post when I woke up this morning, I remembered the hours I’d spend sitting at my desk planning this big dream we had. For those few months it was like everything else in the world disappeared and I was totally in my flow, completely present to what made me tick in every way. I would go to the gym downstairs in the morning for my booty shaking class, and straight back up to my apartment throwing my sweaty clothes in the laundry and wrapping myself in this beach towel I had that I often wore before hopping in the shower so I could send a quick email or make a quick call, etc. I cannot count the amount of times I’d look down at 9PM to find myself still wrapped in that towel, filthy and starving still sitting at my desk. I would jump up looking at the clock, grab a quick shower and fly out the door of my building to the Chipotle downstairs for a burrito before they locked the doors at 10PM.

Full circle:

Guess where I went this morning? Guess where I’m sitting right now? Guess how much time has passed today and I haven’t noticed because writing about Play It Forward and working on the last bit of push for this year is so my jam that hours fly by? Guess what I am wearing? Guess who still hasn’t taken a shower, and guess where I could run downstairs right now if I needed something to eat? Yes; booty shaking class, my desk, a lot, that same towel (Ok, maybe that’s gross, but I have washed it a lot so I don’t care:), me, and Chipotle. I’m just in a different city and it’s 6+ years later.

What does this mean to me? Everything. When you find that thing, that “place” where you could be hungry, tired, and the world could be swirling in chaos around you, and you wouldn’t even notice because you’re doing something that feeds your soul to the core, THAT is being inspired. It’s the power of Strong Mojo. I think that continuing to do that thing/those things throughout your life is key.

Play It Forward 2012:

Play It Forward 2012

Play It Forward 2012

2013:

Play It Forward 2013

Play It Forward 2013

2014:

Play It Forward 2014

Play It Forward 2014

2015:

Play It Forward 2015

Play It Forward 2015

and 2016:

Play It Forward

Play It Forward

…have been beyond special. I’ve experienced that people will show up when you stay inspired, believe in something bigger than yourself, and continue to share it. THE FIELD OF DREAMS IS REAL. Play It Forward is not me. It’s US. It’s the indefinable essence of magic when everything comes together perfectly. It is remembering where you came from, celebrating the memories you have, and living like today is the day.

I’m so lucky to have had such selfless support, help, and love, so I’m able to host this weekend each year. It would be absolutely impossible without all of you, so if you are reading this, thank you. We honor our friends in the best way possible by continuing to come together, and never taking a single day for granted.

Please join us July 7th & 8th!

Keep celebrating.

#RememberCelebrateLive #StrongMojo #AlwaysLookingUp

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remember, celebrate, live

I’ve always been known as the “energetic” one. That “Boy if you could bottle that energy and sell it, you’d be a millionaire!” gal. That friend that “we just can’t keep up with.” I don’t feel like a freak of nature, but sometimes I have to remind myself that in fact I’m not, when I hear the constant barrage of:

“I’d love to hang out, but I know you can stay up all night.”

“Good lord, where did you come from? How do you have all that energy?!”

“I’m sure YOU don’t need sleep, but I do.” 

Can’t a girl just be herself? It’s tough not to get a little insulted over here, when these “compliments” are regularly hurled at me. I have some very disappointing news:

I don’t stay up all night, I’m from a tiny town in Vermont, not space, I cannot explain how I have the energy I do (Mom, can you tell the people?), I actually need sleep like you, and no, I’m not a unicorn, Ewok, or other worldly being. I have shitty days. For instance, the other day I cried during a meeting with my accountant at Panera (yes, as in Panera Bread, in public), and it had nothing to do with finding out I’m not a billionaire. I already knew that and I don’t care. If you really want to know where the tears came from call me, (804.339.6514) I’ll share anything.

In an effort to solve the energy mystery right here, right now, after much reflection, I have come up this:

I CHOOSE TO CELEBRATE, PEOPLE. I AM JUST FREAKING CELEBRATING THAT I AM ALIVE.

Put that in your I’d rather stay miserable and quiet about it pipe and smoke it.

We’ve all been beaten into a life happens pulp. Do we need to recap on that again? So what do we do about it? Stay in the drone zone, or wrap our wounds with whatever we’ve got left, own and accept our crap, and drag our asses out of bed everyday in the never ending search for those few last tiny beautiful things that are left?

I refuse to wait for a weekend or big event to wear my sassy shoes:

Sassy Shoes

(This photo was taken on a Tuesday after stopping into my friends office to have coffee. I think that’s all I got dressed for that day.)

…I don’t say no to invitations to road trip to beautiful places with good friends:

Amelia Island

…I don’t save treats for only special occasions:

Dessert With Dom

…I always play like a kid and jump for joy at sunset:

Sunset Jumps

…and while things are often better shared with good company, (and oh my do I love a lot of humans!) If it’s 86 degrees on a random Tuesday in March like this week, I’m not afraid to sit outside at a picnic table to enjoy an after work beer in the warm and sunshine, alone:

Beer at a picnic table

I don’t have too much energy. I JUST ALLOW MYSELF TO BE ALIVE BECAUSE I AM, and I fully plan to continue celebrating the bleep out of this life while I have it.

I’ve never asked anyone to be like me and I would never dare. You do you, dudes and gals, quiet, loud, whatever you are…I accept all of you! You’re always invited to my party over here, but if this sparkly blue lollipop is “too much” for you, please walk on. I’m only interested in those fellow tribe members who might roll their eyes or shake and scratch their heads a little, but simultaneously are thrilled about getting smothered in glittery, energetic, life-celebrating love as we run down this steep, wondrous, rocky road together.

I’m off to my Friday morning dance party. I’ll see you and Beyonce in the soul train line…

#ShineBright #TodayIsTheDay #LessMiseryMoreLaughsHappyLife

*(This post is dedicated to everyone in my tribe (I LOVE YOU GUYS, you know who you are, but particularly Maria, Brandy, Leslie, Katie, Sam, Joe, and Grapa. I will forever be inspired to keep smiling and dancing because of you.)*

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life outside the drone zone

I went to the dentist today for some needlework. I don’t like the dentist. I’m not usually a nervous person, and I’m not sure the last time in my whole life I felt truly scared, but being in the dentist chair is so not fun for me. I told them I felt more at ease when I jumped out of a plane. My body gets cold chills, I feel hot and sweaty…I just don’t like it.

Recently I made a first visit to this highly raved about and recommended new dentist for the usual x-rays, cleaning, etc. (Don’t tell Mom but it’s been a while.) Go figure, because it had been a bit of time, that one “on watch” possible cavity had come to fruition, one needed to be replaced, and even better news; I needed a crown. Yippee! I mean, who wouldn’t want to spend a few thousand bucks on teeth instead of you know, a trip to Italy for 2 months or something? Adulting is such a bummer. So in I went today for the first in a three part series we will call project drain Diane’s travel fund, but you only have one set of those teeth, so you better take care of them! 

My new dentist and her lovely assistant were the best. I mean, the best. (Like a mom with a rockstar reliable babysitter, I refuse to share any contact information for this amazing tooth care goddess in fear you will all call, book her up, and I’ll have to go back to that psychotic creepy old man that ripped my mouth apart last time adding buckets of fuel to my already flaming I fear the dentist bonfire.) This new bright shiny office and all of it’s help were kind and attentive. They listened to my past dental horror stories to genuinely learn what I needed, then got to work; numbing gels by the gob full, then one needle, and another, and another, and another. Did I mention another? They kept asking if I could feel this and that to ensure I was fully in numb la la land before starting to drill. When I could finally (sort of) feel the right side of my face nearly sagging to the ground, this ever so patient woman said “Well, I guess we’ve found out that you are very hard to numb!”

HA! Isn’t that the truth. Story of my life, sweet, gentle lady.

Back to why I need a crown:

A couple big cavities on a back tooth I’ve had for years are now cracked/damaged along with the tooth itself. Why? Because I spent a good portion of 2015 and 2016 not sleeping even though I tried desperately. You could say I had a torturous run of getting my heart ripped to shreds. (Picture it’s 1985 and a seven year old on Christmas morning turns animalistic assuming his wrapped box is a Nintendo.) Apparently on the rare occasion I did actually sleep, I was a gold medal champion jaw clencher and teeth grinder as I tossed and turned dreaming of things you don’t want to hear about. Break goes the tooth. (This is not a case of she just doesn’t brush or floss. With the Nutella habit that I have, I’m a nut…no pun intended…about my Sonicare, floss, and Listerine routine.)

If you really do give a super duper flying you-know-what about anything or anyone, you’re bound to feel intense pain when that something or someone isn’t so peachy keen. During those couple years when this deliciously gorgeous and abusive life was swirling around me, I didn’t rest much. Not because I was restless, but because I was ALIVE. Obviously too alive, too conscious, too un-numb. I now wear extra wrinkles at 38 proudly because I’ve come out breathing on the other side.

In 2003 after reading Roadtrip Nation, my 25 year old self was in love with these authors, and everything they were doing. Their book and manifesto were a big encouragement for me to continue my road warrior habits. I needed to discover. They get it! I thought. Life! It is supposed to mean something. What you do for work can and should matter! Purpose! Yay! I want to find that! I remember writing to Mike & Nate asking for advice on best ways to discover what kind of work I wanted to do. I will never forget what Mike sent back to me via email:

“YOU JUST HAVE TO FIND SOMETHING TO GIVE A SHIT ABOUT.”

And here we are.

I probably give two shits (by that I mean 2,222) about way too many things and far too many people. My heart is filled with that kid in a candy store joy more times in a day that I can usually count, then broken again a few minutes later, and all too often. I stay in touch with/put a lot of effort into/love a lot of human beings and that makes me happy. People are my jam, my priority. I feel like I live in an over the moon utopia of lucky awesomeness because I am able to share with so many other different, interesting, funny, kind, quirky, entertaining heartbeats.

I don’t ever want to be numb. Even if that means I could get raked through the coals a million more times.

The price tag for giving a shit is VERY expensive. There are HUGE needles involved. I will pay the bill and take the pinch every time. Life outside the drone zone might hurt more than existing in the safety zone, but every bit of pain is worth it. I hope until my very last breath, even if I’m stuck with a billion needles, I’ll keep moving towards the finish line still being able to feel every bit of everything.

What makes you feel alive today?

Life outside the drone zone

The above screen shot is part of a text conversation that happened as I was starting to write this. Perfect, right?

#LoveFinishesFirst #FeelIt #NeverNumb

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get a life! (outside.)

Bright and early this morning and just after writing this last night, I heard something VERY disturbing as I was grabbing a coffee. The TV was on in this public place with me paying no attention until my ears caught a designer on a home show who was being interviewed; “The average American spends 23 hours a day inside…”

Twenty three hours out of twenty four a day, INSIDE?!

What are we doing to ourselves, people?!

This fact is almost as disturbing as a couple others I’ve learned, such as the average American home built in 2016 was something close to 4,000 square feet, and there are an average of 300,000 items in American homes.

I’m about to cry over here.

Holy mother lode guys and gals, these facts and figures are so NOT cool. Are you in Target right now? The mall? Hiding at home with all the windows closed? Please take your hands off the cart, hanger, or remote, and walk outside for a minute. Do me a favor and think of why you are in Target, at the mall, or on your couch. Do you actually need what you’re shopping for? Do you have any bills you could pay where your money could be more effectively used rather than that “I can never seem to get out of Target for less than $200” that I hear all the time? Are you just bored?

Please put me out of business! Remember we declared together (by that I mean I’m pretending like you all agreed) that 2017 is THE YEAR OF LESS CRAP? How about now we add that this year can be the year of more fresh air? The year of more adventure out of four walls with your bestie exploring a new neighborhood, more time to kick the ball around at the park with your kid, extra hours losing yourself on a road trip alone, more fun gettin’ frisky under a tree at the top of a mountain with your shmoopster….oh the possibilities!

Here’s a teeny sampling of my past few months:

In the Mountains

Aspen

Red Rock

Palm Trees

Red Rocks

Colorado

Spain sky

Lake Sunset

I don’t know about you, but this girl sure isn’t staying inside for a minute longer than she ever has to.

Consumerism and isolation are forceful breeding grounds for fear, hate, obesity, misery and all those other things that sound just awful, sad, and not fun.

Life is WAY TOO SHORT to be awful, sad, and not fun…don’tcha think? Yahoo! The bell just rang for recess! It’s time for all of us to go play. Get up, open the doors, walk outside, hug a tree, a person, or both, and find a little more health and happiness on this crazy ride.

#LessStuffMoreFreedomHappyLife #MoveIt #TheGreatOutdoors

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fall to your knees

Watch this:

I would say my light years ended on August 18, 1994, but I’m not sure that would count considering I had just turned 16 years old and some would say I was still just a kid. I guess I was? Maybe. I never felt like one after that day even though I did manage to live fairly carefree for the 20 years that followed.

Then December 10th, 2014 happened.

In the near exact 2 years since then, I have been brought to my knees too many times to count. If my light years didn’t end back in 1994, they sure ended before Christmas a couple years ago. That day, I walked alone in silence for 10 miles in flip flops. I didn’t know what else to do. I had gotten a phone call that would leave anyone speechless. After I hung up, I stood up and walked out the door in a daze. I had no idea the wrath that was coming beyond that.

My experience has taught when life starts to pummel you, she rarely stops. It’s one punch after the next, after the next. There are chunks of time where the beat downs of bad news, events, and loss come so hard and so fast, you can’t eat, sleep, or stop crying. You can barely breathe. You lose hope, feel unimaginably alone, and wonder what the hell is wrong with the world; life isn’t supposed to be like this. 

But it is.

If you are an old friend or follower, or have in any way joined me on my journey since starting down this Blue Lollipop Road on October 16th, 2008, I know you’ve noticed that I’ve been promising a lot here and not keeping up on my promises over the past many months. I know you’ve wondered from time to time what’s been going on because I’ve been absent from the place that means everything to me…right here. Thank you for your check ins and notes of concern. It has bothered me a lot to be away, after all this is the one place where I feel like I completely belong.

Come to find out, I get tired, I don’t really like to or feel the need to share everything anymore like I used to, and I’ve just needed a break. Let’s call it a severe recalibration on/in each part of my life. I think we all need this after a certain number of years existing in the same, maybe not so healthy habits.

Since two Decembers ago, I’ve hovered over a friend in a coma, watched another become skeletal from cancer, lost a love that was a life changer, and said goodbye, kissing the cold forehead of the sweetest and kindest man, my favorite man in the whole wide world…as he lay in his open casket. I’m currently sending daily “fist pumps” to a sick friend in the fight of his life.  I’ve paid off a debilitating debt that a past relationship left me, and I missed the chance to have a scheduled lunch date that I didn’t realize would be the last, with one of my best friends before she was gone. 8 friends and family members have moved to better places since May of 2015. To say this time has been hellacious, would be a gargantuan understatement.

And I know plenty of people who’ve had it far worse than me.

It seems that only when you get the most epic beat down, and you’re either forced to, or choose to sit in that pain- can you see what you are truly made of, and what really matters. I had always put serious blood sweat and tears into continually standing up, staying steady & energized, fighting with, dealing with, keeping up with expectations I’ve had for myself and out of life. I am strong. Well, I’m here to share with you now that the ass-whooping I’ve received during this 700+ day run recently has pulverized me. I’ve been forced to sit in my pain and have been surprised to find I was ready. It has left me away from here, relishing in days of much needed silence and self-reflection alone, throwing my endless and pointless to-do lists to the side, and not even caring if the wheels fell off the bus.

The control freak has left the building.

Relief.

Turns out the wheels will never actually fall off the bus. The bus keeps going.

I took a bad spill on Tuesday this week when I was running as usual, early in the morning. I was cruising down the sidewalk feeling like a million bucks, and just a few blocks from home:

Falling Down

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I even broke my shoe:

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So graceful I am!

I fell to my knees…hard. (See a theme here?) I was up within a millisecond and kept running while my whole body throbbed. Adrenaline is an amazing thing. I knew what I’d see if I looked down, so I didn’t. I made it home to grab money, pick rocks, leaves, and dirt out of my wounds, then went directly to Target for peroxide which was out of stock at 8 o’clock in the morning. (Of course!)

Work days don’t wait, so by the time I did the peroxide pour-over at 3pm that day, the burn and white foam made me screech like a kid who’s older brother just stole all her Halloween candy. Bruised hands, knees, elbow, shoulder and ego, arm scratched with all the way up. Now I know what people mean when they say they’re sore for a few days after a car accident. I will spare you with additional photos of my current 5 day later green crusty open road rash. Ew. It definitely doesn’t look or feel pretty.

I ran again Thursday morning, I can’t remember the last time I felt really scared about anything but I actually did feel afraid to fall during that whole run. It was bizarre. I didn’t fall. Yesterday I carried the anchor leg of the Charlotte Marathon for a relay team and crossed the finish line strong. Get back on the horse? You’ve got to.

I woke up this morning late, and as I sipped coffee in quiet, I found myself wandering to the wall near my desk. I tape things there at random, things that inspire me and make me smile. My eyes went straight to this area as I though of finally writing about all this today:

I see it

Top left is me with my friends Jon and Aaron (Bubba) many years ago, maybe 1999? during a back country camping and hiking trip in Canyonlands National Park. Travel and the open road. Life was good and “light.” Top right is the Peacock kid clan, that’s me and my fantastic siblings at my sisters high school graduation. Bottom left is what I call the “original” Blue Lollipop Road. I took that photo on a bike ride with my brother outside Cafayate, Argentina in 2009. Bottom right is my fun-loving friend Maria who passed away in 1994. We had the coolest fanny packs and best hair on the way to a 6th grade field trip. In the middle is sweet Katie and I. Katie has since passed as well. We called those our “chunky” days back in 1995. Silly teenagers we were.

A life filled with joy and pain.

This world has continued to horrify and delight me. Every bit of it. I see and experience so much good and so much bad. In March of this year, I cut out the top right words from a magazine thinking I couldn’t agree more. It reads:

“We’re taught fear. We’re taught jealousy. We’re taught ego. We’re taught comparisons. We’re taught materialism. But we’re not taught love. And that’s a very important crisis to start paying attention to.”

Indeed it is.

On the left the magazine cut out reads:

To proving yourself. Especially when no one else is around.

I went to an event a couple weeks ago to listen to an author share about her life. She said she’d gotten advice from a friend who told her not tell her story from when her wounds were still fresh and wide open, but to tell once they were scars; semi-healed places with marks of life. I love that advice and that’s where I am now. I’ve had a hard time finding my feet, let alone words, I’ve needed to step back to recreate and now I move forward here again. This place is my truth.

As I sit there, still in pajamas in bed at 4:21pm on this chilly fall Sunday afternoon, I have an odd and happy sense of peace even though I’ve just written and revisited all these feelings of being ripped to my core. I suppose this peace is what you earn from being pushed through a sword fighting labyrinth and then finding your way out when there’s no other choice besides curling up yourself and going away forever. When you prove things to yourself when no one else is around. When you allow yourself to fall all the way to your knees and stay there for a while…long enough to realize everything you need to before you get up.

I miss a lot of people, and every single day. That will never change. There are so many faults in our stars. Bad things happen to good people and I hate that, but I’ve learned to accept that fact as well. This has been a bitchin’ of a couple of years, and not in the cool, surfs up, dude kind of way. After a run of not feeling excited about anything, I’m finally crazy excited about the future. I can’t wait to fall in love again, I can’t wait to laugh more until my stomach hurts, I can’t wait to travel and see more of the world (next up…Spain!) I refuse to be afraid of the next wave of whatever that’s coming my way.

If this is your first time visiting here, welcome to my story and reason for doing what I do, in life and in business.

Everyday is a chance and a choice to drive in the direction of whatever we do and do not want. If we have our health we have everything. Life is awesome until that instant that It’s not. None of us will ever know when that moment is coming, so what are we waiting for?

My heart has been shattered into a million pieces, because I’ve been lucky enough to love some very good people. Not a single regret. Take another little piece of my heart now, baby…because I might end up going away for a while when it all gets to be too much, but I will never stop loving, or showing up.

#TodayIsTheDay #Truth #LetLoveRule

*(My goal is to start writing again every day like I used to, and finally finish my book! If you liked reading this, pretty please share it, and scroll down to the bottom of the home page of this site and enter your email address to subscribe to my blog posts:)

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