Beach Tag

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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until next time, nica

I just landed in Houston for a layover after being unplugged and in learning paradise for the last week. It was absolutely amazing. I can’t wait to share more here about where I’ve been and what I’ve been doing. For now I feel a little shell-shocked at the bustle, cement, and amount of messages I have in various inboxes. Send me back to the hammock and salt air peace I woke up to this morning!

Buena Onda Resort

Nicaragua Beach

Nicaragua Beach

My silent plane ride staring out the window was filled with some great views and much reflection:

Up in the air

Up in the air

Up in the air

Up in the air

Up in the air

Once again, travel to a new place, spending time with new people, and giving back has provided me with perspective like no other. I am so incredibly excited to use all I experienced during this trip for many future life and work adventures.

Here’s to staying outside the drone zone!

#LeaderSurf #AlwaysSayYes #TodayIsTheDay

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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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tiny me up, scotty!

Thanks to Charlotte Agenda for this little (get it, little?!:) nugget of info. today about tiny houses for rent around my neck of the woods.

When I lived in Wilmington in 2009, I rented a brand spanking newly finished tiny house, (before anyone called them tiny houses) in the back yard of a sweet young couple who had a brick ranch and a cute 2 year old son. My tiny house was actually a converted shed and I only paid $525/month. The hubby, Zack had done all the work himself, complete with chalkboard wall in kitchen, pullout drawer dishwasher, modern rectangular bathroom sink, loft bed, high ceilings, and skylight. It was AWESOME.

I sure wish I still had that place!

This is where minimalists like me have an occasional DOH! moment:

I just looked for a few photos I took of my fab mini space to share with you here, and sure enough found that I have deleted them in one of my 7 million photo purging fiestas over the years. You will just have to envision the scene of my bike parked right outside white-trimmed french doors on the patio leading into my beach happy home that was light blue. I did find this summer of 2009 ocean shot of my feet during that time:

Beach Feet 2009

Ahhh…

What can you do to simplify your space so you’re able to live more?

#LessStuffMoreFreedomHappyLife #Simplicity #GetTinyLiveBig

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check yourself before you wreck yourself

Thanks to modern technology, this was my office for a couple days this week:

Beach Life

There hasn’t been nearly enough of the above in my life during the past few months, which is just totally not cool, and pretty much against everything I stand for, so sand in toes and connecting with a few important people had to happen.

Needed it. Did it. Wanted to smack myself for not doing it sooner. Translation; Check myself (breathe/give myself some space/take a “minute”) before I wrecked myself (exhaustion, frustration, etc. – that beast that creeps making us feel at times like crispy fried bacon.)

In Googling the title for this post just now, this link popped up. I dig no bs writers who aren’t afraid to throw a little weight in truth around, and the occasional f-bomb:

Get it

We will all learn eventually how to take better care of ourselves (without feeling guilty), so we can in turn be better at taking care of others. We will all learn eventually how to take breaks (without feeling guilty) so we can remember who we are and be badass in our personal and professional lives.

No more crispy fried bacon. No more victim. Much more creating a life that has a shit ton of joy everyday.

How do you check out so you can check back in?

#StepBackMoveForward #Perspective #HappyLife

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a long winter’s nap?

Nah…I’m here!

I know It’s been a few weeks, so sorry to leave my blog followers hanging. You know I love to write and share here. I promise to post more regularly. 2015 felt like a whirlwind of what month is it? Then, boom! Here we are kicking off 2016.

Even though work has been very busy, we did manage to escape for a couple days, continuing to follow our “less stuff, more experiences” lifestyle, and opted to buy and spend 2 nights at a friends beach house in lieu of physical gifts for Christmas this year. Whaddya know, it ended up being near 80 degrees in North Carolina for a few days! Yeah!

Bike rides, beach time, and sand in toes was a very happy holiday time:

Beach time

Love at the beach

Beach time

Nerd pose! I was wearing one of my Play It Forward shirts, so wanted to try and make you laugh:)

Here’s to having more freedom in 2016! Dip your foot in the chilly beach water, then jump in, baby! This is our one life and the blue lollipops are all out there for the taking.

#LessStuffMoreExperiencesHappyLife #BeachChristmas #FindYourMojo

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whistle with me!

My idea of a merry Christmas is living inside this Corona commercial:

(Pretty cool story, don’t ya think?)

Send me to the warm & beach, baby!

This is where I was exactly one year ago today; December 14th, 2014:

Florida

Ahhh…

Here’s to great adventures wherever you feel like you’re in paradise, this December!

How do you holiday?

#MoreTravelLessStuffHappyLife #Adventure #HolidayBeachBum

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making it up heartbreak hill

“You’ve created quite a life for yourself!”

“You seem so well adjusted and like you are doing great!”

Thanks. I guess that’s true. I have, and I am. Or at least I’m trying. (Have I ever mentioned, I’ve definitely had plenty of thoughts about just floating out to sea and never coming back, or drinking myself into oblivion? I force myself not to do hose kind of things, however. We all know problems don’t go away just because you disappear for a while or get wasted.)

The quotes above are what I’ve heard since I started writing here in 2008, and more regularly recently. I get a lot of “you’re so lucky!”‘s and “I wish I could do that!”‘s. I’ve been gifted quite the fury of compliments for my so called perfect life over the years.

I have to laugh and shake my head. It’s perfect alright. A perfectly beautiful mess.

The past 6 weeks are close to the worst I’ve ever had. I can handle a lot so that’s very hard for me to admit, but It’s the truth. Recent happenings in/around/to me, include, but are not limited to; Illness, death, heartbreak, loneliness, sadness, life turning upside down, unexpected unpleasant surprises, exhaustion, sleeplessness, lack of appetite, and more. Lots more, and It’s probably not going to stop anytime soon.

You didn’t think I was immune to these kind of things just because I write a seize the day blog and stand proudly on my soap box shouting that anything is possible, did you?

Ok. Glad we have that straight.

During my early morning before the sun really rose, most humans aren’t even awake yet, run on the beach this morning:

Mornings at the beach

…forcing my bare tired feet to go, I kept thinking about 1.) How awesome it was to have my toes in the sand. 2.) How much I wish nothing bad would happen to the people I love. 3.) How much I wish all the people in the land were more comfortable talking about real stuff, the raw stuff, the dirty laundry.

Did I want to hit the snooze button this morning? Yep. Did I remember that reality seriously bites as soon as I opened up my eyes? Yep. Did I stay lying there feeling sorry for myself? Nope. (Sometimes I do though, and that’s Ok and very necessary.)

(Insert AA meeting theme tone here.) My name is Diane, and I am a regular person with plenty of problems, just like you. I’m not fancy because I post pretty pictures here. I’m not cooler or smarter or richer than you because I travel. I don’t have magical powers that make unicorns and rainbows appear, and I am not “lucky” that I have a lot of energy and a good attitude. This is a practice, and one I take very seriously. I have to practice every day to stay happy and keep trucking. We’re talking double-session style in 102 degree heat exhausting kinda practice that is really hard, and really not so fun. This life ain’t easy, peeps- for any of us.

Here’s how I cheerlead my butt outta bed when life’s got me down and swirling in the 3-ring circus of hot-mess bonanza:

While I’m getting kicked, and kicked, and kicked, when life is laughing in my face with that cruel, cruel, maniacal laugh, when I get up, brush myself off still trying to hold that positive outlook- let’s try again smile, and I stand up, then it smashes me in the face with that shovel one more time again, I do all I can to remember it could be so much worse, then I stare into that black hole/fiery dragon/billion pound crater hovering above me, and tell it 50 ways to go fuck itself because that shit is not allowed at my party thankyouverymuch.

Boom.

What other choice do I have? What other choice do YOU have?

If you think you are the only one in the world reading this feeling like you’ve been beaten with a case of whoop-ass cans, and more times than one, you’re not. If you think you are the only one with that unbearable stress, sadness or embarrassment about something, you’re not. If you think you’re the only one who’s ever royally screwed something up, ummm…not so. If you think that guy or girl sitting next to you at Starbucks, smiling and looking all fly in those freshly pressed business clothes sipping that $5 latte has it all figured out-think again.

Guys, this life is a shit show for all of us. If you want to create “quite a life for yourself”, It’s a CHOICE. You must train and practice like It’s a marathon. A long, painful race that in the end should theoretically leave us smiling, proud, and feeling like it was all totally worth it. Accept this 26.2 gazillion mile run with 1/2 the water stops along the way stocked full of cups with dirty, filthy mud to drink, and other 1/2 bubbling over with Dom Perignon. Collect your metal at the end, and go find your friends and family to celebrate with. Share your stories of trial and error, pulled muscles, aches, pains, and Heartbreak Hill. Everybody has to make it up Heartbreak Hill sooner or later, and that trek is so much easier if you build a good team around you.

If you find yourself alone, in fact seeing that there is an “I” in your current team, find something to look at that inspires you:

Morning Mojo

…and keep pushing.

Sunrise BLR

…at least that’s what I do. I’ve got to believe that when it feels like the world is collapsing, there are good lessons to be learned and some amazing things to see on the other side of it all. I hope you believe that too.

#MorningMojo #HardLessons #Choices

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