sunset 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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tonight I went cloud chasing

Sunset Clouds

BLR Mobile Sunset

By “chase” I mean I walked out of a long day of being packed inside on a major downsizing project, saw this amazing looking sky, and drove toward it for a bit like an excited kid on a treasure hunt. What’s that they say about never losing your sense of wonder?

Always looking up…that’s how I stay unstuck.

Where do you find your magic?

#LessStuffMoreFreedomHappyLife #LifeOnTheBlueLollipopRoad #Sunset

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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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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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at the end of the day

Balcony sunset time could never get old:

Sunset

…especially when it’s 80 degrees in February.

Interesting that we all too often make life complicated and spin fast when what we could really use is just a few simple quiet moments in the fresh air to stare up at the sky.

It’s fun to stop and think about what really matters and what we’re running around for, eh?

#AlwaysLookingUp #KeepItSimple #GetOutside

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so just take chances and go for it

Sitting here on a gorgeous Sunday night watching a fiery sunset:

Dragons breath sunset

(it almost looks like the breath of a dragon which I think is super cool), and I’m reading an article about people who shared their secrets for staying motivated, taking risks, and most of all…finding happiness. This paragraph jumped out at me:

Just do it

This is so the truth. We are all working with the same tools. 

What will you do with yours?

#LessFearMoreLivingHappyLife #JumpAndYouShallReceive #TodayIsTheDay

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no filter sunset

8:17pm, Thursday June 9th. I walk in and this is what I see:

Image 2

No filters, no adjustments, just a quick shot from my old iPhone. Pretty awesome.

There’s something about a sunrise and a sunset that just feels…ahhh…

The best part is that It’s getting better as I sit here on my balcony, take it in, and type.

What makes you feel peaceful?

#Sunsets #SummerNights #LessStuffMoreMomentsHappyLife

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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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