Category: Perspective

Florence: SA Day

Florence 023DT FLorenceHow do you celebrate Singles Awareness Day? Go to Florence – no, not Italy- Alabama!  I started pondering this question, and I decided to do what I love to do best which is go to a different city and see new things and meet new people. Florence, AL, would be a fun quick trip.  I had been to Florence one other time in a conflicting September a few years back with a friend celebrating her birthday and Fall Single Awareness Day, so I had seen some of downtown.  My first thought was my second home Destin, but that needs to be a longer trip.

I asked Michelle what spa to call, and then preceded to book an appointment with Epicurean Spa, and I made reservations for the Hampton Downtown; they have an online check in that is awesome. Do not choose the Hampton Midtown by mistake. I called the wrong one first, and I was informed that Applebee’s was the only restaurant within walking distance. I knew that was not the correct Hampton.  I did check with Marriott, but there were no vacancies, and the spa was a wee bit expensive. Even though it is rated very high as far as Marriott spas, I felt confident that spa treatments are great wherever you go.

I waited late to book the spa, so I was up bright and early leaving Tupelo for my 9:00 spa time. I had a body wrap and detoxifying treatment and a skin purifying treatment and relaxing deep cleansing facial. My massage therapist was the young and beautiful Crystal Martin. She was very nice and knowledgeable about the products. I was wrapped up like a mommy with the body wrap, but I could move my fingers, and she stayed in the room with me.
Crystal said, “I sometimes leave so the client can relax”.
I said, “Oh no, you are not leaving me in here unable to move.” (I would not be a good replacement for Dakota Johnson for the second part of the Grey trilogy.)
She stayed with me the entire time and started my facial. You lie on the table all wrapped up for around 45 minutes then a warm shower is next to wash off the stuff that she applied to your entire body. It was relaxing. NO dead skin on this chick!!

When I left the spa, I headed downtown and then I decided I wanted lunch at the Marriott and changed directions. I had a fried green tomato pimento cheese sandwich with lots of bacon (reminded me of a similar sandwich at Café 212 in Tupelo, MS and wonderful green beans with caramelized onions.  I ate outside on the covered patio, and the view was very nice. Florence 003 After lunch and a little relaxation, I headed toward downtown. The weather was warmer on Saturday, so downtown had browsers.

Florence 022 The first place I stumbled upon was the Court Street Market.  There were several things in this building, but the one place that I immediately fell in love with was The Carriage on Court. It was an open floor plan wine/cheese/ flower, etc. shop. It reminded me of New York. 

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I found two adorable tops at a boutique called My Favorite Things that I did buy, but I had to remind myself that there is a certain cash limit to being nice to yourself on this special weekend. I met two nice ladies (one from Virginia), and the owner was very helpful.

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Then I walked in to Jewel’s Accessories. This beautiful women with a huge smile greeted me at the door. I told her I wanted full curly blond hair like she has. This stated our warm honest conversation and our friendship. Graham is a delightful person with a huge personality. When the karma shirt is marked down, let me know. My life has been ruled by karma-some good and some bad!  Jewel
I wandered around more and found a great book at the Thrift Store down the street.

Then I went to Rosie’s to relax before heading to the hotel. Fortunately for me, Rene’ Anderson was behind the bar. She is so kind and so delightful to talk to that I ordered food and stayed longer than I had planned. She is artistic, creative and has a great thirst for knowledge and strives for a good life for her family.  Her love story made me smile for a long time.

This store has very classy traditional clothes and a cozy shop atmosphere. I loved the painting above the register.

Bill ReidFlorence 030

I finally made it to the hotel, and the check in was easy. There were no hot cookies yet, but they always have a great coffee for you, and I did walk back to the lobby when the cookies were ready. I tried a strawberry cheesecake cookie- It was so good. I was really into “be nice to Wanda” today! As I was checking in, I ran in to a friend from Tupelo celebrating Valentines’ Day with his special valentine.

I walked down to On the Rocks to watch the Ole Miss game.  I ate a great burger then I walked down to FloBama to watch the second half. Someone had told me there was an eighties band playing tonight.  They were correct, but it did not start until 10:30, so I watched the game and talked to this delightful couple who has celebrated Valentine’s Day thirty-two times together, and they still liked each other! We had a good time conversing and then the Velcro Pygmies took the stage! I do not know how to describe the outfits of the band. My first thoughts were a combination of Boy George, Richard Simmons, and Kiss. The music was really good, and they had a big stage presence.

Yes, I was a little shocked.
Yes, I was a little shocked.

When I Ieft the hotel earlier, I walked to On the Rocks. When I left FloBama, it was freezing, so I called a cab to go back to the hotel.

I enjoyed lunch the next day with a friend at Ricatoni’s.  The lasagna has a delightful red sauce. It was a warm and inviting atmosphere.Postcard of Forks

Afterward lunch, we went to the remnant of an old plantation- the amazing Forks of Cypress. This is a great video of the Forks of Cypress Tour.

Beams of Forks of Cypress
Beams of Forks of Cypress
Before the fire..
Before the fire.. 
small replica of FOC - Florence
small replica of FOC

Alex Haley did not live to see Queen published. This was the story of his great-great grandmother and his great- great grandfather’s family and plantation.

A friend told me that I reminded him of Frost’s poem and that he knew I had “many miles to go before I sleep”.  I think he knows me well.  I think beignets will be in my future. Until next time…..
Excerpt from “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” by Robert Frost

“The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.”

Cruise Again- Anyone?

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I would Cruise Again! Cruising is fun! No sea sickness at all but a little cotton mouth from the patch. I think it was a very calm cruise which I am sure helped with this. I also slept well except for one night when the bed was doing a little moving.  We had a room that did not have a window, and two ex-teachers accustomed to getting up early were able to sleep late. The schedule was always flexible.

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The food was great: the chocolate dessert was my favorite. The best hamburger was found on this cruise thanks to the “fixings” bar with bacon bits and mushrooms.  The atmosphere was so relaxed. What is there to fret about if you have three meals and a wonderful steward who cleaned your room and brought you breakfast if you put the card out before midnight. All you had to do was circle what you wanted.  We ordered a light breakfast—you know to tide us over until we could go to the real breakfast. Waking up to a knock on the door and then fresh coffee being placed on the counter was a treat!  The last morning we went to the formal breakfast. I would do that every morning on the next cruise. I felt like royalty.

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We had an 8:15 dinner time and after the first night, we found delightful companions to spend our dinner time with each night.  Paige Copeland and Daniel Heidrick – thanks for welcoming us to your table. The menu was enticing every night.Cruise -Jan. 14 046

One night after dinner, we enjoyed two comedians, and there was also a casino on board, a piano bar and several other places to relax.

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When we arrived in Progreso, we walked off the boat and went to the first establishment that had food, cold Coronas and the most important thing– high speed internet. We both needed to work on our online classes and communicate with the world. Adelia got a $20.00 amazing massage, and we enjoyed the three for five Coronas.

I bought a cute blue beach dress and Retina A. The dress was $25.00, and it was $20.00 for two tubes of Retina A. Bargains! The place where I bought the Retina A was named Drugs and Deli which made me laugh.  I guess the contents of the store were not that different from the old drug stores like Brent’s Drugs in the movie The Help. You could buy several different types of antibiotics, Flexeril and Ultram just to name a few. I was afraid to purchase anything like that because I thought this might not make it through Customs.   I knew Customs would not care about my wrinkle helping cream.

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Alcohol was also cheaper, but travelers must pay a tax to bring home alcohol, and carrying the alcohol safely home without breaking it would have been a hassle for me. Not worth it! While walking through Customs, potential customers were given free Tequila shots to promote the product. Beautiful and reasonably priced gold and silver jewelry was abundant. I wish I had purchased some jewelry. Adelia told me to buy souvenirs in Progreso because they were cheaper. She was correct! Some people were told to wait until they were in port in Cozumel. My cruise expert knew where was best to shop.Cruise -Jan. 14 032

Our next stop was Cozumel. We found the Three Amigos restaurant after we departed. Good food, great view and high speed wireless internet – a winning trio of offerings. After we finished working and returned our laptops to our room, we began the search for a free beach.  After taking directions from several people and walking a long way, we faced the fact that there are no free beaches in Cozumel. At this time it was around lunch, and we had to board at 3:00, so paying $40.00 for beach privileges was not a wise investment.  Adelia got another massage and then we shopped and boarded the ship.

The next day we were at sea all day, and we enjoyed the pool. There was always something going on at the pool: Hairy Chest Contest, ice sculptures, music, etc.

The day of departure there is choice of whether to put your luggage out or carry it yourself. We carried our luggage and that made it easier to depart quickly.

We rode a bus back to the airport for our 4:00 flight. Our new friend Jennifer ate lunch with us before boarding her plane back to Oklahoma. Jennifer is a house mother for a fraternity and a director at Upward Bound. She is an amazing young lady that I hope to see again soon. Adelia is a great travel companion, and I am thankful that she invited me to accompany her on this trip!

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I would cruise again, but I will always hope and pray for calm waters before each voyage!

BV - cartoon

First Cruise: Face Your Fears

Cruise - NassauCreative Commons License faungg’s photo via Compfight

My first Carnival cruise will be taking place soon. There are several reasons that I am a virgin cruiser: job and fear of being seasick again. The most important reason is because of my jobs. For the last eight years, I have needed internet access 24/7, but for the next ten weeks, I do not need internet access for every waking moment.

Another reason was my deep sea fishing experience twenty years ago and my para sailing adventure. There are some experiences that you never forget. Daddy thought it would be a great idea for me to go deep sea fishing with the boys, so I did. We arose at 6:00 that morning, and we hit Waffle House with a vengeance. After fried everything, we boarded the boat.

At first it was fun, I actually caught the first fish. It was a small thing, but I was quite pleased then the nausea began. After about thirty minutes, I was hanging over the side of the boat. It is safe to say that I did not want to eat at Waffle House or crave eggs and bacon for a long time.

Finally, I was able to go down in the gallows to lie down. I went to sleep and I woke up feeling better. I walked up to the steps and then I saw myself. I was literally green from the neck up –not a bright green but a pale thick green.   Then I followed Daddy’s advice and ate a few crackers and drank some soda. BIG MISTAKE! I was back hanging over the side of the boat again.

When the trip was coming to a close and we were heading in to the marina, as soon as I saw a land form and focused only on looking at the land, I immediately started feeling better.

Parasailing @ SaipanCreative Commons License

Hajime NAKANO via Compfight

The para-sailing adventure was not as traumatic as the fishing experience, but as the boat was hitting the waves, and I was going up and down in the sky like a yo-yo, I started to feel that same sick feeling as if someone is taking your stomach and throwing it around like a Frisbee.

I have decided to tackle my fear of seasickness and arm myself with a patch, Dramamine, and Phenergan. Hopefully the patch will be all I need, but just in case, I will have the other two meds to make me feel better.

I am going cruising, and I am totally clueless about what is allowed and what time you do everything, but Adelia is a seasoned veteran, and she will direct me and assist me. We travel well together, so I am ready for the adventure to begin later in the month. I will share my trip with my friends.

 Restaurant Recommendations from Recent Adventures

New Year’s Trip to Destin
790 on the Gulf Restaurant was amazing!

View from the inside of 790 on the Gulf
View from the inside of 790 on the Gulf


View from the outside
View from the outside



Synergy is an all organic cafe and juice bar that focuses on using real whole foods from our local and regional farmers. The Cafe is owned by longtime Locals Amy Likins and Christian Echele who have been making wonderful healthy food on the Emerald Coast together for 13 years. Amy has a degree in Holistic Nutrition and Christian is a classically trained chef- combined they make an amazing team to bring you the freshest, best taking and good for you combinations- you will be eating healthier and loving it before you know it!

At Synergy we strive to help others find a path to health and well being by bringing about a greater sense of awareness and wholeness to all that we do. We believe the secret to a life of health and well-being is found in taking a Synergistic or Holistic approach to life with a healthy Organic Whole Foods based diet, daily exercise, and a positive mental and emotional constitution. Come have a seat at the bar and watch as our amazingly talented team create fresh masterpieces right in front of you. Every time you come into the cafe is an opportunity to learn how to make positive healthy choices for yourself and your families’ diet and lifestyle. (copied from the public website)

Holly Springs, MS, on the square
Great service! The salmon and sweet baked potato were amazing. There was also a great salad bar with spinach—thank you!


Chase your dreams….they will not chase you!

Rebel Football Love

hotty toddy

LyceumOle MissSEC Football Team love is hard to describe. It is a feeling, an emotion that is hard to explain if you are not a southerner with a team.  Football in the south is an institution that is cherished and loved by many people. I have no comprehension or tolerance for people that changes teams according to the team’s record or their affiliation with people.  I was an Ole Miss Rebel  fan in ’94 and 2004 when we were 4-7, and I will always be a fan.

For my family and most of the Ole Miss family, football means tailgating at all home games.  We started out tailgating in the circle around thirty-five years ago when it was just us and a few other people. We had a card table, a few chairs and KFC. When my girls were old enough to sit through a ballgame, they climbed the magnolia tree and played in the Circle before the game and then they were introduced to Ole Miss Football.

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I have no comprehension or tolerance for people that changes teams according to the team’s record or their affiliation with certain people.  I was a fan in ’94 and 2004 when we were 4-7, and I am a fan in 2014; I will always be a fan.Eli

Football tailgating preparation begins at least a week in advance. Deciding departure time on game day and coordinating food selection and arrival times of all parties is like coordinating a party or social event. Our location has changed due to the new parking restraints, but we have settled in at our new location. It is very convenient for Daddy and Jane, Donna and John, and Peg and Ralph to be able to back the vehicles up and unload.

We pick our crew up from wherever they can park and bring them to the tailgate.
We pick our crew up from wherever they can park and bring them to the tailgate.

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We have an intricate tailgating plan.  Daddy and Jane bring the tents, grill, chairs, food and lots of other stuff. Whoever gets there at the same time Daddy does helps with the tent. Tyler will ride down and coordinate when possible.

The Hills bring the tv and the satellite dish, the heater, food, the sides of the tents and lots of other stuff. I bring two dishes and my Cranberry Dicey Gold which is a very good mixture guaranteed to enhance your pre-game experience.  (Thank you, Michael Murphy and the Jake Owen Gold Tour for giving me the opportunity to concoct this drink.) My bring list decreased when I had to start parking at the Wesley House.   All of the other parties involved bring food and whatever else they want to bring.  It is like a family reunion every home game.  We look forward to the fellowship, laughter, and stories.2013 008


One interesting man who loves Ole Miss Football and was featured in a video is Mr. Glenn.  He tailgates with us for the home games, and he dislikes LSU like no one I have ever met. (It is true that many Rebels had rather beat LSU than anyone else on the schedule.)   You can count on him to bring fried chicken every week, and he will surprise you. He had champagne and cigars for us after our last home game.   He also danced after the Alabama win, but I cannot find the video on ESPN.10-28-14 camera 0192013 855

I miss this group of people after the last home game, but God willing, we will all be back next fall to spend time together and say, “Hotty Toddy”.hotty toddy

All fall  trips are scheduled for me around the Ole Miss Football off weekends and away weekends. The departure and arrival of trips planned for the fall must accommodate all game times of parties involved in the trip.  While traveling with a State fan (Lori) or a Bama fan (Michelle), game times must be taken in to account of all teams and a place chosen in said town to watch all games. You must watch and cheer your team on to victory if at all possible. I do feel that Bo could hear me this season say which receiver was open and the linebackers could hear me yell- “Stop him.”  Running toward the tv for away games also helps everyone on the team run a little faster.  We understand the importance of supporting our team even if it is just viewing the game at home.

Weddings should not be scheduled in the fall. I do not understand anyone who gets married during football season. Jordan and I watched one game on our phones with the volume down waiting on the bridal march.

Enjoy your bowl game and remember that many teams are at home wishing they were playing in a bowl game, so cheer for your team and be thankful for their hard work that made a bowl game possible for your team.Vince quote # 1Laquon


Of Parties, Prose and Football

Katy Perry gave the Ole Miss mascot the best hug of his life.

Trash it, Share it, or Keep it


As I began my fall decluttering, I had to formulate questions to help me to decide whether to trash it, share it or keep it?  Do you need eight Pyrex dishes? As my friend said, “Well, if you plan to cook eight casseroles you do.”  That comment made me quickly put two in the giveaway pile.  This girl does not cook very much. The thought of cooking eight casseroles made me wince and immediately think of the hours that would be spent doing something I do not want to do versus something that I do want to do!  The other six are different sizes that I might actually use. The word “might” will get you every time!

I started in the kitchen closet, and I moved everything that I will actually use to the bottom shelf: tailgating platters and Christmas platters and vases. The vases are for my flowers that I buy for myself. Kroger has wonderful discounted flowers. Why would you not enjoy roses/flowers for a week for $4.99? If there are no flowers on discount sometimes I have to do without, but most of the time I can find something. My pleasure is worth that much money. Ladies, do not wait on a man to buy you flowers. Buy them for yourself because as the commercials of yesteryear told us, “You are worth it”.

The beautiful cake platters which came from Mama Gat were sent to the top shelf as well as my coffee maker which was replaced by my wonderful Keurig Vue.  When you throw away a crock pot which has not had a lid for several years, it creates more space.

From that spot, I went to what I use for the pantry. It is really a book case by the side of the kitchen door.  The first shelf was recipe books and hundreds of torn out pages of recipes and printed out pages of recipes. If I want a recipe now, I go to Google and search for it. I do not look through all of the recipes until I find it, and I never will. Five recipe books went to charity, and the other recipes went to the garbage. I did keep a few of the recipe books that are special to me for some reason.  The other shelves are for food. The 2011 hot chocolate and the 1990 baking powder went in the garbage. It is amazing how things could pushed to the back, and you never look at them.

My meds are kept in the kitchen cabinet. As I looked at the assortment, I was amazed. When I took everything out and started looking at the bottles, I understood. Saving one pill of your antibiotics is not a smart choice.  I am not sure what I was thinking– maybe that one pill was going to make me better the next time I was sick.  I know the next time I see my friend, Amy, (after she reads this) she will say remember to take ALL of your antibiotics this time. I chunked many old prescription bottles and out of date over the counter stuff.

How fortunate am I that I have all of this? Do I need it? We all know the answer to that question. No, I do not need 70% of what I have, but Americans tend to love accumulating things that have no correlation to their happiness.

The questions below are going to aid me in my quest:
1. Would you take it with you if you moved? Do you love it enough to move it? Do you use it enough to move it?
I moved the baking powder from Lake Piomingo to Saltillo and then to Skyline. Did I ever look at the expiration date? No, it was written on the bottom. Did I ever think of the last time I used it?
Most of the time when we move, it is in a hurry. It may start out to be well planned and organized, but when it comes down to the final day, you are just throwing crap everywhere. Here is a box so rake everything out of that cabinet into a box. I do the same with cleaning. The first room gets the most love and the best dusting. By the time I get to the last room, it gets a little love and a sparse dusting.  If we do a real throw out and keep this question in mind, it will help us to dejunk our homes even if we never move.

2. Can it be replaced for less than $10.00 if you realized that you actually needed it?
My friend, Michelle, gave me this question to use. Michelle and my daughter Jade are the best people I know at throwing things away or giving things away that they do not use or like. It does not cause them pain or turmoil over making the decision to give away or throw away. Amazing!

3. Will my children want any of this stuff?
I did not realize the validity of this question or even know it was a question to consider until my mama Gat went to heaven.  It took the family (especially Sue) a long time to get everything out of the house and the shop. Mama had some wonderful beautiful things, but there was so much of it. It is also such a painful emotionally time that you are thinking of things that represent the loved one to you. The memories in our head are what validate the love and existence of our loved ones. I want to make things as easy on my kids as I can when I leave for the other side.  Also, most of the time they do not want your junk, or they have no room for it in their house that is already filled to the brim with things they do not need. You may have a special memory of it, but they do not.

4. Do I love it? Would I buy it again? Did I buy this item  just to have something to put there?
These questions really hit home for me. I do tend to buy things because something needs to go there instead of waiting to find that special thing that I would love and want to keep.Cluster is not

Most of us were instructed to be thrifty and to save for a rainy day. Our parents were also instructed by their parents that grew up during the depression with very little to do the same. I think that aids us in life, but it also hampers us because it enables us to feel justified in holding on to stuff we do not need because it is too good to throw away. Giving our discarded things to a charity helps us to feel validated and not wasteful of the bounty that we have been given.

My kitchen is now decluttered. Next week I will move to the next room…

You know  to be useful or belive

Creative Ways to Declutter

Decluttering the Kitchen

Organizing Life with Less

Have a wonderful Friday!

Be Happy: Spring 2014 Freak Out

Hepburn  -1 How can you forget how blessed you are and not be happy?  Most people have certain freak out times in their lives that they will never forget. I have a few periods of my life that I will never forget, but the most recent freak out was the spring of 2014.

I was retiring from my job in education after twenty-eight years that went by in a flash of light. I was experiencing problems with friends and a boyfriend relationship, and I was going to be a Gigi (a grandmother), and I would be turning 50 in September. Can we say emotional roller-coaster from hell?

My decision to retire was a hard one, but after seeing the financial breakdown, it was the smart thing to do. I loved the people that I spent my day with in the office,  and I enjoyed the administrative parts of my job. I did not enjoy grading one hundred essays a week during certain weeks of the school year. I loved helping other instructors and being the go to girl for online English problems. It was rewarding, and I felt like I was actually making a contribution to the online program at ICC to move in a forward motion.  When I saw on paper how my salary would increase if I stayed four more years, I realized it would not be the right choice for me to stay. I am a breast cancer survivor who does not believe in counting on tomorrow. At this point, my prognosis is good (if I change my life style), but how mad at myself would I be if I worked more years and then realized that my time on this earth was up.  This was one of the hardest decisions I have ever had to make.  What would be my new normal?

I am a Virgo control habitual list making freak, so change sometimes throws me for a loop for a little while.  I did have a deep desire to live somewhere else for a while and travel, so that is what I did-hence the Charleston and Costa Rica trips. I still plan to travel a lot and meet new people and see new places. Who knows where I will end up, but I know it will be a fabulous place.  My heart is beating a little faster as I think about the places I am going to go one day.

I had an amazing support system. I cannot say thank you enough to my friends who have stood by me and checked on me where ever I was. The hugs, lunches, daily counseling sessions and pep talks from my friends were my shelter in the storm.  My friends believed in me when I felt emotionally drained.   They said, “Go for it. What is the worst that can happen? If you can handle the worst scenario then you got this.”  I cannot thank my daughters enough who were excited about my adventures and encouraged me ever step of the way. My family was supportive but worried.

A grandmother in September- Wow! My kids are not old enough to have kids! Oh wait, they are 27 and 24. I guess they are old enough.  I think the first shocking thought was “My baby is having a baby”!  To make it even more interesting, it is a boy baby.  I know baby boys pee in your face and love Bob the Builder. Who is Bob the Builder? Is that Barbie’s friend? Am I old enough to be a Gigi- Yes, I am.

I am excited about this new addition to my life that I will love very much.  I have a great rocker thanks to Jane’s grandmother, and many books to read to my grandson. I love to rock and read as we called it when the girls were little.  I can give him candy, and I do not have to pay his dental bills. My daughter and son-in-law will be amazing parents, and the support system they have is unbelievable.

I will be 50 in September. Do I feel 50? No, and those that know me will definitely agree that I do not act my age even though sometimes I guess I should. I do try to preserve my face and exercise – Yes, I have a vain and shallow side. Doesn’t everyone? Thank you Retina A and Botox.

This made my thoughts go in a different direction. What have I done with my time on this great earth? There are so many things that I could have done better, but no dress rehearsal is allowed, and don’t you hate that phrase about hindsight is 20/20?  You get one shot, and it passes by so fast.  What could you do better? I have so many things that I need to work on in my life to make me a better person; I want to be loving and kind to everyone and never cold and is an investmnet

My new normal for now is teaching a couple of online classes and working part-time for a great business; therefore, I am a very busy lady as I wait to be a Gigi. I hope to declutter my house soon, get the little trees out of the flower beds when I have time, and Thursday night starts this Ole Miss girl’s football season. Hotty Toddy!

My feet are on the ground now. I am still finding my way and adjusting to the changes in my life, but my life is good.  I hope your life is good to live- hepburn

Audrey Hepburn was an amazing classy lady. Cheers to her!My Fair Lady Breakfast

Gratitude and Pay It Forward

My summer discoveries are really simple: practice gratitude and try to make someone’s day a little brighter with a smile, a hug, or a kind word or all three. If I repeat myself in any of my blogs, it is because I need to write those words again for me.

1. I feel gratitude every day for my wonderful life. Being grateful for all that I have and all of  the wonderful opportunities I have experienced keeps me balanced.   Solitude and meditation work for some people, and it did help me, but I tend to gravity toward interaction with people.  (I first wrote medication and that may work better for some people.)  Whatever you need to feel grateful for your life, go for it!   I felt extreme gratitude every morning when I looked at the view from the balcony. Everything that happened in my life led me to that balcony and to that wonderful feeling of inner peace.  Trying to preserve it now, but it is a struggle when you enter the familiar rat race.

2. People enter your life and people leave your life and that is as it should be. Do not spend too much time trying  to understand the how’s or why’s.  Some things are not meant to be understood; they are meant to be accepted and used as a life lesson. Remember the love you received from those people because you would not have been a part of your life if you did not feel loved on some level and for whatever reason, it is where you wanted to be at that time in your life.  As Elizabeth Gilbert said, “Whenever you think of them, send them love and light.” Cherish the good times.

3. Surround yourself with people that bring out the best in you. Do not be around people who delight in finding and pointing out your shortcomings. Everyone has things that he/she does not do well. Pointing out the inadequacies of others will not make your inadequate behavior any less noticeable. We need to be lifted up and  challenged to never stop growing, learning, and embracing new things and new people. Find the people that after you talk to them you think about your conversations, and you feel enriched by being around them and you want to investigate that new book or that idea that they present.

3. From my life book, Eat Pray Love,  “let it go”. Focus on the joy of living. You can only control what you do. Everything else is out of your control. The world will not stop turning if you just let go.

4. You know from when you are young if you are one of those people who want to know the how and why and if you willing to go the extra lengths to find answers. I knew I was one of those people from a young age, but I made choices that allowed me only to look at life from a small window. Keep looking and searching for your pot of gold. Everybody has different dreams and different ideals of what he/she considers to be “the good life”.

5. Human beings are amazing creations that are adaptable and filled with love.

6. Happiness is not measured by material things. I saw the happiness and the love that comes only from having food, shelter, and clothing and someone to love.

What would happen if each year companies modeled a “Pay It Forward” initiative like Bell State Bank and Trust? This program illustrates Anne Frank’s statement.
Check out this link shared with me by my mentor:
Pay It Forward: 2013
“In 2013, Bell State Bank & Trust and Bell Mortgage employees again had the opportunity to Pay It Forward by giving back to the communities we serve. Each year since 2008, every full-time employee has received $1,000 and every part-time employee $500 to Pay It Forward as they see fit to those in need. In what has become a year-round tradition, our employees carefully consider their Pay It Forward gifts. Our Pay It Forward gifts since the program’s inception are nearing $5 million that has been given to people in need and causes we care about.

This past year, we made an addition to Pay It Forward that doubled its life-changing impact. Through our “Pay It Forward: Community Connect” component, each employee selected a customer, vendor or community member who themselves had the chance to Pay It Forward to an individual, family or organization in need.”

Have a wonderful week!

Costa Rican Return

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Pirate’s Beach: Thank you Bill for taking me to see this beach!

A few travel hints and my Costa Rican departure story should assist you when you visit Costa Rica. Was it hard to leave? Oh, yes! It was hard to leave the beautiful beaches and the sense of calm and peace, but all good things come to an end. Does anything last forever?  No, not on this earth.Costa Rica 295

1. Bring enough contact solution. Very few people in Costa Rica wear contacts and maybe the ones that do get the solution at the eye doctor’s office. I started looking at every store, and I did not see any solution then I found it at the farmacia in Flamingo. I mentioned it at dinner with Dave and the radio DJ that does the radio show at Flamingo Hotel. He said he purchased saline solution  in a bag and  then withdrew it with a needle for his contacts. I think most people that can afford the laser surgery have that done because it is so cheap in Costa Rica. All dental and medical procedures are very affordable.

2. The climate is different for each section of the country. Getting weather for different sections of this country is a little tricky. I read online that the nights can be really cool. Well, that was in San Jose not Playa Flamingo, so the blue jean jacket, the sweatshirt, the work out jacket, the ankle skinny jeans,  and the scarves were not needed. Packing fail again! I did survive with five pair of shoes for the entire trip, so that was a success.

3. You must arrive at the airport at least two hours before your flight.  If you are late then you will be told that you will take the next day’s flight. There is an exit tax to pay to leave the country. It is $29.00. There are places that you can pay it before you get to the airport. There is only one in the area where I was located, and it was at the Playa Flamingo Hotel, but it was inaccessible most days. I did not have any problems when I arrived at the airport paying the tax. When I arrived, I took the Airport shuttle which was very nice and very safe, but it was expensive. With tip it was around $90.00.  For the trip back to the airport, I booked through Eoctrans, and it is only $50.00 if I am the only one on the shuttle. If more people book for that flight from this area, then it will only cost $25.00. I was the only one, but it was a very nice peaceful ride and worth the money.

5. The currency here can be understood by doubling the sum or something like that: Below is the official rate.

1.00 USD = 540.649 CRC

500 colones  =  $1.00
1000 colones=  $2.00

By the end of the trip, I was doing a better job with the conversion. (Do not ask Bill or Dave or the waiter at Marie’s if I was improving.)

6. There are English channels on the TV. I found Warner the second night I was there, but I thought that was all I had. Bill came over and showed me the other three channels that you have access to with basic cable. I was going in to Big Bang withdrawals until I found it on Warner!

7. Books- As most of you know, I am a readaholic. Bring your books with you. Marie has a share area at her restaurant that was a lifesaver and Linda (from Washington) also shared her books with me before she left.

Since I shared my trip with you to get to Costa Rica, I wanted to share the return. After paying the exit tax and checking my bag in at Delta with the help of this nice man who assists people for tips, I went through security with ease and headed to the wait area. Because of the departure of my plane being at 12:55 and getting to the airport at 10:00, I was hungry. For a mere $30.00, I had a fruit smoothie and a small quesadilla. They have you at the airport early, and they take full advantage of it. I shopped a little, but I did not buy anything. The chocolate covered coffee beans, almonds and fruit were very good. They had free samples and free coffee. Brit coffee is very good.  There was a cowhide purse that I really liked, but not to the tune of $200.00.Costa Rica 407Costa Rica 408

Our departure was smooth, and the flight was a good flight.  The plane landed in Atlanta and went through passport check which the form is now electronic if you are a US citizen then we waited in line to get our bags, re-checked our bags and then went through security again. This took around one hour and thirty minutes. It was a long painful process. Then I proceeded to gate B 32 and purchased a salad, brownie and a water. While eating and talking to Lori, we were told that our gate had been changed to  A 9. I gathered up my food and started the hike to the next terminal and then rode the little train to terminal A.
The terminal was packed, and we waited and waited. A storm came through so our flight was delayed. We started boarding around 10:40, and we all got on the plane then we waited because we had NO pilots. They had been detained by the bad weather on another flight. I arrived in Memphis at midnight, and my dear friend, Lori, was waiting on me with a welcome sign.  We made it to my house by 1:45 a.m. She had to be at work at 8:00.Costa Rica 410

As Hemingway stated in The Sun Also Rises, there is a price for everything that is good and my Costa Rican trip was very good.
“Women made such swell friends. Awfully swell. In the first place, you had to be in love with a woman to have a basis of friendship. I had been having Brett for a friend. I had not been thinking about her side of it. I had been getting something for nothing. That only delayed the presentation of the bill. The bill always came. That was one of the swell things you could count on.
I thought I had paid for everything. Not like the woman pays and pays and pays. No idea of retribution or punishment. Just exchange of values. You gave up something and got something else. Or you worked for something. You paid some way for everything that was any good. I paid my way into enough things that I liked, so that I had a good time. Either you paid by learning about them, or by experience, or by taking chances, or by money. Enjoying living was learning to get your money’s worth. The world was a good place to buy in. It seemed like a fine philosophy. In five years, I thought, it will seem just as silly as all the other fine philosophies I’ve had.”
― Ernest HemingwayThe Sun Also Rises

Please click on this link, and after you read the list, wait on the pictures at the bottom to load:They are so funny and so accurate!
13 Things Only Solo Travelers Will Understand

Costa Rica Countdown


The Costa Rica Countdown has begun! I have heard that preparation and anticipation of a trip is just as rewarding as the actual trip. I beg to differ! I think when I am looking at the view from the condo balcony, and the to-do-list is checked off that I will enjoy the actual trip more than the planning.

When you book a room through, make sure that the only charge you will incur is the price of the room. Get the price in writing from the owner or the organization. There should be no hidden fees from the owner like the electric bill or a hidden deposit.  This confusion resulted in many e-mails, and it was partially resolved, but it was stressful.  Airbnb supported me to a point, but they would not back me 100%. The owner of the condo agrees to the company terms when the property is listed; therefore, there should be no other charges or cash transactions. I take some credit in the misunderstanding, but it will not happen again when I book a room.

Car has been reserved. I am super excited about a driver standing in front of the airport with a sign with my name on it.

Your credit card company and your debit card company must be notified if you plan to make any international transactions. There is a 3% increase on your debit card for cash advances.  My credit card company would only issue me a pin by mail – not helpful!

Shots- Yes, that was today.  Typhoid and Hepatitis A and then an extra one for Kayden’s arrival in September.  Two in one arm and one in the other arm. I am a little sore, but it is not as bad as I thought it would be.

Packing- Clothes were easy, but I packed too much again, so I re-did my packing. I have a washer and dryer, so I can wash clothes. I will be willing to wager that I will once again wear only half of the clothes that I pack.

I tried to find a magic number like four pair of gym shorts, four dress shorts, four dresses and four bathing suits.

Toiletries are very hard for me to limit!  Yes, I want my Victoria Secret body wash. I am a toiletries ho (Thank you, Jenny, for that phrase.) – Yes, I need my lotions and potions, and I think Vaseline can literally cure everything.

Of course, there are other important things that must be taken care of before you leave like nails and a pedi.

I have an early flight, and Lori has volunteered to take me to the airport. I would have never asked her because of the ungodly hour that we will need to leave, but she is willing to sacrifice sleep for me to go on an adventure. She is always with me in spirit.

I hope this is going to be my Pray part of my Eat, Pray, and Love journey. There has been so much joy in the last six months and so much love showered on me, but there have been major changes and disappointments in my life, and I need to embrace all of the happy changes and let the disappointments flow in to the ocean, and think about what I want to be when I grow up. People enter your life for a reason and for a season. Sometimes the purpose of their visit is clear and sometimes it is not, but you must trust and believe that when one chapter closes a better one will begin.

lady in ocean

Also if you want to see your family and friends, leave for a month. They will want to hang out with you.  My social calendar has blossomed.  A few friends are yearning to visit me, and I hope they are able to pull it off and do Costa Rica with me!

The Costa Rica Countdown continues.  Thank you for sharing my journey with me.


CR drink

Wine, Eggs, and Conflict

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It is in most Southern Girl’s DNA to avoid conflict because our grandmothers and our mothers avoided conflict and tried to make everybody happy. This makes some women happy, but to others, it is an energy and soul draining life. We also avoid hurting someone’s feelings at all cost. We sprinkle sugar on the truth. We choose to overlook things that happen while hoping these things will go away and stay in our little happy place that we created in our minds. This brings me to ask you a trivial question: “What kind of wine do you like?”  I was buying wine last night. It was on sale (My friends know how much I love a Sale sign.), and I was looking at all of the different selections, and I realized that I really did not know what my favorite wine was, so I bought four different kinds: Malbec, Merlot, Pinot Noir, and Cabernet Sauvignon.  I thought my favorite was a red blend, but I really had no clue.

I immediately thought of the movie Runaway Bride. Who does not love that movie? Do you know how you want your eggs? Do you know what you need to be happy? How much of you are you willing to change or give away to be with someone or to make everyone else happy?   Do you know what you like or what you want or do you try to bend to whatever someone wants you to be so you can be his dream woman, her dream man, or the perfect daughter, son, mother, father, brother or sister?

Runaway BrideMaggie Carpenter to Ike Graham:
“When I was walking down the aisle, I was walking toward somebody who didn’t have any idea who I really was. And it was only half the other person’s fault, because I had done everything to convince him that I was exactly what he wanted. So it was good that I didn’t go through with it because it would have been a lie. But you – you knew the real me.”

Yes, I know you have to bend and tolerate things that  would not have been your choice, but at what point do you give yourself away  and realize that you are living someone else’s life.  You wake up one morning, and you feel anxious and not happy, but you do not know why because the farce has been going on so long.  You do not know what it takes to make you happy because you have not taken the time to find out or let’s be real, life does not give you a lot of time to focus on you. I am now getting that time, but it is been hard to wrap my mind around the process of not being identified by my past.

Some people were born with the gift of authenticity, but most of us were not. What does it mean to be authentic or genuine? I think you must know yourself before you can be authentic and then be true to that self that you discover.  It makes me think of the line from Shakespeare as Polonius said to Laertes: “This above all: to thine own self be true…”.  We are not responsible for other people’s happiness, but we are responsible for making someone unhappy if we do not present our genuine authentic selves to the world.

How do we find that? Well, I think it involves a constant pursuit of trying to know and love yourself. Sometimes that requires serious soul searching and painful alone time.  It also means being honest, humble, and filled with love, and you cannot have that if you are filled with resentment because you are not living the life that you want because you do not know who you are and what you like and dislike, or you are not willing to take a chance to be who you want to be.

Embrace conflict if it will keep you from being unhappy or making a bad decision. The conflict will pass as does most things on this earth.  I have so much to learn about me. It is going to be an action packed journey filled with laughter and love!
The real me loves Malbec Wine, and most of the time, I do not want to cook, and I can live without dog hair.

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