I thought you moved to Florida?

The million dollar question!  Here are the answers to all of your questions:

Yes!  We sold our condo in Connecticut and bought a condo in Venice, Fl.  We did this for one main reason: WE HATE WINTERS!  We hate being cold, we hate driving in the snow,  etc.  Each year we would spend more and more time in the winter in Florida, and last year we spent 5 months down South.  We bought a camper and spent a month in the Blue Ridge Mountains, 2 months in Venice, Fl then another 2 months exploring in our camper (Jacksonville, Fl/Jekyll Island/St Simons Island/Savannah, Ga/Beaufort, SC/Charleston, SC/Southern Pines, NC)

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We work in the golf course industry and we would have our winters off, allowing us very little places to travel (again, we want to be WARM)  So, many years ago we had the idea of moving to Florida, saving money on taxes, cost of living, etc and having our Summers off instead.  Golf courses tend to die down Summers in Florida.  This would allow us so much more options to explore with the Camper and for Adventures.

When we decided this, we wanted to make sure we weren’t settling with Venice, Fl because that’s where we were comfortable. That is the reason we explored last year in the camper. We absolutely LOVED many of the places we explored, but even Jacksonville, Fl was freezing! So, Venice it was. Erik’s parents own a place there, and we bought in the same condo complex as them.

If you read this blog regularly, you know this winter was a tough transition for us.  We lived with my in-laws for 4 months while we waited for a current renters lease to be up then renovate the  condo.  That was a nightmare, but in the end we were settled and happy.

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People would constantly ask me if we were coming back to CT this summer and I told them I had no idea. That wasn’t a lie. We sold our condo and at that time the only thing we had planned was to spend the Summer traveling in the camper up North.  However, I always knew there was a chance we would find a place to stay in CT.  Here’s why:

Last year when we decided we would sell our place in CT, we had the thought of renting in CT for 6 months. I put the word out that we were looking, and we found out Erik’s friend from High School had a small cottage on Bashan Lake in East Haddam.  We checked it out and the place was gorgeous. He had completely renovated the whole thing, all top of the line. The yard was HUGE and it had amazing lake views.

Well, it was out of our price range, but while we were looking at it Erik’s friend (the owner) mentioned he needed help taking care of his properties (he owns 4 and constantly has projects going on) So, when Erik told him we weren’t going to be able to take the place, he mentioned he would love to help if he still wanted someone to help around the properties. He ended up doing about 25 hours a week and LOVED it. Outside all day, physical labor, not dealing with people, on the lake, etc. Well, his buddy kept bringing up, “next year” and Erik would say, “well, we have nowhere to stay so I may not be able to do next year” He made a comment hinting that maybe we can use one of his places…..So, there was hope of CT, but we weren’t sure.

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In March, Erik contacted his buddy, and it turns out the original (gorgeous) house we looked at was still available and he offered it to us and Erik would continue to work for him 30+ hours a week.  This was so amazing because now I was able to make some money at the Golf Course and go back to mission FITNESS, which made me so happy. Not that a summer traveling in the camper wouldn’t make me happy, but I didn’t work all winter and I really was ready to WORK!!

So, here we are. Living in East Haddam and happy as hell. We still plan to take the camper on weekend trips, but to be honest to have a house (not a condo) for the first time it almost feels like we are camping!

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This is what’s going on for this Summer. Who knows what next Summer will bring. That’s the beauty and excitement of it all. If it looks like we aren’t going to come back to this place next Summer we may take the camper out West and explore the National Parks.

 Life is good. However, I can’t say it enough that this life we CREATED was not luck. It was a lot of calculated, small decisions mixed with a lot of hard work and living very simply and below our means.

Follow your heart…take that leap. You will find your wings on the way down!

It’s Time for a Change

Everything in me says I want adventure.  My heart aches for travel.  I see pictures others post of their adventures and I feel I would give up everything (possessions) for that.  It is all I want in this lifetime…adventures, new places, exploring, etc.

However, when I take it a step further, I have to ask myself…are you ready for that?  The same way someone goes to an IRONMAN or sees a Millionaire and says, “I want that” but then when they realize all the work that goes into it, it isn’t as glorious.  We tend to see things that we desire through false lenses.  Hell, isn’t that what Facebook and, even more so, Instagram set up for? We take a picture…most likely the best scenery of the whole day,  add saturation, contrast, filters.  We crop, add a beautiful quote and call it reality.  The picture doesn’t capture the smells, the noises, the heat, the cold, the mosquitos, the fear, the anger, the sadness that may surround that photo.

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So, as I am admiring other people’s adventures I have to ask myself, what is the reality of that picture?  And most of the time the REALITY is not something I am ready for.  While I feel like my heart aches for adventure, I know that mentally I am not ready for those crazy adventures (yet).  Here’s why:  I am a bit neurotic.  Ok, very neurotic.  I blame it on Howard Stern.  Really…he has made me so much worse.  I worry about germs.  A LOT!  I worry about food and how it’s being handled and cooked.  I worry about sleep.  I worry about safety, especially in other countries.  I get easily annoyed by others who do not respect other humans and our planet.  I hate not having control.  I don’t do well with not having a plan because I am obsessed with making sure we are hitting the best places and things in the area.

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So, now you see my battle.  I want to act on the free spirit soul I know that is within me, but I have some work to do.  SO, guess what?  I am doing that work.  I am working with my best friend who works with mind training, and I am going to work hard to LET THAT SHIT GO!  I want to go on these adventures I have planned and not stress the whole time about sitting on a nasty bus or train filled with germs, or eating from a restaurant that doesn’t look clean.  I don’t want to worry about if a local kid kisses my cheek if I will get a disease.  Or if I take a wrong turn if I will be taken by a gang.  These are seriously my fears.  Howard Stern tells “me” every time he hears a report of a news woman or a hiker getting taken or hurt to STAY IN YOUR HOME.  “Paint, like I do” he says.  And while I love that man like hell, I am ready to see this beautiful world!

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At Any Given Moment Who Have Two Options…

2 weeks from today….Friday, October 23rd I will board a plane and officially leave Connecticut. I will not fly directly to Florida, however. I fly to Washington D.C. where I will run the Marine Corp Marathon, then to Florida. In exactly 2 weeks I will move from the state I have called home for the last 35 years. I will fly to Erik, who has already arrived in Florida and reunite with him and Gunner after a month apart.

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While it has been a tough month with so much craziness and transitions, I have to say I could not have written a better script for my departure. First, with Erik and Gunner gone for a month when it is my time to leave it will make leaving so much easier.  I miss them so much it literally hurts. Second, I will be flying to run a marathon, which will take my mind off of leaving with the nerves and excitement of marathon weekend. Third, I am able to spend my last month with my parents, in the house (and bedroom) I grew up in. To go out on runs on the same roads I remember doing as a child and to spend this time with my parents has been a real treat.

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So, as my time winds down in Connecticut I am embracing this beautiful fall season, but also looking forward to the change. I have always known that I am not that girl who stays in her small town home and never leaves the comforts of all it has to offer. I’ve always had this tug on my heart to leave and go explore what this world has to offer. I have suffered from incredible anxiety in my adult life, and I am starting to understand it was largely because I felt trapped. I felt I was living a life that I was not meant to live. I only felt truly free when I was traveling and discovering small towns and unfamiliar areas. When I would return from these adventures I would feel homesick. What a crazy thing. I was homesick from the mountains, the woods, the places I only spent one night at. I was never homesick from “home”.

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So, now we start the journey of the unknown. Erik has already started working at his job and seems to really enjoy it. We will work seasonally in Florida, allowing us the summer months to explore and travel. To jump in our camper and discover small towns, mountains, and all the places I have never been but am homesick for. While I am experiencing a lot of sadness and some uncertainty about such a large move, I am overwhelmed with excitement. I feel this is the beginning of a new, happy life for Erik, Gunner and I.  More than anything I am proud of us.  We are the only ones who really know what it has taken to get to this place. The sacrifices we have made and the endless hours of working and saving. All with a goal in mind. And, as we celebrate our 12th wedding anniversary this month we celebrate 12 years of working as a team and accomplishing more than we could have ever dreamed of. A life of happiness, big dreams, freedom, and love. The love. That’s what means the most. Because what would all of this mean if I didn’t have my best friend to share it with. On the month of this 12 year wedding anniversary I am so thankful the young me never gave up on us. I am thankful I get to start the life of my dreams with the only one I would ever went to share it with.

Every Ending Is A New Beginning

Life has done a 180 (quite literally) in the last few months. This is probably a big reason why I have not been blogging as much as I would have liked. Partly because my time as been limited, but we all know when we really want something we MAKE time for it. So, I would say my lack of blogging has been largely due to: a) not knowing exactly what to write b) mixed emotions making my ability to speak “truth” difficult, as I am not really sure what my truth is.

Never the less, I have been asked several times lately when I was going to put a new blog up…so, alas, here it is. I will try to fill you in on the details of what’s going on in my life to an extent that I am comfortable with sharing. Some thoughts and ideas may not make the World Wide Web yet.

The big picture: we have sold our Connecticut home and have bought a condo in Venice, Fl.  Venice is the town that Erik and I have called our “2nd home” for many years now. Erik’s parents bought a condo there in the late 80’s and we have spent a ton of time there in the last 10 years. We absolutely love it there, and have developed real comfort there. We have our friends, our coffee shop, our ice cream joint, Gunner has a vet, a groomer, etc. I guess it has always felt like home to us, and every year when we take the Venice exit off of Interstate 75 we just both just breath a deep sigh of relief and our mood just changes.

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This past Winter we knew we had to explore other areas and not “settle” with Venice.  While deep down we always saw ourselves living there, we needed to make sure places such as Asheville, Charleston, Savannah, Jacksonville, Beaufort, etc did not steal our hearts. While each one of these places made a distinct mark on our hearts, there was no place like Venice. The number one factor: the weather. Almost every day of the 2 month stay in Venice was sunny and 75-85 degrees.

Here’s the other thing you need to know: for the last 20 years Erik has been Food and Beverage Manager at a New England golf course. This means working 70+ hour weeks in the Summer, leaving Winters our time to vacation. Well, how many places can we go in the winter? We aren’t big island goers. We aren’t ones to sit on the beach all day. We would much rather go on an adventure. Ride our bikes, hike the mountains, explore small towns, etc. So, we would spend winters in Florida , and many years ago realized that the community we are in is VERY seasonal, with a ton of golf courses. So, we started to think about changing our seasons. What if we worked seasonally in the winter, while still enjoying beautiful weather, and then spend the summers traveling?  Then we can go to places that have been right at our back door for so many years, but we were never able to get the time off to explore. Bar Harbor, White Mountains, Adirondacks, and…the National Parks!!  Now we can go see Crater Lake, Yosemite, Yellowstone, Moab, etc because the summer months will be our time to travel.

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This all seems like it was an overnight transition and a seamless one at that.  Those who are close to me, however, know that this was a multi-year process and a lot of small steps that have lead to one big step. It really is amazing how things have gotten to where they are now, and how organic it kind of feels, while knowing the we have spent so many years planning, making decisions, taking risks, but most importantly: listening to our hearts. Last year we bought a camper and used it to explore the Southern Coast this past winter. Well, it looks like that camper will be getting a lot of use, as we will have summers open now to take it wherever we wish.

With all of these amazing changes there are, of course, always some negatives. For one, I am leaving my home. The place I grew up, where my family resides and where I have made memories of a lifetime. I am leaving my job as a personal trainer at a fitness company I co-founded with my brother and that has been one of the most rewarding endeavors of my life. My clients and the bootcampers at mission FITNESS have made my life so enriched and fuel my energy daily. I can honestly say that I will never find another place like it. Not only because of the incredible staff and clients we have, but because it is a business I put my heart and soul into for many years. It is now my brothers business and to try to excel for something bigger than you…to help him succeed and give my nieces a better life, made me a better trainer. To walk away from this place will be one of the hardest things I will ever do. However, I know a part of me will always be there, and I know I will always find my way back to mission FITNESS even if it is just to take a bootcamp while I’m in the area.

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As I write this and look around at our blank walls and boxes labeled with the few things we decided to keep, I can’t help but get teary eyed. This is the first home Erik and I have ever had. We have been here 13 years and we have grown so much as a couple since we moved in. If these walls could talk….the ups and the downs we have experienced here. Just a few years ago I would have told you that this place was perfect for us and that we would never sell it. But, this past winter the 5 months we spent traveling has changed us. We came back to Connecticut different people and we no longer feel like we fit here. Sometimes you must go away to come back stronger, and not only are we both stronger now, but we are stronger together. I feel a bond to Erik that I have never felt so strong. He is not only my husband but he is my teammate, my partner, my rock. I am so excited for what we have ahead of us. And in the midst of the chaos of these next couple of months I will do my best to stay calm and trust the process. To surrender to what is and have faith that if we keep chasing what pulls our hearts and live our truest selves we will end up in the right place…wherever that may be!

How Was Your Trip?

I have been putting off this blog for awhile now because I can’t seem to find the right words. I have probably been asked over a hundred times since I’ve been back: “how was you trip?”  I usually answer very simply, “it was awesome.”

But, it was so much more than that. We went on this trip not as a vacation, but as an adventure. We set off back in November knowing that this trip would change us. We knew there were answers we needed to find, and by staying in Connecticut we would not get those answers. We needed to leave the comforts and safety of home and see what else was out there. We needed to leave our daily routines and jump into the unknown.  Only by doing this would we be able to answer some questions that were burning within.

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During our 5 month trip we experienced a lot.  We saw some amazing places.  We met some amazing people.  However, more than anything it was what we FELT.  It was the highs, but just as importantly the lows.  Obviously, there were revelations that I will keep to myself, but here are the top things I learned and I will share:

  1. If there is something that keeps pulling at your heart and you can’t stop thinking about it, GO DO IT!  Until you do, you will never know. Do not wait for the perfect time, it will never come. Instead, trust that once you make the leap, the pieces will fall into place. All of the things you stress about….the “what ifs”, they probably won’t happen. And if they do, they are NEVER as bad as you create them to be in your head. I recommend the book The Alchemist to guide you to follow your heart.
  2. Social media is NOT reality. This is something that I thought about a lot on my trip. While I was posting pictures on Instagram and others would respond how beautiful it all seemed, many times I wanted to respond, “it is, but..”  This is a big reason why I got off of Facebook. It is just a highlight reel of peoples life, leaving others to think their life is awful while others are amazing. People are obviously not posting pictures of themselves bored on the couch, just as I did not Instagram the bums that congregated on the outskirts of Savannah. Or the dogs that barked incessantly at the campground making us want to scream. Please, take social media with a grain of salt. The blogs, facebook, Instagram, etc. It is a HIGHLIGHT REEL.  Always know that the pictures don’t have the ability to tell you everything. Maybe that beautiful shot of the campsite on the beach is swarming with sand fleas. Maybe the park in Europe that looks like a dream, smells like dog poop. Maybe what looks like a peaceful spot for dinner on a river has loud construction right next door that the picture doesn’t capture. I don’t mean to be a downer, but just know that things aren’t always what they seem!!! That being said, we DID see some amazing, beautiful things 🙂
  3. We have way more than we need.  We lived in a 20ft camper with 2 plates, 2 coffee cups, 4 towels, etc. We brought less than 1/5 of our clothes and we still had too much. We had all we needed, even though it was so little and it felt so good. As Zac Brown says in his song Homegrown, “I have everything I need, and nothing that I don’t” When we got home we couldn’t believe how much stuff we had, and we probably have 10% of what most have. Our condo feels like too much wasted space, our plates way too heavy, and our coffee pot way too big!
  4. While there were times I felt like I could spend the rest of my life in a camper, traveling full time, I did not expect to miss my network of fitness peeps so much. Not only did I miss the ability to text someone to ask them to run with me, but also being surrounded by so many inspiring people. As time passed, I started to get comfortable with an average life when it came to fitness.  I was mostly around people who thought 3 miles was a long run, and a morning walk was their exercise (side note: this is fine, any exercise is good!!!! It’s just not me). I started to convince myself that I didn’t need these crazy fitness goals of 50 mile races and a happy life for me can consist of just getting exercise every day and eating well. Then I would do a challenging workout and it would spark that fire again. That feeling that ONLY pushing yourself past comfortable can bring. Or I would talk to a client on the phone and remind them of why we do these crazy races. Why we aren’t meant to be average. These workouts and conversations would make me miss my mission FITNESS family like crazy. They remind me why average does not bring me happiness. Happiness is on the other side of fear. It’s on the others side uncomfortable. And too often we convince ourselves we are happy and average is fine. When it comes to fitness and life, we HAVE TO do what we think is impossible to really see how far we can go and how happy we can be.  Surrounding yourself with a network of positive people and those that will inspire you is HUGE!!
  5. When you go see how much there is in this world, your problems seem pretty small. When you step away from the confines of “Small Town USA” you see that there is a hell of a lot out there and your life is not that serious in the scheme of things.  For us, we were also comforted in knowing that if for some crazy reason we ever lose everything, we are happy with a small trailer and very little stuff 🙂

So, as we drove away from our final stop on our journey, we drove away different people than we were when we left.  For reasons I have listed, and many more I did not.  And, as the Zac Brown Band song, “Free” came on the radio as if on cue….a song we have listened to for the last couple of years dreaming of a life on the road….I starred out the window as Erik drove.  With the camper in view in the rearview mirror, our hands met on top of the center console.  As we drove home, we knew that we were forever changed.  We knew that this was our beginning, and far from our end.  So, when you ask how the trip was, the simple answer is, “awesome”, but the complicated answer…..”it was life changing”

Change Your Life: Step One….

Our thoughts change our reality. Our actions change our lives. If you don’t like where your life is, if you don’t like how things are going, YOU are the director of the script….YOU are the writer of your destiny….write a new script. Start by taking small steps and eventually the small steps will lead to big changes.
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STEP ONE: Talk to as many people as you possibly can!!!!!

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As I constantly experiment and learn about myself and the world around me, I am amazed how just the smallest things can change everything. One thing I tell everyone who either is looking to make a big life change or asks how we are so “lucky” is this:  TALK TO EVERYONE YOU MEET!!!  Tell them what your intentions are. Tell them what you are passionate about and what you want out of this life. Whether it’s traveling, a business you want to start, running a marathon….anything. People want to hear someone talk with passion. It is refreshing and is not found in enough people. So many people are caught in the motions and monotony of life that they become robots and talk about what they’ve been programmed to talk about. The weather. Sports. Politics. TV Shows. Really?!?!  Is that what you spend your time thinking about?  Has this society and the people in it stolen all of your passion that this is all you are left with?
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When Erik and I tell people that we left our jobs to travel in a camper and see this world I cannot believe the reaction we get. Maybe it’s the way we light up like children telling them about the mountains of North Carolina and South Carolina, but it is amazing how people cling to our every word.

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When they introduce us to their friends and family they say, “tell them what you guys are doing!” with such excitement. Like we are the only living beings in a community of robots. It’s almost as if THEY start feeling excitement and passion as we tell them about OUR life. They want to know every detail almost as if they are living through us. It really makes me so happy, but also a bit sad knowing that most never followed their hearts and can only live their dreams second hand.
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Besides the fact that people want to hear you talk with passion, I have found on my journey that most people WANT TO HELP YOU. People like to feel like they are contributing and take real joy in helping others. If we tell them we are going to Charleston, they tell us that they know someone who lives their who can show us around, etc. You will be amazed how just talking to people will allow opportunities to fall into your lap. If you don’t open your mouth and tell people what you want, you will never get it. Every stranger on the street has something that you don’t have. Sometimes it’s not things. Sometimes it’s better than that. It’s KNOWLEDGE!  For us, it comes in the form of places to go see. If I didn’t talk the lady at the cocktail party we went to about my love of painting, I would have never found out about the Art Demos they do at Venice Art Center 3 days a week. If I never spoke to the lady at the Art Demo I never would have found out about the Sunset Drum Circle at Nokomis Beach Wednesday’s and Saturdays. If we didn’t speak to the couple at the Drum Circle we wouldn’t have known they do the same thing at Siesta Key on Sunday’s.

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TALK TO EVERYONE YOU MEET AND YOUR WORLD WILL OPEN UP!!!  There are not only good people out there, but there are people who want to help you reach your goals and follow your passion because this world needs more people who are ALIVE doing what they love.

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