St. Augustine

I have a tradition that started when I turned 50. Every year since then, around my birthday, I drive to Jacksonville, Florida to visit my friend Mary. This year, on my birthday, Mary and I took a day trip to St. Augustine.

hope coach, travel blogger, travel, St. Augustine, Florida

Here’s the thing, my birthday is in January. Always has been. It’s cold where I live in January. Not so much in Florida. Typically, I don’t visit my friend on my actual birthday, but this year there were some circumstances that led me to visit just a wee bit earlier, and I was there on my birthday. The weather was great in St. Augustine!

living well, authentic living, life coach, true intimacy, women's mentor, warrior and advocate for women, emotionally healthy living, recovery, it's what matters most, gratitude, nurturing, there for you, home

We walked along the picturesque streets of St. Augustine once we arrived, popping in and out of the quaint shops that line the streets. living well, authentic living, life coach, true intimacy, women's mentor, warrior and advocate for women, emotionally healthy living, recovery, it's what matters most, gratitude, nurturing, there for you, home

The day was crisp and gorgeous, a perfect way to spend my birthday, and yet it wasn’t.

My friend is amazing in her support and encouragement. She wants the best for me, sometimes more than I want it for myself.hope coach, time for you, living well, authentic living, life coach, true intimacy, women's mentor, warrior and advocate for women, emotionally healthy living, recovery, it's what matters most, gratitude, nurturing, there for you, home, grief, grieving

And this particular birthday, due to circumstances I neither wanted or ever expected, I needed just that. Visiting her was what I needed on this birthday, this year.

hope coach, travel blogger, travel, St. Augustine, Florida

We had lunch on the balcony of this historic building overlooking a body of water near the historic part of town. That’s the thing about this trip; it was good, but I don’t remember much about it. I didn’t take notice of much that we did. I just enjoyed the light breeze on my skin as we strolled down the cobblestone streets, and the warmth of the sun, because I knew I was going back to cold in just two days and it would be awhile before I would feel that sensation again.

hope coach, travel blogger, travel, St. Augustine, Florida

And I was right. This was what I went home to. It felt fitting somehow, because this year, this set of circumstances felt very much like Winter in my soul, which is another story for another time.

This trip that I took reminded me of the vacation my family and I took to Disney World in September 2001. We were at EPCOT on 9/11 (see Remembering 9/11) when our country was attacked by terrorists. In fact, we were evacuated from the park, although at the time we didn’t know why. It seemed odd and unfitting to be on vacation while the rest of the country was forever changed and so many people had lost so much.

This was a similar trip for me but on a very minor scale in comparison.

St. Augustine is a wonderful city full of history and attractions. I want to visit again one day when I know I will appreciate the oldest city in our nation more than the trip on my birthday.

But at that time in January, St. Augustine and my friend provided a warmth and distraction that was balm to my soul.

He’s Gone

May 24th has been a tough day for me and my family for 36 years now, with meaning and emotion. This is the anniversary of my younger brother’s death. You can read A Tale of Two Brothers for more of the story.

May is an eventful month, never more than this year. Mother’s Day, of course, which coincided this year with an awards ceremony for my oldest son.

hope coach, time for you, living well, authentic living, life coach, true intimacy, women's mentor, warrior and advocate for women, emotionally healthy living, recovery, it's what matters most, gratitude, nurturing, there for you, home, grief, grieving

What better way to spend Mother’s Day than celebrating the achievements of one of your children? The celebrated child just moved out the first of May, my first baby chick to leave the nest.

And then his graduation, with High Distinction (I’m a proud mama!).

hope coach, time for you, living well, authentic living, life coach, true intimacy, women's mentor, warrior and advocate for women, emotionally healthy living, recovery, it's what matters most, gratitude, nurturing, there for you, home, grief, grieving

My baby brother has a birthday in May which was always a big deal. I can still recall the day he came home from the hospital, but that’s another story for another day.

My celebrated graduate has a birthday too…

And now, May 24, 2016, my youngest son, my “baby” Luke, is leaving for Slovakia. Luke was driven by his father and me to the airport where we waited until we could no longer wait, to see him off and say good-bye.

hope coach, time for you, living well, authentic living, life coach, true intimacy, women's mentor, warrior and advocate for women, emotionally healthy living, recovery, it's what matters most, gratitude, nurturing, there for you, home, grief, grieving

The day has new meaning.

My younger brother is gone, and has been for 36 long, but quickly-passed-by  years, and now, my youngest child is moving to Slovakia. He is gone, too.

These are two totally different scenarios, I get that. My son will return in August where he will be state-side until March 2017. Then he will join the staff at Josiah Venture for a 2 (ish) year period, where he will be doing what he loves…playing music and sharing his faith with the young folks in various parts of Europe. What mother could ask more for one of her children?

I am excited for him! What an amazing opportunity that has be given him. Without the trip to Czech Republic that he took 2 years ago with Southeast Christian Church he would have never been afforded this opportunity (see The Boy’s Back in Town).

And now here we are, May 24, the day that has held such meaning and emotion for 36 years, now has new meaning and emotions.

I am sad as I remember my brother and the short life he lived.

I am grateful for the time he spent on earth.

I am excited for the adventure Luke has embarked on.

I am missing him already.

His brother I miss as well.

I am hopeful that this time of newness for my family, my kids, and for what God is bringing to pass in each of our lives and as a family.

But for now, he is gone.

 

Only So Many Tomorrows

I recently read a quote by the late Michael Landon:

“Somebody should tell us, right at the start of our lives, that we are dying. Then we might live life to the limit, every minute of every day. Do it! I say. Whatever you want to do, do it now! There are only so many tomorrows.”

Only so many tomorrows?

hope coach, life coach, women's mentor, authentic living, transitioning women, living well

I know many people who would testify to this. There are only so many tomorrows, it’s true. But I can’t help but to think that we truly weren’t meant to live our lives with the end in sight. Or were we? We all know that our days are numbered but most of us just take it for granted that our days will be many before they end.

According to the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, the life expectancy for the average female (it varies a bit by state) is 78-82 years of age. That is 27,456 to 28,864 days. That seems like a lot of time to live. But days have a way of turning into weeks, weeks into years, and then a lifetime.

Another quote comes to mind by Gretchen Rubin  “The days are long, but the years are short.”

Just ask my friend who is retiring from her career in the school system.

Or the woman who lost her dear friend to cancer.

Or another woman who lost her husband of many years so suddenly and without warning.

There are really only so many tomorrows and what we do today, each day, matters. Sometimes it just seems like we’re clicking off hours while awaiting the next big event: a birthday, a wedding, the next 3 day weekend, or Christmas. Don’t get me wrong, those things are important, those things matter, but when it’s all said and done, we each only have so many tomorrows, and if tomorrow never comes, well…then today counts.

I remember the years when my kids were small and it seemed like the days would last forever. Sometimes they did! But the years…the years have a way of sneaking by, catching you unaware when the child is no longer a child. The child is a young adult driving, dating, going off to college or moving to Slovakia, just to pull one out of the air.

There are only so many tomorrows and none of us know how many we have been granted. Living life fully present adds value to the time, not just to you but to those you care about.

Knowing there are only so many tomorrows might be the thing to keep in mind as we live out our lives one day at a time.

Is It Time For You?

As you may already know, I am a certified life coach. Certified twice actually, by two different programs. I am also a trained women’s mentor and trained group facilitator for women in crisis. I’ve worked with, sat with, journeyed with many different women in difficult situations, ranging from mild to severe. It doesn’t matter. They all have one thing in common; they have lost hope and when that happens, life becomes unmanageable.

hope coach, time for you, living well, authentic living, life coach, true intimacy, women's mentor, warrior and advocate for women, emotionally healthy living, recovery, it's what matters most, gratitude, nurturing, there for you, home, grief, grieving

Several months ago, due to circumstances that I was dealing with, I decided I liked the term Hope Coach better. To me it sums up the one thing we all have in common. We need hope for a better future, a better day and hope to finally accept our pasts and move on.

There’s something amazing that happens when women get real with each other. There. Just. Is.

If you are fortunate enough to have a group of friends, (no matter how big or small), who you can call your tribe, those women who are there for you, encourage you, show you the beauty of who you really are and not the mistakes you may have made in the past, well you are a blessed woman indeed.

Some of us need a little help in uncovering the awesome that lies just beneath the surface of who we think we are, instead of who we really are.

Maybe it’s time to get real, make some changes and connect with the real you, the authentic you. The woman God created you to be.

It’s never to late.

You can start your day (or your life) over anytime.

You don’t have to do it alone.

You may feel stuck in your life, your career, your relationships. Well here’s the good news, your past doesn’t have to define your future.

You’re not stuck forever.

Things can change for you.

Let me pose a few questions to you that I was recently asked:

What if you were able to pursue those long forgotten God inspired dreams and start taking steps toward making those realty, even while you are fulfilling your current responsibilities?

What if you accept the way you’ve been uniquely made and embrace the life you are living today, knowing that God has a plan and where you are now and where you’ve been, while not perfect or what YOU planned, was the exact path He wanted you to take.

I will end this post to allow you to take some time to ponder these questions, but first I have one more…

Perhaps it’s time to make some changes?

New First Times

Life is full of many first times. The first time you stay away from home as a kid. The first time you go on a date or drive alone. The first time you have a child, and all the first times that entails.

Now I am experiencing new first times. I experienced a new first time Saturday evening.

I knocked on my son’s front door.

I have just entered a new phase in life. And knocking on the front door of one of my children was a definite first.

living well, authentic living, life coach, true intimacy, women's mentor, warrior and advocate for women, emotionally healthy living, recovery, it's what matters most, gratitude, nurturing, there for you, home

This photo is not my son’s front door. I actually didn’t take a picture of his front door (I would of if I had thought of it), and it wasn’t actually his front door. It is his only door. He lives in an apartment.

For some reason I never pictured knocking on my kid’s front door.

And now I have.

Another first just happened today. My son came for a visit. Okay, actually my son came to do his laundry but why split hairs? He’s here. We visited and…he did laundry.

So many firsts in a parent’s life. All those firsts of growing up. I didn’t think about the firsts that would take place when they left home.

I’m pretty sure there are more first times I will encounter as a mother of adult children. Some I have dreamed of and some I’m sure have never even entered my mind.

There is another first coming my way in just a few weeks. I will drive my youngest son to the airport and sit with him until he boards. He will have a connecting flight to Denver where he will catch a flight to Europe. My son will be flying across the big pond alone, for the first time. And I am learning to be okay with that.

What other choice do I have?

But that’s life. Change. Growth.

Kids grow up.

They move out, whether across the river to a different state, or an ocean away.

They start families of their own.

As a mother, I get the opportunity to grow some more.

Because of all these new first times.

How to Raise a Boy

If you read my blog on a somewhat regular basis you’ve probably caught on to the fact that I love my kids. They are the best parts of me. My entire life revolved around them in those early years. How can it not? But as they grew, I grew too, and part of the growing was letting go…

raising a son, raising kids, parenting, being a mom, being a mother, kids growing up

My oldest son (and middle child) is moved out a few days ago. But you know that, right? No? You can read about it here: My son is leaving the nest.

Thoughts of how to raise a boy have been flashing through my mind, especially these last few days that my son is still living under the same roof as me.

I came across this post from Your Modern Dad entitled 10 Rules to Raising the Man You Want Your Son to Be. I loved this line in his post: Becky & I just want the best of both worlds.  We are trying to raise men that are both gentle, yet strong.

Who could ask for a better son than one who is gentle and kind, yet strong?

Are we raising our boys to be like that? Did I?

Times have changed. I’m not saying that’s a good thing or a bad thing. It’s just a thing. A fact. I’m sure the same could be said for any generation. How to raise a boy is not any different today than it was a hundred years ago, and yet, it kinda is.

It occurred to me as I was reading Your Modern Dad’s post that the 10 rules he listed could be applied to raising children period. Because kindness, gentleness, loving, honest, loyal and there for you traits aren’t gender-focused, in this non-gender- focused age in which we live. These are character traits I want all my kids to have, my sons and my daughter.

So how to raise a son really just boils down to raising a person who is a well-rounded human being. A person with a good sense of self, yet not selfish.

A person who is kind, yet not a push-over.

A person who is thoughtful, yet has the ability to say “No” when that is the best thing to say.

A person who is gentle, yet strong.

A person who understands the value of relationships.

And I could go on.

I won’t.

I will end this post by telling you that Your Modern Dad has a lot of good stuff on his blog.

And…my youngest child and other son is leaving for an internship in Europe in May for the summer. You can bet there will be more posts like this…

Feed Your Spirit

How do you feed your spirit? We all do in some form or another, whether we are aware of it or not. Emotionally healthy people tend to so in healthy ways. The rest of us, well…not so much. Those of us in recovery are learning to do so one day at a time.

I love flowers, sunsets, water and walking in nature (as long as it’s not too hot or too cold!). When we make time for ourselves to do the things we love, we are feeding our spirits. I also appreciate quiet mornings reading, meditating and praying. When I make time for the things I enjoy I am feeding my soul.

living well, authentic living, life coach, true intimacy, women's mentor, warrior and advocate for women, emotionally healthy living, recovery, it's what matters most, gratitude, nurturing, feed you spirit

 

Flowers make me smile. They. Just. Do.

living well, authentic living, life coach, true intimacy, women's mentor, warrior and advocate for women, emotionally healthy living, recovery, it's what matters most, gratitude, nurturing, feed you spirit

Sunsets on the water combine two of my favorite things!

How do you feed your spirit?

I was reading Jesus Calling a few days ago when I came upon this reading. It definitely helped in feeding my spirit for that day because I was dealing with a few challenges.

Here’s the reading:

Welcome problems as perspective lifters. My children tend to sleepwalk through their days until they bump into an obstacle that stymies them. If you encounter a problem with no immediate solution, your response to that situation will take you either up or down. You can lash out at the difficulty, resenting it and feeling sorry for yourself. This will take you down into a pit of self-pity. Alternatively, the problem can be a ladder, enabling you to climb up and see your life from My perspective. Viewed from above, the obstacle that frustrated you is only a light and momentary trouble. Once your perspective has been heightened, you can look away from the problem altogether. Turn toward Me, and see the Light of My Presence shining upon you.

People use lots of different things to attempt to feed their spirits.

Alcohol

Drugs

Food

Work

Sex

Shopping

Electronics

And the list goes on.

These things are temporary fixes that only help for a brief amount of time and usually lead to bigger problems. Feeding your spirit is a legitimate thing to do, a healthy thing to do. Only you can feed your spirit. Substituting with people and/or things will never work.

Emotional hunger is the result of an unfed spirit. Emotional hunger will never be satisfied by food or any of the things listed above. It’s a temporary diversion at best.

Life can be tough. Things Change. We often get dealt a hand we neither want or are even prepared to deal with. It doesn’t really matter. When that happens it is time to feed your spirit, even more so than ever.

Feeding your spirit on a daily basis is the goal, but until you get there, try to do something you love each day to take care of yourself.

What are some ways you feed your spirit?

 

 

My Son is Leaving the Nest

My son is leaving the nest. He is moving out Saturday, just a few weeks before he graduates college.

I am experiencing a loss already and he hasn’t even moved out yet.

, an empty nest, parenting, being a mom, being a mother, kids growing up

My son is leaving the nest that I have carefully prepared, guarded and nurtured for all of his life.

It is time.

It is good.

It is sad.

It is exciting.

If truth be told, the letting go process began several years ago when I decided he was too old to “mothered”.

And here we are.

Life is full of changes, one after another. This past year has been a stressful year. Many things have happened. Some good and some not so good. But there is one thing that will always remain the same. Things are going to change.

I should have seen this coming, right? Actually, I did. I have been preparing myself emotionally for, well, 24 years.

Jacob is moving out.

My son is leaving the nest.

Even though I was preparing myself, it still packs a punch. The days were long and the years short.

Where did the time go? So very cliche, I know, but seriously! If you could transfer the importance of staying in the moment to parents with young kids, perhaps they wouldn’t blink or go to sleep…EVER! But that won’t happen. It can’t. Each parent, child; each family has it’s own rhythm and way to experience things.

Parenting is a tough gig.

I focused on being fully-present through the growing years of each of my kids. I was fortunate enough to be a stay-at-home mom and a homeschool mom as well. That time afforded me the distinct privilege and pleasure (well, not always pleasure) of being there for those special moments of their lives Well, most of them anyway.

Here’s the thing…this is just one of my three kids, and…AND…it’s just the beginning of change for him.

My son is leaving the nest and our home state to work and reside elsewhere. He is moving into an apartment alone. It’s a big deal. But if all things go the natural way they usually do, he will meet a nice girl (one I REALLY like) get married and have kids. Yes, I want grands, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

My son is leaving the nest in just a few short days. My daughter and other son are still here. Some may say it’s way past time for a kid to move out, and maybe it is. But I like to think it is happening at exactly the time it was supposed to happen because life has a way of working out just the way it’s supposed to.

The days to come will be that of adjustment for my son who is leaving the nest and experiencing new things, and for me too.

My role as a mother was to prepare him for this move, this giant step out into the real, sometimes scary world.

Did I do my job?

Is he prepared?

Will he be okay?

Will I?

The answer to those questions is ‘Yes”. There will be a learning curve for him and an opportunity for growth for me.

But I have a feeling we will muddle through, on our own, yet staying connected in a different way. A new way.

Because~

My son is leaving the nest.

 

 

 

Reasons to Change

I’m always talking about reasons to change, or even that change is both necessary and inevitable. Change is a good thing even when it doesn’t feel good.

I ran across this graphic while looking for things to share on my Facebook page from Advanced Life Skills.

life, life coach, change, growth, authentic living, living well, women's mentor

Things Change is one such post I have recently written, as is The Funny Thing About Change. I find that I am experiencing these things in a big way at this point in my life. One such change is that of my son moving out of our home and into an apartment of his own.

Jacob is my oldest son and middle child. He is graduating from college in a few short weeks. He secured a good job but a move is required. Happens all the time, right?

Yeah, not to me though.

He lived at home while putting himself through school. He did well in school and at both places he worked. He seemed to handle all the changes well and is very equipped for life on his own. He is moving Saturday.

Did I say well equipped? All he has is the stuff in his room! This change is a stress-point for sure. It is for him and it is for me.

But change is good, just read the words from the graphic above.

1. You can’t grow if everything remains the same. This I know to be true but why is it so hard to implement?

2. Change will happen. Resisting it is pointless. No doubt about it, things are going to change. Why do we fight so hard to keep things the same?

3. Without change there’s no adventure in life. True story. And what would life be without adventure?

4. Change brings about new opportunities. Opportunities have a way of finding you once you are willing to accept that you have no power over change in the first place and prepare to embrace all that it brings.

5. Making progress requires change. Yes it does.

These are 5 great reminders of reasons to change. Change is going to happen, like it or not. Embrace the experience, learn the lessons and enjoy the ride even if it is unpleasant. You’ll miss it if you aren’t fully present and I wouldn’t want to miss a thing.

I always like what I read on the Facebook page of Advanced Life Skills. Check out their blog here!

 

Thunder Over Louisville 2016

Saturday, April 23 was Thunder Over Louisville 2016. I spent the day at Louisville Slugger Field. It was a beautiful day for Thunder, baseball and kicking off The Kentucky Derby.

The early afternoon was a little on the cool side which allowed us to take a stroll down the main part of the festival. Hours later it was sure to be wall to wall people!

Louisville, Thunder Over Louisville, Derby Festival, Travel, things to do in Louisville

Thunder Over Louisville is the biggest fireworks show in North America. It is a continuous shooting of fireworks for 20 minutes before a 5-10 minute grand finale. It’s quite a show.

But before the fireworks, those of us who have purchased tickets to Slugger Field, first got to enjoy a baseball game and the air show, which are both great, but distracting, one from the other.

This was one of the first sights in the sky!

Louisville, Thunder Over Louisville, Derby Festival, Travel, things to do in Louisville

The show went on for hours, regaling us with awesome sights.

Louisville, Thunder Over Louisville, Derby Festival, Travel, things to do in Louisville

Another awesome plane flying over. So big, going so slow (seemingly). It was a great view.

Louisville, Thunder Over Louisville, Derby Festival, Travel, things to do in Louisville

There is always a concert just after the game ends. It’s quite a sight to behold as the crew lays down the planks for the truck which will become the stage, drives out on the outfield. In only a manner of several minutes is the walls of the truck positioned and you are looking at the stage, completed with drums and everything one needs to put on a show. This year the band was The Personnel, an energetic band from Chicago, Illinois, playing a 90’s set of cover tunes including rap, a country song, some pop tunes and the theme song from Full House.

We ended the airshow with this amazing sky writer plane. It was a great way to finish up before the big fireworks show began. At this point in the day people are tired but the anticipation of the exhibit in the sky is humming throughout the crowd. To see this sight is promise of bigger, brighter things to come as the minute hand continues to count down the time until the first boom and brilliance of light displays across the sky.

Louisville, Thunder Over Louisville, Derby Festival, Travel, things to do in Louisville

The fireworks show was a sight to behold, as usual. The sky lite up with an abundance of terrific lights and music combined. The crowd is always in the hundreds of thousands, as people line the banks of the Ohio River, both Kentucky and Indiana alike. The traffic is a bear to endure after the show but people are mostly willing to pay that price to be able to partake of such a day as this.

Louisville, Thunder Over Louisville, Derby Festival, Travel, things to do in Louisville

The weather can vary from snow flurries to an 80 degree, full sun and clear skies day.

Thunder Over Louisville 2016 was just perfect.