balance

Dirt Road and Vines

Not all dirt road lead to wineries but on this fall Saturday my dirt road headed right to one of the cool wineries in North Georgia. Cavender Creek is just about an hour or so outside of the city near the college town of Dahlonega. Home to the University of North Georgia. Turning off the main road you drive a short distance on the dusty road as you see the vines in the sunshine.

Just beyond the vines is a little rustic oasis. I went for the sole purpose of sucking on their wine slushy flavor of the day or a swirl if they had more than one flavor while enjoying the ambiance. I was in luck. Pink Starburst and Lime starburst were the flavors to swirl on the sunny weekend afternoon. Perfect presentation with the twisty straw for flair. And it tasted just as good as it looked. One must always be careful not to suck too fast or that pretty slushy will go straight to your head.

Cavender Creek is set off the road a bit. It has an inviting outdoor space for socializing by fire pits and on the lawn. Another deck outside under cover. A back room with long white drapes reflecting the appeal of a sunroom. A cozy group living room in with many special setups of chairs, couches, stools and what not to chat in big or small groups. So much thought was out into making this winery inviting. All the way down to the rocking chair front porch. Such an inviting place with so many spots to unwind and chat.

For today I was at a table for two but with food for 3 or four. Assorted cheeses and meats mixed with some crackers and giant pretzel to soak up some of the wine. A little socializing. A little snacking. Some checkers to play. And I almost forgot about bumping into some folks I hadn’t seen in years. This place has it all from good food to tasty wines to cool vibes with all of their hangout spots.

This day was not planned to include a stop at the winery. It was full of to do’s and times to get to here and there. I opted for the scenic route. A pit stop. Time to breathe the fresh air. Feel the warmth of the sun. Get a little dust on the car. Socialize a bit and of course enjoy the sweetness of the wine slushy.

In the end the cup was empty but the soul was full. The pillow on my chair may have summed it up nice with the phrase:

This

Is

The 

Life

No questions about it. A beautiful day. An amazing destination. Kinship. I felt like one of the lucky ones today. Remember the u-turns in life sometimes yield the best and most unexpected memories. Below is a quirky decoration that was sitting on the vintage table next to me. Too cute not to capture.

Jackass may be the theme in the logo of this winery which adds to its curbside appeal. If in the area you should definitely give it a try.

author moments, challenges

Just Because…

Just because I can, doesn’t mean I will.

Just because I want, doesn’t mean I need.

Just because I do, doesn’t mean I should.

Just because.

Every day. Every week. Every month. Every year. We are all faced with should I? Could I? Would I? The decisions of life. Yes. No. Maybe so. I live in the world of yes most days. I don’t like no’s. And maybe so’s should always be yes if I’m asking but mostly no if somebody is asking me.

Just because.

If you want something, do you go for it?

If you need something, do you find a way to get it?

Did you ever get something, just because?

If I wanted a job, I’d find a way to get it. However today I see many who want jobs but have no will to get it.

If I want new shoes, I’ll buy them. Most times I don’t need, I just want. Definitely not practical but sometimes it’s just because. This is funny because the same folks who don’t have the will to get the job are also the same folks who will wait until their shoes are falling apart before getting new ones. I find the irony in this is I plan to have a backup in life. Whether it’s my shoes, my car or my job. Others fly by the seat of their pants. They have no plan, just because.

My just because is more about because I can, I will, I do. Others just because is more about because I can’t, I won’t or I missed out. Goals. Dreams. Desires. These are words in my wheelhouse. Limitless opportunities is what I always see.

Others see speed bumps, road blocks, and find excuses. Reasons not to drive forward. Reasons to sit in the parking lot today with no plan for tomorrow. No umbrella for the rainy day. No extra money for that special day. The longer you sit in this stage the longer you dread the future. All you will see is things you can’t have. You can’t do. You can’t achieve.

Just because.

Just because you need mental strength to battle the game of life. My opportunist self won’t let my mind loan out my precious head space to the I can’t of life. Will you let others invade your head space? Will you let your asshole boss dictate your long term worth? Will you wallow in self pity when life deals you a bad hand? Will you sit in status quo mode while those around you grow and prosper?

Just because you are at some unfavorable stage in life today, doesn’t mean you are stuck there. You just need will power, a little hope and a strong desire to change your circumstances. This all starts with your mind.

The I can do it mentality.

Just because you can.

Just because you will.

Just because you want to. 

adventure, family

College Is Fast Approaching

9 weeks on the road this summer. From Florida to New York and everything in between. Then for giggles clear across the country to Oregon. Sometimes the same route more than once but with different stops along the way.

Travel by plane. Travel by car. Travel by train. Travel by RV. We utilized Uber. We took advantage of Turo. We took many unconventional paths. We lived so much through our experiences. Turo and Uber were our app-worthy summer accomplishments. We even had some time to use bikes. So many memories. So many hiccups along the way. I wouldn’t change a thing. 

Good company.

Great experiences.

Countless fun.

So many photos.

It wasn’t always easy, but it was always workable with a positive attitude and a lot of flexibility. Work. Play. Recover. A delicate balancing act for some. A day in the life for me. I will never get to hit rewind on these months I just lived. Knowing that made me forge ahead to cram as much into the calendar as as humanly and financially possible.

Sometimes I had to plan and then re-plan. Things didn’t always go smoothly. I lived. I learned. I outlasted. Summer 2022 is in the rear view. So many college campuses were scouted out. Many highs. Many lows. Some visits at the surface level while others more in-depth. The process is real. The decisions are hard. The challenge is ahead.

My youngest will choose soon. Where to go. What she wants to be as an adult. I will become less needed. I will be an empty nester. A title I don’t really care for but yet one I will look forward to at the same time. As I earn that new title I will embark on new journeys and adventures. Maybe not criss-crossing the county in a summer but maybe exploring cities I’ve never been or getting back into putting stamps on my passport.

I’m adjusting to what’s ahead while enjoying what’s in front of me. Years become months. Those months turn into weeks. Before you know it, days are in front of us. Don’t waste the minutes. Value them. Cherish them. Enjoy them. I know I am.

As my mom always says: live life to the fullest. Tomorrow is never guaranteed.

For now I wait for the day to come that she decides where she heads off to beyond her days of high school. Close by? A neighboring state? Across the country? Another country?

anonymous letters

Feedback

Feedback is a general term. Feedback is all around us. It can be good or bad. It can be positive or negative. It can be insightful or misinformed. It can be valuable or trash.

As my dad would say, opinions are like assholes. Everyone has one and they all stink. But when someone is paying you or has power over you, their opinion holds greater weight. You can’t just dismiss it as meaningless, no matter how short sighted or bewildering it may be. I guess that’s when, for me, it goes beyond just random opinion and becomes feedback.

Everyone likes positive feedback. It’s great when people love you. But what about when it’s negative? I used to spin out over criticism. I took it personally. I would spend days hashing it over in my mind, maybe with a friend I trusted. I’d often want to take my ball and go home and not play in whatever arena it was anymore. Why play if I am not good at it?

Now I try to reframe criticism as feedback. I think to myself, this person is telling me what is important to them. If my boss is unhappy with things lying around my workplace? He is telling me that his priority is how things look. If he takes me out of meetings that are about teaching and learning, he is telling me my priorities should be elsewhere. If he gets excited about special events and pizza parties, that’s where my attention needs to be.

Same holds true in sales. If a customer doesn’t like what I am selling and they tell me, it’s an opportunity to listen and adjust. I can learn what a customer values by listening to their feedback.

I may see things differently. I can argue that I didn’t get into education and earn a PhD to spend hours on clerical work. I can tell them all the things I do to help teachers. I can explain to a customer all the subtleties and value that I believe they missed.

Maybe I’ll change their minds, maybe not. Maybe I care, maybe I don’t. It’s my choice to play in the sandbox or leave. I can adjust my energy and priorities to match what others want or I can do something else.

Deep down I am a people pleaser and I like gold stars. But I have learned that I can control the amount of importance I give to others’ feedback, whether it’s positive or negative or somewhere in between. I can shake my head and keep going and not let it pull me from my path. Take it for what it’s worth and know that it does not determine my personal worth. Full stop.

celebrations, dare to be different

50 and a half

Year fifty has been nifty thus far or maybe shifty or maybe drifty.

I started out with such big plans for my big celebration year. The planning even involved the year leading up to the big 5-0. Some items are crossed off the list. Some are sitting on the sidelines for now. 

No matter what big plans were dreamed up it seems like I’m really just seizing the moments with a new appreciation on life. The not waiting to do. The not wondering what others think. The not finding reasons to not do while I can do. The biggest reflection of that was my summer of 2022.

I planned. I shifted. I completely changed things up. I added. I deleted. I winged it all. I took chances that sometimes I wouldn’t because my stable brain would say no. When I reflect I sigh big and am ever thankful. Summer of 2022 was about new kinds of risks. New to me. Some scary. Some just different.

Appreciative of the the time. The places. The people. The experiences. The spontaneity. The memories. The knowledge. All of it. I grew by leaps and bounds and stretched to new limits. I had to trust and rely on myself more than ever.

From a random concert experience with my 83 year old mom to a cross country trek with my youngest to the Pacific Northwest. I have written about many stories but not all stories. During these glorious days there have also been sad and trying days.

Loss of time with loved ones. Challenges that many will never face emotionally. Financial investments that went down the toilet. Let downs in many forms. Takers trying to suck joy from your being. Balancing work deadlines among the chaos. Also those casting judgment for living my best life. 

The good. The bad. The ugly. Everything in between and tangled in my web of life. Everyday we have a choice to live life to the fullest. Everyday we have a choice to move or sit idle. Everyday we have a choice to do or not do. I may do more than others but it’s always a choice. A choice I make. One day I may be confined to a chair or couch. That day I won’t have a choice. Today I have the choice thus you won’t find me wasting time on the coach wondering about what ifs. I will just be off doing.

As I hit 50 and one half I think I am settled in who I am. Who I will become. Who I won’t be. The quiet confidence of being me is what I enjoy most about flipping the calendar to the year 51 and beyond. I get to choose my adventure. My timelines. My companions.

I get to choose where to spend my money. I get to choose my hobbies. I get to decide what is next for me. I can support the dreams of others if want to. Some may judge. Others may be envious. Some might sit by and watch from their couch. That’s okay. It’s not their story. It’s my story.

I write and live my story in the public eye. That is my choice as well. One day my writings will be all that is left when my story stops being written. But just because the writing stops doesn’t mean the living won’t continue. My stories will continue to breathe life to others. They may even spur an adventure bug in those who read them. My photos. My words. My spirit will be carried on to others virtually.

Purposefully designed. A seed of sorts planted in the World Wide Web. My farming of life online. From seed to flower in my own special way. Fifty has been a great year to reflect, adjust and appreciate where I am. Who I am. What potential is still untapped. 

I’ve paused enough this year to see inside me for who I am. Now the fun will begin. Again. And again. Until the end. Signing off at 50 and a half. Looking forward to years 60-66-72-80-85-90-94-95-99. All of these numbers have significance. Let’s see which ones I hit.