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.

anonymous letters

Just One

I had somebody start a conversation with me recently regarding social media. It was an out of the blue conversation to say the least. However that simple banter made me think about just one picture. How many may view just one picture online and form a conclusion. Make an assumption. Cast doubt. React in haste. Just one picture online could do just that. Wreak havoc. Whether fact or fiction. Online viewers decide without questioning the source most often.

I see pictures as an entry way to story telling. An opportunity to share a lived experience. The photo can be a reminder or a simple visual cue. However my story includes words and a picture to create a story. I’m sure you know how one picture could be presumed to be one way when it was really another without context. Or maybe the picture was just staged for arousal. So many what ifs in the social media media world. For those who watch from afar or surf your friends list to see what’s up in their life online, you may or may not be getting the whole picture. Only a glimpse. Meaning there is more to the story.

Some may post happiness. Others may post sadness. Some may just post for attention. There are even some who post for their family far away to watch their kids grow. The list could go on and on. The point is one picture isn’t life. It’s a moment in time. A story that will fade until the next new story hits.

My coffee cup above is a story in itself. It’s my favorite coffee shop in a little mountain town of Blairsville, Georgia. Sitting on prime real estate on the city square. I guess you wouldn’t know that from the picture alone if you saw this photo on my social media. However, it’s a great spot to visit should you be in the area.

The decor inside is rustic with local flair. T-shirts are sold for extra revenue and advertising by the front counter. Parking isn’t the best but it’s manageable. The staff isn’t always the quickest, but they do things on mountain time which is generally slower than most visitors expect. It closes early thus you won’t find your coffee fix in the evening. A small menu is available for soup, sammies and other breakfast items. The muffins look good but definitely not the most delicious ever as I’m sure they are made offsite. Just a tidbit.

There is always a mix of people in the shop. From those on laptops maybe trying to get a signal while staying in a remote mountain cabin. There are always some locals. The tourist crowd. The passers by. Sometimes you might catch the motorcycle group stopping in for a pit stop. I guess I’d be a regular on an extremely part time basis.

My coffee is to go but as you can see from the picture it’s over flowing with sorghum whipped cream, a local specialty in the fall. Chocolate and caramel drizzle of course. No skimping on the frills at this place. Maybe that’s part of why I like it. A local coffee shop isn’t fixed on fill 3/4 full and put the cover on. Here it’s let them have a few sips before they hit the road. Enjoy the ambiance. That’s exactly what I did. I enjoyed some then hit the road.

I didn’t post this picture on social media rather I wrote this quick story about one of my guilty pleasures in life. A warm cup of coffee. Some fluffy whipped toppings. A little mountain town. A pit stop from life. I am also a huge sucker for those who put messages on cups. This message may be generic but it’s still a good reminder to have fun.

This cute little coffee cup photo story was just meant to show you there was more beyond the picture. It’s still not all encompassing because I never said who I was with, if anyone. I never disclosed when I was present. I never said if I finished the drink or scalded myself before making it to the car. Keeping this in mind unless you actually lived the experience behind the photo you don’t know the whole story. 

Don’t be a social media stalker. Don’t judge others for what they post or don’t post. Let others use social media as it fits their life. Enjoy the nibble you get if you want to look but don’t be that one that creates drama from social media. Remember there are those who use social media for therapy session, political rants and all kinds of other weird stuff.

adventure, fitness and nutrition

The Pinellas Trail

It was a sizzling hot summer day in late July. 2 Chicks hit the road on the Pinellas trail in Dunedin, Florida. We hit the pavement by bike. A mode of transportation we enjoy. Today was a good fit and fun adventure.

18 miles were ridden. We might have walked a little funny when done but it was worth it. Recently I wrote about the backside of life on a train ride. Today I again saw the backside of life, but this time a little differently. What I mean is the back of buildings are visible from the trail since its original use was for rail hence the reason it’s called a rail trail. Fast forward to today and the backsides of the buildings are purposeful and used vs left to decay and look like an eye sore.

Keeping with this topic many sections of the towns have eateries or stores that back up to the rail trail. However this view is more aesthetically appealing or inviting. Stores had welcoming signage. Restaurants had patios on the backside. Ice cream shops had spots for pets. Many establishments had bike pumps for courtesy use. Some had sitting areas for those who needed a break. Many offered free water which was so nice on the super sunshiny day we rode.

The backside of life can look different depending how you view it. My perspective here was welcoming and one I will remember. My previous train ride was a little different view of neglect of those backsides many overlook. I often see opportunity in weird places. Some could post fun messages or kind words or advertise on the backside of old buildings for passers by instead of just leaving them to sit idle. Maybe it’s my always on business brain. Maybe it’s my desire for others to see what’s in plain sight or what could be endless possibilities. Clearly I can’t change the world but I can dream of how it could look better or be more useful.

Circling back to now, one of my favorite spots on the trails were the roadway crossings. Some busier than others. Some had stop signs for bikers while others had stop signs for cars. However on the main drags we had red lights and the little bike lights made me smile. I wish every city had a safe pathway like this to enjoy. Many would probably choose to bike to work some days.

Another tiring but beautiful experience was the opportunity to make the climb up a bridge, enjoy a photo at the top and the amazing views and then having the satisfaction of feeling the wind in your face on the way down the decline of the bridge. So many other fascinating tidbits I could share, but I would rather suggest you take a trip to experience this ride for yourself.

Opt outside. Be adventurous. This day was $30 to rent the bike all day. I was able to close my exercise ring for the day. I saw some beautiful street art, great trees, a few parks, and the water was a great backdrop along the way. $30 for a day of memories. 

challenges

Shattered

My daughter got a cameo on the big stage…a chance to play on the field of an NFL stadium. Only five minutes. A handful of plays. But I knew it would be an experience she wouldn’t forget.

Of course I had to go cheer her on. We traveled to downtown Atlanta, a far cry from our suburban home. Waze dropped us in a part of town I didn’t know that well. I felt pretty good that we found free parking on the street about 8 blocks from the stadium. We pulled in and walked to the game.

There was a clear bag policy and I forgot my clear bag. Ugh. I grabbed my wallet and cash from my purse. Not sure why…I usually wouldn’t take all that in my pockets, but I figured better safe than sorry.

We took in all the sights and sounds of an NFL game. We cheered when she passed to a teammate who ran it in for a TD. She made her mark.

Flash forward to a couple of hours later. A rain storm had hit. I don’t really care about NFL football so we headed back to the car shortly after halftime. We passed a car about 10 spots away from ours that was going through their trunk, etc. as we walked by. I didn’t think anything of it. Then, as we approached my car, I noticed debris all over the sidewalk. The first thing I saw were my daughter’s faces. Their buttons from years of playing sports. I was so confused. Why were they on this wet sidewalk? Then, toiletries. Those were from my gym bag. And then I looked up to see my passenger side window, broken. Shattered. It took a minute to set in. A smash and grab.

I had been robbed.

Too many details to share here about what got taken, what got overlooked. (They skipped all my gift cards, took my airpods…) Things that were valuable to me that had no meaning to the thieves. There were at least 10 cars that had the same thing happen on this block. Some got hit others got missed. I assume it was because I had bags on my seats. I called the police but they did not come. So we drove the long chilly January air conditioned highway home.

As we drove, I said out loud all the things I was thankful for. They didn’t take those gift cards or my triathlon medal. They didn’t take my awesome stadium blanket or some other valuables I had stashed away. I can only figure they were after cash and easy sellables. Probably addicts.

I was thankful I did not walk up on them while they were doing this. I was thankful my car was otherwise unharmed. I was thankful I am not in a position where this setback would be a real mental or financial hardship. I am SO thankful something whispered to me to take my wallet! It could have been so much worse. I really was not shaken or shattered inside. I can only attribute this to my mindset work and knowing to keep losses in perspective. I would not have responded this way a few years ago.

In a few days, with the help of my family, my car was fixed and all of this was in the rear view. Am I glad it happened? Of course not. But I am grateful my life pushes on. Building your mental and physical muscles matters. I remembered this quote from Dutch Bros. Something I aspire to. There are still a handful of people and situations that can get into my mental fortress, but not nearly as many as there used to be.

challenges

The Off Season

I am a teacher. I work from 8:00 am (or earlier) until 4:00 pm 190 days a year. During those hours I am a role model for little kids, a good colleague to my co-workers, and so on. What happens when I head out to stores to do errands after school?

As an elementary school teacher, I honestly still watch myself a lot of the time. I know I could look up at a store or restaurant and see little eyes looking up at me with an incredulous squeal: Mom, it’s Dr. Friese!! This has happened many times. For that reason, I can’t be cursing or loading up on margaritas when I am out and about, especially within a certain radius of my school.

This self-censorship of sorts extends to social media. I rarely post anything except for very “innocent” family or fitness updates. I stay out of photos where drinking or other grown-up activities are involved. I don’t post political content as much as I can avoid it. I have just a handful of select parents who can see what I post. Otherwise, I just refuse most of those requests, but I am still aware than many people could be looking. I sit through legal presentations each year that share examples of teachers losing their jobs because they post themselves doing legal, adult things online that a parent used against them. Better safe than sued or jobless is my mindset, I guess.

Some comments lately had me wondering if this is fair…as a teacher, I feel expected to hold up some sort of rated-G moral standard no matter where I am. The other roughly 14 hours a day and 175 days a year I am not at school, I often mentally steer away from situations where I can be captured doing “inappropriate” things. But is it fair to expect that I’ll just be basically angelic most of the time? Is being a teacher what I do or who I am? Who gets to decide?

Others close to me have been in this situation lately as well. A friend who is a nurse had a family member go through a medical crisis. She wasn’t completely happy with the way all the care was going and let the staff know it. She wasn’t ugly or unreasonable as much as firm and inquisitive. She was told she wasn’t being professional. But her role in this situation was that of a family member advocating for her parents’ health. Does she have to be a professional even in her personal life?

What other jobs seem to carry the expectation of acting a certain way 24/7/365… am I always a mother? A father? How about the captain of an athletic team? Do I have to behave “as a captain” even in the off season? What does that mean? If I am a forklift operator or a chef, I don’t have the weight of those jobs following me around all the time. How about an athletic coach to young people? A politician? A priest? A police officer? Why do some jobs or roles become identities and others allow you to clock out and just be who you are?

I don’t have solutions for this. It just troubles me how some jobs or roles are seen as 24/7 while others can be left behind when work is over. It’s not even the highest paid people who can just shed their professions at will. Some onlookers use these roles as a weapon when they don’t like what you are doing. (Heaven forbid you’re a teacher and post something with spelling errors!)

In the end, we are all just human, with likes and dislikes, flaws and foibles and lives outside of our work. Just a few early morning thoughts.