Solitary Places

“Orlando naturally loved solitary places, vast views and to feel himself for ever and ever and ever alone.” – Virgina Woolf.

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We’re not always comfortable enough in our own skin to be by ourselves.  There is real value, however, in learning to be comfortable in our solitude.  I have found as I get older solitude has become more comfortable and more natural.   When I was younger, I hated being alone.

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Albert Einstein, one of the world’s most brilliant minds, left us some nuggets of genius on the topic. He recognize the challenge of solitude when we are young.  Especially in our school years, solitude can be quite painful.  As we get older, we realize how important it is for us.  Consequently, he also commented on how man in general is at one and the same time both a solitary being and a social being.  Every day depending on how much coffee I’ve had, I vacillate between the two.  The more coffee I’ve had, the more social I am.  Some would say, when I have coffee in hand, I glow.

 

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As a mother of three kids, finding solitude has become akin to finding the holy grail. Silent contemplation is a gift of my daily commute into Broward.  Set against the backdrop of an eclectic mix of music, I look forward to my 35 minutes of solitude.   Of course a happy and productive life needs a mix of solitude and togetherness.  One can’t find happiness in either extreme.

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Hangry

One of my favorite commercials, is the Snicker commercial featuring the Brady Bunch’s Marcia Brady.  Marcia is so hangry that she’s morphed into a big, mean biker dude.  As soon as she takes a bite of her Snickers bar, however, she turns back into the sweet all American girl we know and love.  I’d be lying if I said I was any different.  I would also be lying if I said that food makes me happier than coffee.  I run on Dunkin.

As cranky as I can get when I’m hungry, my younger boys can be absolute curmudgeons.  They’re like an 80 year old man going through puberty.  Quite frankly, it’s ugly.  Like the sour patch in the commercial, he goes from sugary sweet to dastardly sour.

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When we were hiking on the Vindhellavegen section of the Kongsvegen, the Mayor had become hungry.  As we hiked the Sverre hjornevik, one of the most picturesque parts of the trail, the Mayor’s hangriness started to peak.  One problem…  The trail was wide enough, but was gravelly in places. If one were to fall of the side of the road, one would fall into a rocky gorge.  It wouldn’t be a good outcome.

 

The Mayor felt the entire mountainside from Borgund to Husom should know of his discontent.  He was not quiet in sharing his displeasure.  Jake and I trekked to the bottom to see Husom and take pictures, while the Mayor, Goalielocks and the Hubby waited on some benches up the hill.

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We finally made our way back up the trail, which was much steeper on the way up than it had been on the descent.  The Mayor whose hangriness has reached a new level of ludicrousness was beside himself.  His antics were annoying Goalielocks and Jake, leading Goalielocks to ask the Mayor if he could be any louder.  This wasn’t not a good question to ask.  The Mayor started to scream, shout and clap as he did a jig a la GOB from Arrested Development.  Out of breath, I had to stop hiking because I was laughing too hard.

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While the Mayor was attempting to annoy his brothers, the rest of us ended up in hysterics because it was truly the funniest thing we’d ever seen.  This, of course, only made it worse.  It wasn’t until he saw my iphone recording that he started walking normally.  As soon as we got back to the Borgund Stave church and museum, we got him some food.  We couldn’t unfurl the wrapper off the muffin quick enough. Once the food was on board, my sweet angelic Mayor was back.

 

 

Memories

I’ve been using Shutterfly to house and print my photos for the last eleven years, so many of memories are housed there.  In fact, I’ve been on Shutterfly longer than I’ve been on Facebook.  That’s a long time.  One of the thing, I love about Shutterfly is the memory emails.  Much like Facebook Memories, Shutterfly now sends email with a link to your old photos.

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Today’s memories email from Shutterfly was of memories from 10 years ago.  What a fantastic trip down memory lane.  Ten years ago, Jake was starting 3rd grade.  This year he’ll be starting at Palm Beach State.  The Mayor was a doll at a year old and Colin was almost four.  Now both of them are in middle school.

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You can see how digital photos has evolved since 2007 when comparing the quality of photos from 2007 to 2017.  Their are several super cute, but super grainy pictures of the boys.   Admittedly, part of the problem could be that they simply were unable to sit still long enough for me to get a quality photo.  However, they haven’t changed that much and the photos should still be super grainy if that was the case.  Grainy or not, the photos from 2007 are a wonderful trip down memory lane.

 

Vacation Planning

Vacation planning for families is no joke.  With a trip like that you can’t just plan things willy-nilly.  When planning a big family trip, especially overseas, a lot of careful planning and consideration must go into it.     We took over two years to plan the Norway trip given the cost, length of travel and number of people going.  My brother took point on the itinerary booking the Norway in a Nutshell tour.  Meanwhile, we booked a car and mirrored their stops.

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Renting a car in Norway was fairly easy and was reasonably priced through Hertz when booked with our AAA discount.  Driving in Norway was fairly easy and straight forward.  The roads were significantly narrower and full of roundabouts.  In stark contrast to South Florida, Norwegian drivers were adept at the roundabouts and very congenial drivers.  I didn’t hear a horn once.  Norwegians are serious about their speed limits with speed cameras littering their road ways.  Thank God for Waze and its speed trap warnings.  Waze and Apple Maps worked perfectly in Norway.

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Food is ridiculously expensive in Norway no matter which route you take. MacDonald’s set us back $60 in Bergen and that was fast food.   The lodging, however, was reasonably priced.  Hotels were nice as they often came with a complimentary breakfast that was quite impressive.  Our hotel in Trondheim, the Radisson Blu, had one of the most incredible hotel breakfasts I had ever seen.  The Air BnB’s worked perfectly for our family in Oslo and Bergen.  It was great to stay in the neighborhoods of these cities and away from the tourists.   Near our Air BnB in Bergen there was a great local coffee shop that had the most incredible coffee and treats.

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As I look to our next big trip, a couple of things I will keep in mind.  First, under no circumstance will I accept a compact car at the rental counter- no way, no how.  Secondly, the car was nice as it gave us a great opportunity to see the Norwegian countryside and cities, but it was slow going.  Next time, I think we will look to combine car, train and boat to see more of the country.  Thirdly, I will take out a second mortgage to cover the cost of food.  Lastly, when abroad it is not necessary to eat enough pastries to make up for the last two carb free years.  #lessonlearned

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Flam A Picturesque Hamlet

Flam is a picturesque hamlet at the end of the Aurlandsfjord.  Surrounded by mountains and the beautiful fjord, you couldn’t imagine a more beautiful, serene or more Norwegian place.  On the surroundings hills and mountains, the farmers let their sheep and goats roam freely to find the best grass.  It was even more beautiful that I had imagined.

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Our first night in Flam, we met our family at Flamstova for dinner.   Our dinner was incredible, but the kids had grown weary from sitting at the table.  My cousin Jessica and her husband Jeff volunteered to take them out to see the sheep in the pasture.  With the kids gone, we could enjoy the remainder of our dinner in relative silence.

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Meanwhile the kids were in seventh heaven as they fed the sheep that ventured near the fence.  Colin had his first run in with the prickle of a stinging nettle he had picked to feed the sheep.  He learned his lesson and was more careful when he picked the grass.  The kids loved the animals we would see grazing freely throughout our Norwegian travels, but the opportunity to be up close and feed them was even better.

We made several more visits to the sheep before leaving Flam including a walk behind the fence to find some good fishing spots.  The boys, particularly the younger two, had to visit their sheep named Jeffry.  All of the kids enjoyed feeding and interacting with the sheep.   They loved to watch their silly antics as they ran down the mountain or assaulted their mother for milk.  It certainly isn’t something our kids are accustom to seeing.

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It was awesome to see the how freely the sheep and goats were to gallivant about the mountains finding the best grass.  Each morning the farmers would let their herds out and then each night the farmers would bring them back home.   How they got them to come down the mountain, I don’t know, but each and every night they’d return home from their pastures.

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Purple Stride Broward-Palm Beach

Last week I received an email announcing the Purple Stride Broward-Palm Beach Event.  I can’t believe it is that time of the year again.  We are less than a month away from the racing (running) season in South Florida.  Since the heat index has been in the triple digits since we got back, I’ve been training on the treadmill.   It is never too early to start training as the race will be here in a jiffy.

Today I setup our team for the purple stride event happening on November 19th at FAU (Florida Atlantic University) in Boca Raton.  We will be racing under the team Deb Force Five for the third year in a row.  My goal is to be the number one team in fundraising for the second year in a row.  We are shooting for $10,500.

As I updated the information and the team’s website, I got choked up.  It hit me like semi-truck that this year would be painfully different.   August 26th will make five months since we lost Debbie, but it still feels so fresh.  Grief is awful.  Like a thief in the night, it comes out of nowhere and steals your happiness.  It pops up unexpectedly, forcefully and with so much pain.

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After I collected myself a bit, I got on the treadmill to put in my thirty minutes.  The first five minutes were tearful, but as my run continued my hope and sense of purpose returned.  I made a promise to Debbie to continue advocating for pancreatic cancer awareness and fighting for a cure.  It is a promise I cannot and will not ever break.

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In the coming months, we hope to announce the launch of a pancreatic cancer immunotherapy clinical trial that Debbie, Melissa Nicholas and I had started working on last December.   It destroyed me that we were not able to launch the clinical trial, so Debbie could benefit.  In hindsight, I think Debbie knew this since she was a pharmacist.  As a neophyte to the industry, I had hopes that we could get it started right away.

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She was a second mom to my kids and they loved her to pieces.   Her memory is never far for anyone us.  My boys insisted on lighting a candle in Debbie’s memory at Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim.  Afterwards in the gift shop, they picked out a praying angel, for her, that watches over us from our kitchen.

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You may have seen the new shirts that were posted to the site this weekend.  My boys and I have been hard at work designing shirts and a business plan for our new store.  For all of us, the creative process and the opportunity to honor Debbie’s memory has been cathartic.   The profits from our merchandise will go towards funding the clinical trial and towards a scholarship program that helps families with the expenses for travel hockey.

For more information on Purple Stride Broward-Palm Beach or to join our team click here

For more information of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network click here

Fore more information Pennies In Action click here

Fore more information on our store click here

 

Trip Photos

Today I’ve been sifting through my trip photos and trying to organize them according to city and date.  Technology while helpful also frustrates the process a bit.  The wifi, while we were in Norway, wouldn’t always support the shutterfly upload process.  Consequently, I ended up having to upload half of the photos to my online library through Canon.

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Once I completely organize them, I will be adding photos to my blog under a separate page only devoted to photos.  I am fairly tech savvy, however, the Envira plugin and add-ons have been frustrating me all night.

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At any rate, I am excited to share these photos with the blogosphere.  Our Norway trip was magnificent.   The country is more beautiful than words could possibly describe, so I hope that comes through in the photos.  Some of the pictures look fake like they’re a built model set.  If I hadn’t taken the photo myself, I wouldn’t have believe it was real.  You can find our photos here.

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Creative and Inspired

To be creative and inspired, one must be prepared to invest time in the cultivation of ideas.  There is no better way to cultivate one’s creativity than through reading. Norman Cousins, famed American political journalist once said; “A library, to modify the famous metaphor of Socrates, should be the delivery room for the birth of ideas – a place where history comes to life.”

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If you were to look at the habits of America’s most successful leaders, one commonality would be their passion for reading.  Reading  can help leaders improve their vocabulary, emotional intelligence, become a more adept communicator and inspire creativity. By and large their reading isn’t necessarily confined to business topics, but rather all types of literature.

I recently took over a new team in my corporate life. Therefore, one topic I have been reading a lot about is change management.  Change management done well results in great business outcomes from a KPI and employee engagement perspective.  Change management done poorly can undermine an entire business.

Here are some of my favorite reads on change management:

  1.  HBR’s 10 Must Reads on Change Management
  2.  Leading Change, by John Kotter
  3.  Change Friendly Leadership, by Roger Dean Duncan
  4.  Changemaking: Tactics and Resources for Managing Organizational Change, By Richard Bevan
  5.  The Theory and Practice of Change Management: Third Edition, By John Hayes

Reading novels is crucial to unleashing your creativity and inspiration.  Here are some of my favorites.

  1.  Les Miserables, Victor Hugo
  2.  The Alchemist, Pablo Coelho
  3.  The Count of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas
  4.   The Decameron,  Giovanni Boccacio
  5.  A Separate Peace, John Knowles
  6.  To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
  7.  Don Quixote, Miguel De Cervantes
  8.  1984, George Orwell
  9.  Animal Farm, George Orwell
  10.   Revolutionary Road, Richard Yates

What are some of your favorite novels?  I’m always looking for something new to read, so please share your favorites in the comments.

 

 

 

The Grind

It is easy to get lost in the grind of our day to day to professional and personal lives.  As we grind it out, it easy to lose site of how much progress we’ve made. This week we spent three days as a leadership team working on our budget initiatives for 2018.  It was an invigorating, discussing spurring event that was really productive.

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This was my fourth year attending and my third year presenting.  The first year I presented, it wasn’t pretty. They beat me up pretty good.  Thankfully, each year has gone progressively better than the last year.  This year I presented on two days to a much larger audience than I’d been accustomed to, but it went very well.  As I look back on my previous budget experiences and compare to this year’s presentation, I can see how far I have come.  3b8ffd69e15dcd50329cbd68b15ef30f--teen-quotes-work-quotes

While I’ve made some great progress towards my professional goals, my fitlife goals too a backseat to Twizzlers, Snickers, and catered meals.  When I got home tonight and my treadmill and TRX were glaring at me.  I went for a quick run on the treadmill before dinner.

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My treadmill and I got reacquainted before a great dinner with friends.  My TRX, however, is looking a little neglected.  Tomorrow I will be getting back on the wagon eating right.  There are times that we deviate from our health goals and that’s gonna happen.  We can’t let it derail us completely.  There is no quick way to success be it professional or personal.  There is no elevator to take us to the top floor only hard work and persistence.

You Being You

Loved this whimsical quote from Dr. Seuss that’s all about you being you and me being me.   The picture of my favorite carousel from Paris didn’t hurt either.  I looked high and low for pictures from our first trip to Paris.   I have a fabulous picture of Jake riding the carousel near the Eiffel Tower, but that photo album has gone ghost.  I digress.

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When we travel, we’re free to be ourselves.  Being free of other people’s expectations and perceptions, if even for a week, is completely liberating.  The truth is we have to learn to accept who we are before anyone else can accept us.  Further, and far more difficult, we have to learn to accept that not everyone will like us.

Reality is when we embrace who we are and we say what we feel those that are important to us will embrace us.  Those that don’t simply don’t matter.   Sometimes one needn’t look further than Dr. Seuss for great advice and Green Eggs and Ham.

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