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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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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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.

 

 

 

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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Shimmer and Shine

When we were staying on the Aurlandsfjord, we’d find ourselves just staring out the window or sitting on our deck soaking in the beauty of the fjord.  The fjord would shimmer and shine with the reflections of the sun.  It was peaceful and overwhelmingly beautiful. It was the perfect location to hit the reset button.

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The time we spent in the Fjords, was all about family and all about nature.  It was truly one of the most naturally beautiful places I have ever seen.  The water of the fjords and surrounding rivers were crystal clear and gorgeous.  Moreover, the rivers’ water were a pristine blue, while the fjord was a beautiful blue green color.

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As the sun would shine in Fjord Norway, the snow capped mountains would glisten.  Sometimes as you would approach a mountain on the road, the mountain would be covered with white spots.  These white spots were sometimes sheep or goats.  At the higher altitude, it was a mix of goats and snow.   The mixture of shimmer and shine on the mountainside was alluring.

Surrounded by natural and dramatic beauty of Fjord Norway was awe inspiring and addicting.  By the time we were preparing to leave Flam, I had already started planning my return trip to this incredible haven.  I look forward to returning to the Aurlandsfjord to explore and hike the surrounding area.

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Norwegian Skies

During our time in Fjord Norway, I loved watching the Norwegian skies above the fjord and the mountains.  As a storm or clouds would move into the valley on the fjord, the clouds would spill gently over the mountain and flow down into the valley.  At times it felt like we could touch these beautiful clouds as they had flown so low.

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While the boys fish in Laerdal, the clouds begin spilling into the valley over the fjord.   Shortly before it started to sprinkle ever so lightly.   At first, it was just a fingerling of a cloud that dropped into the fjord before more ominous clouds made their way into the valley.    Since I was getting cold, I headed back to the cabin before the rain started.  My boys who are much heartier stayed to fish through the rain and cold water of the fjord.IMG_8983

At times you would look outside and it was hard to discern if it were cloudy or foggy as the clouds dropped so low.   Watching clouds pour over the mountains into a valley is beautiful sight to behold.   For this Florida girl, the way the sky, the mountains, the valley and the fjord interacted was a thing of pure beauty.   IMG_0962

By the time we made it to Bergen, the boys were  anxious to touch a cloud.  They were hoping they’d be able to touch a cloud when we went up the mountains.  As luck would have it, the weather for both our mountaintop adventures in Bergen was almost perfectly sunny.   There were no clouds to be touched while we were up in the mountain.  As a consequence, the views of the city and the surrounding area was unobstructed.  Oh well!  If we want to touch a cloud at the top of Bergen, will just have to plan a return trip!

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Wisdom Wednesdays

Wisdom Wednesdays are back and today our quote comes from famous 19th century, Norwegian playwright and poet Henrik Ibsen.  Two hundred years later, his words have not lost their veracity.  As you go about your Wednesday, remember our actions will always speak louder than our words.

Road Trip

The road trips in Norway made for some priceless family moments withstanding the many frustrations we experienced.  And by many, I mean three.  We ended up in a compact car for the trip.  Unfortunately, this didn’t afford the boys  much leg room.  You can imagine three boys (18, 13, and 11) trying to fit in the back of a compact car for 7 plus hours.  Unfortunately, there is no room for manspreading in a compact car.

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For the younger two, the trip was particularly difficult as each boy felt the other had more leg room.  The argument got so heated they even broke out math: proportions.  Damn freaking proportions.  I couldn’t help my laughter when one began shouting at the other that their legroom was greater in proportion to their size ergo he should be able to have some of said legroom.  I should point out that this was all occurring as my husband was driving on rainy, mountain road or deep within the bowels of a 15 mile long tunnel.

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With the confiscation of their phones, the fighting subsiding and they started to enjoy the scenery.  This was true of every drive we had in Norway.  Nonetheless, we were always thrilled to get to our destination and out of the car.

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When we got back to Oslo the second time, Goalielock’s and the Mayor’s toothbrush were nowhere to be found.  The joke was we would have to drive back to Stavanger to get them from the hotel where we left them.  Who wouldn’t want to do the 14+ hour drive to Stavanger and back?  Of course we were joking.  However, we had to chuckle when they woke up the next day to ask when the hubby was heading to Stavanger.   Fortunately, we found the missing toothbrushes, which “saved” my hubby a trip.

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