For the Hell of It Friday: Leaping into Stunting

We’re just going to start with me openly admitting I have a mega fan girl crush on Coach Colene. I was in awe of her and her brother back in high school. They were forensics super stars. If you walked into a round and saw them there, just kiss that round goodbye. The thing was, they were so good you didn’t care that they had just kicked your ass. They were unstoppable and that has carried on into their adult life, which is why I can’t believe I’m sharing this next part…

In high school, Colene had these really long nails. One weekend, we were both waiting for our event to start and I randomly blurted out “how do you pick your nose?” Catching myself just a little too late, I tried to cover with “I mean, you probably don’t…” It did not make us fast friends. I seriously doubt she even remembers me from school (we didn’t go to the same school, just competed against each other. Okay, they competed. I kind of just showed up). I would be mortified if she even remembered. Just goes to show somethings never change, like how I’ve always been adorably awkward.

Back then we didn’t have social media so she couldn’t block the weirdo booger girl. Here’s hoping she doesn’t read this and remedy that now…

Anyways…with the new year approaching and New Year’s Resolutions on everyone’s minds, Life Coach Colene is gearing up for Vision 2017 7 Day Challenge. It’s a free online workshop. Coach Colene says it’s her gift to us because “we deserve this and so much more” (I know, gush!). This isn’t a shameless plug, though all of Coach Colene’s info and Vision 2017 link are down at the end.

Please, if I’m worried about her getting a restraining order do you think she would have recruited me to blog about her? I tell you all this because I’m using her posts for the lead up to my point. There’s always a point, it just takes a hot minute of storytelling!

All of her posts leading up to 2017 had me give myself a double hollar. The first hollar was for the cussing. Rounding off the year, preparing for next year, I am ahead of the curve.

img_6568
If I didn’t give it all I had, I wouldn’t have made it.
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You only get one free carry on and there’s no way I’m paying extra to carry around extra shiz.
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I’m just going to pretend this says “Don’t sleep on the bus.” Check! 
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Whether this is a typo and should say “in a tent” or actually “intent,” done and done.
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This. This one is the most. It was scary, it was hard. None of this would have happened if I hadn’t and I don’t regret it for a single minute.

 

 

When Coach Colene posted:

Time to start getting ready to ringimg_6561 in the new year. Before we pop the champagne, I like to reflect on the year before. So let’s start with something simple: What is one thing 2016 taught you?

For me it was the importance of asking for what I want and need. I’m a woman who tends to think I can do it all, but I don’t know everything (nor do I need to) and I shouldn’t waste my energy trying to do everything. What can I do that’s providing the most value? Then I can ask others for help. It’s not a sign of weakness, but a sign of self-awareness and strength.
Ask for what you need/want/desire.
What about you?

I answered that I plan, God laughs. Just because it was for everyone else doesn’t mean it was for me. Which Coach Colene liked, by the way!

There has been so much change, all of this self awareness to lead me here. This courage has always been a part of me, I don’t think anyone was really that surprised when I set out on this adventure. Yet with all of this somehow my confidence stalled.

Yesterday, I put it out to my friends that in this crazy world I had surprisingly come across a situation where I was going to have to take a leap. Being my biggest support group, I called out for positive thoughts, good vibes, and to send some prayers upstairs for me. I didn’t need to succeed, I just needed to not lose my nerve.

With the exception of Michael who seemed to have designs on me failing at skydiving, they didn’t fail me.

I woke up this morning ready!15726670_10211082795763470_2094627485154829257_nI pushed down those nerves thinking of Jill, telling my heart not to bother whispering. Let’s shout.

Today, I submitted my first real deal pitch to a real deal publication. I’m not quite sure why that terrified me so much. I’ve been published, I’ve had bylines. More than one occasion I have swept a news cycle. I have been a big fish in a big pond. Lacking in confidence just isn’t been something I do.

Why be terrified now? The answer escapes me. This is the beginning. This is how it starts. Arizona had always been laid out as the turning point. Now it is here. The deadlines I gave myself to make this work are looming.

Then it all clicked.

I am not out of my league, I am in my element.

There can’t be a deadline to fail or succeed before I pack it all in and go back home. There can’t be a deadline because I’m not going to stop doing this until I make it.

Saying it’s the img_6507Year of Muffy just always seems to be a curse upon myself. We’ll banish that hashtag for forever. For 2017, I’m going to stunt so hard that I’ll never be able to question I was doing it any other way.

F*ck 2016, I’m through with you.

 

 

 

 

To form your own fan girl crush on the genius that is Coach Colene you can find her at the following places:

Coach Colene Website (I highly encourage the Monday Motivation emails)

Vision 2017 – 7 Day Challenge

Coach Colene Facebook

Coach Colene Instagram

Coach Colene Twitter

Coach Colene YouTube

UPDATED Africa: Did You Know It’s Bless Not Miss the Rain?

UPDATED: Thinking of Africa? Me too. Check out below the original post for the suggestions that came my way.***

Fun story, until about 5 minutes ago I have always belted out that I miss the rain in Africa. Toto must have been cringing over more than my bad singing.

Africa has always seemed to call to me. The logistics of going have just never been there. Could I muster up the gumption to get all those shots? Who really has a job that would let them take 6 weeks of vacation? And, of course, my loves. How could my pup understand that she hasn’t been abandoned? I’d be back!

Now that all of that has gone out the window, minus the gumption, why not now? Now just might be the right time for that mission trip that’s always been on my mind.

Africa tumblr_nlyjjllkt31urwkiao1_500is a huge endeavor, one that is going to require a lot of research. I could probably just answer one of those email requests from a fallen prince who needs my help in cashing in his multi million dollar inheritance, but maybe I should dig a little deeper.

With that in mind, I am turning to my greatest resource: all of y’all. What do you know? Who do you know? Have you been and what was your experience like? Would you never go and why not?

I’m pretty open to whenever, wherever, and for however long. I do want a trip that is mission based. If I can do some good in the world then I want to do some good in the world! Otherwise, the sky is the limit.

Y’all always know so let’s get together and get me to Africa. And yes, I am fully aware that the main image used for the blog is not really how it is going to be. Just keeping it light with some bad photoshopping.

Missions & Organizations Suggested:

Please note that I have not had the chance to dive in to research these yet, but this is what the world has sent me so far:

Autumn Hope Ministries based in Cookeville, TN, offers multiple trips to multiple locations.

Newspring Church, various locations in SC, is going to Uganda. The trip does currently have a waiting list.

Blood:Water, founded by the band Jars of Clay and activist Jena Lee Nardella, their mission is focused on HIV/AIDS and water crisis in Africa. They have an upcoming trip for the summer of 2017.

Youth With A Mission Worldwide, one of my girlfriends is currently in Africa with YWAM. They offer trips as short as one week or as long as two years. Not sure if I’m too old, but they do have trips for children, teens, as well as churches and youth groups.

Other Trips:

El Salvador, July 22-30th. They will be building a house with a partner family living in poverty, ages 16 and up, no skills necessary! Email for more details and to set up time to discuss.

Ecuador, the United Methodist Church in North Charleston, SC will be going as well. You can contact them for more information.

Started to dig in a little last night. Came across Volunteer Forever’s list of 2016’s Best Volunteer Abroad Programs. There’s one that I think be my winner!

 

Travel Tip Tuesday: Bringing It Home

If you’re still traveling for the holidays or are already back home for the holiday, let’s talk safety. Most specifically, I want to talk about your Christmas tree.

I know, this isn’t a travel tip, but fire safety is near and dear to my heart. It just takes one time of waking up in a burning building to get your guard up!

Let’s zone in on the point: that Christmas tree in your living room giving everything a golden glow is a death trap. I need all y’all to keep it watered. Keep it away from heating vents, space heaters, oh lord, and please keep it away from your fireplace.

All my Southerners, I know y’all have it in your head to light that tree on fire. RESIST! Mr. Fireman told me all kinds of stories about how that tree goes up in a great ball of poof! For the love of biscuits, if you are going to burn it be smart about it. Not in your fireplace! Have a hose handy. That thing is going to take 3.4 seconds to burn.

Just be safe y’all. The holidays may be over, but that tree could still ruin it all.

Also per my new fireman friend, make sure that you haven’t hidden any extra presents or wrapping paper in the over before you turn it on. We’ve all been guilty of a quick hiding clean!

 

Muffy Monday: The Desert Might Kill Me

Did anyone else just completely space that today is Monday? It can’t be just me. 

Well, I’m here Arizona! There are some struggles. Like how cacti is a word. It feels like cactus should just be like moose on the plurals. Regardless, I can’t even with the cacti. Between them and the mountains that are legit RIGHT THERE, I can’t even. There’s also a never ending magical tray of cookies. It just keeps refilling. 

I’ve pretty much adjusted to the timechanges and despite conking out every chance I get, am rested. Tomorrow, it gets real. Holidays are over and Arizona is here. There’s plans to be made and posts to be posted. It was a long 13hr haul out here, got to show y’all what I did with the time! 

For now, I’m sticking to the desserts and avoiding the desert. I’ve been given a list much too long for my liking of things that might kill me. 

‘Twas the Bus To Arizona: 140 Characters at a Time

When you’re nothing left to do, you tweet a Christmas love affair to Greyhound’s PR. 

Twas the bus to Arizona, when all thro’ the bus, Not a creature was stirring, not even the guy on his device. 

The luggage was stowed away with care, in hopes that Arizona would soon be here;
The passengers were nestled all snug in their seats,

While visions of clear highways danced in their heads. 

The guy in the seat next to me with his headphones on and me I my headlamp, 
Had just settled our brains for a long night of traveling—‌
When in the row behind me there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from my seat to see what was the matter.

Away to the aisle I flew like a flash,
Tore off my sleeping mask and threw the book from my lap

The glow of the hazard lights,
Gave the illusion that this ride will never end;

When, what to my wondering ears should appear,

But the driver on the speaker, and eight tiny decrees,
With a little old driver, so lively and quick,

I knew in a moment this nonsense would end quick.

More rapid than eagles his lessons they came,

And he whistled, and shouted, and call’d them out by name:

“No leaving your seats! No smoking! No Alcohol or drugs! No loud phone calls! No talking to the driver! No disturbing the others! No bothering the rest!”

“To the back of the bus! To the front of the seats! Wear your headphones! Wear your headphones! Wear your headphones all!”

As quick as the carry ons are grabbed when you arrive, the phone call that was too loud, 

Went silent from the behind;

So on went the Greyhound on down the road, the wheels rolled on, the miles how they flew,

With the bus full of riders—‌and a stern driver too:

And then in a twinkling, I heard from the seat just to the rear an apology and an excuse me” from a very meek little voice. 

As I drew in my coat, and was turning around,

Down went the phone without even a sound. 

He was sorry he’d disrupted us from his head to his foot. And his face was tarnished with embarrassment and guilt;
A bundle of texts began to flow from his hands, 
And not another word was spoken from that loud little man:

His screen—‌how it twinkled! His silence: how merry,

His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry;

His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,

And the silhouette of his face showed the phone’s soft glow; 

The buds of a headset he tucked tight in his ears,
And the conversation held encircled his head like a wreath.

He had a foul mouth, and a little round belly

That shook when we hit bumps, like a bowl full of jelly:

He was cursing and rude, not at all like an elf,

And I laugh’d when he was hushed in spite of myself;

A wink of his eye and a twist of his head

Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.

He spoke not another word, but went straight to his chat,

And finished that convo without being a brat,
And laying his finger aside to the volume of his phone

And giving a nod, not another word arose.

He stayed in his seat, the rest of us he acknowledged,

And away the bus flew, with the speed of a greyhound:
But I heard him exclaim, ere we drove out of sight 

No more eavesdropping you bitches, and to all **** ** ***. 

For the Hell of It Friday: What the Hell Am I Doing?

You know the song “I’ll Be Home for Christmas?” It isn’t actually happy. It ends with “if only in my dreams…” 

I am currently in Las Vegas and the furthest thing from home for the holidays that I could possibly imagine. Inexplicably, it all just hit me. Suddenly I’m sad. 

Ridiculous. Going home wasn’t an option. What is waiting for me in Tucson will probably be the best Christmas I’ve had in years. It’s a tiny regret of not leaving yesterday and a long ride through the night to get there. 

Should I have stayed in Charleston? That seems like a hopeless thought to bother exploring. Hotel KLA is still under reconstruction from the flooding and KLA is in an actual hotel for the holidays. My first year of Nachos, Tacos, and Tequila will have to wait another year.  Maybe all of this was too much leaping at once. No, I take that back. 

Christmas would have been hard no matter where I ended up. There’s too much involved. It isn’t home I’m missing, it’s the idea of what home used to be that maybe never was that bothers me. 

Maybe this realization that home isn’t happy is the grown up version of not believing in Santa anymore. Yes Virgina, you’re family is crazy. 

For now, I’m going to suck it up. Pack it up. Dry these silly tears and hit the casino. If I’m going to try my luck, I’d rather it be with my money than my heart this year. I hear there’s Christmas cookies for me to decorate in Tucson. 

Muffy Monday: Big Girl Flamingo Pants

Exciting! We’re growing and going to be a real deal blog! The converting starts the moment after this post, which makes me extremely nervous. Already they’ve hit me with a couple of bumps. What would this be if there weren’t bumps? That’s just how I roll.

For that reason, this is not the post that was planned or written. Skeptic I am, it just might be lost in the world and no one wants that! On top of that, flipping Chromebook just randomly feels the need to restart. Digging into that next. Anyone with any heads up would be greatly appreciated.

If you’re not following along on Facebook or Instagram, you probably have no clue where I am. Maybe you do? Who knows, it all seems a blur these days.

In a whirlwind, I ended up at Lake Arrowhead Resort. Just as my Lilly pants don’t go with Uggs, Muffys don’t belong in the snow. It’s my last night on the mountain, tomorrow I’ll travel down and catch a bus to Vegas! It was the same price to grab the bus to Vegas then Tucson instead of straight on to Tucson. Why not get a little sun in between?

Let’s hear your Las Vegas tips and tricks! Still unsure of which hotel, darn resort fees have me all confounded. My heart is screaming for The Flamingo! It is my spirit animal after all. The room is a steal of a deal, the resort fee costs just as much as the room. Tonight, I’ll investigate.

Alright y’all, let’s cross our fingers and have high hopes….time to convert it all over. Here goes!

 

 

 

Never Without: Tools of the Trade

There are a few things that I make sure to never find myself without. Even when I had the full luxury of my car, I always made sure there were a couple of items always on hand. Stashed away in my purse, backpack, or overflowing from every pocket stitched to me, they were there!

Granted, I do leave my handy Chromebook behind if I don’t have my backpack or purse. It’s the one item that doesn’t make every trek out the door. img_3749I picked mine up last Spring/Summer from Best Buy for under $130.00 (that’s less than my round trip ticket to Cuba!). It’s lightweight and easy. If something were to ever happen to it, I’d have a conniption, but it wouldn’t be a complete heartbreak to my wallet. I’ve learned my lesson though, best keep track of that power cord! I lost mine somewhere between the LowCountry and the Upstate. Without a home address to have one shipped to me, I had the damnedest time trying to find one at a box store. The multi-use replacement would have set me back $60 if they had one in stock. Luckily, my despair wasn’t lost on the manager and he found me one off a display they were taking down. Phew!

But what else is in there?! Let’s start with the basics.

Cold Bevie, Warm Hands

I have always and will always have a koozie on hand. You just can’t fight the Southern y’all! Typically, I usually have at least 2 in case someone else needs one. There have been times that I have cleaned out my purse to find no less than 8 stowed away. Without a home of my own, there’s about 150 stored away in one of my hidden Rubbermaid bins and a basket with no less than 75 in the backseat of my car. Koozies are clearly my crack.

Power Up

img_4803The number
one possession of all my life is my phone, closely followed by my shellphone cover. It has an antenna, that’s how you know it’s a shellphone and not a seashell. It is my lifeline to everyone I know, my address book, my calendar, my tickets, my bank, work, everything! We won’t even think the unthinkable in regards to that! It is  constant worry that I’ll run out of battery. For that reason, even when I have 87%, I run my phone on Low Battery Mode.

low-power-mode-800x706

You never know! Remember in Greenville when the hotel lost power? Got to stretch it out!

Over prepared, I always have a charging cord with a power cube. If I can’t find an outlet, I’ve got double backups! Two portable chargers are always on hand. One was a gift a couple of years back from Verizon and I suspect it is the expensive kind. Mostly I assume this because it works phenomenally. I can be down to the wire and pop it on. In moments I will be back up to 45%. This charger will go until it has no more juice or I unplug it. I reserve this one for when I see the curtains coming down. My other charger was a fabulous going away gift. It is my go to when I need a boost. Automatically shutting off when I get to a manageable about of battery, it keeps itself charged as a backup for the next time I need it.

You have to keep in mind that the cord to charge a portable charger is different than an iphone power cord! They can’t mix and match!

Probably the item that gets me the most looks is my penlight. It’s not for reading, I have a headlamp for that (best $1 spent ever). My penlight is mega powered and my favorite hack. I love my phone. LOVE. But, not so much on pics in the dark. When lighting is failing me, I shine my penlight over top to grab the shot. It gets lots of looks, but hey! It gets it done! Completely changes everything!

Keeping It Old School: Pen, Pad, Books Without Batteries, and Snail Mail

There is always a book within reach. In my backpack I have 3 more. Notorious for being hard on my books, I prefer a paperback for ease. Nothing lures me in like a cheap book. Just yesterday in the hot tub over looking the mountain I traded a title page with our phone numbers on them with my newfound friend.

I read them, leave them, or pass them along to someone I think will enjoy it. Funny enough, img_20160309_130808I never listen to books on tape (yes, I stand by “books on tape,” Audiobooks just doesn’t sound right. I know, I’m old). When on the road I prefer to listen to podcasts. A couple of weeks back I shared what I’ve been listening to and what’s in queue based on some excellent recommendations for Travel Tip Tuesday: Fighting the Boredom of 10,000 Miles.  When listening, I prefer my other favorite going away gift, my glitzy Kate Spade rhinestone earbuds.

Holding tight to that Southerner, there’s a pad of personalized stationary for a penpal or a thank you note. I tend to send my thank you notes on postcards as I move along so there’s always a few postcards tucked in as well. Of course, I keep a book of Forever Stamps. If I didn’t have stamps on me, I’d never get anything mailed. Being a weirdo I have a favorite correspondence pen (not to be confused with my favorite writing pen) and always a purple pen. A Sigma always writes a sister in purple. Always.

Just like my Chromebook, if situation allows, I have my current favorite notebook for composing. Really, I have 4 in my backpack for various topics. It is never enough. My go to is almost full and I’ll have to find a new one soon. As a backup, I keep a pockimg_5853et size notebook for thoughts, notes, suggestions, and ideas.

I have this weird thing
about writing, I have to have my hair up or I can’t get motivated. The tighter the pony, the tighter my concentration. When I get really going, I’ll end up with more bobbypins keeping my hair off my face than a gymnast.

Lastly, I keep the map that started it all. It’s rare that I need to reference it anymore for who is located where. Mostly, I keep it always with me as a reminder of how this whole thing got started. It’s a great conversation piece too. When I share the story of stopping at a truckstop in search of a real map and picking up legal signature tabs, people think I’m exaggerating. Until I pull it out! Ta-da!

And that’s what I can’t live without! What do you always have? What can you never venture away from? I want to hear! Maybe there’s something I’m missing!

 

 

 

 

Travel Tip Tuesday: Bumping It

We all know that I had been hoping and praying that I would get bumped from my flight today. I didn’t. It actually worked out better than getting a voucher in the long run. Since I made my flight, The Chef was able to come into L.A. to pick me up. Without plans in L.A. he invited me up the mountain with him. Would I have loved a flight voucher or a American Express gift card? Yes. Would it have been as good as a week at Lake Arrowhead Resort with the head chef and a car? Nope.

But, let’s back up to getting bumped from flights. The practicality of getting bumped from my flight was low. A large reason my flight was so cheap was the time.

Cheaper fly = less desirable travel times = less passengers

All that adds up to the likelihood of the flight being oversold very minimal. My one chance was that the snow storm that came into Chicago Saturday night pushed back enough flights. Diligently I watched flight cancellations and delays. FAA has the option to track flights as well as FlightView. Not so much luck.

There’s no magic equation to getting bumped though the holidays are prime for it. What I can tell you are the common factors for those that have been bumped.

  • Check in late (within an hour, but not last minute)
  • Check in at the desk NOT online
  • Check a bag

Most airport websites will have security check waits available.

Have you been bumped? Let’s hear about it!

 

 

 

Muffy Monday: Can You Help Me, I’m Lost

My first trip to New York City, we stayed at the Waldorf-Astoria. If  ever I get lost, I was told, find my way to the Waldorf. Go to the concierge, he will take care of you. When I was older and began to travel on my own should I ever get lost, I was told again, find my way to the Waldorf. Go to the concierge, he will take care of you.

It is a lesson that has always stayed with me.

My fall from the gilded tower was more of a stumble down a mountainside over a course of years. The somersaults of a head over heels tumble probably played a large part in me tackling this adventure. The scenery was always changing on the way down, you get used to the unsteady. Let’s be honest. If I was going to be poor facing an unknown future, might as well be poor facing an unknown future out experiencing the world. It wasn’t hard to walk away from life in a box without electricity or indoor plumbing.

Do I miss it? It’s hard to say. We’re talking about the charmed life, not the box. Damn box. This version of my life is pretty exciting. I am seeing the world in a completely different way than that life would have ever allowed me. The thrill of the hunt to find a deal on airfare, connect the dots on the map, plan a day of intrigue…I love it. I love the challenge of piecing it all together to make it work.

Do I miss a regular life with a home? I am not sure yet, it has been weighing on me. That is something I am going to have to start thinking about. Arizona has always been the final stop. Today I am in Chicago, tomorrow I fly to Los Angeles all of this a part of the way to Arizona. That final stop is just around the corner.

Where do I go from there? That’s the question. It isn’t rhetorical. Suggestions welcome, opinions will be heard. There is no concierge to help me out this time. There is, however, a very nice bellman at The Palmer Hotel.

When the bitter wind was whipping off the lake, I made my way down Michigan Avenue. Following the advice from a lifetime ago, I’ve been tucked away in a corner booth in the lobby with my notebook debating a brownie. The Palmer Hotel is the origin of the brownie.

Story goes that during the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago, Bertha Palmer asked her pastry chef to create a treat smaller than a slice of cake that could fit into box lunch. There the brownie was born. The term “brownie” didn’t make it’s first documented appearance for a few more years though. The Sears Roebuck catalog, published here in Chicago, it gave credence to the name in 1898. The Palmer Hotel still serves that creation topped with walnuts and apricot glaze from the same recipe now.

As I am asked to move along from my cozy booth for the reservation behind me, I get that the Waldorf was a different lifetime ago. Maybe sometimes I am a little too lost for the help of the concierge. It doesn’t mean I have forgotten. You never know, these things have a way of coming back around.

WAIT! That’s not how it really ends!

Being ushered out of my cozy booth for a reservation, I closed my laptop to run to the restroom before publishing the post. While I was in the restroom, I found a woman’s corporate American Express. She works for this hotel. I asked the front desk for her. No, no time for me. Go check with the concierge. With the help of the concierge, I think the card is making it’s way back to it’s owner. I’m only not positive on the status because I didn’t tell them what I had found of this woman’s or how I knew she worked at the hotel. Figured it was bad business to let work know you randomly left your corporate card in a bathroom. Here’s hoping it all works out.

Good deed and identity not stolen. Seems like someone was sending me a sign.