“Best Self: Be You Only Better” by Mike Bayer



Just finished reading “Best Self: Be You Only Better” by Mike Bayer. I really enjoyed reading this book and found it interesting and helpful. This is a unique book in that it requires you to participate in activities that are designed to help you define your best self.

I discovered a lot about myself as I really had to think deeply into who I am, who I want to be, and is there anything I need to change. Mike asks the tough questions that we all would be well served to ask ourselves.

In the new season of empty nesting, this was the perfect time to reassess my goals, dreams and what I really want to be doing and achieving during this season. I highly recommend reading this book as it’s always good to do a “self check”.



HAPPY NEW YEAR 2020

Well another New Year’s Eve has come and gone, and no I did not stay awake until midnight or watch any celebrations. Perhaps I was a “fuddy duddy” this year, (our town is small and did not really have any fireworks or other celebrations to speak of) but I am not a late night gal and my husband had to go to work the next morning, so we had a nice dinner at home, watched a movie and then called it a night.

I remember the days, when our children were at home, I made more of an effort for them with all kinds of snacks, sparkling juice, fancy glasses and staying up to watch the crystal ball drop in New York City on television. Those were such good times and I am so glad for those memories. However, the season has definitely changed and so has my motivation.

While my celebrating may have been minimal, my time of reflection over the past year is not. 2019 was a tough year in many respects for our family. It was certainly a physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually challenging year. In looking back through my planner and journal, I can see how God has been faithful and carried us through to a much better season now.

It’s good to look back at what you’ve done and assess what went well and what did not. Taking time to think about what you want to pursue, what you want to continue and what you want to do differently. I already have several things in works for 2020 and I am hopeful that the new year will hold many blessings for my family.

So what’s the take away…..

  • Take time to reflect
  • Reassess where you invest your time
  • Set new goals
  • And most importantly, be grateful for the people you love.

CHRISTMAS 2019

Well another Christmas Season is “in the books”. We kept it low key and Robby and I agree that in this new season, TIME with our children and grandchildren is the best gift. I decorated the house as usual although without any helpers, it did take me longer. Since our youngest daughter is out of state and works retail, we weren’t sure until the week before that she would even be able to come visit. I was so happy when she announced that she was off Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and would be driving up for a visit.

Our youngest, Victoria, arrived around noon Christmas Eve and we spent the afternoon chatting and catching up. I cooked her favorite foods for dinner and then we opened gifts and finished the evening off in front of the outdoor fireplace. It was so nice to have some special time just with her.

On Christmas Day, we slept in a little, had coffee, chatted about past Christmases and then headed off to our oldest daughter, Hali’s, house loaded with gifts and a breakfast casserole. The grandchildren were so excited to show off all that Santa had brought and to see their Aunt Tata!!

We ate, exchanged gifts, played with new toys and thoroughly enjoyed our short time together. At noon, we headed back home, took naps and sadly had to send Victoria back to Savannah as work was calling the next day.

As our family has evolved with having adult children, our traditions have had to change over the past two years. Things worked well for everyone this year and we will continue to be flexible as I know change will continue to find us at the holidays. As Robby and I reflected on the day, we both agreed, “anytime we can get both of our kids and grandchildren together at the same time, it’s a good day”!!!!

Celebrating with Victoria
Whole Gang
Hali and Victoria – Sister Love

SMALL CHANGES MATTER

Aristotle said famously that we are what we do repeatedly. Success and happiness are greatly tied to the results of practicing good habits.

In this new phase of “empty nesting” I have certainly had to change my daily routine. As a 20 year stay at home mom, both my personal needs and the needs of my family have changed. Navigating these changes has been a little challenging as we all are trying to define “new boundaries”. Still trying to figure out what to do with all my available time!

As someone who is not opposed to change I have been open to readjusting my daily routine and nothing is off limits. It is certainly true that small habits tied together have a cascading impact in our lives. Things like drinking more water, adding steps/exercise into my day have really made a big impact on my overall health and happiness.

I have always adhered to tidying up as I go, now I simply have more time to wipe down counter tops while getting dressed, make the bed and put the laundry away. Keeping my living environment in order makes me feel calm and of course, less mess to deal with on my “big cleaning” day.

Another benefit is that I have had more time to spend in prayer and meditation. Being able to embrace quiet, reflect on the day, purposing to be thankful and grateful refresh my soul and help to manage the ups and downs of the whole day.

I have always been a planner and with more free time to plan, pursuing volunteer opportunities and possibly going back to work are certainly on the radar. I have heard it said the to have no plan is to plan to do nothing. I don’t want to do nothing. I have recognized that I get great fulfillment from work/completing tasks. So I am purposefully looking for new opportunities.

With more time on my hands, I have recognized how important it is to think about what I am thinking about! Boredom and even occasional loneliness can lead your mind toward feelings that are sad or depressed. Feelings are a lousy foundation from which to make decisions, so intentional and positive thinking and focus have become a new habit for me.

Lastly, I have been purposing to try new things. Whether it’s a different kind of food, visiting a new place, even taking a class or trying a new hobby, it’s important in this new phase to rediscover what I like and what I don’t. I want to embrace being curious and not fearful or getting out of my comfort zone.

So what’s the take away….

  • Life happens in seasons and seasons change
  • Start small, small changes repeated have a big impact
  • It’s never too late to take care of your physical and mental health
  • Be curious and try new things; you never know what may become and new habit in your life.

HOLIDAY AT THE CABIN

As I mentioned in my last post, Robby and I were able to spend the Thanksgiving holiday at our cabin in Maggie Valley, aka “My Happy Place”. We packed up our Thanksgiving leftovers and our dogs and headed out to the valley. Since we traveled on Thanksgiving day, there was very little traffic and we arrived by lunch time.

The weather was cool and sunny and even though the leaves had fallen, the beauty of this place still amazes me. We enjoyed some walking in the woods and a few sidewalks/trails. Fresh crisp air filled my lungs and reminded me that I’m alive. As we walked by Jonathon Creek, the sound of rushing water soothed my soul and in those moments, all is well.

The cabin is my place for being refreshed. My routine is different and so is my perspective. When I travel to the cabin I leave the concerns of daily life back home and my focus is just to be present in the beauty and peace of this place. My perspective is always better and when I return home, I am better able to tackle my “regular” life once again.

Here are a few more reasons why I love this place so much…..

Mountain view from Jonathan Creek
Walking Charlie and Chiclet
Where the road leads….

Looking forward to next month’s visit already!!!!

So what’s the take away…..

  • We all need a time of refreshment
  • A change of location often creates a change of perspective
  • Nature’s beauty inspires
  • Find your happy place and when it calls, GO!

THANKSGIVING 2019

Well this was our second year in what I call our “transition season”, that is the empty nest! With one daughter in Savannah and working retail and the other daughter close by but whose in-laws and extended family are many; Robby and I decided to veer from our usual Thanksgiving day lunch and try something different.

Since our youngest wasn’t going to able to visit at all, and our oldest often feeling the pressure on Thanksgiving day to visit multiple family members with the grandchildren, I offered to have our meal on Wednesday night. This way our daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren could have a much less stressful day. Now before you think me too sweet, Robby and I would also be able to go to our cabin for the whole holiday!!! Win Win for everyone.

As it turned out, this was a great idea and worked well for everyone. I had all day Wednesday to prepare for dinner and it was nice not having to worry about getting a turkey in the oven at 5:00a.m. (HAHAHA) My daughter and grandchildren came over a little early so they could play with my puppies and all their toys. We even had time to have a group Face Time chat with our daughter in Savannah. Her nieces just loved getting to talk to her on video and she still felt included even though not in person. We even took a family pic with her in the video!!!

I wouldn’t necessarily say that I love change, but I am always open to what works best for our family. Celebrating Thanksgiving should be easy and joyful, not stressful and rigid as to a particular day or tradition. Robby and I realize that how we celebrate will likely evolve again as we will eventually add more in-laws into the mix. Adult children will move around and establish their own traditions. The important thing for us to be able to connect with our family and do so in a way that brings joy and happiness for us all.

So what’s the take away…..

  • Don’t get stuck in rigid cultural/family expectations
  • The spirit of Thanksgiving is more important than a particular day
  • Determine your boundaries and let loved ones know what you can and can’t accommodate
  • Enjoy your family…..reconnect, laugh, relax.

CABLE CONVERSATIONS

As I mentioned in my last post, we recently assisted our youngest daughter with her move to a new apartment which was literally 3 minutes down the block. All went smoothly except for one thing ….. transferring the cable/internet/WiFi service!!! As if that’s a big surprise to anyone reading this. I, the ever optimist, really thought we would be able to simply move the equipment, plug it in and all would work, just like the company said. Boy was I in fantasy land!!!!!

So set up of Wifi/TV was my undertaking and after plugging everything in, it was obvious there was a problem. Now to the mysterious land of troubleshooting I must go. I made the first call for assistance and the person on the other end could barely speak English so I was quickly transferred to someone with better language skills. I spent 2 hours being passed around to various folks all trying to get me to follow their “troubleshooting” instructions which I did.

It was obvious to me within 20 minutes that we needed a technician to come out since the equipment was working fine just 2 hours earlier at the old apartment. It was determined that the equipment was bad (completely ridiculous) and I must go to the local store and get new equipment. Also, they would not give me an appointment for a technician until I had tried to self-install new equipment. I voiced my dissatisfaction but went out and got the new equipment. Of course, it didn’t work either and another call was made, more time was wasted, but I finally got an appointment for technician installation at a $75 fee.

My husband and I returned to Florence and left our daughter to handle the rest. The technician showed up, found there was a problem with the line, repaired said problem and then left!! My daughter wasn’t experienced enough to know that he was supposed to set everything up before leaving, so here I go again with 2 more hours of phone calls and troubleshooting with folks who were trying very hard to help but the language barrier was a real issue and a simple fix turned into a real mess.

Finally, after yelling (not my best self or finest moment) I was transferred to someone who understood me and our problem. Within 10 minutes she had everything activated for the WiFi and internet which I had previously hooked up before leaving Savannah; my daughter was happy with that; and I was mentally exhausted. It was later that evening that she informed me the TV didn’t work.

We decided to Facetime and see if I could help her resolve the problem. Imagine our surprise when we discovered that the technician didn’t even open the package for the cable box. He installed nothing!!! Good thing I had watched YouTube videos for installation so I guided my daughter through the self-installation process. Hallelujah, it worked and her TV now has cable and WiFi.

So….. what’s my point in sharing?

  • Transferring cable/internet/WiFi by moving equipment; plug in and go, probably isn’t going to work.
  • Most companies won’t give you a technician appointment until you have picked up new equipment and tried a self install. Plan accordingly.
  • Next move…….we are cancelling current service and starting new service which does allow you to get a technician to do it.

By the way, I am quite sure they are as glad to NOT hear from me as I am to NOT need to call them!!!

MOVING…A COLLEGE STUDENT

This past Sunday and Monday, my husband and I traveled to Savannah, Georgia to assist our 20 year old daughter with moving into her new apartment. She is a SCAD student and also works in Savannah and was moving from a 1 bdrm into a 2bdrm duplex just up the street. We moved her into her first apartment by ourselves and we learned a huge lesson. WE CAN’T MOVE FURNITURE ANYMORE!!!

While Robby and I still see ourselves as young, our over 50 bodies do have some limits and hauling heavy furniture is one of those limits. This time we hired help!!! In fact, we hired Two Men and a Truck to assist us. We did our own packing and they simply hauled it from one location to the next and everything worked like I planned. FYI, I purchased all the moving supplies from them and had them delivered to my daughter. She was able to pre-pack all of the unnecessary items and so the rest was easy to complete. Their rates were reasonable and they were very professional and efficient. I would highly recommend them to anyone considering a move, especially a local move.

Although packing and moving was a big and tiring task, I really enjoyed working side by side with my daughter. She learned a few things about packing and time spent with your adult child is always time well spent. The best part was seeing her take charge at the new place and direct where she wanted furniture and things placed. It makes a momma proud to see your adult children maturing in responsibility and managing their lives.

The task at hand was definitely tiring and time consuming, but we did throw in a little fun together getting take out and even managing to drag our tired selves to a nice restaurant for dinner together. This was definitely a memory maker!

So….what are the take aways?????

  • Know your limitations and hire help
  • Plan,plan, plan – utility transfers and packing don’t happen by themselves
  • Bring pain reliever……your gonna need it! lololol
  • Enjoy time with your adult child.
  • Hope they don’t move again for a good while!!!!

TRY SOMETHING NEW

So one of my goals this year was to purpose to get out of my comfort zone, be bold and try some things that I’ve always wanted to do. Sounds great, except I am an introvert and rule follower, so “thinking” and “getting” outside of the box doesn’t come naturally for me.

My husband helped give me a little push as he won me horse riding lessons at a silent auction charity event we attended. He knew this was something that I had been wanting to do and just like that, I WAS THE WINNER.

I did pursue and complete the lessons and I can confidently say that it was a great experience. Not only was it enjoyable, but it was mentally and physically challenging. Each week I grew in confidence and ability with the horse. Strangely enough, this experience also gave me the courage to want to try more new things.

While fear is the biggest reason we all prefer to stay in our comfort zones, the benefits of trying new things far outweigh the negative. Here is what I learned:

  • I met some wonderful new people.
  • I broke up my regular routine.
  • I learned what I liked and didn’t like.
  • My confidence grew in my ability to take on new skills.
  • I felt fulfillment and satisfaction in my life.

So…..just want to encourage anyone thinking about trying something new to BE BOLD and give it a try!!!

Birthday Thoughts

Hello everyone! Well today is my birthday and I thought it appropriate for this to be the day I write my first post and launch my blog!! I am so grateful for my husband, daughters, brother and friends who have wished me a happy birthday through calls, texts and messages. I have been smiling all morning just thinking how blessed I am for everyone who has taken time to think of me.

As I reflect on the past year, I am reminded that life will never be completely predictable. There have been hard things and wonderful things and mixtures of both throughout the past 12 months; but, one thing is for sure, God has been faithful and good to me; my friends and family have loved me well; and I am looking forward to what the next year holds.

As I look ahead, I hope to be intentional with my relationships, motivated to pursue my desires, pursue purposeful living and of course……. enjoy the journey! Here’s to turning 52!!!!