Re-Think, Re-Build & Re-Align – Reflections of 2018

This year has flown by so fast it’s been hard to recall what has happened, so much so that I found myself scrolling through pictures to jog my memory. And holy cow it’s been  marathon of a year! Personally, professionally, financially, socially, internationally…..every realm of life got majorly massaged by the events of 2018.

I’m writing this with a few precious days left in the year, having recalled most of the events on a plane ride in early December & am wrapping it up on the eve of my dad vising for the annual Nutcracker ballet my niece is in. This year has been much like this piece meal of a blog post – taking things as they come, sometimes with patience, often day by day, handling things with what I like to think as a practical mindset. I’ve had to rethink a lot of things, readjusting how I react and take things in. It was a year of rebuilding and realigning (or trying to!)  A few key phrases come to mind when recalling the year:

Do not stress about things you can not control.

If you make smart decisions and are willing to work your ass off, you will most likely, eventually, figure it out.

Healthy is the most important thing and having a healthy mind is as important as a healthy body.

Work life balance is essential and if you don’t have it, seek it out.

You must put in the work to get the desired outcome.

And so, I look back on 2018….in preparation for 2019….

January started with a whirlwind – three work trips (to PA for a Market Manager regroup, then to Atlanta for a Care Coordination Summit, then to Irvine for a messaging workshop). Our ski condo was in full force as well (after a slow start to the winter, thinking we wouldn’t get a condo cause there weren’t any reasonably priced we could find, then the property management company letting us know they were holding it for us….whhhhaaaa??), so weekends were spent with the gang.

We even had a January girls’ ski weekend while the dirty boys went to Jackson Hole.

February opened with an amazing trip down to Telluride with the Downingtown crew – the first time Mike and I had visited the amazing town. Unfortunately, the snow wasn’t cooperative and the mountain wasn’t as lush with snow as we would have liked (although I was only 9 months post ACL surgery, so it was definitely a recovery year)…

…but we did get to witness an Eagles Superbowl, so pretty amazing trip!

March came in like a lion, with work trips to Vegas for the HIMSS tradeshow, a work trip to Philadelphia at the end of March for an all hands Marketing meeting (that landed us in a blizzard!). I also put for an #eatplants challenge – where I posted recipes, tips on living the plant-based lifestyle. Our investment property, Chase St, finally started to move, with foundation work, reinforcement for the second story (we were adding 1,000 square feet to the existing footprint!) and demo city.

Dad came to visit, visiting the investment property carnage, and we went to Hops & Handrails, a craft beer/heady snowboarding/skiing event in Longmont – very Coloradical.

St. Patty’s Day came and to Aspen we went! Green mimosas, shot skis and Apres was enjoyed by all! Climbing up to the Highland Bowl was a highlight for sure!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

April arrived with new birth, literally, and we headed to Charleston to visit our beautiful niece Charlotte Michael in Charleston. I ended up cooking lots of plant-based goodness for the family to enjoy during our stay and beyond.

Chase St really started coming together – and we saw the second story, stairs, a roof, siding, and windows went up and on our investment property. The progress was amazing, with Mike working his beard off.

 

Our ski gang headed to the Skinner hut for a backcountry ski weekend extravaganza – that ended up being a weekend we all won’t ever forget. We all experienced sweat, tears, fear, joy, laughter and breathtaking beauty. An amazing adventure.

Mid-April carried me to Nashville for some more work travel, to Nashville, and I was able to spend some time with my team and actually see my fabulous cousin and her baby Max.

May brought more work travel, with a trip to palm beach for our National Sales Meeting. A trip to Canon City kicked off summer – with mountain biking, fireside chats, friends and sunsets. The best way to kick off summer, really.

Sideing, stucco, installation, electric and yard work happened at Chase and the house was really coming along!

And then it was summer! June was full of concerts (Beet Box & Mottet and Avette Brothers at Red Rocks) LCUG (our Large Client User Group meeting in Chicago) and Telluride Bluegrass Festival – the most amazing Colorado weekend I’ve had to date!

Our professional gig was moving right along as well…The interior of our investment property came together with drywall going up, tile going down, and floors being laid. It was really amazing to see the progress once things were rockin’ & rollin!

 

 

 

 

 

Our garden was also in full swing and summer evenings were often spent on our beautiful patio, al fresco, with friends, good food and beautiful Colorado sunsets.

In July, we headed to our beloved Maine with the family – eating lobster, enjoying sunsets, swimming in Castco Bay and enjoying the way life should be…..simple and beautiful. It made us realize how much this beloved island, that had been in my blood, in my family for almost 100 years, meant to us and we vowed to make it up every year.

We spent many nights and weekends plugging along at the investment property, laying tile, picking out granite, putting together the kitchen, cleaning out basements, wood scraps, and being Mike’s helper.

Biking in Breckenridge was a July highlight – where the Peak Trail carried us flowingly through the mountains and we finished the weekend on the Green Mountain Reservoir.

A huge group of us hunkered down, floated in tubes, and enjoyed the Colorado beauty we were lucky enough to experience every weekend. And finally our Conshy house got a new tenant – so we had to go through the process of signing eases, coordinating credit checks, and managing house tours. Thank goodness for Mike’s Mom – who before moving to Charleston was able to help with all logistics!

In August, we put the final touches on our investment property, staged it, and put it on the market! This project, this amazing creation Mike had orchestrated, that we both had poured our hearts, souls, blood, sweat, tears, money (and money, and money) into…..had turned out to be the most pivotal experience, both professionally, emotionally, and personally, of my life. Never has a project taught me so much, thrown so much at me, tested us in so many ways. As I reflect on the accomplishment, the sheer beauty of the past year of work that went into making this what it is today, I am overwhelmed with emotion. It is hard to put the experience into words, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world.  A work trip brought me to Atlanta, and I was lucky enough to have the chance to bring my mom! My uncle, her brother, lives in Atlanta so we were able to see cousins and spend some quality time with our southern family.

The end of August was filled with mountain biking and celebration. Our gang flooded Poudre Canyon, of which we had visited last summer, to celebrate a 40th birthday.

The Mishawaka held a Nahko & the Medicine People concert, we soaked our feet in the beautiful river, and biked a wicked hard trail (that was absolutely gorgeous!). A wonderful way to officially close out summer.

September we celebrated! Celebrating our two year wedding anniversary in true Colorado fashion, we hiked and drank good beer, enjoying the life we had made together, the simplicity and beauty of where we are and how we got here. Mike also turned 40 – and after a quick work trip to Sand Diego (a marketing leadership meeting) we celebrated in true Colorado fashion…..good beer, a Chuggers show (a band of myself and two buddies….we are three Colorado misfits, who rock hard, and chug harder), and lots of Mike Smith stories.

 

His mom and sister even came out with the babies – and we got to enjoy some time in the mountains, zoo, and local flavor.

More biking (Alderfer/Three sisters), hiking & a trip to Steamboat, where our bike gang kicked ass and took names while peeping’ the Aspens’ fall beauty.

One of the major highlights of the year happened in October: Our trip to Portugal! I won’t go into much detail (because I did blog almost daily) but the trip was amazing and truly was one of the best trips we have been on! 10 days of amazing food, hiking, history, culture, weather, beaches, kayaking, relaxing.

We came back refreshed and ready to make some hard decisions on our investment property. August & September hadn’t brought much activity, so we decided to pull the listing, outfit the home with bought furniture, and short term rent it on Airbnb to cover our costs. Wanting to get the most bang for our buck (and cover the overhead costs that we had!) we decided to rent our house for short term rental at the same time. A stressful few weeks of preparing both homes for rent…..but another decision that moved our business, Happy Homes, Ltd, forward. We spent our first night at the investment property, living there as our home had rented for the weekend, and we were off to the short-term-rental races!

A few girlfriends of mine also started a hiking club, where we’d go out once a week and hike a local trail, in addition to a Money Minded Mavens group – where we discussed the path to Financial Freedom, opened up the floor to what we want to achieve in life, and share resources, podcasts and articles on how to get there. A whole new crew to share my extraordinarily frugal mindset and opinions with!

And holy cow, there’s only two more months in 2018! November arrived and so did my 38th birthday. I decided I wanted a bike gang birthday…..of which friends would hop on their bikes, go from bar to bar together drinking craft beer, and end the night with a Beetles cover band. On my actual birthday, I also hiked with my girls’ hiking club (a once a week hike all over the front range) and ended at one of my favorite breweries, New Terrain. Both events were amazing – full of some of the best friends’, doing my favorite things – truly one of the best birthdays ever. Mid-November brought me back to Nashville, where our annual User Group Meeting was held. A few events at the conference set off a domino effect that has ultimately added multitudes of stress, change, and has forced hard decisions to be considered. Thank goodness I live in a place with a beautiful escape….and the early snow allowed for a pre-thanksgiving weekend skiing in the mountains.

Thanksgiving came at the exact perfect time – a reset in gratitude, family gatherings, a remembrance of what is truly important in life….health, family, nature, giving, love and being present.  A pre-gathering hike, gender reveal party, and a plant-based feast allowed for a wonderful holiday.The enormous amount of anxiety, change, and re-alignment that my professional life has undergone has caused restless nights, a kidney infection (partially my own fault for ignoring and pushing off the symptoms due to the amount of work I felt I needed to prioritize over making an appointment to check-in on my health) and a few breakdowns. A month of lessons for sure – it’s truly made me re-evaluate things.

The last month of the year is almost over….and there is no slowing down in sight. My 4th annual Plant-Based Soup Swap finally happened – a bit later in the year then normal, but still the most successful yet! There were 10 beautiful souls gathered with homemade soup to share….a hit for sure! I headed to PA for a Market Manager – Solution team meeting, where more changes, workload shifts, and priorities have surfaced. Dusty had an ugly sweater Christmas Party, which put us in the holiday mood, and we skied and skinned our hearts out in Mary Jane and Dry Gulch (I’ve already hit the slopes 7 times!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Later this month we head to South Carolina to celebrate Christmas with Mike’s family and I’m truly looking forward to spending time with family, re-charging, and setting intentions for the coming year.  I have a list of items I hope to accomplish during this time that will propel me forward, into the new I am thankful for all the beautiful friends, events, travel, new experiences, hardships, struggles, lessons and love that 2018 has had. I’ve traditionally looked forward in past blogs (here is my 2017 post and 2016 post ) but I’m not exactly ready to do so yet. I need to be intentional about what I want in 2019, realistic. Set SMART goals that I have thought through, have check-points in place to hold myself accountable to. Set up a plan, and a timetable on where I want to be and when. I have this on my Christmas list.

Cheers to the end of the year – a good one indeed – and let 2019 be absolutely amazing…..more to come on my intentions!

And DANG I Traveled A Lot!

Telluride (twice actually, in February and June!)
Vegas (March)
Philadelphia (4 trips!)
Aspen
Charleston
April
Palm Beach FLA
Chicago
Maine
San Diego
Steamboat (for MTB)
Portugal

 

Bringing in 2018: Reflections, Goals & Commitments

On the eve of the New Year, I sit here in my cozy kitchen, after a day in the backcoutry, a morning of yoga & dog-walking, and realize how full and intentional my life truly is. Every choice previously made has brought me to this beautiful point. And though this year has been full of lows, as well as mountains of highs, there isn’t anything I would alter. Looking back at my 2017 goals puts the year into perspective and allows me to reflect, readjust and re-charge. Here’s a look at the highlights (as well as the low-lights!)

  • 2017 was wrung in in the best possible way – In the mountains. We had a backcountry day with friends, followed by a ski house party. Our ski house crew killed it this past year, and amazing friendships were formed, stories were made, and good times were had. Despite a small hiccup in last years’ season (which I’ll write about next), I skied 28 times, including several days in the backcountry, a gorgeous trip to Jackson Hole (one of the coolest mountains I’ve ever skied and a blast of a town!) and I even brought my love of plants up to the mountain by food-prepping mountain fuel & ski bum bowls. The skiing sure was great this last year!

  • I had my first major surgery, which knocked me down for several months, tested my patience, willpower, and mental strength. In my beloved mountains, in the beautiful Sky Chutes, I fell and tore my ACL & meniscus. This backcountry injury ended my season and put forth a long recovery journey.  Despite the reality of the situation (surgery, no more skiing, physical therapy, weakening of my leg strength) I kept positive on the sidelines (Sunday Funday’s included cooking more instead of skiing & I even did a pre-surgery veggie challenge) and I documented leading up to the surgery,  the day of and after surgery, my progress, my challenges, and what I learned from the experience.  This really defined a large chunk of 2017, as it held me back from doing a number of things I had my mind set on (climbing 14’ers was out of the question) but really did open doors to new activities and allowed me to know my own strength and realize my own limitations. Only a month after surgery, I was well on my way to a speedy recovering, only to get the news from my surgeon I needed to slow down. The whole experience taught me a lot, about what I was capable of, what I needed to put energy into, how important consistency is with healing and recovery, and most of all, it taught me to be patient with myself.

  • Camping, biking and exploring reached new heights this year! Outdoor adventures and the exploration of this beautiful state of Colorado really kicked into high gear. Starting with a Memorial Day camping trip with friends near Leadville and trip to Salida (where Mike did a ton of biking), followed by a trip to Breckenridge for our first full stay at our Peak 7 Time-Share during Breck Bike week where I actually did a women’s bike clinic, followed by some low-key mountain biking.

The momentum continued, into July where dad came to visit for Lake Dillon boat shenanigans & biking (over 18 miles with dad over swan mountain!) then we headed with friends to Steamboat later in July for hiking and hot springs. August, we kept it going….we biked in the Butte,  mom and I hit up Leadville (exploring the old mining town from top to bottom, mining to museums, restaurants to railroads, to white water rafting!) and we wrapped up the month in Poudre Canyon, seeing my first Mishawaka show. October found us in the Royal Gorge, mountain biking the heck out of the area with a ton of friends. A classic Colorado summer (early fall) for sure!

  • Mike and I hit the 1-year wedding anniversary! The blog I wrote recaps the year since marriage beautifully and although I never finished writing our anniversary trip blog (we headed to Grand Junction for biking, brewery and National Monument fun!) we celebrated the year in the perfect fashion; taking our two fur babies on a Colorado adventure. It was so incredibly us.

 

 

  • My dear grandma and poppa died, both in their 90’s. My mom’s southern family gathered in Tennessee in late May to put my loving grandma to rest, while my dad’s side of the family gathered together in mid-September in Connecticut to celebrate the great life he lead. Both true family bonding experiences that I was grateful to be present for.

 

  • Our company, Happy Homes LTD sold a property and purchased another investment (May 2017), of which we are still underway with. The current property will be the biggest investment to date, where we’re doubling the existing footprint, popping the top, and heading into unknown territory. Both exciting and extremely frustrating….but a true learning experience!
  • I launched a Plant-Based Supper Club (Happy Kitchen Supper Club) in October, hosting the inaugural event where friends and family gathered to try 4 courses of plant-based goodness.
  • My 3rd annual plant-based soup swap was a HUGE hit, and my biggest event to date! Eight girls gathered, eight soups swapped. Lots of plant-based goodness going around!

  • We were grateful enough to spend both major holidays with family….Thanksgiving was spent with Mike’s Family in Asheville, where we explored the beautiful town, trails, and breweries. An ugly sweater party and nutcracker ballet kicked of the Christmas season, followed by a wonderful weekend filled with family gatherings (we hosted Christmas Eve!), Denver outings (we headed to union station and Boulder’s Celestial Seasonings), and tons of presents.
  • I traveled quite a bit for work, heading to Orlando for HIMSS17, Downtown Denver for our VAR conference,  San Diego for our national sales meeting, Chicago for our Large User Group Conference, SHIEC (an HIE tradeshow) in Indianapolis, San Francisco for Dream Force, and back to the corporate office in Horsham, PA in March, June and December. Wow, that’s a lot of travel!

 

Now I’m headed into 2018 with open arms, an ambitious list of goals, and a grateful heart.

Here are a few things I’m committing to and in pursuit of this year:

  • Spend more time doing and less time intending. I find myself cultivating ideas that could generate a wave of good, but seem to let the ideas hatch and fizzle before acting or truly developing them. I am committing to a monthly project or idea I actually act on, no matter how small. One person can truly make a difference, so I too must commit to doing so.

“Vision without action is just a dream, action without vision just passes the time, and vision with action can change the world.”Nelson Mandela

  • Buy a mountain house. Yup, this didn’t happen this year (due to our current investment taking a lot longer than we thought thanks to the city of Denver) but we will be poised and ready this year. Oh yes, we will be poised and ready.
  • Host Five plant-based Happy Kitchen Supper Club dinners. I’m trying to be realistic with the amount of planning, recipe testing, time spent prepping it takes to make these successful, factoring in my work schedule and planned travels. Committing to five over the next 12 months is completely doable.
  • Take a trip to Portugal! 2017 was all about exploring Colorado, a bit of the US even, and 2018 has opened the door to international exploration. I can’t wait!
  • Sell our investment property. It’s been a labor of love thus far, but mostly a labor of waiting. For permits. From Denver. For the past few months. We are ready to see the awesomeness it will become.
  • Train for Long’s Peak. I have taken a forced hiatus from hiking fourteener’s due to my surgery recovery, so this will be quite an endeavor.  I’m going to start as if I’m going to run a half a marathon….because the Long’s Route is 14 1/2 miles. Actually longer than a half a marathon.

There are many other things I want to do, want to accomplish, want to commit to this year. But, to go back to my first point of doing rather than saying….I need to put these things into action, focus on my priorities first and foremost, then can add to the list Cheers to 2018 and the many adventures that lay before me. Have a healthy, happy and adventurous New Year!