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

 

Staycation in Breckenridge: Part II

Traveling and experiencing new things is a huge part of my DNA, what I love to do and a major reason I work so hard! Having moved to Colorado back in December of 2013, we’ve thoroughly enjoyed traveling to new places….Ireland, Vieques, Amalfi Coast, Belize, Jackson Hole, Park City, Moab, Oregon…to name just a few! That being said, there are literally thousands of places to travel, trails to hike, mountains to climb, beers to drink, rivers to raft on, paths to bike on in the glorious state of Colorado.

So, when we bought a time share at the Grand Lodge at Peak 7, the idea of spending a week up in the mountains, in our own backyard, was exciting! Although we typically head to Breckenridge in the winter for the glorious skiing….that’s pretty much why we bought the timeshare to begin with, so we would have ski-in, ski-out access. It’s been great. Our week approached (we have odd years, in the summer) and we packed up, hit the road, and headed for the mountains. The first half of our Staycation was incredible…..biking, great restaurants, gorgeous sunsets, craft beer, and that was just through Tuesday!

Part II of our Staycation began on Wednesday, with a gorgeous morning walk on the mountain with the doggies…coffee in hand. Working on East Coast hours allows me to wake up early to enjoy the morning before most people have even stirred. It’s really a gift to get up with the sun, especially when you’re in the mountains. By 6:30 am I was back in the room working, while Mike planned another mountain bike ride. The plan was that I’d wrap up my morning and head to meet him, riding my bike down into town. It was a wonderful afternoon and I was pumped to get back on my bike.

We finished our ride and headed back up on the gondola so I could finish up my day. The gondola drops you off right at the top of peak 7 – so convenient! Our bikes fit in the gondola car, so we could avoid riding up the steep hill. So nice! After I wrapped up the work day, we headed to another private movie in the Grand Lodge, brought snacks too, watched Bad Moms (which was horrible!) then headed out to soak in the hot tub to overlook the mountains. It was officially a perfect end to a glorious day.

I took Thursday and Friday off, so when we woke up on Thursday, I was so excited! It was Breck Bike week and there was a women’s beginner mountain biking clinic from 10 am to noon so I got dressed like it was Christmas. To fuel up, we headed down to town to somewhere we’ve not ever been, Mom’s Baking Company. A European style bakery, with cozy seating and beautiful decor.

Mike ordered a burrito with french cheese and caramelized onions while I had a spinach & mushroom pastry. It was perfection! I rode over to the Blue River Plaza where the clinic was meeting. The ladies who gathered were at all different levels – some had never mountain biked ever, some were recovery from injuries (myself included) some had been out of the saddle for awhile. Our instructor Kat was awesome, a chill mountain chick who had great pointers and took us to the pump track then the B n B trail where we practiced uphill and downhill skills. It was an amazing day – my first time taking a bike clinic and boy was I a fan!

Mike met me back in town where I poured over the details of the day. We headed to Park & Main for lunch (again!) where we got beet sliders and a huge arugula vegan salad and Mike got the zucchini parm (again!). It was delicious! I was wiped afterwards, so we headed up to the lodge where I promptly showered the sweat off and took a rest before meeting a girlfriend for happy hour at the Blue Ridge Bistro. Although I had a pretty bad experience there early in the week, their happy hour is great (2 for 1 appetizers) and $2 off drafts. Plus, my girlfriend could walk there, as she worked in Breckenridge. We had a blast catching up and after BRB, headed to RMU for some drinks and ski shop shenanigans. Great bartenders and a hipster vibe….Mike has quite a few Manhattans while chatting up the owner, who he claims wants him to be a sponsor. Fun, fun night!

Friday morning came a little slower and after we awoke, got coffee and walked the pups on the hill, we got our bike gear on and headed out, down the four-o clock run trail, through the construction they’re doing to create a traffic circle through town, and to the Bold Restaurant for breakfast.

Mike ordered the huge breakfast burrito with veggie green chili and I had an quinoa & egg white frittata with citrus salsa. Oh yes, we were fueled!

After breakfast, we hopped on our bikes and headed to the pump track. A crew of little kids were there, ripping, so Mike and I jumped in and tried not to let them beat us. I had done the track yesterday, so was very pumped to show him the ropes, although he smoked me.

It was a blast! We climbed up above the course to a small track that took up up and down and around, back to the road, where we headed to the B n B trail. Instead of following the trail I did in my women’s clinic, we took V3 to Barney Ford to Barney Flow to Carter Park….oh man, if you’re ever in Breckenridge and want an amazing ride, do this one! Nothing crazy hard, definitely some climbs and rocks (that I walked my bike over, as technically I wasn’t supposed to be mountain biking at this level with my ACL recovery) this was a great ride!

And the VIEWS!!! It couldn’t have been a better day! Biking back into town, we both felt wonderful and hungry! Heading to Mi Casa, an incredible Mexican restaurant with the best margaritas I’ve ever had, where we ate our faces off! Guacamole, sweet potatoes tacos, homemade chips….oh my! Our cousins were heading our way that evening, so after paying the check we headed back up the gondola, took showers and rested before our guests.

The evening brought grilled veggies, good beer and hot tubbin’! The cool mountain air was perfect, so we stayed outside late, talking, soaking and enjoying being in Colorado.

Saturday, we awoke and planned our hike…Spruce Trail to Mohawk Lake. The hike was amazing, with several lakes and waterfalls, it was the perfect end to a wonderful Colorado staycation. At 11,300 feet & 6.5 miles I have to say, my knee was back!

All-in-all, we had such a fabulous time in the mountains, exploring the wonderful trails, town, and mountains. Make sure to get outside and enjoy the wonders of summer, especially those you find in  your backyard!

 

Staycation in Breckenridge: Part I

Two years ago, we bought a time share. Yup, we were those suckers who thought they’d go and get a free weekend, do the tour, and leave. Nope. We bought. The Grand Lodge at Peak 7 has atually been quite a treat these past two ski seasons….parking on peak 7 (ski in/ski out), hot tubs afterwards, spa access, grills, bonus time, oh my! The winter is a playground in Breckenridge, so why not have a spot to make playing easier. So when we selected the week in the summer, every odd year, we laughed, thinking it was a means to a fabulous end: parking for skiing in Breckenridge!

Well, our week approached and I was actually super excited! Colorado is amazing in the summer and while we’re avid hikers, we rarely extend our stay past a night or two in the mountains….and never stay in a fancy resort in which we are 1/5,000 owners! So, we packed the car, the dogs, the beer, the bikes and headed to Breck.

The trip kicked off with a stop over Loveland pass, all the way up to the Continental Divide. The views were spectacular, super windy, but gorgeous! Heading into Breck, we could tell the town was jumping! We were able to check into the lodge at Peak 7 as soon as we got there, so we unpacked and took the babies (Winnie & Haley came too!) for a small hike up peak 7. The mountain looked so odd not having a ton of snow on it, but it was beautiful.

After the jaunt, we got cleaned up and headed into town to Mountain Flying Fish Sushi for a fabulous dinner followed by an evening stroll around the town, where the mountain views took our breathe away. We stopped at Mountain Top Cookie Shop to get a carmely, crunchy decadent cookie to kill our sweet tooth. Strolling through town, we appreciated how the air is different here, more crisp. I was in heaven.

Sunday Funday arrived and it opened up with a gorgeous sunrise on the mountain. I didn’t quite make it for sunrise, but Winnie and I headed out for a morning stroll. Breakfast was avocado toast & coffee in the room followed by the both of us suiting up for my first mountain biking ride since my ACL surgery! I was beyond excited to get out there, even though I was only 11 weeks, I felt great in the biking department. We mapped out a route, keeping it on the easier side, as I didn’t want to push it too hard. Leaving from Peak 7, we headed south across peak 8, through switchbacks and down into town. Mike took the more aggressive route down 4 O’Clock trail, while I veered off towards the road. We met down at the bottom of town and headed towards the Sunday market. Local vendors were selling their ware, SUP rentals were sending folks out on the small lake, and the tourists were out and about. Strolling a bit, we chatted up a local chocolate dealer, whose chocolate nibs came from Honduras. Of course we bought a bag!

The market had us thirsty, so we biked through town to get to the Rec path that would take us to Broken Compass Brewing, one of the best mountain breweries I’ve ever been to.  They have a coconut porter that literally melts in your mouth!

Plus, this had been the furthest I’d ridden on a bike since my ACL surgery and I was extremely excited to celebrate. After two glorious pints, we headed back to town, up the gondola to the Grand Lodge at Peak 7 and had some lunch in the room.

I had made chick pea salad with carrots & artichokes for one of our meals and it hit the spot after an active morning. Topped with peperoncinis and homegrown spinach, the nutritious plant-packed lunch was delicious.

After taking the dogs for a small hike around the mountains (this was the most exercise the dogs had gotten in a LONG time as well!) we got rinsed off and put on our nicer mountain attire for a beautiful dinner out at Blue River Bistro. They had a great happy hour from 3-6 and live jazz music. Score! The drinks and bartender were lovely, ambiance absolutely perfect, but unfortunately, my meal turned out awful! I had to send it back twice as the croquets were frozen the first time around, fish was raw the second time. Truly disappointing after a gorgeous lead into the evening….the salad and appetizer were amazing! They did take off the entree and glass of wine I had, so they should have, but the meal was still $105 dollars, so left a bad taste in my mouth for the place. Oh well, the evening had still been delightful, so we called it a night, as I had to work in the morning, and took the complimentary shuttle back up to the Grand Lodge.

Monday morning came bright and early, and while I worked the day away (after greeting the day with a morning mountain stroll with the pups), Mike took a long bike ride on Peaks Trail into the town of Frisco. The trail was full of sharp rocks, roots and curves and when I went to pick him up later that afternoon, his knee bled with proof of how hard it was. Thank goodness he was ok, as he had been ridding alone!

I work on east coast time, so after scooping Mike up in Frisco around 2pm, we had a late lunch at Park and Main, a delicious vegetarian friendly restaurant with veggie loaded options and a heady staff. I got the salted sweet potato sandwich and Mike ordered the Zucchini Parm. Both were delightful!

After we wrapped up lunch, we headed back up to the Grand Lodge so I could wrap up my work day and Mike could wash the trail off. He took a rest while I typed away. That evening we planned to watch the Sunset on Boreas Pass. We packed a picnic dinner (a Thai noodle dish with sauteed veggies and sriracha) strapped the dogs into their harnesses and we were off!

The pass road is quite bumpy, but the views throughout are spectacular! Heading all the way up to the continental divide, we parked the car and strolled around. At 11,481 elevation, we had a beautiful view of the sinking sun.

The several small cabins used to be part of a town, then workers quarters, who would clear the water lines during the dead of winter. We spread out our Thai picnic and snuggled in for the show.

It got chillier as the sun dipped, so once the last rays tucked into the mountains, we packed up and headed back to the lodge. The beauty of the mountains, the stillness of nature were something to truly marvel and the awesomeness that we were so lucky to have just witnessed was not lost on us. It was another spectacular day in Colorado.

Tuesday arrived with a glorious amount of sunshine and I took Winnie for a small sunrise hike. Grand Lodge on Peak 7 is right at the base of independence chair on Breckenridge resort and has trails right out the door. Winnie absolutely loves the outdoors and will scamper through the woods sniffing for critters. After logging a few work hours after an early rise, we biked down town for a quick breakfast at Clints. They have fabulous bagels, coffee and a cute atmosphere. I headed back to work and Mike headed to the spa to de-compress…several hours later (yeah, he fell asleep!) he came back up to the room, I wrapped up work and we headed into town on the gondola for a late lunch/early happy hour.

Modis, right on Main Street, has a phenomenal happy hour and delicious bites to nosh on. We chatted with two locals who lived in Alma, about 30 minutes north of Breckenridge, on 10 acres of land. Boy did that sound like an amazing set-up! We ordered oven-baked fries with gourmet dipping sauce and some Shrimp Ceviche & Blue Corn Fritters….amazing! That evening we had reserved one of the private screening rooms at the Grand Lodge, so we gondola-ed up to the lodge, cooked some pizza & made a salad and headed to watch a movie in luxury. The night, day and mountain staycation was everything we had hoped to be an more up to this point!