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!)
Palm Beach FLA
San Diego
Steamboat (for MTB)


Our Portugal Adventure: Day 6 Lagos

On our last morning in Odeceixe, we woke after a somewhat late night at the Odeceixe Cafe, packed up our belongings and hit the road to Lagos. Our hosts met us after breakfast (we went to Cafe Luna for coffee & Brie, honey and walnut toasts – amazing!) we bid them Obrigado, and left the sleepy beach town for the southern coast.

Our plans for the day were loose, as the drive to Lagos wasn’t very far from Odeceixe, about 40 minutes. We put in Ponta da Piedade as our destination, a lighthouse overlooking the beautiful golden cliffs of the Alagarve. Oh, the descriptions do not give it the proper justice!

Parking, with little problem even though it was relatively crowded, we hopped out and spent the next two hours hiking around, taking a private boat tour that we just stumbled upon, following a staircase with a sign that said ‘tour the caves and grottos of the Algarve.

Without any restrictions, guards or railings, you could hike and climb on the jagged rocks at your own free will. Most of the paths were navigatable, with stunning views of the turquoise waters and jaggy rocks below. Of course Mike had to climb up a particular section that had a zero fall zone….and almost gave me a heart attack.

Although there seemed to be quite a number of tourists about, the place wasn’t unbearable, and following a steep staircase down to the water, we found ourselves next in line for a private boat tour. Two men stood on the rocks, while the captain motored up to the Rock and passengers would jump in and out. No talk of money or cost occurred until we were on the boat….and we were told, as we were motoring away, to pay the captain 20 Euro each. Dang, they get ya!

The small motor boat took us in and out of the crevices, explaining the local names for the rock formations (elephant, iceberg & titanic, Arc de Triomphe) and we even pulled into some of the grottos and caves, watching the waves roll in and out of the cavernous walls.

Totally worth the money – the views were spectacular and to be able to look up, to see where the water had worn a perfect holes rom years of waves, well, it was one of the most unique things I’ve ever seen.

The boat tour had satisfied our water craving for the moment (I had literally said prior to finding the hidden dock, ‘we need to get on a boat!’ Which se ms to be my luck – I put it out in the Universe and the Universe responds!) so we set off to find the secret beach – Praia da Balanca – our captain had pointed out. Mike quickly changed into his swimming suite and we were off. Not 300 hundred feet from where we parked, we found the path leading down the credits that spit you out onto the secret beach. The hike had been described as difficult, so I had changed into my hiking shoes and we shimmied down. In all honesty, it wasn’t that difficult, although Colorado may have dulled my senses to such things.

Stunning blues pierced our eyes and we emerged onto the small beach. What an amazing place Lagos was proving to be already – and we had just arrived! We shed our clothes and dove straight out into the Atlantic (much different than what our view of the Atlantic is back East!). It was mid-October, way off season, and yet here we were, splashing about as if it was the high summer months. Absolutely amazing!

For not having had any of this planned, we sure felt lucky to have landed in an amazing experience! The swim got our appetites yearning for Portuguese food, so we headed to our Airbnb, which we found extremely easily, parked right in front of the house, knocked (it wasn’t ready yet) then headed to grab lunch at a local spot, Calhou, Lagos,  right around the corner. I was able to connect to our Airbnbs WiFi, even though we hadn’t checked in yet – score! Before heading to lunch, we popped into a windmill cafe to join the locals who were sitting around smoking, talking and drinking Sagres or cafe. We felt very European.

We were staying in the middle of town, close to the city center, as well as the marina, which we’d be heading to later that evening and tomorrow for a kayaking tour.

Lunch:  Sea Bass, Potatoes, carrots & broccoli, with Portugal wine (verde) to go with the meal. Delicious!

After lunch, we hit up the grocery store, grabbed some beer and wine, cheese and bread, and headed to check in. The apartment studio was perfect – it had been converted a few years ago our owner said, so had modern upgrades and a beautiful balcony (which we would enjoy many a glass of wine on over the next three nights!). We poured some wine, unpacked a bit then headed out to explore the area and water.

The Marina was beautiful, and we watched the sunset, enjoying some Sagres, and cheersed to our first night in Lagos. Deciding to stay in, we headed back to the flat and poured more wine and ate olives and bread!

Our Portugal Adventure Day 5: Hiking Rota Vicentina

Morning broke on Tuesday and we were ready to hike! The weather looked overcast, which was perfect, as I didn’t have much sunscreen! Day 4 of our Portugal adventure had been pretty low key, so I was ready for more exploring. We set out with our gear, packs and water looking for coffee and pastries. Passing a few cafes, we choose one closest to the end of town, ordered two Americanos, two croissants (which weren’t very good, nothing compared to Sintra’s Gregorio’s!) and headed to start a section of the Rota  Vicentina.

Noted as being one of the best coastal hikes in the world, I was more than excited – like a kid on Christmas!

The small section we would hike boasted the most spectacular views of the entire circuit, which wound throughout south western Portugal. It would only be 5.6 miles on the Rota Vicentina and about 3 on the historical trails, following aqua ducts, past small farms and Portuguese houses. But first, the coastal section.

Although I didn’t have an international phone plan, WIFI at our Airbnbs had been spot on, and I was able to pull up AllTrails to get the map so we could know the general where abouts while hiking. It’s crazy how much I rely on technology, then to suddenly not have 100% access. Well, it’s primitive, but kinda nice. The trail was only steps away from the end of town, marked every hundred feet by green, blue, yellow and red markers. Super convenient, especially as we were initially walking through what seemed to be a pasture, which shot back onto the road.

The Tagus River runs through the edge of town, so while we were on the road for about a mile and a half, views looking back into Odeceixe and the river were truly beautiful.

Round the bend, we hit the most breathtaking view of Portugal we had seen thus far. The Western Atlantic coast, with jagged rocks, plummeting cliffs and ferocious waves. We were able to walk right up to the edge (and of course Mike had to do so) gazing down onto the rocky shores. There was a beach you could walk down to, but we vowed to come back for sunset, not wanting to get all sandy before our hike.

For the next two miles or so, the path wound through Sony cliffs, huge overlooks with sheer drops and grey, blue ocean. Colorado has my heart, but there is something that happens to my soul when I am near water – and Portugal was no exception.

The remainder of the hike was relatively mild, weaving through sandy wetlands, then curving back on the road, and finally meandering on the old part of the trail. We walked through pastures until we came to the top of the town, to the old wind mill.

We truly walked the whole town, up and down. Completely ravished, we went to Luna cafe where the chalkboard had our mouths watering with the advertisement of vegan burgers. I had definitely not been eating all plants here (I had dove into the the fresh fish and local cheese) so was much looking forward to the veggies. It was delightful!

After lunch (a 2pm lunch) we headed back to the house to rest, shower & drink some wine on our balcony. We decided to head back to Odeceixe beach for sunset, so grabbed the vino and headed in our Fiat to the beach. Oh am I glad we did – sunset was spectacular! Having made it just in time to see the sun tuck itself away, we bathed in the arrange glow that lingers after sunset. An absolute amazing night.



After having some wine, enjoying the evening, the glowing light and beautiful ocean sounds, we headed back into town for a small dinner at Odeceixe Cafe – soccer games were on and Sagres was poured. It was a good day in Portugal.