Category Archives: Life Lessons

Life Lessons

What If This is Heaven?

That’s exactly what a friend of mine believes. At the age of 24, she had a near death experience. She had a heart attack, and when she came back this is what she decided to believe. As she told me this story with friends over wine and an amazing dinner in San Francisco, I thought about what if she was right. What if this is heaven? How would it change my approach to living, dreaming and most importantly doing.

This woman who shared this wisdom with me is amazing. She takes a live big approach. Her goals are lofty, but she has achieved them. Her company went public. She has lived all over the world. Her career is eclectic but successful. She is driven but a gentle person with a good heart. She believes that because this is heaven she can do whatever she sets her mind to. It’s up her to dream and do. Nothing can stand in her way.

It’s been two years that amazing dinner conversation, and although my friend and I aren’t super close, I still carry her story with me. I think about it a lot. What if this is heaven? What if this is as good as it gets? More importantly, what if I’m holding myself back watching, waiting and wanting something that we might already be experiencing. What do I want out of life or the afterlife knowing that I can achieve all my dreams. What might those dreams be?

My ideal of heaven is that it’s a place separate from hell and purgatory, but imagine if it’s a place that’s one in the same. All three communities live or reside in a single place. We watch each other’s successes, struggles and challenges completely unaware. Each person experiences their own reality. We are working through our own sins, situations and challenges not fully realizing the bigger picture of life, death and rebirth. Heaven, hell and purgatory.

Personally, I think this is cruel. We deserve to know our fate. We spend such a large part of our lives contemplating the meaning of life and the afterlife. I think we deserve to know where we stand. Otherwise, we will just keep repeating our mistakes.

 

 

 

Life Lessons Photography

Throw Back Tuesday: Our Hawaii Vacation #TBT

This week is Ryleigh’s first official spring break. My family and I haven’t had a real vacation in probably 5 years. Working for yourself does that to you, but that changes this week. We are in Hawaii. My first trip to Hawaii was in 2008. We celebrated my 30th birthday on the big island at an amazing restaurant in downtown Honolulu. The experience was life changing.

This week we’re returned to Hawaii with Ryleigh in town but are spending the week in Kauai. I’m looking forward to sharing some photos, but first, I thought I would share some of my own photos in this throw back Tuesday special blog post from 2008 and our time on the big island of Hawaii.

botanical garden in hawaii

 

The photo above was from a nature center Greg and I visited just as soon as we landed on the island. I loved taking photos of all the beautiful landscapes, flowers and foliage.

 

view from boat in hawaii

 

Each time we visit a beach, we love to hop on a boat and see the island views from the water. This time was no different and during our visit we saw dolphins, whales and even did a little snorkeling.

 

dolphins in hawaii

 

We encountered some dolphins on our boat trip. Just look at the water. I am beside myself to get in that beautiful blue water and gaze upon it this week.

 

waterfall hike in hawaii

 

One of the most memorable parts of our trip was a hike up to the waterfall. Greg, myself, Greg’s dad and mom as well as his 80 year old grandma hiked with us several miles and in a beautiful Hawaiian rainforest soaking wet.

 

Copy of sunrise in waikiki copy

 

When travelling to a beach location, you have to walk along the ocean. This photo above along with below are taken as we watched the sun rise along Waikiki beach. It is my absolute happy place.

 

sunrise and surf in waikiki

 

Another view of Waikiki before the roller bladers, tourists and hustle and bustle.

 

hawaiian luah

 

When in Hawaii you must enjoy a luah. The fire and hula dancing was beautiful. I can’t for Ryleigh to try her hand this year on stage.

This year I have my Nikon D7000 with me and I can’t wait to see the beauty I capture this week.

Life Lessons

Small Change Big Impact

When people think of transformational change, they think of people making major life shifts. Maybe it’s moving 3,000 miles, getting married or going back to school for a new degree. I’ve had my share of personal and professional transformations. Those are tough ones that fundamentally change you immediately sometimes overnight. These big changes help you create a vision for the future. They give you a beginning, middle and maybe an end to what the change for you might mean.

The biggest transformational change in my life other than being a parent was standing up to my abusive (now ex) husband. In 2004, I asked him to move out after nearly 7 years of marriage riddled with domestic abuse. I made a decision that immediately changed my life. In fact it was so transformational, that I often feel like it wasn’t my life. It was the life of a friend of neighbor, but it wasn’t me.

At present, I’m finding the small changes to be the hardest. They are the ones that others don’t see. They are the changes so small you forget them, overlook them or underestimate them. They are just as important. They are the inertia of change.

These small changes for me are small healthy life choices. I’ve removed some friends from my life who were the root of negativity and stress for me. I’m eating organic and juicing every single day. In 2015, I made the decision to practice mindfulness which led me to pilates, my latest small change.

In pilates, it’s the small moves that are the hardest. There are positions using muscles I’m certain I haven’t ever muscled in my life. I’m moving them, challenging them and asking them to make a small but substantial change. It’s as simple as a small pelvic tilt or a small side bend, but it is oh so challenging. I’m asking my body to move just a few inches in ways it might have never moved before. The movement or change is small, isolated and very targeted. My body says no. I listen and gradually strengthen that change muscle. It is in that moment and in those few inches that I’m moving towards a small yet transformational and fundamental change.

The small changes are the ones that because they go unnoticed, they are forgotten or discounted, but I believe that these small changes make way for the larger and more substantial change. They are the changes we have a hard time seeing their impact. The ripple is small but if given time, that small changes can be far reaching.

In 2007, I did something small that had an impact on my life that now looking back was a defining small moment for me. It was the moment I started my blog. The process took just five minutes. I set up my site called BloggingforJobs. I set a goal of blogging 6-8 times a month. What began as an interest became a hobby and finally a new career. That is small yet transformational change.

That one single small change has defined my life. It guided me on a new path. It was one I hadn’t considered or anticipated until I toned that muscle of change. A five minute decision has led me to the new career and life journey I never considered. It’s in those moments that I really think about as I consider what next small change might have in store for me.

Earlier this year, I attended an all day workshop called Activate Your Strengths. My friends Lee Witcher and Rhonda Boyle host these workshops but they are really an accelerated personal intervention for life change. The size of change doesn’t matter. What’s important is that you are awakening that muscle but most important you are listening.

It can be big like my friend who just launched her own business or small like mine. It’s not the size of the change that’s most important. It’s your willingness. It’s your sticktoitiveness. It’s your commitment not just to the change but the unknown ripple impact it might have on you and your family.

Change is hard. It’s that unknown factor. It’s that change and the power that comes with it when you listen to yourself and when you dig deep into your heart and soul. That’s when change is really transformational. That’s when you have the ability to do amazing things.

It’s because you let that change happen. It’s because you blindly follow your desires. It’s when you listen to your innermost thoughts. It’s in that moment when you have the most power and you begin to realize is that life has no guarantees. Change doesn’t come with a guarantee or happiness. You also realize that the old way wasn’t doing that either. The difference is the change you are committing to at least provides you an alternative to a better you. You are choosing to make the change.

The only guarantee is that a life without change is one where you will waste your energy and time being unhappy, wishing and wondering for a sign. Those signs aren’t always billboards or messages written in the sky. They are quiet and small as whispers. But they are there if you listen. It takes time to build transformational life change.

Life Lessons Photography

The Window Seat of Life

In February, I’m traveling for the first time in 4 months. On one hand it feels good to get away from my home office and my job as the professional chauffeur. On the other hand, it’s weird because it’s also something I desperately miss especially on my trip earlier this month to San Francisco when my daughter lost another tooth. She’s growing up, and I hate missing those moments. She only has so many teeth, and this time she took it upon herself to write a letter to the tooth fairy. I wasn’t there to make sure the tooth fairy wrote back to her. This one simple thing made me feel very guilty.

This week I’m traveling to the east coast, and I woke up this morning in New York to snow. It fell for most of the morning. My view this week also happens to be amazing. I’m up on the 18th floor. My hotel room has wide expansive windows and a snow filled balcony. That didn’t stopping me from snapping some pictures of my view. It’s views like these that make traveling worth doing. That and the business meetings and activities I also have scheduled in New York this week.

See how magical a snow does this city make…

During my recent fly time I’ve also witnessed some of the most beautiful sunsets and cloud formations in my entire life. I don’t buy the research that says that people who seat in window seats are less creative. I purposely sit by the window so I can enjoy the beauty of the earth that surrounds me. It doesn’t hurt that the window also doubles for a place to lean on. I always travel with a long scarf that doubles as a pillow for sleeping and a shield from those over zealous middle seat guys and gals that are always trying to start a conversation about the weather with me. 

This photo is my current favorite. It looks exactly like the ocean except that I’m flying from 20,000 feet. Don’t the clouds look like sea foam and waves? Amazing! 

This sunset’s not half bad either. I’m just leaving Las Vegas heading to back home from my trip to San Francisco. I just wish I had a nice red Merlot in hand to fully enjoy this beautiful view.

I’m not about to sit on the sidelines of life or in flight. I want always want a window seat to truly enjoy the view.

Life Lessons Photography

Elephant Crazy in Salinas, CA

One of our most favorite trips while we lived permanently in California was our visit to The Vision Quest Ranch just outside of Salinas California. Our family was able to tour the property and spend several hours getting to know the elephants there. We got so up close and personal on the tour, that we were able to give one of the largest male elephants a bath.

My daughter was beside herself the entire trip. And thankfully, the elephant was patient and gentle. I’ll admit I was beyond nervous when she curled up next to the elephant. It was an adventure we will never forget.

The Vision Quest Ranch trains animals for Hollywood movies and also serves as a sanctuary for large unwanted animals. Prior to our up close and personal visit with the elephants, we toured the property and learned about jaguars, tigers, zebras and a number of other animals, but it was all about the elephants for us. Here are a few pictures below.

family-photo-elephants

The cloud porn in itself is pretty amazing, but when you add into the elephants, it makes for the perfect family photo.

Santa-Cruz-elephants

One of the reasons we like Vision Quest is how they treat their animals. These elephants are not caged and are allowed to roam a large part of the property. This was important when we visited the Oakland Zoo and our own Oklahoma City Zoo. Again, look at that cloud porn!

feeding-elephants

We were able to get extremely up close and personal with the elephants. Ryleigh was ecstatic that she was able to feed the elephant and even bath them. I was most blown away by the precision the elephant had with his trunk. He was able to grab our carrot almost like he had fingers and place it in his mouth.

Above is a short instagram video I took while Greg and Ryleigh washed their elephant friend. Ry didn’t want it to end.  


One of the things I like most about Northern California are the roadside markets where we snagged a ton of amazing really fresh produce and at ridiculous prices like $6 for an entire flat of strawberries. The strawberries there are out of this world. The roadside markets cater to all age groups which you see above.

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