Be Our Guest!

I love to host. Oh my goodness, do I love to host. Be it a party, a weekend guest, a foreign exchange student for a year – it doesn’t matter! I live for this stuff.

I recently had the honor of hosting two people who happen to mean the world to me…

Yet we had never met! Crazy, right?

Remember waaaaay back when, back when I used to write on the other Destination Unknown (on Blogger,) and had these Bloggy Besties that would always comment? Yep, two of those people actually made the trek from the suburbs of Chicago to little old South Georgia to spend a few days with me.

Guys – it was awesome! The best part? They are blogging about their trip over the next few weeks! I would love for you to read about it, it is a several part series, but start : HERE. Then, when you finish Leanne’s story, head on over to Peggy’s story HERE.

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Peggy on the left, me in the middle, Leanne on the right

To say we had a wonderful time would be an absolute understatement. Their visit was everything I had hoped it would be. Leanne is exactly the way Leanne writes: warm, thoughtful, funny, and just radiates love and light. Even when dealing with such tremendous loss. And then Peggy is exactly the way I imagined her: quiet, smart, kind, with a hint of snark which is exactly the way I like my friends to be! We had a really, really wonderful visit and I am so glad I got to show off Georgia’s Sumter County to two really awesome people.

I put them up for 2 nights at the Plains Historic Inn and 2 nights at the Bestwestern Windsor Hotel.

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On the 2nd floor of the Historic Windsor Hotel

We did just about everything you could imagine. We visited:

  • Jimmy Carter National Historic Site: Plains High School, Campaign Headquarters, & Boyhood Farm
  • Billy Carter Service Station
  • Our family cabin on the timber farm
  • Richland Rum
  • Habitat for Humanity’s Global Village & Discovery Center
  • Wolf Creek Plantation
  • Koinonia Farm
  • Americus Haunted History Tour
  • Had a latte art class at the Cafe Campesino Roastery
  • Had a glassblowing class at Mobile Glassblowing Studios
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Richland Rum Sampling Georgia Rum!
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Leanne cracked us up as she learned to blow glass. She went from making a cup to a bowl, because man she could blow hard!
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Peggy ended up being our pro in this arena!
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Latte art class with Barista Extrodinaire, Hannah Mercer!
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Leanne totally shined in this arena!

I took the ladies to a few fun places to eat locally:

  • Buffalo Cafe in Plains
  • 1800 Mexican Restaurant in Americus
  • Gladys’ in Americus
  • Koinonia Farm in Americus
  • Pat’s Place in Americus
  • Cafe Campesino in Americus/Sweet Georgia Baking Company
  • Rosemary & Thyme in the Windsor Hotel
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Tim & I at 1800 Mexican Restaurant

Not too soon after Leanne & Peggy returned home, we ended up having a grand time at the 3rd Annual Hot Glass Craft Beer Festival in Americus.

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Tim, his sister, and his oldest daughter & I at the Americus Hot Glass Craft Beer Festival.
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Tim & one of his close friends, Rob!
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Shawn, from the Americus Times Recorder serving up cocktails in the VIP Tent.

About a week or so later, I took off for the Golden Isles for the Regional Visitor Information Center Conference. If you can remember, I won that big award there last year! This year, I got the opportunity to present during one of the sessions.

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Me! Talking about how to create the visitor experience. Jekyll Island Club.

My administrative assistant, tourism assistant, our Main Street Director, and my hubby headed down on a Tuesday. I opted to rent an Airbnb to save a few dollars on our budget. Tim was simply going to chill on the beach and do whatever while the rest of us toiled away in a conference.

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I’m on a boat, bitch. WITH a disco ball. 😉

I look toiled don’t I?

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Tim repping with a little Wolf Creek Vino on the Dolphin Cruise

On the first night, Tim, Qaijuan, Carter and I met our other tourism friends at The Wharf on Jekyll Island for a Dolphin/Sunset Cruise.

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My tourism besties Steven & Becky! (From Macon & Statesboro.)
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Justin did a “calling of the dolphins.” it worked!
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I made friends with a shrimp boat captain!

Besides sitting in classes, drinking copious amounts of boat drinks, and networking all night – we got to choose FAM Tours. (Stands for familiarization tours.) I chose to go on an actual shrimp boat.

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Living my best life!

Yeah, baby! I held a shrimp!

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Lunch at the Jekyll Island Club Resort
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Dinner at The Wharf
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Lunch at the Marshside Grill.
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You simply have to know Nija and Justin to understand what is transpiring.

Folks – my life is good and full. I do have some really awesome friends – in Chicago, in Birmingham, in Statesboro, in Macon, in Atlanta, Bangkok, Milan, Iraq, Sao Paulo, and so many other places in between. It’s not like I don’t have a tribe. I do. They just live elsewhere.

This past weekend was super awesome. Again… I left town, but it was worth it. Tim’s best friend since the beginning of time is Tag. Tag decided to throw a Cinco de Mayo party on the fourth… so I guess it was a Quattro de Mayo party mixed in with a few Kentucky Derby hijinks.

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Tim & I in Columbus
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Needs no introduction

Three margaritas, 4 shots of tequila, and 6 hours later I can officially say that my laugh tank is full. It was so refreshing to be around people our age, people with our basic sense of humor, and people who are sort of… well.. been there done that.

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We all agree Maximum Security got robbed!

We watched the Kentucky Derby. You know, all 20 seconds of it and then sat through the controversy of whether a horse shoved another horse in the wrong direction.

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Tim, Tag, and Rob

We listened to good Classic Rock and 90s Grunge and I got to hum along as guys who actually know how to play guitars and can sing decided to belt a few familiar tunes out.

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Tag & Rob

And the laughter…. oh the laughter. All. Night. Long. It was refreshing and good. All of us have pretty much remarried and found happiness. We all were sharing war stories and next chapter stories. Every one had kids either out of high school or in and we were all rejoicing in how soon – FREEDOM is around the corner!

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My peeps at cocktail hour.

At the end of the day- 2019 is shaping up nicely. I’ve formed a new life and as I approach 3 years down here, I realize I probably would not change a single thing!

 

 

 

 

 

Transitional Transitions: How do you transition?

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So, I think it is time I break up – break up with my past, what could have been, and what is no longer.

Does that make sense?

I’m transitioning – AGAIN. Don’t worry, nothing is wrong – quite the contrary, everything is exactly as it should be.

Let’s see if I can explain:

Birthdays always make me a little reminiscent of days gone by. I often look back at my friends, my work, my hobbies – whatever – and find myself wistfully comparing my old life to my new life. I feel sad that  so & so does not call as much or visit as much as they used to. I over glamorize a past job that I had, or maybe even the absolute freedom to do as I wanted when I was a single girl. Ugh.

Guys… the truth is – the honeymoon period of moving down here is over. Nothing more, nothing less.

The expectations have shattered (as they always do,) and now I am left with reality. What was once quaint and adorable and friendly feels more constricting, less friendly, and limited. (But it is not.)

Perceptions, my friends. Perceptions.

This is that point in every move where I take a good, long look at the issue and then say… “Oh… wait a minute. I’m officially settling into my new role.” Yes, my friends, the dust has settled.

What do I see? Newer, but a limited amount of possibilities. I am clear on how things work around here, be it with work or family. I understand my limitations and I am comfortable with navigating the rougher waters. I’m setting boundaries, where once I simply left the door wide open – hoping to see how things would pan out. And thank God I am that way, or I would have never made some of the connections that I have been fortunate enough to make. But at the same time, I need to sweep out of my life what I never should have allowed in: toxic people, judgmental people, and negative people. (Again, don’t worry.. I never actually let them burrow, but they did come in for a visit.)

I had a lot of little things to work through in 2017: married life, becoming a mother, a new job, AND building of our home. (Which we are still getting settled into.) We just celebrated one year of marriage, and while on our trip, we counted our blessings, our lessons, and made numerous realizations….. and it was GOOD stuff. I am so ridiculously lucky.

With that being said… here we are. Gone long enough from my hometown to where I rarely hear from any of those people by phone, in person, online or otherwise. I have sort of just… fallen off the radar. Which often make you wonder why I even kept the connection in the first place, but then I relax and realize some folks are simply for a season. The others are there, but it appears I will have to do the scheduling (and honestly, evaluating whether those relationships are worth investing my effort into anymore.)

I’ve been gone waaaay too long from Birmingham to really know what is going on over there, and honestly, that situation was different, it wasn’t my hometown. Then I find myself in the new space- delicate, new relationships budding up everyday. It’s like I plant a seed – and sometimes the flower blooms, and other times it just fades away. It’s fascinating to witness!

Embracing these transitions has always been a specialty of mine. I am the queen of re-invention and like the phoenix – I rise. 😉

However, there is something about this transition. It’s because this is the final move. THIS will be home. (Unless life decides to uproot me yet again. And if anybody knows whether or not that is possible, I most certainly do.

To help me get a better handle on what is going on, I did a little research and even read old blog posts on my old blogspot journal that highlighted the other major shifts in my life. I think the biggest difference was the fact that this time, I transitioned by choice and in the past, it was because something hardcore had happened in my life.

One common theme kept recurring were the following:

  • I need to expect to feel anxiety & a little depressed. According to an article I read in Psychology Today: “Whenever we move forward we leave something behind, and this creates a psychological state of grief, however small.” In other words – We are out of our comfort zone; our imaginations run wild; and we worry about an unknown future.
  • I need to realize that this is a new chapter in my life. While I need to acknowledge the loss of what life used to be like, I do not need to get stuck in the past. Acknowledging that a door is closed is psychologically healthy; spending your time staring at it is not.
  • I need to think positive. According to that same article in Psychology Today, during times of transition, when everything seems to be in flux, when my old patterns have collapsed, I may feel unsteady but are also most malleable to change. Apparently now is the time to explore, brainstorm, consider the make-over before my life begins to naturally solidify into new patterns.
  • It’s good I hit the ground running. I gave myself very little transitioning time. I basically jumped right in. I didn’t have time to over think, to over plan. Things have happened more organically, and I think in the end, that is a good thing.
  • I also read that I need to get support. And about a year and a half in, I decided to chat with a therapist for a couple of sessions to sort out any anxiety and home sickness I was feeling.
  • And finally, set realistic timelines & expectations. Which is why I wrote this post today.

I needed to work out what was going through my head since the big 4-5 hit. Creating a sense of place and finding my tribe are high ticket priorities when it comes to my happiness. I’ve been impatient with the process, and now it is time for me to relax, reevaluate, and make this my home.

 

With a Thankful Heart

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It has not been an easy year. Not by a long shot.

But it was a good year, a productive year, and I have so much to be thankful for.

About this time each year, I begin to sift through my photos and prepare my super-long year-end video. It’s my homage to all of the good I experienced and is a celebration of my friends, family, job, and so much more. Though I have been super-stressed most of 2017, I was reminded by these photos just how incredibly blessed I am really am.

If my year was recapped in a highlight reel, it would look a little something like this:

January 2017

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I witnessed #LoveWin with two of my dearest friends getting married in a beautiful and touching wedding ceremony on New Year’s! Just 5 years ago and even sooner than that, this would not have been possible. This was incredibly significant and I felt so blessed to have been a witness to it.

February 2017:

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I got married to one of the most decent, hardworking, loving men I have ever met! This sweet, gentle, and strong man came into my life just when I was not sure how my story would end. He filled all of the empty spaces with a healing love and represents the glue that has held all of my cracks together. Love does win… and can do so even later in life.

March 2017:

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I finally got to Paris! Though I have traveled to some really exotic and exciting places, this one was always at the top of my list! Our honeymoon was magical!

April 2017:

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I think I finally crossed a good line in tourism at the RVIC Conference in Woodstock. FINALLY, I made some really good connections/friends. Those connections have carried over into many of  the areas in Tourism. I believe this was the turning point with statewide connections, almost a year after starting this job.

May 2017:

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Marketing College through the Southeastern Tourism Society was a pivotal moment for me. I spent one week at the University of North Georgia studying the latest & greatest in tourism. Yes, I have degrees, etc – but this was an opportunity to begin to specialize in my chosen field. In 2 more years, I will add a few fun credentials to my name! It is the first time in a long time that I felt like I was really learning something new. And if you consider how important my career is to me and how much importance I put on furthering one’s education – this was a great step for me.

June 2017:

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I rebranded my community!!! THIS was something that was soooooo desperately needed, and I was not sure how I was going to make this happen. Luckily, by cultivating relationships, I was able to obtain the funding and voila! Five communities now have one voice! HUGE year for my career.

July 2017:

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I began to mix my worlds! I made a few solid friendships in Americus and continued to nurture my friendships in Macon and brought them together a handful of times out at the farm. From cooking out, to swimming, to riding the trails – I began to mix my worlds and find some little shred of a social life!

August 2017:

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We broke ground for our new house! That’s right – we bought additional land (not on the farm,) and began construction on a house that Tim has designed. Every single decision about this home was made by the two of us – down to the color of the grout (which, btw, is light gray.)

September 2017:

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Normally, September is a terrible month for me. Lots of BAD things traditionally happen within this month… and sure… it had its challenges, but the one thing I remember the most is learning how to roll with the punches. This photo represents some hard-working girls who had a girl’s night out and celebrated 125 years of our grand old hotel in town! It was festival season, and this stuck out as my favorite event thus far!

October 2017:

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I was reminded how much I am loved back home. It is not easy adjusting to a new community, and not just a new community, but a bit of a different culture. My only experience has been with a medium-sized city to a very large city – never truly rural. I adjusted very quickly to a metropolitan area and it was more my cup of tea and a natural fit. Rural living has been a challenge.

But there is always home… with my oldest friends. I can always go home for some healing.

As for November & December – that highlight remains to be seen. I can say that it was a very good year – but a challenging year, both mentally & spiritually. So, so, so much good… but so much new! “Expect the unexpected and hold your head high” was my mantra.

With all of that, it appears we will be celebrating soon! Apparently, we will be moving into our home within 3 weeks or so.) I will be wrapping up a very successful fiscal year (I have increased hotel/motel tax by almost a quarter compared to last year.) And finally, even better news – my health is at an all time high! BP was 110/60, Heart Rate 82, Cholesterol 112, and Fasting Blood Sugar 91. Outside of dropping the weight – I am in excellent shape! New challenge: Weight loss, New Home, Bigger Goals, and Settling in for 2018!

I am entering the Thanksgiving Season with a thankful heart. My blessings are many and my life is very rich. From my family to yours – Happy Thanksgiving!

 

Juice Drop Out & Accepting Applications

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It’s official. I’m a cleansing/detox/juicing drop out.

*smh*

I honestly tried and I failed superbly. I don’t think I have ever seen anyone fail as well as I did. However, I am owning my short comings and focusing on a new goal.

My social life.

Here’s the thing, I am a really, really social creature. In Macon, in Birmingham, and everywhere else in between, I’ve always had a big, diverse circle of friends. I realize that I moved here and basically hit the ground running only a short while ago, however, this is the longest I have ever gone without creating a nice little social network. Usually by now I would have some new BFF and would be meeting up with friends for shopping, drinks, girl get-aways and the like.

Unfortunately, that’s not exactly what has transpired. Granted – I planned a wedding and took a big trip and help design our future home and a ton of other really big things. I’m not sure who is to fault here. Is it me? Or is it the community? Or is it just the state of things at 44 years old.

Who knows!?

However, I am not one to idly stand by and let life just swoosh by without at least putting a little effort in. Things can’t be that different in South Georgia.

I decided to pursue this new social circle the way I would a career: strategically and with direct intent. With that being said, I am accepting applications for friendship.

😉

It’s open auditions and YOU could possible be my new favorite person.

Now WHY would you want to hang out with me? Well, I have lots of good qualities. Let’s see if I can drum up a few:

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With it being summer time, I think this is a great asset. I have a pool and a lake. Even when we build in Plains, this is still staying in the family. You could join me on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon, floating in the pool, gossiping and sipping margaritas. Or you could bring your fishing pole and get in one of the two boats. Okay… so maybe the outdoors aren’t your thing…

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I do love a good margarita. I mentioned that one, right? We could meet up for a drink from time to time.

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And bowling. I LOVE bowling. But I am TERRIBLE at it. I love to laugh at myself and this is the perfect place to do it. I know we have bowling in Albany and Columbus and SOON in Americus!

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I’m a huge wine slushy girl! We could meet up at Wolf Creek Plantation and grab a cheese platter and sip some good local wine.

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I mentioned I like wine… right? 😉 So a tee-totaler would not fit in very well with me. I don’t drink a lot, but one glass of wine ever so often is always fun!

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I love to cook and to host friends. We live in a small cabin by a lake – and there is nothing better than whipping up something delicious to share!

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I like to travel! Have passport – will travel. You HAVE to be up for something like this! (That’s me in Egypt.)

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And that’s me in Paris.

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Book store shopping is one of my favorite things to do with friends. Looking for that next great read to add to my collection is always much more fun to do with friends. Oh yeah, you have got to have a love of books. I can’t relate to non readers very well.

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I’m really into taking selfies. For fun. Not for vanity’s sake. I have a handful of truly talented photographer friends and most of my circle back home are actual full time artists. Be camera ready!

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And man oh man – do I love to throw a party! I’d expect you to attend!

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Did I mention I love touring wineries? 😉

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And I love a good campfire. Again – I live by a lake/pond at a cabin. This is a great way to spend a evening with me! Bring your significant other. We are looking for other couples to hang with also!

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And Mexican food. OMG…. Want to meet up for dinner? Invite me out for Mexican.

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And I am totally open to attending your special religious holiday celebrations.

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Seriously…. I can go either way! I’m extremely fascinated by other cultures. My friend circle should reflect accordingly!

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And I’m a big supporter of a wide variety of friends. I do NOT support racists, homophobes, or any other phobes. Except spiders. You can totally hate spiders.

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And I LOVE LOVE LOVE to grill. If you don’t like grilling…. then… then… I just can’t be friends with you.


And due to the nature of my job… sometimes you might get to meet some really important people. I can’t be embarrassed to bring you around! lol

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If we go out in public – you have to understand that I have never met a stranger. Case in point above.

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And if you need some time to decompress… I’m always up for swinging on the front porch and sipping coffee. I really do offer good advice. However, you must be prepared, I don’t mince words.

Are you into fresh, organic berries? Well… in the fall we can pick scuppernogs and in the summer we can pick blueberries. I did mention we have a farm… right?

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Oh… and a beach house. Yes, the Kirksey’s have a beach house. No, we don’t rent it. But if you and I are really close, I just might invite you down!

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And I am a big Alabama fan. Though one BFF is a GA Dawg fan and the other is an Auburn fan… it is important that we get a handle on this rivalry sooner, rather than later.

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I like outdoor adventures. Well… keep it simple. But I am open to a few!

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I am the crazy cat lady. If you are allergic – this isn’t going to work.

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I am a big believer in celebrating birthdays! (Yours included!) And I love to theme it out. Like this 40th Bday for me. It’s a Breakfast at Tiffany’s theme…. without the escorts. lol 😉

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And just know when I say I can throw a party… I mean… BIG parties/events. I’m a professional at this. Seriously. And yes, I’m always judging other people’s events. lol

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And I LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE to dance. I danced for many, many years. No, I don’t look like the dancer type… but boy do I love to!

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You have got to be open to art. I mean… I’ve worked at two different museums. I ran one of them. My mother is an artist and ran a gallery. It’s sort of in our blood.

If you think you are up to the task… then maybe we should get to know each other better.

I’ve always viewed finding new friends sort of like dating, you hang out a few times to see if you click. Maybe I’ll find that new tribe that just clicks. I’m really hoping it will come sooner, rather than later.

In the meantime… I’ll build that home with my dream guy, run the tourism in my community, and continue to do the things I love..

Even if it is by myself. Because that’s the kind of confidence you need to be my friend. You got to be able to go it alone.

Class 5 clingers are not allowed.

Until next time…