Heather's Hangout

Sharing the people, places & little moments that make a difference.

Walking the streets of San Francisco April 30, 2017

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Enjoying the waterfront.

After spending a few days enjoying Calistoga and Napa Valley, we loaded luggage into the car rental and headed west toward Sonoma for our drive back to San Francisco. It was misting a little but still mild temps. We took the ‘scenic’ route back, enjoying conversations and laughs. As we neared the city, we stopped in Sausalito for lunch. Sausalito sits at the northern foot of the Golden Gate Bridge. It has small town charm wrapped in its waterfront downtown with awesome views. I was in awe of the numerous houses nestled on the sides of hills and mountains.

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We walked the downtown (which has a large bike parking lot!) before eating lunch at Scoma’s. The restaurant is located on the waterfront and we scored a great window table. There were many fishing boats on the bay. It was fascinating to watch the fog roll in and out. At one point, the Golden Gate Bridge, which was visible when we sat, ‘disappeared’ from sight due to the fog!

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After an awesome lunch of dungeness crab cakes and sandwiches, we headed across the

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Beautiful Grace Cathedral

bridge into the city. We easily found the Orchard Hotel near Chinatown. The hotel staff was friendly and the room spacious and nice. Then we set off to explore. We were near the “Chinatown Gate” so headed that way. Chinatown was busy! People packed the sidewalks and store after store sold a huge variety of almost any item you may think of. I swear some of these stores had items overflowing from their doors! We walked all through Chinatown, which seemed like sensory overload to me after a few blocks. But cool and fun!

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We shifted our direction and walked toward Nob Hill. Here is where we found the hilly sidewalks that often appear in San Francisco pictures! My friend and I are in decent physical shape and had on comfortable flat shoes, but even we started laughing at one point as we turned corners and encountered another street going up. Our goal was the Top of the Mark, thanks to a recommendation, for drinks and great views. Top of the Mark is located on the 19th floor of the Intercontinental Hotel, offering 360-degree views of the city. So you can imagine our disappointment when we walked into the hotel to discover that a private event had the restaurant closed on that particular day! Ugh. We laughed at our luck and instead wandered around the nearby beautiful Grace Cathedral. Then we indulged my final tourist wish list of riding a trolley!

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Looking down (literally) the street!

The trolley ride was fun…..and a great leg workout. Many people already filled the trolley so I ended up standing for our ride. Since you are going up and down the streets, it takes a lot of balance to not move all around. We laughed at the great workout we were getting and how we would definitely deserve a good dinner and drinks!

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The trolley ride took us to the north side of Fisherman’s Wharf, which was bustling with activity. I just love the energy of this city! It honestly makes me smile. We wandered a lot of different shops, enjoyed listening to several talented street musicians, checked out the retired World War II vessels docked near the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park, and then rested at a restaurant for happy hour. After refueling our stomachs with great San Francisco craft beer, wine and food, we wandered to North Beach before deciding we deserved a taxi ride back to our hotel. The cab driver was amusing and kind. A brief relaxation provided new energy for another walk around Chinatown before a pizza and beer dinner.

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I’m so glad that we placed downtown San Francisco at the beginning and end of the trip.

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After my trolley ride!

It was fun to explore the bustling city, but nice to have the beautiful open land of the Napa Valley area to soak up the tranquility of Mother Nature. It was a perfect balance of exciting and busy with calm and quiet.

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As we wrapped up our day in San Francisco, I reflected on the adventures. We packed a lot of fun into our days, saw and experienced so many new things, tasted awesome wines and food, soaked in much natural beauty and shed some of life’s stress and overload. I loved San Francisco and the surrounding areas. I will definitely go back.

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Have you been to San Francisco? What’s your favorite area/destination in the city?

 

Exploring Napa Valley’s wine country April 28, 2017

We woke to a beautiful morning in Calistoga. The downtown was quiet when we walked to find a breakfast place. We came upon a great little place called Café Sarafornia. The family owned restaurant offers a delicious variety of breakfast options.

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After filling up on food, we headed out to enjoy one of the best parts of Napa Valley – wine! Our first stop was Clos Pegase. My friend is a wine club member, which provided a tasting and tour of the winery. What a place! The winery was created by a couple who appreciated art, nature and wine. The owners hosted an architectural competition to design Clos Pegase. Designer Michael Graves won the competition. There are sculptures and art throughout the grounds, although there were more when the original founders owned the winery (he sold it a few years ago when his wife died from cancer). One of my favorite parts of the grounds were the 52 cypress trees in the courtyard, representing every week of the year, and lined in four rows to represent the four seasons. The buildings blend modern and ancient Mediterranean architecture. Our tour took us through the grounds to see the vineyards, then the production facility. It was impressive to see the massive storage, bottling and labeling lines. We then were able to walk into the 20,000 square feet of caves that house wine and a large theater where special events and tastings are held. Our tasting was here! We tried several great wines and enjoyed some cheeses, fruit and nuts. It was a wonderful visit!

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After Clos Pegase, we headed to Chateau Montelena Winery. Another great recommendation. It’s an incredibly impressive site to drive onto the grounds, see Jade Lake and surrounding landscape, then the chateau. Built in 1882, the chateau was converted to a wine making facility and tasting room in the early 1970s. It resembles an English Gothic castle gatehouse. The large arched windows and door, stone walls and (faux) arrow slits make for a neat building! We enjoyed our tasting inside the chateau. The wines that we sampled were very good, although the reds were a tad too dry for me.

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Wandering outside and down the steps in front of the chateau led us to the peaceful area of Jade Lake. There are footbridges that connect to two islands (used for private tastings), built crooked to honor Chinese legend that says evil spirits can only travel in straight lines. Lawns, vineyards and mountains are just beyond. It was so quiet and serene here that I could have easily sat on the bench for hours enjoying the view, light breeze and warm temps.

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As we left Chateau Montelena Winery, we passed an awesome landmark – Old Faithful Geyser! The Old Faithful Geyser of California park is a neat place where you can see one of only three geysers in the world considered “faithful” because it regularly erupts. The geyser also has proven to be a predictor of earthquakes in the area as scientists note when the geyser’s regular eruptions are delayed or lessen, an earthquake is likely within a few weeks within 500 miles surrounding geyser. Entrance is $15 for adults, but we thought it was worth saying we saw “Old Faithful.” Plus, there’s more to see – the park is also home to a goat farm (so cute!), gardens, geology museum and outdoor activities like bocce ball. There is a picnic kitchen in the gift store that offers wine corks and more so you can enjoy a bottle of wine in the park while watching Old Faithful.

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We were hungry when we left Old Faithful so stopped at Dean & Deluca, a nice market type restaurant offering freshly made sandwiches, salads, baked goods and more. My sandwich was huge! Our next stop was Yountville, where we found the Girard Winery tasting room. My friend’s membership at Clos Pegase also gets her complimentary tastings at other wineries by the same owner (although we learned that she is ‘grandfathered’ in and this doesn’t apply to new memberships. Lucky us!). The tasting room has a rustic feel, which I love! The staff was nice and funny. And the wine was delicious!

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We wandered around the area after our tasting, then headed back to Calistoga. We shopped a little more, then ordered a takeout dinner from Puerta Vallerta Restaurant. It was delicious ‘authentic’ Mexican. The evening weather was amazing so we enjoyed our food and some drinks on a table near the pool of our resort.

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It was yet another awesome day of vacation. We once again packed a LOT into a day. I loved the scenery, wines, friendship, meeting new people and exploring so much of the area. I went to bed once again a tired, happy girl ready for the next day of fun!

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(Don’t miss reading about our previous days’ adventures in San Francisco and Calistoga!)

 

When I fell in love with San Francisco April 26, 2017

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View from our room!

One of my big goals this year, in keeping with my “Best Year Ever” theme, is to get back into traveling more often. Whether weekend road trips to northern Michigan, longer getaways to somewhere in the U.S. or extended adventures around the world. Or all of the above!

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In keeping with that theme, I was super excited when my friend and I decided on a whim to book a trip to San Francisco and Napa Valley. I explored northern California years ago through the Redwood Forest but hadn’t made it to San Francisco, which I’ve been anxious to visit. So many people love the city and the destinations north of the busy city.

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We were able to book our flights with airline miles (bonus!) so that started the trip on the right path. We found a great deal on car rental, then hotels. My friend is a wine club member at some of the Napa Valley vineyards, which provided free tastings. Needless to say, I was pretty giddy by the time our plane landed in San Francisco (who doesn’t love the opportunity to explore new places and experience new adventures??).

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We easily picked up our car rental and headed to the Marriott Marquis in the South of Market (or SOMA) District of downtown San Francisco. The Marriott has 39 floors, with the top floor a restaurant/bar called The View, aptly named for the amazing 360-degree views of the city and beyond. Our room was on the 23rd floor, also providing outstanding views. We did a quick peek out the windows of The View, appreciating the stunning views of the busy city and mountains beyond. Then we headed to explore that bustling city.

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The weather was perfect with temperatures in the high 60s and sunshine. We were

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A talkative sea lion.

already hungry when we left the hotel so headed to The Grove. The funky, fun décor matched perfectly with the fresh food choices. We split a delicious salad and hummus tray and ordered our first drinks to toast the adventure. After re-energizing ourselves, we set off to simply explore. We window shopped, people watched and took in the sights of the district and surrounding areas. We eventually made it to Fisherman’s Wharf, where we came across a small market of artists, fresh flower stands, fresh fruit and vegetables and more near the Ferry Building. I love talking to local residents when I travel so enjoyed meeting so many people at the market. Then we made it to the pier (where we walked some more!). It was awesome to take in the beauty of the water, mountains, sailboats and more. I felt the stress of everyday life falling off as I walked and the fresh air and sunshine breathed new energy into me. This is why I love to travel.

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We continued to Pier 39 where we came across a very busy, definitely tourist area of Fisherman’s Wharf. Souvenir shops, restaurants, wine tasting, fishing boats, bike rentals and more populate this area. Despite it being a popular tourist area, I loved the energy, things to see, food to smell, activities to watch, and scenery to soak in. So we decided to be tourists and visit Wines of California wine bar overlooking the marina. We did a wee bit of shopping after our drinks, then we rounded a corner and I spotted the Golden Gate Bridge. I had two tourist items on my San Francisco bucket list – see the Golden Gate Bridge and ride a trolley. So I was definitely ‘that tourist’ who did a little hand clap when the bridge came into view on our walk (the trolley ride was another day so stay tuned). You can also see Alcatraz Island from the pier (and tour the facility).

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Loved this church in the city.

As we walked, I heard the noise. The sea lions! The sea lions first arrived at Pier 39 K-Dock in 1990 after an earthquake in 1989. While marina tenants at first didn’t like the sea lions taking up so much space, there wasn’t much that could be done as sea lions are protected by the Federal Marine Mammal Protection Act. Plus the sea lions were attracting crowds of people (which increases revenue for surrounding businesses). At one point, more than 1,000 sea lions “docked” at Fisherman’s Wharf! Now the mammals are a regular feature of people’s visit to the area.

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After watching and laughing at the antics of the sea lions, we headed back toward the hotel for a brief rest and relaxation before the evening fun. We checked out the views of Yerba Buena Gardens from Samovar Tea Lounge….it was a trendy, fun crowd hanging outside this place. I loved the perfect view of a pretty church residing in the midst of a bustling, tall city. It was a reminder to me that you can find peace and calmness anywhere in your life if you simply pay attention.

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On a recommendation, we found Anchor & Hope restaurant. And I say found because it took a little bit of looking to find the restaurant that is tucked away on Minna street (it looks like you’re walking down an alley). Admittedly, we may have passed the street twice because I was absorbing everything else around me! It was worth the search effort. It was still happy hour so we sat at the bar, which turned out to be a great place. The bartender and staff were so nice. We enjoyed drinks and delicious salmon cakes.

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Enjoying views from Fisherman’s Wharf.

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When we left Anchor & Hope, we passed Thirsty Bear Brewing Company so decided to check out the local craft beer scene. Thirsty Bear is San Francisco’s only organic craft brewery. (To be honest, I had no idea what that meant and I couldn’t tell the difference in the beers, but I’ve since learned it means that the beers are made with all organic ingredients.) We once again sat at the bar and once again met some great people. The beer was good and the tapas awesome.

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Our final destination of the day was back at The View at the Marriott. By then, the sun had set and the lights of the city were on, providing another great view. Luck was with us as we snagged a spot by the windows to enjoy the views, our drinks and conversations with other patrons.

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It was a great, busy, first day in San Francisco! We were fortunate for the beautiful weather. I loved meeting many friendly people and seeing so many sites. I definitely went to bed a tired, happy girl, ready for our next day’s adventure (stay tuned).

 

Jolly time visiting downtown Detroit February 24, 2017

Filed under: Life Lessons — Heather @ 4:35 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

detroitriverDetroit has been blessed with some beautiful warm, sunny weather days. Great reasons to head downtown to explore the city.

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On a recent exploration, a friend and I first stopped at the river walk to wander along the Detroit River, wave to our Canadian neighbors in Windsor (okay, maybe I’m the only one who does this!) and learn a little history while we soaked up some much needed vitamin D. There were several others with the same idea – I love seeing people getting outdoors to enjoy the downtown area.

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After a nice walk in the fresh air, we headed north on Woodward Avenue. We checked out the progress on the new Little Caesars Arena where the Detroit Red Wings and Pistons will soon play. As we neared Wayne State University, we stopped on Canfield Street to explore some more. And we did a little daydreaming as we wandered through the Shinola store. This Detroit-based company makes me pause beside soft leather handbags, awesome custom built bicycles, fun accessories and of course cool watches. I admit that I eyed a watch (or two) before willpower kicked in and made my wallet stay tucked inside of my purse (for now).

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jollypumpkinWe next wandered into Third Man Records, offering great selections of music. Originally founded by Detroit-native Jack White (of The White Stripes), the store showcases an array of vinyl records from amazing artists, record players, accessories and more. A listening booth, record booth, stage, and lounge were highlights for me. I love the eclectic vibe of this store.

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Next door to Third Man Records is Jolly Pumpkin Brewery. We of course needed refreshments after all the wandering! I love visiting Jolly Pumpkin on Old Mission Peninsula in Traverse City, and have also dined at the Ann Arbor location. This was my first visit to the Detroit location. Jolly Pumpkin serves their own craft beer plus North Peak Brewing Company. They also have a variety of spirits. Oh and food. I enjoy both Michigan-based brands of craft beer, plus the relaxed atmosphere at all of their locations. I will definitely return.

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It was fun to check out the Michigan companies and enjoy the great weather with great company. All in all it was another fun adventure in downtown Detroit. Get there when you have the chance to explore, eat, drink and have fun!

 

Travel planning tips February 20, 2017

Travel planning tips

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Traveling has always been a favorite activity. When I was younger, I loved our family getaways (and still do!) and now as an adult, ‘travel’ is a definite budget line item goal so I can afford to plan my own trips and choose new destinations. I love exploring new locations, learning new cultures (even those local cultures in the U.S.!), trying new activities and simply getting away from life’s daily responsibilities and grind.

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There are many factors that help make a trip memorable, fun and smooth. I truly believe that the people you travel with are the greatest factors in a successful trip. Finding someone/some people who are flexible, easy going and can ‘go with the flow’ if snafus happen can make or break a trip. I recall one of my backpacking trips to South Manitou Island with a group of friends – we woke one morning to thunderstorms and hard rain. Three of us girls piled into a tent and spent a few hours sharing stories, laughing, braiding hair and basically making the most of the unplanned event. When the storms cleared, the planned hikes and fun resumed but it was awesome to be with people who shrugged at the circumstance and moved on.

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Hiking outside of Las Vegas

Traveling solo can be fun too. You can set your own plans and pace, and either do as much or as little as you want without worrying about keeping everyone happy.

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Regardless of how and who you travel with, the advance planning of a trip will help ensure you have a smooth, enjoyable time once you arrive at your destination. Here are a few tips to get you started:

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1. Be prepared to spend some time doing research. Whether it was Maui, Ireland, Alaska or somewhere in Michigan, I took the time to check out local websites and read reviews. This up front research helped me know some local spots, things to be cautious about, and feel a bit more comfortable with a new area. This was especially important when I went to Ireland, as despite it being an English-speaking country, it was still a foreign country with different cultures, currency and customs.

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2. Check out the homes, cottages and condos available on rental sites, such as Vacation Rental By Owner (VRBO.com), Air BnB, HomeAway.com and others. I found the awesome oceanfront Maui condo on VRBO, thanks to the suggestion of a friend. These options can sometimes be more affordable, spacious and cozier than a standard hotel (I especially like having the option of buying your own food and making meals when you want). Some questions to consider: When were the pictures taken? If there’s a kitchen, what’s included (dishes, coffee, detergent, etc.)? Are laundry facilities available? Is there a local person to contact if something happens? Is there a cleaning fee and other fees not included in the listed nightly fee?

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3. Read reviews. I like to find a potential facility on TripAdvisor to get some feedback. VRBO usually also has guest reviews of each facility. Keep in mind that these reviews are subjective (what one person finds lacking may not be a big deal to another). However, if consistent problems or concerns are listed, it might be time to look at another facility. For example, my family was ready to book a location for our summer trip until we skimmed the reviews and noticed a lot of recent complaints about cleanliness and cranky staff. We moved on. Check dates of the reviews to ensure the concerns aren’t from years ago. If you want to pay it forward, write a review after your trip of the lodging, entertainment venue or restaurants you experienced during your trip.

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4. Look for a Groupon or other discounts in the local area for lodging, meals and entertainment. If you’re looking for local ideas at your destination, search Groupon, Living Social or similar online discount sites for discounted tickets, restaurant and activity coupons. There are a lot of great choices. You may find a food spot or activity that you wouldn’t have known about without searching.

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Exploring Alaska, one of my favorite trips.

5. Cash in credit card or airline miles. Many people don’t know that these earned miles aren’t just for airline tickets. Most of the time you can redeem for car rentals, restaurant gift cards, cameras, hotel rooms and more. Make sure you know the redemption rules to check on blackout dates and fees.

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6. Ask for input from friends and family. A plus of social media is the ability to share your personal business with a large group of people at once. Heck, often times, friends of friends can learn your business with the click of a button. Take advantage of this by asking for input, suggestions and reviews on Facebook, Twitter and other sites.

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7. Be flexible. If you can adjust dates and also be flexible in the type of lodging or car you reserve, you may find a better deal. Also, once you arrive at your destination, be flexible in your activities if possible. I like to have some ideas for activities but try not to set too much in stone so I can be ready to try something new if the opportunity arises. When my friend and I went to Riviera Maya, we had zero plans except relaxing at the resort. However, I woke one morning and decided to hike the ruins. It was fun!

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8. Check out Costco or other member companies. While I haven’t personally used Costco to book travel, several friends regularly book rental cars, hotels and more through the big store and assure me that they receive great discounts.

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If you put a little time into the planning portion of your trip, you can relax and have fun on the actual trip. And the golden rule of travel for me is to take life in stride – you’re on vacation, enjoy it! And don’t forget to take pictures!

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What tips do you have for trip planning?

 

Back to basics in the new year (5 goals for 2017) December 30, 2016

A few months back a friend talked me into going to see a tarot card reader to find out what’s in store for my future. I had never been to one and admit I had bit of trepidation. What might she tell me?

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Cheers to a new year!

The woman was very welcoming and sweet. She asked what I might want to focus on learning. I really didn’t have a specific focus; mostly wondering if, after making some major life changes in the early year, I was on the right path and what might come in the future, if she could tell. I didn’t admit that I wasn’t sure I really believed these cards could tell about my life…but I was willing to give it a try. At this point in my life, I feel so open to new experiences (one of my new mottos is “bring it on, life.”)! I shuffled the deck and then she started laying out cards on the table. I waited with bated breath while she studied the cards. Then she smiled and said, “Wow you’ve been through a lot, but there so much positive energy and love in your future.” Well how about that? I could have walked out with that bit of refreshing news, but she had more to share. As we talked about the cards’ various meanings, it admittedly was a bit eerie when she commented on things that had happened in my life (health challenges, relationship ending, etc.) that I didn’t tell her (and she had no way of knowing). Then she mentioned things that I’ve been pondering professionally (according to her will be successful!) and house hunting struggles (soon to end!). And the cards indicate my love life will be very full of love, happiness and…… well I’ll keep some of that to myself so I can see how it plays out.

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I know that I am still the person in charge of my present and future, however, it’s nice to have someone say that I’m on the right path. The overall message was to be open and ready for the many positive things that will happen in the new year. I walked out feeling hopeful and excited about my future.

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Whether or not you ‘believe’ in tarot cards and all that, the point is that I liked the message of being open and ready. I am an admitted planner, so often like to plan things. I make lists, schedule things in advance and probably overthink too much. I worry about other people’s feelings, which often time slips into my plans and sometimes even alters what I do in my life (I’ve realized there is a threshold of being too nice). I’ve been learning that I can still focus on my life while being kind, helpful and supportive to others.

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What I’ve really learned in my 40+ years on earth is that not every year, not every moment, will be perfect joy. Not every situation ends in joy. And that’s okay (although it doesn’t always feel okay). We sometimes need those less than stellar moments to guide us into a new version of life and our self. Remember that you’ll make it. Despite sadness, confusion and frustration, there is always hope. That’s at least what I hold onto. There are new chapters to write, new adventures to experience, new people to meet and new moments to heal and fill the heart.

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So that’s what I am bringing into the new year. I’m walking into it with my arms open, ready to live life with laughter, smiles, an open heart and…hope. Lots and lots of hope.

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I usually like to set specific goals for myself each year (shocking from the planner!). This year I want to focus on more simple, yet motivating goals for myself.

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Find what fills your heart with happiness.

Happiness. The quote below from the Dalai Lama is so true. You can’t rely on others to create happiness for you. I believe that life is what you make of it. I don’t always like what happens in life – I didn’t like getting cancer, didn’t like my dad being diagnosed and dying from cancer, didn’t like having a failed marriage, didn’t like the sadness and challenges affecting my family and friends. But through each of these, we all had to pick ourselves up, dust off and move forward. Hopefully with support from others, yet mostly it’s your own decision on how you move forward. With your head high and hope in your heart? I admit that earlier in the year, I was ready to accept that this year would be blah and slow moving as I transitioned. But it really wasn’t. There have been so many times that my heart felt so full of love and happiness that I thought it might burst. Or I’d start crying tears of joy and relief (yes, that happened once or twice). When I recently commented to a friend that I’m touched at the love and joy in my life, she said she wouldn’t expect it any other way because I’m so open to being happy and sharing love that it’s natural those type of people would gravitate to me too. It’s an interesting thought and one I’ll accept because I love and appreciate all of you who bring your own sense of love and joy. Part of creating your own happiness is keeping the ‘right’ people in your life, the ones who reciprocate the time and energy needed to keep a relationship/friendship moving forward, the ones who bring their own joy and happiness so they don’t suck yours away. Simply put, I love being happy and am going to focus on bringing so much more of that to my life, and others, in the new year.

“Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.” ~ Dalai Lama

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Love. I admit it, I’m a romantic. Not ‘I need a bunch of gifts’ romantic type, but ‘kindness, affection, sweet gestures, remembering things I shared, exploring and creating new memories together’ romantic. Real true love is unselfish, kind and joyous. It makes you feel vulnerable, yet won’t hurt you. It makes you smile at the simplest gestures and words because you know it’s genuine. It’s crazy fun, and simple, relaxing moments together. It’s long talks about life, and quiet compatibility. I have not given up on love. I’ve definitely learned some lessons and my mind is aware. Yet, my heart is open. And while I am opening my heart and arms to romantic love, I’m also wrapping my arms around love in general. Love of family and friends, love of simple things and actions, love of life. As my tarot cards suggested, I’m open and ready to accept love in all forms.

“Love is when he gives you a piece of your soul that you never knew was missing.” ~ Torquato Tasso

“As soon as I saw you, I knew an adventure was going to happen.” ~ Winnie the Pooh

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So many places to explore!

Adventures. I feel like 2017 is a new adventure waiting for me to explore. So I want to be more spontaneous and open to new opportunities. I love traveling. I love to not just travel but explore new places, meet local people and learn new things about locations, cultures and more. Having adventures isn’t just about traveling to new locales, it’s about being open to people, activities, foods, drinks, opportunities and more! But no worries if you haven’t been bitten by the travel bug, adventures are also about stepping out of your comfort zone. Join a social group (check out meetup.com for tons of options in your area), try an activity, learn a language. There’s so much to do and see in the world around us. I don’t plan to sit on my couch while time moves by me. Do you?

“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.” ~ Helen Keller

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Health. I’m always slightly obsessed with my health. I guess cancer does that. This is different though. I want to be even healthier and more focused. I want to feel energized and simply feel good as many moments as I can. So what does that mean? I want my body to feel as strong and confident as it did before bone cancer. Okay, I realize that I was 21 when I was diagnosed so feeling 21 in my 40s is probably wishful thinking….my point is that I felt confident and completely sure of myself. I trusted my body. Cancer raised a distrust and then a dip in confidence from the titanium rod in my femur/tibia. I hesitate to try activities because I’m worried I might hurt myself. I don’t plan to throw all caution to the wind in the new year, because I sure as heck won’t jeopardize my leg, but I want to feel confidence when I try new activities or push myself in a current. For instance, I want to bike a few hundred miles on my new road bike and feel confident that I can do it. So I’ll be setting some goals to get healthier and stronger (and maybe reward myself with a cute new outfit).

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“If today were the last day of your life, would you want to do what you are about to do today?” ~ Steve Jobs

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Hello, you!

Me. It’s always a little odd for me to say I’m going to focus on…me. It kind of feels a little self-centered or selfish, yet what I realized this year is that you sometimes need to be selfish in your ‘me’ time. And it’s not truly being selfish. If you’re not happy and well, then you can’t truly help others. This past year was the first in a long time that I truly stood up for myself, making difficult decisions, having honest conversations and focusing on what I needed. It was at times unnerving and challenging; it was also liberating and stress-relieving. In the end, these were actions that I needed to take so I can live the life that I want and should. I learned how to be an advocate for myself, recognizing that if I can’t stand up for myself, how can I truly help others? I had a very real moment this past spring when I was in my Washington, DC hotel room after cancer advocacy training, networking, and dinner and drinks with new friends – as I mentally reviewed the previous two days of fun, accomplishment and laughter, I suddenly fell back onto the bed, smiling ear to ear and thought, “welcome back, my friend.” Because in that moment, I realized my heart felt so very full and light, laughter bubbled out and I remembered what it felt like to be me. And I had missed just being me. So going forward I’m going to just be me. Because, honestly, who else should I be?

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“All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.” ~ Walt Disney

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A dear person in my life told me to make 2017 the best year ever. It is some solid advice that I can grab onto and run with. Ready to join me?

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“The greatest adventure is what lies ahead.” ~ J.R.R. Tolkien

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May the sun set on this year and rise high in the new year!

 

Biking Belle Isle Park in Detroit November 6, 2016

hh_bikebelleisleI’m in love. With this mild, sunny weather. The beauty of nature. My new road bike. Life. I accomplished so very little responsibility-wise this weekend because I indulged myself with outdoor activities. We all need weekends to splurge and live life to the fullest, right? Yep, I think so too.

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I kept having this great idea all summer to take my bike downtown to Belle Isle Park but it seems like the months flew by and it never happened. So I was tickled with the mild temps and sunshine that graced metro Detroit the past few days. I’ve been able to get outside on my new road bike and I decided (at about 3am during a bout of insomnia) that today would be a great day to head to Belle Isle.

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I arrived on the island a little before 9am, instantly in awe of nature’s beauty appearing all over Belle Isle. Seriously, Mother Nature isn’t messing around this fall with the vibrant colors splashed all over Michigan. I biked throughout Stony Creek Metropark yesterday, loving the deep fall colors on trees and bushes.

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Belle Isle is located on the Detroit River between the United States and Canada. My sister and I visited Belle Isle last spring to explore the aquarium and conservatory (read my blog about that visit). These are worthwhile destinations if you’ve never been. While the city of Detroit still legally owns the 985-acre island, Michigan’s Department of Natural Resources began operating Belle Isle a few years ago, making it Michigan’s 102nd state park. A lot of maintenance occurred and I was impressed with the cleanliness, nicely paved roads (except for the two small pot holes I narrowly avoided in the bike lane!) and several patrol cars seen driving around the island.

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I had so much fun riding around the state park. I arrived early enough that hardly anyone was there yet, which made biking all the better. There was strong wind along one end of the island that provided some serious resistance but, once I pushed through that and rounded a curve, my legs felt relief and my speed increased. A good friend tells me that my speed and strength will increase with practice so that’s what I’ve been doing. I’m on limited time with biking outdoors since crappy weather is too risky with the titanium rod in my leg. But it wasn’t crappy today so I enjoyed every minute I was outside on my bike. I pushed myself on several loops around the island, then rewarded myself by cruising around taking pictures. I decided that I can’t share just one or two photos because it was so pretty everywhere I looked! I hope you enjoy one of Michigan’s gems.

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