Creating A Vision For The Future – Day 3 of the Blog Challenge

My Perfect Day starts with the smell of coffee.  I automatically wake up at 6:30 when the pre-set coffee maker turns on and starts brewing.  I walk past it on my way out the back door and start my one mile morning jog.  A mile is long enough to be worth the effort but not so long that I talk myself out of going. Plus my shower feels great after I get back.

Showered, dressed, and with my hair pulled back in a French braid, I get breakfast started.  I double check that the table is set correctly for this morning’s guests and I open the windows and turn on the lights.  In the kitchen, I heat the casserole and oatmeal and cut up the fruit.  Once the guests come downstairs, I set out the bread and butter, coffee and cream and tea.

Once breakfast has been served and the guests have left, I clear away the dishes and put away the serving pieces. I decide to save the fruit for tomorrow’s cobbler and package up the left overs for tonight’s AA meeting at Grace House.  (I can cut up the sweet breakfast casserole and serve it as a coffee cake.) After the kitchen is clean, I have my breakfast with a second cup of coffee.

Guests are checking out today so I print out their bill and check emails while they get their bags together.  After they check out I strip the linens and start the laundry.  When Ellen, a woman I met at Grace House, arrives at 11, she cleans the room, remakes the bed, and restocks the towels.

We have quiche and coleslaw for lunch and then Ellen weeds the raised beds in the back yard.  I take stock of the produce on hand and double check my menu for the rest of the week.  I will go to the farmer’s market on Tuesday, but I can avoid at trip to the grocery store until Wednesday or Thursday.  Since the bananas are looking brownish and the zucchini are in season, I make a loaf of banana bread and a chocolate and zucchini cake to freeze.

There is enough time for an hour of bookkeeping before making a grilled cheese and avocado sandwich and meeting my sponsee for coffee before the meeting. There is a late check in today so Ellen is staying to watch the B&B and welcome the guests.  At the meeting, I set up the casserole -turned-coffee cake and listen to the speaker.  Afterwards, I stand in the parking lot chatting with friends and eventually head back home.

I go through my pre-bed checklist and set up the coffee maker for the next morning.  Then I go to bed and sleep until 6:30 the next morning.

This blog post is in response to Natalie’s 10 Day Freedom Plan Blog Challenge Day 3

#10DBC #freedomplan






Discovering Your Why -Day 2 of the Blog Challenge

Today’s question is ‘Why do I want to live the freedom lifestyle?’ What a packed sentence.

First, I’ll say a bit about my freedom lifestyle.  It is a life free from fear (fear of unemployment, fear of getting sick, fear of being lonely).  It is a life of community.  It is a life of purpose. To my understanding, a freedom lifestyle is what I create when I am doing work that I am good at to further a purpose that I care about in a place that I love.  In my case, that will be running a bed & breakfast and caring for travelers in New Orleans.  Mix a healthy dose of volunteering and staying active in the recovery community and I’ll be in my own personal heaven.

I enjoy cooking and sharing food.  I love creating order and making spaces comfortable.  I really like sharing my favorite restaurants and shops with travelers.  Most of all, I like being helpful and feeling like I am part of a community.  Living a freedom lifestyle allows me to do the things that make me feel like I am living my life well and making a contribution.  That is my why.

This blog post is in response to Natalie’s 10 Day Freedom Plan Blog Challenge Day 2 [insert URL for this blog post, which is]

#10DBC #freedomplan

Finding Your Focus – Day 1 of the Blog Challenge

Today’s topic is 1. What are the 2 or 3 biggest challenges I face? 2. Why are they holding me back?

In order to identify a challenge to living my life of freedom I have to first figure out what my life of freedom looks like.  Luckily, I have spent the last few months doing just that.  My life of freedom is one where I own and run a bed & breakfast in New Orleans.  That is what I want to do and where I want to do it.

It’s not shocking that my first challenge is an overall lack of focus.  I work best in a structured physical environment with a to-do list and some colored pens.  At the moment, I am living in a hostel where I share a dorm room with two other workers, share a communal kitchen and bathroom, and work from 10-12 with the rest of the day free.  I have plenty of freedom, but not a lot of productivity.

It is difficult for me to focus when there are people constantly coming and going.  For example, this morning I tried to listen to Natalie’s video twice before giving up and heading to the dorm room to find some quiet.  As I write this, my two roommates have relocated to the dorm so my next option may be finding a library or coffee shop.

The other difficulty is not having a plan where I can track my progress towards my goals.  One of my current goals is to get a job in New Orleans which is pretty nebulous.  I send at least one application per day, but I have been pretty haphazard about searching for positions and keeping track of which resumes I have sent and whether I have gotten a response.  Not having a clear map of how to get to my goal makes that goal seem farther away and more difficult to reach. Now that I’ve identified that problem, I will start working on creating a map (complete with mile markers and gold stars along the way.)

My second challenge is logistics –  I am looking for work in New Orleans, but I am currently in St Augustine.  The benefits are that I am staying in a beautiful and interesting area, I’m staying rent free, and I’m living with beautiful and inspiring people.  The downside is that I’m far away and networking is more difficult.  Once I get to New Orleans, I will be able to attend Rotary meetings, have lunch with previous co-workers, or drop by businesses and speak with the manager directly.  I will also be readily available to meet and to start working.

Day 1 of the Blog Challenge – Done!

#10DBC #freedomplan

This blog post is in response to Natalie’s 10 Day Freedom Plan Blog Challenge Day 1 []”

Obligatory packing photos


After months of planning, I’m a few hours away from getting on the first of three flights that take me to London.  The bags are packed and I’ve probably forgotten something, but as long as I have my wallet, passport, and phone, it will all work out.  Or, that’s the plan/hope.

Speaking of planning, I got my travel wardrobe down to 5 shirts, 3 trousers, 3 coats, 3 pairs of shoes, 2 sweaters, and 1 pair of pajamas.  There are assorted underwear, socks, a scarf, knit hat, 2 pair of gloves, and headbands, but that is pretty much it.  And other than the rogue red sweater, everything is green, grey, or black, including the shoes.  Yes, I was tempted to get Kelly green Converse, but I resisted.  Notes on the clothes: All of the tops cover my shoulders, so I should fit for any cathedral or gallery I want to visit. All of the trousers are boot cut even though straight and skinny cut jeans are supposed to be in fashion. I tried to like straight jeans… and I failed.  It’s official – I am not fashionable.

I’d include photos of the electronic odds and ends and toiletries, but those aren’t nearly as photographic.  And no one really cares if you are taking an adaptor or not (I am.)

Now that the bags are packed and all of my documents are printed, the free floating sense of dread is morphing into excitement.  I’m going to Europe! By this time tomorrow, I’ll be trying to navigate the Gatwick airport.  Wish me luck.


Greetings from Florida

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I will have been in Orlando for two weeks tomorrow (I don’t know why I thought that I’d be here for two and a half) and it has been a very good trip.  Here are some of the more interesting bits:

  • My oldest younger sister, Meg, took and hopefully passed the professional engineering exam on the 15th.  She feels good about how she did and we went out for a celebratory dinner of garlic knots and pizza after she finished.
  • My youngest younger sister, Cait, and my mom completed the Star Wars Half Marathon last week (this is the good news) despite my mom’s fall at mile 4 where she broke her left arm (this is the bad news).
  • I spent several days playing in the Disney parks by myself and with my mom and sister.  Since I’m related to multiple cast members and I used to work for Disney, I have the advantage of taking my time to happily wander around and see what is new while going on my favorite rides instead of trying to see all the things at all the parks within two days.  Highlights were going on the Jungle River Cruise for the first time and the Haunted Mansion for the 14th time (or so) with Cait, riding Expedition Everest twice in 10 minutes, and seeing Kawaii: The Culture of Cute exhibit in Japan at Epcot.
  • I spent 3 hours looking for shoes at nearly every store in a massive outlet only to find the perfect pair of Converse at the very last one.  To the Converse fans who told me that they would make my feet look smaller and not like a clown, you were so right and I am sorry for ever doubting you.  I love them.
  • I’ve developed a crush on Winter Garden which has a really nice Saturday morning farmer’s market that sells an assortment of things from vegetables and homemade pies to steam punk jewelry and dog capes. The main street is walkable, there is a really wonderful bike trail, and the new apartment and retail construction is in the same style as the rest of the town.  Meg and Brooks found a house nearby and I am very, very envious.

The Bondage of Stuff


There is a line in the Big Book that goes “Relive me from the bondage of self” which often came to mind while I was planning and packing and selling almost everything I owned. The odd part was that I kept hearing it as “the bondage of stuff”.

As of today, my worldly possessions fit in a three suitcases and a large tote bag. Two of the three suitcases will remain with friends and family who have graciously agreed to stuff sit while I am away.  That leaves one carry on suitcase/backpack and the tote for all of my clothes, electronics, and sundries for the next 6 to 9 months.  Luckily, I like a challenge.

Surprisingly, the challenge hasn’t been in getting rid of my belongings.  Divesting myself of furniture and books and clothing took time and effort, but it wasn’t personally difficult.  In fact, I really enjoyed finding good homes for a lot of it.  No, what has been hard is not getting new things. So far I’ve resisted buying nail polish, a set of pens, and the entire contents of Ikea.  Even more difficult than buying new stuff is resisting the urge to take free things.  Within hours of staying with my mom, I had added not one but two sweaters to my wardrobe.  The caveat is that I love them so much. No really, I’ve worn then ever day I’ve been here and they will be perfect for staying at the B&Bs.

To keep from adding another suitcase worth of stuff to my toggery (thank you, I’m employing one of my personal rules – Only buy what you need or love.  I’m also avoiding Target.  Between those two and having an 18 kg baggage limit, I just might be able to stick to my minimalistic goals.



Jean Lafitte National Historical Park


and preserve.

When I told folks that I’d be leaving New Orleans to work and ramble around Europe, I usually heard “What does your mom think about this?”  Almost immediately after that was “Take pictures.  Take lots of pictures.  And then post them somewhere that the rest of us can see them.”  Since it was a command and not a suggestion, I decided to 1) start this blog to share what I see and do on my trip and 2) get better at taking photos.  To that end, here is another photo of the swamp.


On my last full day in Louisiana, I visited the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve with a group of Tulane art students.  The kids were great, the weather was close to perfect, and the irises (see above) were in bloom.  We even saw a few alligators and a possible cottonmouth snake… from a great distance.

Potentially venomous creatures aside, I highly recommend a trip out to the preserve to see the swamp.  The trails are really well constructed and it is easy to forget that you are within a few miles of a busy city.  As one person mentioned while I was there, “This is so much better than a zoo.”