On my second day in the City of Roses, my travel companion, Monica and I were strolling downtown, looking for the meeting point for our next group activity, a photo walking tour of Portland.
Upon turning a corner, I noticed a black sign in the distance for what appeared to be a restaurant. I made out the name on the sign and nearly fell over, saying “Monica…LOOK AT THAT SIGN OVER THERE.” I became enraptured.
A cafe with my name on it, spelled the way I spell it! I’d just discovered Cheryl’s on 12th.
This was the moment when I stood in place and waved Miss America style as if I’d arrived…at least in my imagination.
Now I understood why I’d been trained in business to say (more…)Tweet
I went to Portland last weekend to attend an unconventional conference and being that it was my first visit, I wasn’t sure what to expect.
I’d heard my business mentor and cousin, Tony rave about it and now that I’ve been living in Austin for almost two years, I’ve become well aware of the comparison folks make about Portland and Austin, calling them sister cities.
This was a trip in which I went with the flow of each new day (true chillaxin’). What I’ve concluded is that I love my Austin, Tejas. Sorry P-landers.
I’m sure if you stay awhile, you’ll get the similar vibe amongst the locals of my town and P town, but as far as the way the two places look, I got more of a San Francisco (SFO) feel.
I have to say, no city has topped San Francisco for me…well, unless you journey to this colorful town south of the U.S. border or take an 8 hour flight for some fancy-shmancy bike riding in this Italian village.
I ate really well in Portland. A satisfied palate is crucial for any traveling, convivial woman.Tweet
I’ve made it back to home sweet Austin after a convivial weekend in Portland for Chris Guillebeau’s World Domination Summit (WDS 2013).
It was my first time attending and I’m thankful to have shared the experience with my friend and fellow Austinite, Monica Crowe. On our flight home, we sported our new WDS 2013 shirts…
Once you get familiar with going to conferences (or any social event), you begin to understand that it’s not about impressing, it’s about (more…)Tweet
Before you head out the door this weekend, I have one more Chicago eatery to share with you.
My childhood chum, Carrie and I went here two years ago when I last played Chicago tourist with my husband Martin, so we decided to venture over to Logan Square, one of the hottest neighborhoods to lead the pack in real estate this year for
Another heaping dose of Lula Cafe.Tweet
Recently, I was in Chicago to support my friend, Carrie during a special time in her life and our first day together proved to be memorable.
We’ve known each other since 5th grade, when Carrie transferred into school as the new girl sporting a Judy Blume adult novel under her arm. When she used the word generic to describe something she didn’t like, it was then that I knew we were meant to be friends.
She’s an intellectual woman with inner-city Chicago roots and has an adventurous palate like I do, so on a first culinary jaunt around our city, she suggested we head west of downtown Chicago to have lunch at Little Goat Diner…Tweet
Recently, my cousin and her hubby came to Austin for a brief stay and being their convivial host and tour guide, I took them around to a few notable spots.
We had a few good chuckles while out on the town together and here are a few places we went…
First stop: Home Slice Pizza on Congress Avenue.
Can you go wrong with NY style pizza paired with table talk about U.S. conspiracy theories?
I encourage public displays of affection any chance I get behind a camera.
They were stoked to sit in on a live session at the Texas State Capitol.
Cool graffiti spot in downtown Austin.
I was instantly transported back to my short-lived stint with gymnastics, walking the balance beam at 6 years old.
Alchemy: a power or process of transforming something common into something special…
I’m so thankful for my cousin’s visit- or any visit I get from family or friends because its usually me flying away somewhere or stopping by to say HEY! It’s just my nature to want to always get out and try or see something new and anyone I can bring along for the ride, then I say come on!
Do you have family to host in your hometown or city soon? Where will you be taking them? I’d love to hear…
(Photos by yours truly)Tweet
Do you ever find yourself holding back because you feel conscious about what others may think or say about you and your lifestyle?
If you play good girl to the world, then holding back is a common sentiment.
Recently, I visited a friend I hadn’t seen in a while and we started talking about her passion for a certain sacred spot in Rome, Italy. I could see how her face lit up when I touched on that subject and being the kind of woman who wants to encourage the work of art in every person, I asked, “So, when are you going?!”
She melted at the thought of traveling to Rome and said, “Oh my gosh, I would LOVE to go, but my husband would never want to go with me. He just wouldn’t want to do all that walking and go that far.”
My brain nearly short-circuited at her response and convivial instincts kicked in when I said, “So you mean to tell me, you would sacrifice a dream of yours because your man is unwilling to step out of his comfort zone, if only momentarily?” I continued…”All I’m saying is…if you have the opportunity to make that dream a reality, why not take a chance and rock that boat because you only have one life to live. Just one.”
Many times, we make choices that sacrifice our own happiness, in small or large ways, because we have been conditioned to avoid conflict.
In the words of Bob Newhart, stop it! Conflict is a stepping stone to growth. In fact, Margaret Heffernan dares you to create conflict. Imagine that! She points out how most people instinctively avoid conflict, but good disagreement is central to progress.
The hardest thing to do, which should be the easiest thing, is to live your life- not one that others deem to be appropriate to their eyes, ears, and personal beliefs. Many opportunities to live are passed up because so many people are afraid. What are your deep desires and what fears surface when you even think of the possibility of pursuing them?
How about you go against the grain of convention, culture, (fill in your blank) and think/repeat when necessary…
“While they’re busy talking, I’m too busy LIVING.”
Choose to be an example of someone who is living according to their own beliefs and values- ones gathered from your own life’s experience.Tweet
I’ve been living in Austin for four months now. My husband and I have been in the throws of looking for a house and we’re discovering so many areas and details about this town because of it.
If you ask me for the zip code of any area surrounding downtown Austin, I bet I can tell ya! I’ve driven all the neighborhoods and have determined the ones whose vibe seep deep into my soul.
I’ve flip flopped back and forth between wanting to raise my kids in the outskirts of the city (aka suburbs) and the inner city and I keep coming back to the city.
I grew up in Chicago and my husband grew up in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, so we were used to seeing people walk up and down the streets, hang out on their front steps, play football in the street, wave to the police, wash our neighbors cars during spring break, play basketball at the neighborhood park, walk to the corner store, and so many more unforgettable memories.
I didn’t go to the most prestigious urban schools- my folks were hard-working people just doing their best to put food on the table and clothes on our backs- but I can tell you I got schooled by the exposure I had living in the city. I’ve got street smarts up the wazoo!
I cherish my upbringing and wouldn’t trade it for anything.
Now that I’m a parent, I plan to enhance my children’s education by not only finding them great schools (it’s important to know what that really means for you), but also granting them exposure to city living, because there are myriad things to learn by simply living among all kinds of free-thinking individuals.
I am not going to be a parent who relies solely on the school system to educate my sons.
I don’t plan for my kids to live in a pristine neighborhood that resembles Pleasantville. Nothing against those areas, or the people who prefer to live there, but to me there’s so much more to life than having a well sculpted lawn, a nice car in the driveway, and a pretty box made of bricks to call home.
I want edgy, cultural, unexpected experiences. I want eclectic, progressive-thinking, out of the ordinary people surrounding my family.
I want people who know the value of investing in the community they live in (and I don’t mean just money, but time) and not just buying into one that is already established.
My mother is visiting me for the second time around and I have been pleasantly surprised to find out that the neighborhoods in the city that I fell for appeal to her too and remind her of her own upbringing.
I take that as a great sign that there’s something familiar pulsing beneath the trees and the streets of the city spots I keep coming back to.
I remember my days in Dallas when I was itching to experience other urban lands and my husband would (nay)say, “Change your thoughts; it’s not Dallas, it’s you.” Well, he couldn’t have been more right! It sure as hell was me and there was no avoiding my feeling.
Pay attention to the places that bring you to life. You will feel it the instant you set foot on the ground.
Some places just don’t get you and vice versa. You can change your thoughts all you want, but your gut (that spot near your hips) don’t lie.
It took me five years to follow my instinct to the place where I felt at home with myself. That feeling reaches deep within and is undeniable. The first week that I got to Austin, I felt this inner calm and felt no desire to be anywhere except the place where I was standing. It felt so good.
It sucks to live each day with the attitude of “Anywhere but here…”
Your life is all about venturing out and discovering where YOUR proper place is, which can be many places. Sadly, many well-meaning people who love you can get in the way of that if you let them. Be courageous and follow your bliss.
I’ve got five places that I can easily call my soul’s home- San Francisco, Chicago, Austin, San Miguel de Allende, and Florence, Italy. And I don’t mean to use pretty language when I say “soul’s home”…I literally mean it, because I felt it the moment I walked the streets of each distinct location.
Places can make a person just as much as a person makes the place.
Getting out every day to discover something new about Austin is what I’m living for these days.
Today I hiked a scenic point overlooking the Austin skyline with my mother and two boys. My oldest son, now 4 years old, led the way and feisty mama wasn’t too thrilled that she had to hike in sandals, but we worked it out!
Sometimes, life takes you away from the things you think you should be doing to give you the material and wisdom you need to do what you’re meant to do.
It’s all about surrendering to the direction your life wants to take you. Only you can steer that wheel. If you let someone else take control of it, who knows where you’ll end up.
Which risk do you want to take?
Transitioning from one place to another is never smooth or stress-free, but I am thankful I had the will and the courage to make the move…even if I had to do a good bit of ball-busting to get here.
Listen to what calls you and what haunts you, because there’s something magical and scary and exciting on the other end just waiting for you to take that first step towards living how and where you are meant to live.
As I lay in bed this morning, probably looking like a zombie pooped from the night before, you’d be surprised to know that in that very moment, there are myriad ideas bouncing off the walls of my mind.
I’d just had a dream that I was walking the grounds of a colorful mission estate in San Antonio.
The picture above is actually Bellas Artes with the Iglesia de las Monjas in the background in San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato but hey! I’m trying to “put you there.” It seems this picture is what my subconscience drew on for imagery while I slept.
At first glance, the whole place was empty and it was just me and a few other people, including my husband who went venturing off on his own with my camera- the Nikon D5000 one! I was a bit annoyed by that, because I was left to work with a Kodak camera that I once used in 2000 on a trip to San Francisco for my 21st birthday. I wasn’t used to handling this little camera anymore.
When I think about what it feels like to hold my Nikon, it takes both hands to get the right shot and it can feel like I’ve got the whole world in the palm of my hands…or at least an image of it.
So I walked around the grounds of this rustic mission that was built who knows when and I was so impressed with the architecture and the huge bells used to call the faithful, and especially thrilled by the clear blue sky and occasional streaks of clouds that served as the backdrop.
Eventually, there were tons of people strolling alongside me, weaving in and around corners, going up and down iron wrought stairs. The food stands and little trinket shops had opened up for the day.
Soon, I awoke from the dream and began to think about all that is to be for The Convivial Woman in 2012.
With this move to Austin, I see myself discovering a whole new terrain of the state of Texas. Who are the people awaiting me on this new journey?What will I find in this new world I call home? What will I learn about myself and my own pursuit of life, love and happiness?
I’m going to discover all the little things that some might find weird, or not so weird, about Austin. I’m going to go in search of the puffed tacos in San Antonio that my Food Network Star crush challenged on his show, Throw Down with Bobby Flay.
Anyway, that’s what the next year has in store for me and you- discovering Austin, San Antonio, Fredricksburg (the cute little German-influenced town my grandma Lupe always talked about), and the hill country.
And something tells me there’s going to be a more fierce rebirth of my love and appreciation for the Tex-Mex culture (“my people”) in this part of Texas. I see more cumbias, more accordions, more queso (but not too much! This waist of mine is working that muffin top! I gots to control it.) and oh so much more. I can’t wait.
It’s a new dawn…it’s a new day…and I’m feeling (more than) okay.Tweet
After the dip, there’s only one way to go and that is up.
Taking a trip back to my hometown of Chicago, the place where I spent the most influential years of my life, proved to be a great way to bring me back to the core of who I am after I’d experienced a dip in my own life.
During my time there, my hubby grabbed us some wheels at Bobby’s Bike Hike and we biked from Navy Pier along the lakeshore to Fullerton avenue to Clark street to Wrigley Field and all the way back down Clark to the Willis Tower! If you’re a local, you’ll know how much distance we covered! If not, I’m gonna guess we did about 15-20 miles.
I gathered with my old neighborhood pals, friends with whom I kept the Sabbath day holy (back in my parentally-imposed religious days), and with grammar school chums.
Among other typical tourist spots, we also (more…)Tweet
This past Memorial weekend, I had no big plans for cookouts or chowing down on turkey legs or anything like that, but I was able to escape to funky cow town, Ft. Worth, TX to stroll their Historic Stockyards. It never fails to be a convivial way to spend the day…
My utmost gratitude goes out to our military for the freedom I experience on a day to day basis.Tweet
Flashbacks. A moment in time. Memories made, forever ingrained. Ahhh…the beauty of traveling back in time to experience life in the present moment.
Want to ignite a feel-good moment in your body? Instantly draw up some much needed energy? Play some music, but not just any music. Choose a song from a time in your life when you were happy, inspired, amazed, and unstoppable.
Songs play in our hearts continuously
and there are times when life is kind enough to play “the song” just when we need it, to shake us up and out of a funk, but overall, it’s for us to make the choice to put the needle on the record once again.
I have tons of songs in my memory’s repertoire and they can instantly conjure up people and places, scents and feelings, pivotal moments in my life I’d love to return to, but physical time and space won’t allow. Good thing sound does the favor of bringing me back to those cherished moments, thus causing an instant surge of energy within me and returning me to innocence and extreme possibility.
The most recent song to add to my sound list came about like this:
It’s the first day of Rich Happy & Hot LIVE, the business and lifestyle event I traveled from Dallas to attend in early November (more…)Tweet