Far Niente, Far Away

Romantic Notions
I have always wanted to follow my romantic side and escape for a long a weekend to California, spending my days biking and wandering the rolling hills of the wine counties of Sonoma and Napa Valley, and my evenings tasting the sweet flavors of red and white wines grown in this region. I am still working on the notion of a full weekend, preferably with just my husband, but I did get to do a tour of one of the best vineyards in the state and it exceeded my expectations in every way.

This grand day adventure was a couple years ago, but every time I see the pictures I am taken back to that magical day. We were in California for the Vineman, a Half Ironman Triathlon that my husband and sister were competing in, and we only had one day to explore the vine region, but we tried to make the best of it in every way.

Thanks to my brother-in-law we had a reservation at Far Niente, one of the more upscale and traditional vineyards in California. I had mentioned to him my girlish, romantic notions of what a vineyard tour and tasting might be like and he confidently informed me that if I only had time for one tour, this was the place for it. Trusting his excellent taste and good judgment I agreed wholeheartedly.

Wine Country
When the day dawned and we found ourselves driving through the slightly brown rolling hills of Sonoma Valley I was in awe at the tidy fields of vines, tenderly cared for over the years and the unique personality of the area. Glancing over my left shoulder I exclaimed to my husband “Oh look at that one on the hillside” just as he obediently turned on the blinker after the GPS directed him to go left. “Wow, do you think that is where we are going?” I asked, as if he had been here before!

Soon my questions were answered and we turned into a tree-lined drive complete with row after row of perfectly tended, lush, green vines all heavy with grapes. As we turned the corner a large stone structure appeared covered with ivy and surrounded by fields and fields of flowers. It was if I blinked and landed in Disney World, the place of young girls dreams!

Wine Making 101
Entering the ancient looking structure I felt like I was on a Tuscan movie set, my eyes searching, I saw rows of bottled wine and pictures of barrels perfectly arranged. When our tour started we were led down a spiral staircase into a dark, cool cave, which much to my delight was lined with more barrels of wine than I could count. We learned about the fine art of growing grapes and how they actually produced higher quality wine if they were forced to overcome variations in temperatures. In fact, the wine tasted best if the vines were challenged. We learned how the barrels came from different parts of the world depending on the type of wood and desired flavor of wine.

I was almost as captured by the wonderful fields of carefully tended flowers and manicured lawns, as I was by the lessons in wine making, but I was struck by the complexities involved and the creativeness involved. Honestly, I had no idea all that went into making a distinct and tasteful glass of wine. No wonder there is so many choices at my local liquor store!

The day was especially wonderful for me because it was spent with both my parents and I still remember the joy mirrored in my mother’s face as the fields of flowers and rows of immaculate vines, too, mesmerized her. As time marches on and life continues to challenge me, I hope that I too, am better in the end, for all that I face. This day is etched in my memory; the flavors of the wine and the smells of the flowers serve to remind me of special days remembered even if they are far, far away.

So my friend, I ask you “what’s next on your list?”

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Invest in Yourself

The Big One
One of the big items on my bucketlist is to start a business with my husband and help him make it grow. This is something we have talked about and dreamed about for years. Over the years we’ve worked for others to make their businesses grow, and have had varying levels of responsibility in doing so, but this is something different. This is a chance to create something of our very own and watch it grow. I think that sounds exciting, and maybe just a little scary.

Leap of Faith
We’ve never been in a position to take this leap of faith, but now we are and I am proud to say we are doing it. I think it is one thing to dream about something big like this for years, but to actually have the courage to make it happen is something totally different. It would be easier to just work for someone else, have them take all the risks, have them worry about paying the bills and making payroll, but then we’d never get to see what might happen-if. If we took the chance, if we bet on ourselves for once, or if we believed we could make it happen, what would happen?

Invest in Yourself
I like Warren Buffet, he seems like a levelheaded regular guy. He’s from Nebraska and he doesn’t subscribe to the Hollywood version of success. He seems like he tries to do the right thing. One my last trip through Nebraska I saw a billboard with his picture on it. The words were simple, but profound. They read plainly “Invest in Yourself.” When I saw these words up there it hit me, why not? Why not invest in us, instead of always investing in someone else’s dream.

This has been an incredibly hectic, exciting, stressful and liberating time for us. We’ve spent months researching what kind of business we’d like, we searched for a business we could purchase that was already up and running and couldn’t find one. We worked hard to come up with a unique business idea that we could create from scratch and we had a few but in the end we decided to go at this a different way.

Lifestyle Living
One of our criteria in this search was to find a business that would grow, would support us and most importantly would serve and help others. We also wanted a lifestyle business. Please don’t get me wrong, we were not searching for a business that would let us live a lifestyle of the rich and famous. That is not who we are or who we would ever want to become. What I am talking about was creating a business we believed in, that allowed us to do what was important to our family. We wanted to live where we wanted to be, we wanted to be able to focus on the things that were important to us, faith, family and helping people. We wanted to center our life on activities and fitness and the great and beautiful outdoors.

We finally found it and when we did we looked at each other and decided yes we were going to do more than just dream, we were going to take action, we were going to believe, and we were going to invest in ourselves.

I am sure there are those out there that think we are nuts, and maybe we are a bit off, but we are trying to live life in our own terms and we are following our heart. It feels really good.

We are embarking on the biggest adventure of them all and I think this is going to be great fun.

So my friend, I ask you “what’s next on your list?”

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Impossible is Possible

My Hero Sister

Next week I have something fun scheduled to break up the monotony of winter and the ensuing cabin fever that often moves in mid-February. I am going on a dog sledding adventure with three wonderful friends up in the Rocky Mountains. I have always thought this looked fascinating although I never really figured I’d get a chance to ever mush a sled myself. I felt like this bucket list item was more on the wishful thinking end than the soon to become a reality item, kind of like riding a camel. You see riding a camel is also on my bucket list but I am going to have to work pretty hard to make that one come true, my biggest problem is that I don’t have any idea who owns a camel other than the local zoo and somehow I don’t think they’d be receptive if I called one day and asked if I could have a ride!

No, I think if I am going to ever ride a camel I am going to have to travel to Egypt and that seems a bit far off in my future. I was picturing the same scenario for dog sledding, I was picturing Alaska, the snow and beautiful scenery and the teams of huskies pulling loads of supplies around on the frozen snow. Since I’d love to travel to Alaska I had hoped to get to ride a dog sled on this far off future trip. It never dawned on me that I could find a closer to home option until I was talking to my sister about it. She is brilliant and said to me very matter-of-factly, just look online, I am sure there are places in the Rockies where you can go dogsledding! Duh! Why didn’t I think about that? Lesson learned, don’t assume something is impossible until you really try to make it happen!

A few clicks of my computer keys and viola I had several dog sledding options available to me within a few hours drive. A little more research and I found one that would allow me to drive up in one day and still get home before the bus got home!

Next thing I new, I had several friends asking if they too could come along for the fun! This was turning into something fantastic! A girl’s day out with great friends, having a grand dog sledding adventure! I can’t wait to tell you all about it!

I learned to just dig a little deeper, try a little harder and stop assuming things were impossible just because I had never done them before. Since I started all this craziness I have been amazed at what actually is possible if you just put your mind toward it.

So before I give up on the camel thing, does anyone out there have a camel they’d let me ride????

So my friend, I ask you “what’s next on your list?”

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