It’s been almost 3 months since we closed the store ……..can’t believe how fast time has gone by….. These months have been so vital for us to remember and stay focused on how important it is in having a healthy soul. Worry, fear and stress can destroy a healthy soul.
The stress level that we have been undergoing is not for the faint of heart.
We feel the biggest impact or influence that has helped us to keep a healthy soul has been God and our new family here in South West Florida. The people we met because of our store have truly become more than just friends—-they are family. Their desire for us to reopen has kept us focused and energized through these weeks.
As much as we would love for things to move quickly —-sometimes it’s God’s way of ensuring we are growing in the process. There are days that we feel like we are closer and then there are days we feel like there is no end. I just keep telling us that it’s in God’s hands and to trust in this journey.
We wish we had more to share with you all and for us the positive continues to be our focus—-we have the faith and hope to be reunited in our store with you all !
Keep checking in and please stay in touch by sending us suggestions of food or drinks that you would like for us to consider adding in our store.
I have learned in the last year more than ever the importance of being ‘purposefully active”. In the late nineties we saw an explosion of communities being developed that focused on setting up seasoned adults who were finding themselves as empty nesters with homes that fit more their new life.
The concept of keeping seasoned adults active was taking off and it was exciting to know that after retirement you still would be moving around and enjoying activities or hobbies that you had not otherwise had a chance to nurture because you worked. The conflict that I have noticed over the years even with my own parents who moved into one of these communities has been that being active without a purpose fizzes out and ultimately leaves the person feeling disconnected from the society.
See we are by our nature designed to work and add to our society our community …In other words when we are working we feel like we are actively adding to the future and we are connected to others. When a person retires even though they are staying active by playing tennis, golf, cards and other numerous hobbies or activities the social well being of a person does not rise to the same level —-at some point that activity just becomes more of routine and leads to somewhat disconnecting from society even though they do this activity everyday.
By nature we humans need to feel needed, wanted and productive. It is in our makeup and although our physical bodies may not be able to handle heavy lifting or strenuous long days at the office —-we need to recognize the difference from being just active to being purposefully active. I have watched over the years as my own parents have become disconnected and feeling as if they have nothing to contribute to this world.
During five weeks —-they had an opportunity to share in daily responsibilities of the store —I saw a sparkle in their eyes, I could sense their excitement to get down to the store, and above all I could see them connecting with the world again in more than just routine but rather in a way in which they were contributing to society. We have been conditioned to think that retiring is the desired outcome but what that really leads us towards is a discontent and disease with life.
While my parents had a place to go to everyday to contribute by arranging the magazines on the coffee table, sweeping the floors or making the empanadas —-you could see them feeling productive and actually starting to participate in life again. Wanting to learn and looking forward to seeing people. When we had to close our store due to a rule in the HOA of selling of alcohol —I noticed a decline in their self-esteem. They no longer felt a purpose and although they were staying active by walking around and going out with me —it was not the same. The store gave them a purpose to get up and go out to contribute something again.
I realized then that seasoned adults can stay in motion by playing tennis, cards and any type of numerous activities but they are just that….. activities. The missing link is the “purpose”. We need to feel that when we are actively in motion there is a more profound and rewarding feeling than just doing it …to do it and stay active. When we incorporate activity with a purpose —we become “PURPOSEFULLY ACTIVE” ! The key is to find some activity that serves the community in a way that gives back instead of just being active for the sake of staying active.
Seasoned adults have so much to still offer to our communities and society—the wealth of experience, knowledge and understanding is priceless. I recently wanted to learn how to Knit or Crochet so that I could make scarves to send to an organization or church in northern states were the winters are brutal. It is my way of giving back to society.
I enlisted the help of women in my building to teach me how to acquire this skill. These women are amazing —the skill level of these women is priceless and I was in awe at how beautiful their creations are. We started the ‘Knitting Angels’ and one of our members offered an amazing project to work towards —-Linus Blankets. This a non-profit organization, that provides new handmade blankets to children in need.
The Knitting Angels embodies the very idea of what I have been speaking about—these are retired women staying active but more importantly they are “PURPOSEFULLY ACTIVE” they are not only teaching me and others but also creating blankets for the community and others are creating scarfs to send to veterans in need in cold areas of the country.
I hope to somehow create opportunities in my store in which seasoned adults can come and contribute their knowledge, expertise and experience with me and others in a way that we can contribute to our community and society. To me it’s like leaving an even stronger impression on this earth with a legacy that will speak on its own.
I was recently reminded listening to Joel Osteen’s podcast. He is the Pastor of the Lakewood Church in Texas “Set-backs are set-ups for a comeback”. These words could not have arrived in a better time than now.
As difficult as these couple of weeks have been I realized that in these moments we grow and nothing was a surprise to GOD. I know in my heart that all of this is preparing me inside in a very special way. It has made reflect on how blessed I am. The outpouring of love and support from customers, friends and family has been so amazing.
I recognized that I am too blessed to be stressed and that I know GOD is guiding me through all of it.
In my heart I am open and excited for what he has prepared for me. Whether I get to return to the same location or if he places me in a different place. The one thing is that the dream he placed in my heart 12 years ago is still very much alive. If he has not given up on me —-I will not give up on my dream.
My hope for us all is to always remember that we will always face moments in which the doors close, a person may not be for us, or challenges and difficulties are before us but GOD never abandons us. My faith and love for GOD keeps me grounded and my hope for his continued guidance helps me feel safe.
I believe we will all be together enjoying each other and creating new memories.
It will be a a year since I signed my lease for the store and as the year comes to an end —I can’t help but to reflect on the many adventures, trials and tribulations I have experienced this year.
Some were daunting and others were exciting but my constant was my love, faith and hope for life that made it all worth while. From cleaning and setting up the store –to learning about ordering and filing for licenses, permits and tax forms all of it has reminded me how important it is to enjoy every day even the ones that don’t work out the way we planned it.
I traveled every weekend from July to now, I delivered over 284 sessions this year to hundreds of teachers across the country as far as Wyoming to as high up to Wisconsin while working countless hours in the store. There were weeks that I put in over 80 hours of work between the two jobs. Added by a sell of a home and moving into my condo and renovating/decorating it, sprinkled with family & friends visits topped with my John’s 21st birthday celebration and the planning of Gracie’s & Josh’s wedding.
Challenged with hurdles of post COVID delays, relationship hiccups, Hurricane Ian and governmental red tape —causing me at times to doubt if I was doing the right thing in following my dream.
I am blessed to have experienced it all the good, the not so good and the in-between! Life is an amazing gift that so often is taken for granted —-this year I have lost many dear friends and acquaintances that I am reminded every day how valuable life truly is and what we choose to do with it.
Thank you God for all of it and I look forward to the coming year as I know you have already ordered my steps!
As I am off to work on this Labor Day — I can’t help but to remember a statement I read recently…..Gary Player, the nine time Masters Golf Championship winner said “the harder I work, the luckier I get.” What an incredible statement!
I reflect on my own parents success. Both came from very humble and poor beginnings. Their childhood was plagued with challenges and turmoil….yet, they both reached success.
People only see the final result of their hard work throughout their life with the homes, the cars, the vacations and comfortable retirement but what they fail to recognize is that all of it was the result of hard work!
Both only reaching an elementary level of education realized early on they wanted more for my sister and I. They united to work hard to make that happen. My father got his GED before my sister was born and my mother agreed to take on the responsibility of the entire household and raising us so my dad could concentrate and focus freely on work.
See my dad worked 6-7 days a week. Growing up my memories spending time with my dad are of when we would either vacation or on the off chance he was off because of national legal holiday. By the way vacation only happened because the factory he worked for would force a close every summer to make adjustments for the new line of vehicles they would be producing in the fall. My father worked for General Motors in Linden, NJ.
As you can imagine, he worked long hours at General Motors and as if that was not enough —he also drove a city bus after working many hours at the factory. My parents knew that one income in the 70s was not enough for them to reach their goal of raising my sister and I with all the potential they never had. They wanted us to get an education and to attend college! They wanted a better life than the one they had as children and young adults.
My mother sacrificed having a spouse and time as a couple to take care of us, the house, grocery shop, clean, pay bills, school meetings, run my sister and I to all of our extra curricular activities, and take care of anything and everything that needed to be done because my dad was never home or free to do any of it.
I never heard them complain of the hard work they were doing. They continued to work hard every day….their success or as some might say their luck has been more they could have ever imagined. They have owned 3 homes, many new cars, countless vacations, catholic education for my sister and I —-eventually experiencing the ultimate culmination of seeing us graduate from college.
Their dream of seeing us reach all the potential they never had— has been a tremendous success for my parents. All of it came from their hard work which led them to be luckier than they imagined.
This value of hard work was instilled in my sister and I at a very young age. She and I have instilled that value in our children. But we along with our mother —recognize that with GOD first all things are possible! With God’s love and awareness of working hard we have been very lucky.
Wishing you all a blessed Labor Day and remember that everyone one of us can be lucky……..with hard work!
At 2pm I was dropped off by the UBER driver ready to catch my flight to Dallas from Ft. Myers to then connect to a flight to San Antonio—which was my final destination. See while I have the store —I also work another job training teachers. After getting through TSA I decided to grab a sandwich which normally I never do before flying but today I had a gut feeling to grab something to eat.
I soon realized that my flight to Dallas was delayed by 25 minutes. I ate my sandwich and soon after we were boarding our flight. I was so happy that the seat in the middle was not filled. I felt like I had hit the lottery…lol little did I know how much more special I would feel later on…
After watching a movie and going over my presentation for tomorrow’s training —I realized that the plane was slowing down. The captain came on and shared that it was storming in Dallas and that we would not be able to land but that we would be held in a holding pattern until we could be cleared for landing.
After 40 minutes circling up in the air—the captain shared that they had just told him it would be another hour and a half before he could land the plane. So, he said that we would not be able to stay in the holding pattern because we needed fuel so we were going to be heading to San Antonio for fuel. At that point I could not believe it —it was where I needed to go. I got up and asked the flight attendant if we were going to San Antonio to fuel up would I be permitted to get off since it was my final destination. She said she would ask. I used the restroom after speaking with her and upon returning to my seat —the gentleman sitting in the aisle mentioned that the captain had shared we would refuel but we would not be deplane.
I did not panic instead I closed my eyes and thanked GOD for keeping us safe in the air. We landed in San Antonio and the captain shared that that it was going to be longer wait in San Antonio because something was not working with the refueling of the plane. Shortly after the lead flight attendant came on and told us that all of the connecting flights in Dallas were cancelled due to the storms.
We were then instructed to use the call button if our final destination was San Antonio—-I hit the call button along with 2 other people. The flight attendant came around to check the boarding pass to confirm that San Antonio was the final destination. The other two people were asked to stay seated because their final destination was not San Antonio. As the flight attendant walked up to my row —I could see her look of disbelief that my final destination was San Antonio….she saw my boarding pass and asked “did you check luggage?” I responded “No, I have a carry on in the over head compartment.” She says “ok, you are the only one with the final destination of San Antonio —go ahead and grab your luggage.”
As I looked around people were in disbelief and smiling then they began to applaud because I was the only one who had a final destination to San Antonio and would be getting off. While the rest of them would be waiting on the plane until they could fly back to Dallas but by the time they arrive in Dallas —they would be making arrangements for lodging instead of another flight. All flights were cancelled for tonight because of the storms.
See if we would have arrived in Dallas to wait for the flight to San Antonio like my original flight plans were—our flight to San Antonio would have been cancelled because of the storms. Instead —-God decided to fly the plane to San Antonio to refuel and to deliver me a half hour earlier than my original flight plan was scheduled for….
Thank you GOD for being my “way maker” and delivering me in San Antonio safely and timely.
For anyone that thinks there is no GOD or that he does not grace us with signs of his love —then I pray and hope that you will get to feel his love one day like I just did.
I know I should not be surprised but God and my family are a powerful force and this week I was reminded! My aunt Maria and Uncle Hernan both came to help me with the store.
See this week my son John turns 21 years old and I promised him we would celebrate in the Keys. My aunt and uncle both lovingly and so generously agreed to come and help with running the store.
They have been learning so much and doing so much that I can’t even begin to understand how to repay them for all their help and support. I also have learned this week from my aunt Mari how to make ‘pique’ which is a hot savory sauce we put on our ‘Empanadas’ to enhance the flavor of the empanada.
If you have not stopped by this week to say to my aunt Maria and Uncle Hernan—make sure you do and remember to order an ‘Empanada’ with pique and guacamole. You won’t be disappointed. They have been very excited to be there helping with the store and meeting all of the great residents and customers.
With God and my family all things are possible!!!
I am wholeheartedly supported and it is a great feeling to be so blessed.
(PLEASE MAKE SURE TO VISIT AND ADD A NOTE IN OUR BEAUTIFUL JOURNAL; THESE ARE SPECIAL HAND MADE JOURNALS SOLD IN OUR STORE)
We went through our final inspections SOOO EXCITED —we are ready to move forward !!!!
Sunday, June 12th from 9 am to 12 noon we will have a ‘House Warming’…. Stop by grab a cup of hot or cold coffee and a lite snack on us! We won’t be open for full service but rather looking to meet you:)
For the first few weeks we ask for your patience as we establish the level of quality and assurance we expect to offer to our guests. That being said we will gradually add days and times giving us the opportunity to reflect and improve on our flow and service.
Below is a schedule for June as well as the official schedule starting in July, 2022.
ONLY FOR JUNE, 2022
Sunday June 12th House Warming 9am – 12 noon
Thursday, June 16th 12 noon – 7pm
Sunday, June 19th 9 am – 12 noon
Wednesday, June 22nd 12 noon – 7pm
Thursday, June 23rd 12 noon – 7pm
Sunday, June 26th 9 am – 12 noon
Wednesday, June 29th 12 noon – 7pm
Thursday, June 30th 12 noon – 7pm
July 1st – starts our official schedule:
Monday and Tuesday CLOSED
Wednesday – Saturday 12 noon to 7pm
Sunday 9am – 12noon
Our goal is to provide that level of relaxation and comfort you seek along with quality service and product. We appreciate your support and look forward to meeting you all in person.
I been so blessed to have family and friends come out to visit and see the store. All anxiously waiting for the opening. I was extremely happy last Friday 1 minute before the end of business —I filed my final application for inspections. It has been a long journey with loops, drops and unexpected highs and lows. One thing that has made this ride fun has been having my family and friends around to vent, cry and toast. As Bette Midler so graciously said “you are the wind beneath my wings.” They truly are!!!!
Christening Celebration with Family in Jersey 2018
I appreciate each and every one of them. As a little girl, I could understand the value of family so early on and as I grew up and began to branch out —-I valued my family even more. Along the way —I learned that people will enter into my life for many different reasons and part when their time is done but those that continue to be with me are my friends. For that I am as well very grateful. My friends are my second family and I value the joy they bring into my life.
When I am with them no matter how much time has gone by since our last time —we pick up right where we left off. Time feels like it has not passed.
Thanksgiving Celebration in Ft Myers 2020
As I count down to the start of a new adventure ——I am so blessed to share this with my family and friends. I recognize that every time we have gathered— whether for happy reasons or sad ones there has always been something constant ……..our enjoyment of a beverage which typically has been accompanied with something to eat big or small this is where my creation of Drink & Think House was born.
Thanksgiving Celebration with family in Miami 2017
See the beverage and snack is just the start —- the laughter, tears and memories are what makes the experience eternal. I always envisioned capturing that feeling in a place where people could come and feel like they are part of our family and welcomed in our home.
Family Vacation with my sister and her family in the Outer Banks, NC 2021
I believe that is what I have created here at Drink & Think House! A place that feels warm, comfortable, relaxing = the feeling of home. With the many pictures of my family and friends displayed through out you will get a sense of how important family and friends are to me.
Family Fun Day at the Jersey Shore, 2021
You will also see many books scattered througout the store along with fun family/friendly games to capture you for a longer stay in our home 🙂 I know that once you get to visit us —you will feel part of our family.
Keep checking in and finding out when our ‘House Warming’ will be.
With love, faith and hope
Maddy my son’s girlfriend, John (my son), Graciela akaGracie and Josh her fiancé.
It has been an amazing ride these past few months learning and growing in so many areas. I celebrated my birthday recently and what a great surprise to have family and friends come and visit me!!! I also received my final pieces of equipment I needed in order to move forward with inspections. Woohoo!!!!!
The store continues to evolve and grow. I am working on finalizing the menu and have already begun ordering beverages. I am so excited to be able to offer Nespresso Coffee. As I mentioned before my family came to visit—we are big coffee drinkers. It was so pleasing to hear from my dad that he enjoyed his cappuccino….”its so smooth and easy to drink…its not bitter like other coffees that are served in other places.” My daughter who was also here visiting jumped in to add “I drink cold brew but mom this coffee is so smooth …I like it warm like this.”
I have always known that good tasting coffee is a delight to the tastebuds and to your senses. It creates a feeling of calmness and peace and that is what Nespresso does. Whether you prefer a shot of espresso or cappuccino or maybe you rather have a latte……..your tastebuds will thank you.
We are also extremely excited about our wine portfolio—from Winc’s Natural Merchants line —“clean” wine (pesticide-free, low in sulfites, made with organic grapes, vegan-friendly and contains no added sugar). Their vineyards produce clean, fresh superior wines that are both good for the earth and tantalizing for the palate. I love wine but my concern had always been the sulfites and the added sugars. I was so happy to connect with the representative of Winc Natural Wines and after sampling several of their wines—I was hooked. The taste of each of their wines is clean light and refreshing. As we grow my goal is to provide a large selection of these wines in our store.
Wines and coffee are not the only beverages we will offer….we have hard seltzers, ciders and craft beers. We will continue to grow our selection as we become more familiar with the likes our customers. We have other items that may tickle your fancy….from beautiful handmade journals, to custom fine jewelry or sweet snacks.
It has been two months since I took over the place and have been busy working towards opening. I went into this with a very open mind and with lots of patience. I knew that it would involve countless hours of commitment and work. And just as I imagined it —it has been just that.
Between equipment delays, paperwork filing, ordering supplies and merchandise my days have been spent in phone calls, organizing and learning. Hoping that I would open before the ‘Busy Season’ came to end but as it would be— I will not be ready before the season is over. But with each day I get closer to my new target date.
This time has been part of the process …..I have learned to take it in stride and to breath deeply knowing that everything arrives in its due time. Patience has been the key and I have learned to do things during this time to help with any stress or discomfort I may feel. Yoga, Pilates, painting and learning to play the guitar are some ways I have helped to strength my patience.
I look forward to the next couple of weeks as I get closer in celebrating my birthday, Mother’s Day and even more exciting my opening day.
Its been over a month that I began my journey in taking over the location and begin preparing the shop and filing for licenses/permits. It has been a roller coaster full of excitement meeting with vendors, designing the logo, choosing colors, cleaning the shop, ordering equipment, setting up furniture and decorations. All these things have not necessarily happened in a specific order but rather parallel to each other.
I think about the experience I have in working in education in and out of the classroom and most recently training educators—-without realizing it God was ordering my steps with these jobs. I learned to be organized, efficient with my time and patient with challenges and people. I learned the value of serving and balancing the work with enjoying the life.
My days begin at 5 am and typically go till about 10pm —but the feeling of joy and excitement is amazing. I continue to work training educators and focused on opening the shop. I know that for some the idea of working two jobs is unimaginable but a long time ago someone told me if you find something you are passionate and you get the blessing to do it —you will never work again. I love education and I love coffee so I have found my passions and everyday I am doing something for either or both —I enjoy every minute.
It does not mean I don’t get tired because I do but I feel like I am preparing for the arrival of another child. This dream of owning my own business has been one that has been in me for about the past 12 years—but as life would be —-I had to learn to be patient and navigate in the life of what was happening at the time. I knew that I would get here with God’s love and my focus of never loosing sight of what he had placed in my heart.
I hope that you will continue to join me as I get closer to opening up my shop. Keep checking in and reading my blog.
One of my joys as mom to adult children is to meet up with them for a meal. With John attending Rowan University —it was his suggestion to meet up at local favorite in the town of Pitman. The Merryman’s Pub is located in the downtown area and what we found was so inviting! The love and dedication that was put into repurposing the once National Bank that serviced the locals more than a 100 years ago is evident once you drive up to it!
This building features a historical architecture on the outside complemented with a warm trendy inside. As if the building wasn’t enough this place boasts a variety of foods for the foodie in everyone one of us. Whether you are choosing from their signature sandwiches Pickle Fried Chicken the Cubano Americano or maybe you are more interested in the Guinness & Short Rib Pot Pie. They host a speciality of different types of fries with even a basket of GLUTEN FREE Fries….
Outside of the food they have a full bar with many different types of cocktails, beer and wine. To end your meal make sure you try one of their desserts. What makes this place such a pleasant and unforgettable experience is that the two owners made it their joy to bring this beautiful building back to life for the community. One of the owner’s Vito is also the owner of two other restaurants just steps away from this one. Their vision and commitment to the community made it even more special for us to visit and dine there. We enjoy supporting local businesses and we hope that you will take time to stop and check this place out for yourself if you are visiting in NJ.
We recently visited Texas even before we landed in Dallas —–David and I knew there were some things we wanted to see and experience besides just the Cowboys game on Thanksgiving Day. After getting our rental car —we headed to the hotel which was located not too far from the airport.
On our way to the hotel —I could hear David asking Siri about a place that we could visit watching the cattle walk down the street….I giggled as I drove because in my mind I kept thinking David may have dreamt this and now is asking Siri to find it. LOL.
We got our room and settled in and decided to go and grab some food —we found a cute steakhouse grill in a store plaza heading towards the AT&T Stadium. It was a great afternoon meal accompanied with some driving around Arlington near the stadium trying to figure what was near and around.
We asked a few different people about cattle walking in the streets and no one seemed to know what David was speaking about. That night he continued to search in hopes of locating what he was confident was in Texas. Before he laid down to rest —he muttered “I know I have seen something on this —I am not making it up.”
The next day we woke up with no real set plans other than to find the cattle David continued to look and search. I realized that part of our interest in visiting Dallas was not only to be present on Thanksgiving Day for the Cowboys football game but also to visit the stadium. Quickly David called to get tickets to our amazement —everything was sold out and the only two spots open were in an hour and VIP tickets. Without hesitation–David booked it and off we went to the stadium.
The tour of the stadium was amazing! To say that its big is an understatement —you have to experience the size of the building inside and out. You have to learn about the enormous undertaking Jerry Jones went through to accomplish this project. Whether you are a Cowboys fan or not —if you are ever in Dallas or near —this is one of those things that you might want to schedule some time to experience. Trust us you will not be disappointed !
After our tour we found that the cattle drive was located about thirty minutes from where we were so we decided to take a drive out that way. As we drove to Fort Worth, David was excited that we would be experiencing this and that he did not dream it ——that it was an actual thing.
Now, Fort Worth Texas is a big city however when you enter the Stockyards you feel like you have taken a step back in time. It is the old west and you are part of it. Great little shops, restaurants and inn along with free entertainment such as the cattle drive and western shoot out. The cattle drive happens two times in the day at 11am and 4pm. It is a tradition that they continue—they are proud of their strength and drive as Texans.
According to the narrator at the Cattle Drive— after the civil war that area was economically devastated and cattle roamed freely in the south making it almost worthless but in the north cattle had financial worth. So, it was proposed that if the Texans could walk the cattle up to the north they would get $40-$50 per cattle but see the walk would be about 800 miles (nearly the distance between Houston, Texas and Abilene, Kansas). So, Texans were told it can’t be done! Apparently, any time you tell a Texan that something can’t be done…. they will figure out a way. They walked their cattle and needing to rest, eat and drink they stopped in a valley full of green grass and water that being Fort Worth (the Stockyards area). This is how the tradition began —so now they walk the cattle down the center of town as a reminder of the Texan spirit and tenacity they had and continue to demonstrate.
This is definitely a place that we recommend you experience because it is truly beautiful and the spirit can be felt when you are there.
Our first full day in Texas and we were so overjoyed to be experiencing so much! The Texan spirit, the southern charm and the great tasting food. We could not even imagine what more could we experience and see over the next few days.
We decided the next day to drive out to Waco not being too far over an hour and a half depending on the traffic and route you decide to follow —it will bring you to an area that for a long time has had a not so pleasant memory….However, HGTV stars Joanna and Chip Gaines have breathed life back to Waco. The Magnolia Silos Market is tastefully and beautiful located in the downtown area of Waco. You can feel that things are turning upward and I imagine in a few years this part of town will be highly sought out.
You will find a coffee shop, the designing store and several different types of shops and food trucks to experience. They have a little chapel and a small ball field. When you visit the Magnolia you can picture the Gaines family enjoying a day of shopping and family time because children are welcomed and they can play Wiffle ball or a game of corn hole while mom or dad shop.
The next couple of days involved Thanksgiving day tailgating with about 500 strangers and giving thanks right across the stadium with a combination of barbecue and Turkey. The Cowboys vs Raiders game was an amazing tight game that made the day an exceptional day! Cowboys did not win but boy they sure gave it the “Texan Spirit and Tenacity”.
We could not end our trip to a big city like Dallas without being part of the the Van Gogh Immersed Experience. It’s safe to say this was not on David’s list …..LOL!!! It was on mine as was the Magnolia but I can happily say that David enjoyed the Van Gogh Immersed Experience.
Overall this trip to Texas was full of wonder and fun. I think for me the best part was truly getting an opportunity to meet and understand the Texan people and how proud they are of being Americans. Dallas is a melting pot of races, languages and cultures yet they are proud of being Texans, Americans, Football and of worshipping GOD.
If you ever have the time or opportunity to visit this state or the area you will not be disappointed.
If you have never had the chance to visit the Outer Banks in North Carolina then you have been missing an amazing opportunity to reconnect with family, life and with yourself. Besides the beautiful beaches and the balmy warm air —the laid back living and its rich local flavor is so invigorating to the soul.
I fell in love with the Outer Banks almost thirteen years ago when we took a detour after having spent some time in Raleigh and heading back back to New Jersey. Something compelled me to suggest to my then husband we take a detour and visit the Outer Banks. Not knowing why —I soon understood it when we drove across the bridge.
I felt a sense of returning home —a calmness—-an inner peace. This was my first time as well as for my family but some how I guess that summer GOD was driving the wheel. He knew that it would become my go to when I need to reconnect or in need of family time.
Since that summer I have traveled with my children, my sister and her children, with friends and with now my amazing partner and friend David. The Outer Banks has become a place that feels like home —its a place in which my children have fond family memories of our summers —its also become a place that my nephews and their parents have created their own loving memories. I know it will continue to be a place for us to reconnect but will be the place where my soul will be released.
There is as much to do as you and your family will want to do or as little as you want to do…..there are tours and museums to learn about the local history or how the Wright Brothers created their first planes in the area. You can sip wine in the many wineries in the area or charter a boat to catch your family’s dinner. Whether you stay on the main land or venture out to either Duck/Corolla area or on the other end Rodanthe/Hatteras you may find yourself falling in love with life and with yourself all over again.
Words can only express a small amount of the appreciation and love I have for the Outer Banks —the real test is for you to make it one of those stops you will visit and feel it for yourself.
With love, faith and hope!
Special Thank you to the following businesses that made our time even more special:)
Ian is an incredible force of wind and rain wrapped up with lots of unknowns…I have placed all of my trust and faith in GOD. It is in his hands. My place and the Store are located on the Caloosahatchie River.
I feel so blessed and fortunate because Monday and Tuesday I was working in Miami. Not knowing what to expect or any idea of what we would be doing with this storm. As I said goodbye to a wonderful team of educators in Miami —they reminded me to reconsider staying in Miami instead of driving towards the storm.
I thanked them and reminded them that GOD brought me to Miami safely and he would return me to Ft Myers safely. GOD orders our steps and our faith delivers us from any evil. I prayed my Psalm 91and headed home. As I drove I could felt peace and not even when the GPS warned of the storm or when my phone began to alert me that in the area I was in there was a tornado —-I continued to feel the peace.
Upon arriving to Ft Myers —I received word that we were under mandatory evacuation. I realized that it would be now or never in getting a room in a hotel so I began to call around. Everything was booked —as I was trying to get a room —I needed to stop and get gas so that I could return the rental car I had used to travel to Miami. Several fo the gas stations had already closed down and had wrapped the pumps. I came across one and based up —this gave me some time to focus on calling for a room. I located a place that only had one room left but it was for only one night……… Never hesitated with booking it and thanked the young lady. I trusted that somehow GOD would provide us a second night of shelter.
I headed to drop off the car and David picked me up. We headed back to the condo to grab a few things and Sonja. We made a stop at WaWa to get dinner and headed to the hotel. While checking in the woman realized I had been her neighbor at the RV park and she sparked a conversation with me. I asked her if she thought we would be able to get a second night because of the storm and she said they were booked but to ask in the morning.
We woke up to hear the storm was gaining more strength and the category would be changed to a 5 —I asked the front desk if we would be able to stay another night and she said she would write down our room number and interest in staying. She remained me they were fully booked but to call later when staff arrived.
I continued to feel the peace within and trust in GOD—about an hour later the front desk called and asked if we were interested in staying another night. I confirmed it but he told me he would let me know later and reminded me to not worry or stress that even if we did not have a room —we would be able to stay in the hotel for shelter. I hung up and shared that with David.
I continued to finish up some work and answer emails and texts from friends and family. Two hours passed and the phone rang—it was the front desk letting me know that a “little birdie had told him —we wanted to stay another night.” I chuckled and said “yes, the birdie is right.” He said you are checked in for another night just come down and let us reactivate the room keys.
My feeling of peace continued…however I realized that we did not have any food for later. LOL. See when I grabbed a few things in my place I grabbed a couple hard seltzers, a wine bottle and my collagen. I never bothered to get any snacks or food….I remembered that hotels have a little market within and walked down since elevators had been shut down since power keeps going in and out. I was so happy to see they had chips and frozen dinners.
The winds and rain continue to intensify but my feeling of peace is still with me. My store ..the condo all of it is in GOD’s hands. Whether the 12-16 ft water surge happens or not I know that GOD brought me to this point and everything has a purpose. He has gone before me and knows that what is ahead I can handle. My God father Guillermo used to tell me —GOD gives us what he knows we can handle and I finally understand those words.
With peace, faith, love and hope —-wishing all of South West Coast Floridians safety and peace.
I had hoped to open before the busy season was over for 2022 but God’s plan was different. I have learned that this time —has been God’s way to allow me to keep learning and understanding what works and what needs to be adjusted.
I updated our menu recently and plan on continuing to adjust it as I learn about our customers’ needs and wants. It’s funny because it’s what I coach teachers to do…to pause and reflect on their teaching practice. Life is asking the same of me —this is no different in the sense that I need to pause and reflect on what is working, how can I make it better and what do I need to learn.
In the same timing –the condo is getting painted and new flooring added to the bedroom. I would have preferred doing all this either before I opened the store or further down after the store was more established. I don’t choose the timing —God has and I have to trust he will deliver everything in the right time.
This upcoming week is filled with so many moments with Trusting God’s Timing. I headed out today, Sunday, to Wyoming to train teachers on how to use the assessment their school district has chosen for this school year. A flight from Ft.Myers to Atlanta —from Atlanta to Salt Lake City to then drive about an hour and half to Evanston, Wyoming. Even as I typed this —I can feel my heart racing at the thought that I have so much to do upon my return to Ft. Myers on Tuesday after catching the red eye on Monday night.
Tuesday will be full of so much —-picking Sonja up, unpacking , washing clothes, running out to pick up things for the store and then heading to the condo to clean it. I also have to squeeze a moment to go out and purchase a bed and a sofa bed because next week my kids arrive. If only the timing would have been differently but God has planned it this way and in keeping with his fun timing —Friday after closing the store I will once again need to travel out to Miami to train on Saturday.
I keep reminding myself when I find myself breathing a little faster — “Paula TRUST IN GOD”S TIMING”. I can’t explain it but when I say those words to myself I can feel a separation of my mind from my body and a soothing feeling comes over my body and I know that it all is working as GOD planned it need to be.
My life has been full of these moments and I have needed to rely on trusting GOD’s timing. I believe that GOD provides the right time, people, places and things in our lives even when we think it’s too chaotic for this to happen. GOD brings it to show us with him all things are possible.
As if opening a business in this month of July wasn’t enough excitement for us….we are getting the condo ready. I purchased it last year but had a tenant until recently. In between —cooking for the shop and ordering —I am scheduling appointments with painters, flooring and becoming informed of the HOA requirements.
My days seem to quickly be moving along —-I can’t believe how fast every day goes by. I have recently started spicing up my Pilates class by taking Suspend Pilates…WOW! It’s all I can honestly say. If you thought Pilates was a work out try Suspend…it challenges your body and mind to another level.
Add learning Pickleball to the list. The Condominium community hosts lessons on Monday mornings at 9:30 am and this past Monday I joined the class. Connie was our instructor and she was so patient and inspiring that I am hooked to this new sport. I not only learned how to play but I met new people and got a great workout all in an hour.
The running theme for me in this month is ‘Challenging Myself ‘. Everything I am embracing is challenging me to grow, learn and adjust. All these things are never easy but I have realized that in order to be actively present — I need to be open to these challenges.
Don’t misunderstand me —my body does get achy and I am tired by sunset but what a great feeling it is when I lay down at night knowing that I embraced the day by being actively present.
Seasoned residents are actively present in this state. Florida is truly the “Fountain of Youth’—-there is something mystical about the sun and the warm air accompanied by the soft breeze that invigorates people to be actively present everyday. Any time of day you will see people walking, cycling, swimming, boating or running through out the area. It is very hot in these summer months but you still see people out and about doing what they love.