All I Want for Christmas is Springtime in Tuscany

Santa for blogLadies:  Santa called and he wants you to rewrite your Christmas list!

He’s given you strict orders that there is to be:

NO appliances, or anything that resembles domesticity or work of ANY kind!

NO sweaters, pajamas, scarves, shoes, or anything that you already have waaaaaay too many of!

OK…. he may not have meant shoes!     🙂

This year, Santa wants you to have:

Springtime Under the Tuscan Sun – Must Love Shoes style!

 

Come and be part of a dynamic group of women attending my Women who Dare! Italian retreat April 18-25, 2015.

 Picture this:

Waking every morning in a 16th century castle in time to watch the fog rise over the Italian countryside.

Italy 2014 fog

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meaningful small group discussions with fun, fascinating women!

Italy 2014 group discussion

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wine tours and tastings at vineyards owned and operated by Italian women!

Italy 2014 wine tour

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An authentic Italian cooking class.

Italy 2014 cooking class kelly

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shopping in quaint villages!

Italy 2014 shopping

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Indescribable food! And an opportunity to dine with one of the world’s most beloved Italian cookbook authors!

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 Personal time to reflect, plan, dream, or dare in one of the world’s most beautiful countries.

Italy 2014 at night

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Registration is now open! Spaces are limited and a deposit is all that is needed to reserve your spot. Want to know more? Click Must Love Shoes Goes to Italy 2015 to learn more or register.

 Who needs a blender for Christmas anyway?

Photos and complete travel itinerary by Kelly Beach of Vicarious Travel. 

 

 

 

Why I’m Ringing Bells for the Salvation Army

Salvation ArmyYears ago as part of my Leadership Washington County Health & Human Services Day, my class ate lunch at the Salvation Army. We were encouraged not to eat with our fellow classmates, rather, to reach out and sit with a client to share our meal.

It was there I learned the true meaning of fellowship.

At one point in our conversation, the man I was breaking bread with asked “who was I with?”  When I didn’t immediately respond (I was trying to think of a respectful way to tell him we were experiencing a poverty simulation), he responded, “It’s pretty obvious you don’t belong here.”

Raw. Honest. Humble words.

Spoken from a man who didn’t belong there either.

But who does?

Life has a way of serving us what we didn’t order.

Our conversation immediately shifted from polite and superficial…

To real.

We began to talk about disappointment. Failure. Hurt. Addiction. Estrangement.

And we talked about hope.

I’ll never forget that moment.

Today, as part of my Rotary Club’s initiative I am ringing the bells for the Salvation Army.

I will ring loudly.

And proudly.

I will do everything I can to maximize my presence for the good of an organization that does so much.

Because everyone deserves a seat at the table.

Matthew 25:40        “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

 

Love & Blessings,

Julie

The Face of Parkinson’s

Misty anniversary pic8

 

Today is Giving Tuesday. The entire day, I have received countless emails and requests from nonprofits requesting that I go online and support their cause.

Every nonprofit is important. They all improve the quality of life. They all are worthy of my gift.

 

But today, my wallet and online giving goes to the Michael J. Fox Parkinson’s Foundation.

Michael is the face of Parkinson’s and he keeps some high profile company: Muhammad Ali, Johnny Cash, Billy Graham, George Wallace, Robin Williams, Janet Reno, Charles Schultz, Linda Ronstadt, Brian Grant, to name a few.

They are the faces we recognize. They are the idols we follow, worship, enjoy watching their contributions to society.

But the face of Parkinson’s I see every day is that of my husband of 35 years and best friend for 40.

The man who is my hero. The face who loves his family…. Who worked hard to provide for us and until recently was able to do that without challenge.

He teaches me every day what it means to never give up. To know when to be private and when to speak up.

And speak out.

Parkinson’s is a disease that challenges your faith but teaches you that blessings appear in the most unlikeliest of places…. and people.

The face I see every day is the face that reminds me that Parkinson’s makes you a different person, it doesn’t make you less of a person.

It makes you more.

So much more.

Resilient. Determined. Disciplined.

Grateful. Humbled.

Won’t you give today? Click here.

It’s time we face it head on.

We can’t fight this without you!

With grace and gratitude,

Julie & Dan

Passing the Torch: A Tribute to Dixie Miller

Dixie MillerI was about 24 years old. Out of college just a short while and desperately trying to find my place in this post-academic world called real life. Hood College was sponsoring a women’s conference. It looked interesting so I registered to attend.

The room was filled with women of all ages and places in their professional journey. At 24, I was still rather timid and certainly not at ease at networking events of any kind but attended every session. I clung to every word spoken by the dynamic and very confident women who spoke, urging us to create the life we visualized, to be bold, to not be dissuaded by the proverbial glass ceiling that would surely challenge us on our climb to the top.

One speaker stood out that day. Her name was Dixie Miller and I remember getting the impression that she was the “ring leader” and organizer of the event. She was, by my best guess, in her 40′s, but when you are fresh out of college, everyone seems much older and wiser than you. She was audacious, outspoken, filled with confidence and conviction, controversial, and challenged us all to be resilient when we encountered obstacles during our journey in life. She possessed such a command of the audience–I clung to her every word. I was captivated by her.

I never forgot that day.

Over the years I remember seeing her pictures in the newspaper and reading about her many professional accomplishments but our paths never crossed nor did I ever have the chance to meet her face-to-face.

Until just a few years ago.

I was asked to speak at an event sponsored by the Frederick Business & Professional Women. As the coordinator of the event showed me to the table where I was to sit that evening, there sat Dixie Miller as an honored guest. The woman who, thirty years prior, I wanted to emulate.

For a split second I felt like I was in my 20′s all over again. I could feel my pulse quicken as I introduced myself to her. She smiled and said that she knew me! She KNEW me!

Imagine if you were about to give a presentation and just found out that a person you had admired from afar for most of your professional life was in the audience!

Nervous, excited, honored…. I thought I was going to throw up!

I don’t remember my presentation.

I DO remember that I began by telling this story. The story of a young girl who was moved and inspired by a woman who came before and paved the way.

She just smiled.

That all-knowing, you’ve-got-this-grasshopper, now-you’re-that-woman — kind of smile.

Rest in Peace Dixie Miller.

I promise to keep passing that torch!

Julie-logo-name

Finding the Extraordinary in my Ordinary Day: Starting Over

Main Street tree 003The Main Street renovation project continues and today saw the first of many trees being removed to allow space for new, safer sidewalks. The Maple in our front yard was one of the first on the chopping block.

Throughout the day I watch the process with mixed emotions. It was like saying goodbye to an old friend. Our family photos hold countless pictures of our family raking her vibrant golden leaves during the many Autumns we have lived in our home. For the past 34 years we have lived on historic Main Street, our trusty and reliable Maple provided us with shade, beauty, and a connection to the history of our quaint little town.

But now it’s gone. Out with the old. In with the new as I’m sure that when the project is complete, new trees will be planted.

Life is like that too. We must let go of what was in order to open ourselves to the possibility of what may be. It’s not always easy but often necessary. In towns, organizations, and even in our personal lives, we must have the faith and courage to tear things down in order to build something even better.

And so today, I dwell in hope and possibility of what’s to come.

Julie-logo-name

Re-fueled and Re-fired! Tips for Filling Your Emotional Tank.

soul-200x300I’m a big advocate of self-care. I preach it, train it, coach it, and wholeheartedly believe in it. But I don’t always follow it. I’m human!

Recently, an accumulation of events found me running on empty.I was getting tired, cranky, and Friday, I was even called out for not smiling. Apparently I normally smile a lot and people have become accustomed to it. :)

And so this weekend I devoted my time to self-care. If we are expected to run at full-throttle, we must keep fuel in our tank. If we let our tank get too low, we find ourselves running on (emotional) fumes. And so I applied my 4-F formula to help me get back on track.

Family: Saturday morning my oldest son, Craig, wanted to hang out and go furniture shopping. We didn’t end up buying any furniture but we talked about just about everything. What an amazing young man we raised. I felt proud and renewed of spirit.

Friends: Saturday evening was the 5th Annual Clutch the Future Purse Auction to benefit the Woman to Woman Mentoring Program in Frederick. Objective: Fill a gymnasium full of sassy, super-fun women and let them bid on purse packages and hang out with their friends. Done! A night with my gal pals is always the best medicine!

Clutch2

Faith: I went to church! I’ve been AWOL from my church family this winter. Today, it felt like coming home. Our pastor’s sermon felt like it was created just for me. (Doesn’t everyone feel that way?) I could feel my tank filling with every word of encouragement and every song played.

Fresh Air: Today was the official first day of yard work. While that might not be considered putting fuel in the tank for some, for me, it was heaven! There is something about the fresh air, the sun on my face, the dirt on my hands, and the physicality of just walking my property, dreaming of new ideas for my gardens that left my tank overflowing.

I’m re-fueled! Re-fired! I’m ready to face another busy week!

Julie-logo-name

All we Need is Grace

grace2-187x300I needed to run a few errands this morning on my way out of town.

Errands!  On the day before Thanksgiving! On a hectic, busy, people-are-already-stressed-to-the-max- day-before- Thanksgiving! On the busiest travel day of the year!

I must admit, I had a bit of an edge about me as I walked into Home Depot. “This is going to be bad,” I muttered as a way of preparation so I could protect myself from the rudeness, apathy, or lack of civility surely I would encounter.

My mission was simple: procure new white lights and extension cords to replace the ones that surely would cause a fire should I dare to test fate just one more year. But somewhere on the path toward good and focused intentions, I happened upon the recent holiday flower shipment, seducing me to stray from the course. White poinsettias, white Christmas cactus, and white orchids beckoned me further into the aisle as if Serendipity already knew that my chosen holiday theme this year was White Christmas. Before long, with arms laden with treasures, I found myself in desperate need of a cart.

An employee stood close by. As our eyes met, he smiled and said, “may I get you a cart?”  Before long we were admiring my purchases and discussing the proper care of orchids.  I shared my confession that I’ve long adored orchids and yet had never owned one of these deliciously graceful and romantic beauties.  He smiled and wished me well.

With my cart now overflowing, I navigated my way to Checkout, only to find that the only counters available were self-serve. Having only used a self-serve occasionally (why would you choose to when you could interact with a live person and collect great speech material?) I hesitated, knowing that my inexperience would likely cause a major backup on one of the busiest days of the year.  I knew I would be the cause of additional stress for those unfortunate enough to come behind me.  Ironically, I both hate and love that about myself….the fact that I actually care whether I’m inconveniencing other people!

Another employee voluntarily approach me and offered to help. She swiftly and expertly handled my sale and with a smile, handed me the receipt. She pointed to the required “interested in giving us feedback?” email notation at the bottom of my receipt should I care to respond from the comfort of my home. As I turned to leave, she made eye contact with me (on a busy-stressful-chaotic-day-before-a-holiday) and quietly said, “I’m Grace.”

And some days, all we need is a little grace.

May this Thanksgiving season find you filled with grace, kindness, and gratitude.

Julie-logo-name