Twenty twenty-three was the year I sold the home I raised my children in. It was the year of difficult family challenges, the year my 96-year old mother went “missing” without explanation one Sunday afternoon, the year I renovated my health and renewed relationships with a special childhood friend. It was also the first year after 20 of them when I did not live full-time with at least one of my children.
I feel like I lived an entire decade in 365 days. 2023 year tested my faith in God and in myself. It further shaped my character and my future, and it opened my heart to new experiences that I never thought were possible for me. I enjoyed so many great experiences and created amazing memories I will carry with me for the rest of my life.
Here is some of my 2023 in stories and pictures.
January: Whale Watching in Cabo San Lucas
In January, I hosted the last and final Indie Cruise, the signature Caribbean retreat I have led annually since 2011. We had a marvelous time snorkeling, sailing, masterminding, dancing, spa-ing, exploring, dining, yoga-ing and whale watching.
We stayed at the Hotel Ri Palace Cabo San Lucas. I highly recommend this resort.
February: Helped Brooks Through Knee Surgery
First, some background.
In December 2022, I traveled to Birmingham, Alabama for the Birmingham Bowl. My son, Brooks, who plays for the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers, was on the sidelines, and on crutches with a serious knee injury. He was in pain, had lost a ton of weight and his grades were suffering. None of us knew whether he would ever heal enough to play football again. There are no guarantees in this or any sport, especially at the NCAA Division 1 level.
He underwent surgery in late February 2023.
Looking at his leg like this after this surgery was not fun. Neither was the recovery period, which included lots of pain killers, sleepless nights, tears, and some wailing. But it was the start of a journey that changed my son’s life by showing him how strong and resilient he is. In many ways, it was the start of a life shift from boy to man. It was a difficult but exciting thing to witness.
The recovery period was a full 7 months. I am a better mother and person for having had the privilege of supporting Brooks through the process. I am so proud of him.
(See the December entry below for the transformational update.)
March: Celebrated My Birthday in Bellingham
I am blessed to have some amazing friends in my life. Two of them whisked me away to beautiful Chuckanut Lake in Bellingham, Whatcom County, Washington to celebrate my birthday. Just look at that sunset behind me.
If you ever find yourself in the Bellingham area, I highly recommend the Spa at the Chrysalis Bellingham where we spent a wonderful afternoon.
Thank you to my award-winning entrepreneurial friends and mentors, Kayla Fioravanti of Ology Essentials and Anne-Marie Faiola of Bramble Berry, for spoiling me on my birthday and showing me such a fabulous time.
While in Washington, I also visited Edmunds and LaConner — both of which are lovely. Here are some memories from my Instagram:
April: Reconnected with a Prince of a Friend
Before I quit my job for the last time in 2000 to pursue my entrepreneurial and life purpose at the help of the Indie Business Network, I tried my hand at entrepreneurship in a retail store. I was a fun but financial failure, so when my friend, Prince Jenkins, called me to tell me about an opportunity to travel to Africa with him and a group of other attorneys, I packed my bags and got on a plane with him. (You just trust some friends like that …)
The next year, when the two of us returned to the United States, I was accompanied by suitcases and souvenirs. Prince, on the other hand, was accompanied by the Namibian woman who would become his wife! True story.
While Prince and I remained in touch over the years, we had not seen each other since our return, so it was a special treat to see him in Washington State where he and his Namibian wife settled and raised their family.
That’s me and Prince in the picture. What a joy to have a friendship that spans three decades. Prince and I sat down for lunch and started talking as if not time had passed. Hold onto friends like that. They are special.
May: Jumped Out of an Airplane
I jumped out of a plane because I wanted to challenge myself to do something scary. I also wanted to avenge the man who told me I could not jump out of his plane 10 years ago because I was too heavy. Yeah, that was the main reason.
June: Toured Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey Distillery
Can I even tell you what a thrill this was!?!?!! The tour in Shelbyville, Tennessee, was impeccably delivered, and co-founder Fawn Weaver’s stamp of excellence was all over it. I enjoyed a whiskey tasting, a meal at Barrel House II and a trip around the Humble Baron, the world’s longest bar according to Guinness World Records.
For Part 2 of my Uncle Nearest adventure, scroll down to the August entry below.
To book your tour of Uncle Nearest Distillery, click here. (Must be of legal drinking age.)Hello… X!! Happy New Year! I think I have the best life, at least I keep telling myself that. Every time I do, it just gets better and better, so I'm sticking with it. Here is a bit of my 2023 in stories and pictures. Enjoy!… Click To Tweet
July: Earned My First Running Medal: St. Simons Island
I spent Independence Day on St. Simons Island, birthplace of the late great Jim Brown, football fullback, civil rights activist and actor. While there, I figured I’d run the 5K and One-Mile Fun Run and earn the first run medal of my life. You can sign up for the 2024 event at this link.
It was only a mile, so it wasn’t exactly a “marathon,” but I don’t care. I got a medal and it made me happy.
St. Simons Island is tiny but beautiful, and I set out on a quest to find the childhood home of Jim Brown. While there are no statues or landmarks marking Brown’s birthplace or even the fact that he was born on the island, everyone who lives there seems to know the exact location of the little pink house in which his grandmother raised him until he was around 12 years old.
I was directed there by a woman who pulled out a map and gave me directions with these basic words, pointing: “Go down this street and make two right turns and drive until you see a pink house. It’s the only one in the area. You can’t miss it.” As directionally challenged as I am, I drove right to it.
The fireworks on St. Simons Pier were the most beautiful I have ever seen. That’s saying a lot from someone who was born and raised in Washington, DC, and is accustomed to viewing annual fireworks displays on the National Mall. Here’s a photo. (No filter.)
August: Visited Martha’s Vineyard and Uncle Nearest House on the Vineyard
A few years ago, I set a goal of being in the same room as Fawn Weaver, co-founder of Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey in Shelbyville, Tennessee. (See June entry above.) I didn’t know how or when it would happen, but I have learned not to let not knowing how I would accomplish a goal stop me from setting the goal in the first place.
As you can see from the photo below, it happened in August. Not only did I meet Fawn, but I got to spend time with her in at her Edgartown, Martha’s Vineyard, home. Yes, really. I’m not making it up.
And bonus … I got to meet her husband, Keith Weaver, the other co-founder of Uncle Nearest and the founder of the newly formed Nashwood.
And further bonus … I got to meet Victoria Eady Butler, decorated Master Blender and great great grand daughter of Nearest Green for whom the distillery is named. Here we are.
Fawn and Keith together are a most extraordinary entrepreneurial duo and you are lucky if you can get in a room with one of them at a time. But two? There are no words to describe how amazing that was. I’m still feeding on the whole thing.
Watch my video of the experience on Instagram at this link.
And further bonus … I went to Menemsha Beach in Maine which is known for displaying some of the most stunning sunsets on the planet. I sat on the beach for hours, and the sunset did not disappoint. The seafood from Menemsha Fish Market was the perfect accompaniment. Put this on your experience list. I’m telling you. Do it.
September: Spoke at the Burn Boot Camp Member Summit
I was honored to speak on the Burn Boot Camp Transformation Panel at the First Annual Burn Boot Camp Member Summit. Among other things, I shared details about my journey to lose 150 pounds over the last few years and how Burn Boot Camp helped me transform every aspect of my life.
Below is a screenshot of the video in which I was featured. You can watch more of the video on my personal Facebook profile page here.
I also enjoyed meeting and working out with Morgan and Devan Kline, Burn’s co-founders, and meeting and hob knobbing with members from all across the country.
If you are looking for a community of amazing people to help you transform your life through the power of physical fitness, I cannot recommend Burn Boot Camp highly enough. There are franchise locations all across the nation. If you are ready to put in the work, you will not be disappointed.
October: Spoke at the QCity Metro Women’s Thrive Conference
QCity Metro hosted its first ever Women Thrive Conference and I had the opportunity to help plan, host and speak at the event. My topic was 5 Non-Negotiable Entrepreneurial Mindset Traits. In case you are interested, they are: (1) Total Responsibility; (2) Continuous Growth; (3) Radical Resilience; (4) Repeated Resurcefulness; and (5) Non-Linear Thinking.
I am featured in this photo with Jade Smith from my team over at the Indie Business Network.
A great time was had by all at the Women Thrive Conference. If you’re in the Charlotte area and are hungry to keep up with local news, information and commentary from a Black perspective, QCity Metro is a great publication. Learn more about my affiliation with the publication at this link.
November: Celebrated Vanessa’s Senior Night
We celebrated Vanessa’s senior year of college playing Middle Blocker on Guilford College Women’s Volleyball Team. She has been on the Guilford College Dean’s List for nearly all of her college experience as a double major: Psychology and Criminal Justice.
The only semester Vanessa’s name has not appeared on the Dean’s List is Fall 2020. As you may recall, that was the start of the pandemic. It was also Vanessa’s first semester in college and the first time she ever spent any real time away from home. No wonder, right? She’s been on the Dean’s List ever since. My girl is resilient, determined and hard-working. She’s amazing and we are so proud of her.
December: Cheered at the Hawai’i Bowl
Brooks and his Coastal Carolina Chanticleers played in the Hawai’i Bowl in Honolulu on December 23, so of course, I had to pack up Vanessa and go watch and cheer. Despite being 10-point underdogs to the San Jose State Spartans, Coastal returned to the mainland with the trophy.
It was an amazing whirlwind trip. We spent only about 72 hours on the island so we could be back to spend Christmas Day with friends and family.
Learn more about the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers Football Team at this link.