2017 Goals in Review

Do you set personal goals every year? Then look back on them?

This is more of a random blog, from what I have recently posted, it’s a follow up to what I wrote exactly 11 months ago to this date in my blog, defining my personal goals for 2017 which came to mind again this evening, ironically, thinking about 2018.  It felt good to look at the goals I wrote a year ago and realize that I accomplished 95% of what I intended to do a year ago.  But from my perspective now, my goals could use a little elevation..more like a lot more elevation from 2017!  I guess that’s what growth is all about. Last year at this time, those goals were what I needed in my life, a year ago, but now it’s time to grow/push harder/further, make the goals more meaningful.  I think I gave myself the easy/feel good stuff to accomplish last year; not something that truly challenges me, it was more of a focus on quality of life; I certainly accomplished that, 2017 has been a year of fun and entertainment.

2018, for me, needs to be better though, a year with elevated goals; this is a little scary because results will be exposed at the end of the year once the goals are stated.  The things that matter to me haven’t changed, and I believe that we all need to make time for what matters in our lives, so I will continue incorporating time for these:

Faith | Family | Friends | Music | Outdoors | Travel | Architecture/Interior Design/Fashion | Health/Fitness | Personal Improvement

But for next year, the following needs more focus, here are my 2018 goals:

  1.  Increase the amount of “giving back”
  2.  Improve in providing value/service to others
  3.  Maintain consistency

It’s interesting looking back on a blog, especially when it’s about personal improvement, maybe I shouldn’t post this stuff!?

What to do in the Lou?

“The Lou” meaning: St. Louis, MO.

I’m a St. Louis native who doesn’t experience boredom because there are so may things to do!  Always having something fun on the calendar definitely keeps me motivated, so I’m continually looking for NEW things to do as well as keeping track of enjoyable annual events, and now I’m sharing them with you.  I intend to periodically update this post with Events and Activities as an evolving page, so if you check back at a later date, there will likely be new events added as time continues and I visit more places!

The types of Events and Activities you will find here are:  Comedy, Cultural Activities, Entertaining Kids, Fitness, Music, Neighborhoods, Outdoors,  Restaurants, Seasonal Events, Sports, Weekend Road Trip Ideas, Wineries based on places I’ve been, along with links to informational sites all centering around the St. Louis area.

Below each subject are website links to the venues or activities providing the most current information:

COMEDY

St. Louis Funny Bone, Playhouse @ WestportPeabody Opera House

St. Louis

CULTURAL ACTIVITIES/ART/HISTORY

Visit the Arch, St. Louis Art Museum, Missouri Botanical Garden, The Muny, The Rep St. Louis, The Fox Theatre, Laumeier Sculpture Park, Lemp Mansion, Demenil Mansion, Anheuser Busch Brewery Tour, Peabody Opera House

DIGITAL CAMERAENTERTAINING KIDS

Magic House, St. Louis Zoo, Grants Farm, Eckert’s, Incredible Pizza, Six Flags, St. Louis County Parks and Recreation, Purina Farms, City Museum, Ted Drewes, St. Louis Science Center, Swing Around Fun Town, Chesterfield Sports Fusion, Flying SpiderBounceU, Pole Position, Pump It UP, Skyzone, Chesterfield YMCA (summer camps), Steinberg Skating Rink,  Challenger Learning CenterGirl Scouts of Eastern MO, Shaw Nature Reserve, Dixie Stampede (Branson- 4hr drive),

FITNESS

Hiking, Battlegrounds Mud Run, Tough Mudder, Various Organized Runs, St. Patrick’s Day Run

LIVE MUSIC

Hollywood Casino Amphitheater, Busch Stadium, Ballpark Village, Tin Roof St. Louis, Sky Music Lounge, The Pageant, Delmar Hall, Scottrade Center, The Blue Note (Columbia, MO), Old Rock House, Broadway Oyster Bar, Stovall’s (country music)Peabody Opera House

NEIGHBORHOODS

Soulard, Central West End, The Hill, The Loop, Clayton

OUTDOORS

Patio DiningThe Bull Float Trip (Annual Event), Meramec Caverns, Twin Rivers Landing Campgrounds,  St. Louis County Campgrounds
CieloRESTAURANTS

Outdoor/Patio Dining, New Restaurants Italian Restaurants,  Fireplace Dining, St. Louis Food and Drink Events, St. Louis Dining (Riverfront Times)

SEASONAL EVENTS

Mardis Gras in Soulard, St. Patrick’s Day Run and Parade, Purina Farms Easter Village and Haunted Hay loft, Fourth of July or Fall at Big Cedar Lodge, Historic Kimmswick Apple Butter and Christmas Festival, Lantern Festival, Winter Wonderland at Tillis Park, Historic St. Charles Christmas

Lemp Brewery Scarefest

Busch StadiumSPORTS

St. Louis Cardinals Baseball, St. Louis Blues Hockey, St. Louis Ambush SoccerMizzou College Football, Kansas City Chiefs Football

WEEKEND ROAD TRIP IDEAS

Kansas City, MO (approx. 3.5 hrs) Silver Dollar City Theme Park (approx 4 hrs),  Table Rock Lake, Branson, MO (approx 4 hours), Lake of the Ozarks (approx 2.5 hrs) , Springfield MO (approx. 3.5 hrs), Memphis TN (slightly over 4 hours), Nashville, TN (approx 5 hours), Chicago, IL (approx 5 hours)

Cedar Lake CellarsWINERIES

St. Charles area along 94:  Augusta Winery, Montelle Winery, Mt. Pleasant Winery, Chandler Hill Winery

Cedar Lake Cellars (about 45 from St. Louis)

Herman, MO – winery town (about 1 hour from St. Louis)

I hope you find this helpful and welcome any feedback or suggestions regarding places to visit! Happy Exploring!

 

 

Nashville “Secrets”

Nashville is one of my favorite cities to visit.  In the past year, I visited 3 times just for fun: my first ever visit to Nashville was a spontaneous road trip with girl friends following the Thanksgiving holiday in 2016, the second was with girl friends during the CMA Fest in June 2017 and the third was with my daughter sharing a glimpse of  the Nashville experience during a college road trip in June 2017. Each visit I experienced something different and will definitely be back again!  If you haven’t been to Nashville, I’ll share the highlights of our experiences and places you may want to visit the next time you’re in Nashville.

MUSIC

Music is the soul of Nashville: the foundation and almost 24/7 celebration, and definitely was the reason I was interested in visiting!  So if you love country music; Nashville is a must!  It seems live music is playing all day and all night long.  (Some tips: during the day, at least when I visited, under 21 year olds can visit to eat and see the music at various establishments, but in the evening, people need to be over 21 years old.  Also, there is no cover charge at the door to see the bands, but bring cash to donate to the bands performing, they usually have a collection area by the stage.)

BROADWAY

Some of the fun places we visited on Broadway were:  Tootsies, Tin Roof, Crazy Town, Honky Tonk CentralThe Stage:  all of these featured live bands, are multi-level (with multiple live bands) have food and beverages and were places I visited each time because they were so much fun.    I haven’t checked all of them, but Tootsies, Crazy Town and the Stage all have outdoor rooftop entertainment too; it’s so nice on a beautiful day or night!

DOWNTOWN NASHVILLE

If you are interested in music history, stop by the Country Music Hall of Fame, we were told most people spend about 3 hours visiting.  We had a short window of opportunity and made it through in about 45 minutes!

2017/2018 NEW PLACES

During the CMA Fest, we decided to check out (Florida Georgia Line’s) FGL’s new restaurant, but that was virtually impossible  to get in because the line was well over a block long, but we had much better success getting in later in the month traveling through Nashville.  Very cool place, also multi-level with a rooftop bar!

In 2018, when it opens, we plan to visit Blake Shelton’s new restaurant, Ole Red, which is just slightly down the street from FGL’s.  (Blake Shelton has another location which already opened in 2017 in his hometown of Tishomingo, OK)

THE DISTRICT

On my second trip, we ventured a little further east on Broadway and found this place; I love the tree lined streets and historic brick buildings!  My favorite place here was the Wildhorse Saloon.  We stopped in for lunch and happened to see Sandra Lynn performing, she was great and just recently launched “Hey California.”  There is also a great boot shop on this street, you can smell the leather as you walk by in the summer.  One evening we were able to catch Doug McCormick at the Wildhorse Saloon.

THE “SECRET”

The evening before we left for Nashville, I found an online article written about Sofar Sounds, this company was started by two men who loved music but preferred an intimate setting/venue experience, and since there aren’t that many out there, they created this concept.  I was intrigued by this and saw that there was a “secret concert” happening in Nashville during our visit, so of course I had to check it out! I signed up and paid for the event without knowing who we were going to see or where it was going to be (it ended up being at Warner Brothers Studio) , it was an excellent surprise experience!  We saw Morgan Evans, a “new” artist from Australia, and absolutely LOVED his music.  We all believe he is going to be a headlining artist very soon.  Ironically later this summer, while I was attending Kelsea Ballerini’s concert I found out she is the one he is engaged to and was speaking of when he talked about “this amazing girl” he met after moving to the US on that concert day in Nashville.  She happens to be another favorite Country Music artist of mine, so happy for them!

MUSIC ROW/ 19TH AND BROADWAY

This is another area that you should check out!

THE LISTENING ROOM

This venue has moved since June 2017, I know from following them on Instagram, but this was an excellent experience too. I found this place after checking out my BandsinTown app for bands playing that day, Brennin was recommended from other artists music I have downloaded on iTunes, so we went to see him at the Listening Room Cafe and, once again, I didn’t even know that Smithfield was going to be there, and was surprised again. I love their music and we heard a new one, co-written with Brennin:  GoneEmily West has the most amazing voice and such a humorous person, this was our first introduction to her.  The music and their discussion really made for a humorous and enjoyable night of entertainment with food and drinks in a small venue.  I’ll definitely visit the new location in the future!

I hope you find these tips helpful but if you are a Nashville regular, or live there, please let me know other places we should visit in the future!

Lack Patience? Get it by letting go!

Have you ever heard how “The Universe keeps giving us lessons until we learn the lesson”?  Well I guess I needed a lot of lessons to develop patience, but thankfully I made progress; it just took a long time! This past year, I kept realizing what little patience I had, but wanting to become more patient.  And while I wasn’t intentionally working on becoming patient, the experiences I had throughout my life taught me to become more patient.   These are my realizations about what I learned from experiences:

Simply described, I realized that becoming patient is achieved by practicing LETTING GO! I found becoming patient requires…

…letting go of:

  1.  Forcing anything– Patience is letting things happen naturally, slowly over time; this removes stress and adds peacefulness to our lives when we realize forcing something into our ideal time frame really doesn’t work.  Sometimes it’s as simple as letting time pass;  some things naturally work out on their own over time.
  2. Mistakes:  – keep improving when we mess up or life gets messed up, hit reset…a new beginning!  It’s okay to keep starting over when something doesn’t work, it’s not permanent failure, it’s only temporary failure! Patience lets us accept our mistakes and try again.  Each time we try again, we develop our patience and have another opportunity for success.
  3. Expectations of Others – this is out of our control anyway, so practice patience with others, don’t fit them into “our box”, “our way of thinking”, “our way of acting”: everyone is different, let go of expectations and let it happen as it is (Having patience with others will bring us peacefulness: when we have no expectations; there is no let down) Others are who they are- accept them “as is” work with them as they are.
  4. The future – we are not guaranteed a future.  All we have is our time, here and now.  We need to have goals or we will never accomplish anything in life and wander aimlessly, but this is about being present in the moment doing what we need today to reach our goals, pay attention to what is happening in our lives at the moment, don’t overthink the future, we don’t know the future and can’t predict it.  Patience lets the future unfold as it is intended and the future is more greatly affected by what effort we put in today anyway.
  5. Fear taking on the next challenge, pushing ourselves to do something we never thought we would or could do. Patience is developed as we slowly see progress along the way, in overcoming fears or achieving certain goals over time; then we realize that having patience helps us accomplish things in life.
  6. Control – have faith in God providing what we need in life, not always what we expect, or on our time-frame, but what we need, letting go and letting God take over. We become patient when we believe that God will guide us and provide for us; we have no anxiety. We are not in control of what happens to us anyway, only how we react to what happens to us.
  7. Seriousness–  it’s great to laugh as often as possible; we need laughter to help get through being patient when things take time and frustrate us!
  8. ONLY celebrating first place wins, acknowledge that second place is progress, celebrating the journey and the small wins along the way keeps positive motivation flowing. Recognizing small wins develops patience and the dedication needed for the big wins.
  9. The way we think it should bechange happens and we need to adjust ourselves to address the changes we experience; there is more than one way to do things.
  10. The past – let go of the past, something that didn’t work, didn’t work out for us: never settle. Never settling requires patience because it takes awhile before we find what is best for us.

So if we want patience, focus on letting go!

Phoenix, AZ – Abundant Sunshine and Happiness!

This past Memorial Day, a trip to Phoenix, Arizona trip was planned for a couple reasons:

  • I live in the Midwest and it always seems to rain on Memorial Day weekend here (and I wanted sunshine after a long winter and rainy spring)
  • Summer is my favorite season, but in the Midwest it can be chilly, cool, chilly or extremely humid around the end of May; it’s unpredictable in the Midwest, and I wanted warm weather

So Phoenix seemed to be an excellent solution: the dessert with dry heat and sunshine, and it was!  We chose the Pointe Hilton at Squaw Peak for the extended holiday weekend; and it turned out to be perfect for us!  This resort is close to the airport so you don’t even need a car, we used a shuttle service  from the airport simply looking for a place to rest and relax; we didn’t intend to be sightseeing on this trip.

DAY 1 (Friday 5.26.17)

We arrived early, got settled into our room, then headed to River Ranch, the onsite water park, our view  perfect setting for R&R!  It was an early morning and we were tired so we had some BBQ at the Hole in the Wall then ended our day.

 

Day 2 (Saturday 5.27.17)

Started the day with a hike to Squaw Peak, gorgeous day and fun hike with Ken and Skylar from the resort, then relaxed pool side enjoying the lazy river, ending with a fun birthday, Italian dinner at Tutti Santi Ristorante by Nina, topped off with a shot of Sambuca with 3 espresso beans (which I was told represented the past, present and future) I recently searched and found the common representation of the 3 espresso beans is Health, Happiness and Prosperity.  Must try the family recipe for the Ravioli, it’s their signature dish!

 

 

Day 3 (Sunday 5.28.17)

We started with a Stretch and Relax Class at Tocasierra Spa in the morning with a wonderful instructor for the class; after the class, we asked her what suggestions she would have for “natural settings” and places to go for people who enjoy the outdoors, she suggested Slide Rock for the day, we also used the onsite workout facility, but unfortunately my son was too young (13 years old) to be allowed to use it so we went to the sports pool and enjoyed some volleyball and basketball!  We were so happy that we could rent a car for the day when we visited the concierge in the lobby; the car was onsite and ready to go for the next day; we decided to depart in the morning for Slide Rock State Park.   The concierge also told us about a fabulous airport restaurant in Mesa, AZ with incredible views, so we planned to visit there for lunch after Slide Rock.  The evening featured a dive in movie and the nights get cool, so we enjoyed sitting fireside and having smores to end the evening.

Day 4 (Monday 5.29.17 – Memorial Day)

Three days was enough time for all of us to enjoy poolside activities and we were ready to explore with our rental; the 3 hour drive to Sedona from Phoenix is beautiful once you hit the Red Rocks and heading to Slide Rock State Park was even more gorgeous  (click to view the trip); lunch at Mesa Grill was fabulous too!  We absolutely loved Sedona and spent time shopping at the retail there too.  By the time we got home, we didn’t have much more energy, so the next day we were treated to a Swedish Massage to end our visit, just before heading back home.

Day 5 (Tuesday 5.30.17 – Spa and Departure Day)Tocasierra Spa

We were so pleased with the resort and the staff and had a wonderful trip; it was a great long weekend visit and highly recommended.  We ran out of time to participate in the miniature golf, but night time would have been fun!

mini golf 2

What???!!!

The best AND the worst thing in our lives is….

Communication! 

 

Isn’t that the truth? Besides golfing, communication is something none of us fully master, yet it is such a powerful tool, if we improve our skills!  Effective communication can rocket us to success or plummet us to a crash landing in our business or personal lives.  And the key to successful communication is understanding, to the best of our abilities, the audience or other person first.  This obviously takes time, so if we don’t invest the time first, there is a very good chance that our communication won’t be on target and may not be successful.

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CRASH LANDING

Sometimes we get so wrapped up with what is happening in our own business, life, relationships, world, etc. that we focus on ourselves instead of the audience when communicating.  We speak from our perspective, not from the audience’s perspective.  It’s easy to speak from our perspective because that is what we know, but it can be so much more effective if we take the time to get to know our audience, and speak from their perspective, in a way that they can best understand us and obtain value from us, actually hear and listen to what we have to say.

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Another hindrance to communication is fear.  Fear of the unknown, the outcome, etc.  Fear is a big problem, a huge deterrent in effective communication and acting out of fear produces regrets. Facing fear brings rewards:  success, honesty, understanding and maybe even new ideas, collaboration?

Being overly scheduled, committed, worked, not enough time, etc. also hinders effective communication.  This is probably something we can all relate to, but if your audience is a priority and important to you, show it by taking the time needed to communicate, because you may loose your “priority” person, client, etc. if you don’t make time.

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Interrupting is another way to have a “crash landing” in communication.  If we interrupt, we are not listening, we are talking and we can’t do both effectively.  Besides that interrupting is disrespectful and tells the other person what we have to say is more important than what they are saying; obviously this doesn’t “win any friends” for us.

SUCCESSFUL COMMUNICATION

Oddly, successful communication isn’t as much about talking, it is more about listening first and foremost!  We all know that feeling when someone is either engaged with what we are saying or they are in “la la land” thinking about something else; it’s easy to see.  If we are rushed, then we aren’t taking the time to listen, it’s better to slow down and focus on being mindfully present, not somewhere in the future on to the next event.  Time is precious, valuable and limited, so when we have it, it’s best to take advantage of it and make it count or we’ve wasted time.

'When I first started working here, I thought our boss would be a good listener. But, that hasn't been the case.'
‘When I first started working here, I thought our boss would be a good listener. But, that hasn’t been the case.’

Personally, I believe that successful communication involves honesty.  Most people can intuitively spot honesty and dishonesty even though we may not say anything.  If we are not being honest, there is a very good chance that the audience knows it, even if they don’t show it or “call us out” on it; and eventually truths become evident, so it’s just a matter of time. Again, it’s wasted time if we are not honest; both our time and their time. No one benefits and the dishonest person ruins his or her reputation in the process too.

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Successful communication involves being prepared, organized, thought through in advance.  Spontaneous communication sometimes misses some elements if we did not think it through in advance.

If we all work towards getting better at this:

  1. Get to know the audience
  2. Communicate from the audience’s perspective
  3. Face and overcome our fear
  4. Make time for communication, don’t do it when we are rushed
  5. Don’t interrupt
  6. Listen first, then respond
  7. Be honest
  8. Prepare and organize our thoughts first before communicating

Then we will be better communicators and avoid some stress in life!