Happy Friday! So much has happened this past week, and I am truly thankful for some time to relax and unwind (and unpack my suitcase!).
But first, I gotta share this because it is such a delight in my life and we would love to have you join too!
We are getting ready to finish our October Sizzler Challenge, Boy October sure flew by, didn’t it? And we are now getting ready to start the The Sizzler November Challenge and You are cordially invited!
It’s a Women’s Facebook Group, all levels of fitness are welcome (that works for me because until a few months ago, I had zero exercise in my life!) We each just start where we are, at our own pace! And it’s free! No strings (except shoelaces) I promise! We aren’t selling anything! We are all just trying to get a little healthier! And when you do it with a great group of women, it’s really fun!
Can you imagine going into the holidays feeling pumped up and excited because you have already started a healthy lifestyle and you are feeling awesome? Come on and join us! We are waiting for someone just like you!
And… we are adding a Thankfulness Challenge for November as well! Get in shape Body Mind And Spirit! Remember the 3 legged stool, you need all three to function as you were meant to. Having a thankful heart is a great start to feeling content and thinking of others in this season of Thankfulness!
Please come check us out. No pressure ever to post, you can be quiet as a mouse and simply absorb the encouragement or you can jump in and share the love and laughter, either way we would love to have you join us!
If you are interested please click here: Sizzler Challenge November 2018. It begins Thursday November 1 but you can join in anytime! Invite your girlfriends as well if you like!
And now, I want to share about a trip I made to a conference this past weekend, FierceCon 2018 in Redondo Beach, CA, with the theme “Rewire and Inspire”. This post shares about my travels as a rookie traveler, and about the conference.
As many of you know, I joined a Women’s Facebook Group called The Forever Fierce Revolution a little over a year ago. Now, for any ladies out there, this is an amazing group for women midlife and beyond (almost 6,000 women from around the world). There is community, great information, incredible women, friendship, dialogue, support and fun fun fun! It’s free and I have absolutely thrived here! Please check it out if it interests you!
Well, they offered a conference this past weekend that they have been advertising for several months, “FierceCon 2018 Rewire and Inspire”. As soon as I saw it advertised, I knew I had to go! Many of the women I’ve been connecting with for a year would be there, and I so wanted to meet them face to face! I also invited my sisters Susan and Stacey. Susan did not have the vacation time left to make it happen, but Stacey said she could go. So we first signed up for the conference, and then started booking the airline tickets, hotel etc. This was a big trip for us. We don’t usually take such long trips! All the way from Michigan to Los Angeles! I’ve only been to California a few times in my life! I was a giant bundle of emotions: excited, thrilled, nervous, happy and on and on.
Stacey is quite the traveler, so she coached me quite a bit. She had me sign up for this thing called a “Known Traveler Number” by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). What this did was “pre-check” me by TSA and minimized the amount of checking I have to go through at the airport for airlines that participate with it. It cost $85, I went in for an appointment with them about a month before I left. They asked me some questions, took my fingerprints and my photo and in a couple days I received an email saying I qualified and they gave me a “Known Traveler Number”. So once you have the number, you let airlines know when you book tickets, and it will say right on your ticket records that you qualify. This sends you to a different line at the airport to go through security. It’s the fast and speedy line and you don’t have to take your shoes off etc. It’s a little less hassle and much faster. Now I think this only lasts for 3 years and then I have to apply again. So I called the airline and they added that info to my ticket.
Stacey also helped me add the Delta App to my phone (the airline I flew on). I am in their customer program. So what this did was every time I had to know anything about my tickets or to show any airport personnel, I just clicked on that app and all my travel and bag info was right there (including saying I had TSA pre-check). No need for a paper boarding pass. They have a reader that can scan it.
I also could check in the day before (they sent me an email and I did it electronically). And I could also check my bags electronically- prepay for any bags I needed to check. Friends, I am not that electronically savvy. And this little app was so so handy!
And the big day finally came. My sister in law Hannah is another great experienced traveler. So she showed me how she uses these eBags or packing cubes. They come in various sizes and help you keep your suitcase organized. I bought a few different sizes in purple. They come in lots of colors and sizes. So my take on them? I love them! These would be a great gift for anyone who travels. I kept my teeshirts in one, I used larger ones for nicer outfits, sweaters etc. Toiletries and my nightshirt/jammies in another. It made it so easy to just grab the cube I needed!
So we got to the airport, my eyes as big as saucers as I don’t travel much. And everything went like clockwork just like they said it would. Except… one thing. My poor sister got so sick as we waited to board our flight. She called her husband to come get her and told me to go on without her, she was having a kidney stone attack. She was so sad. I was so sad. I looked at her and she told me “Don’t you dare miss this. We’ve both been planning it for so long. Send me lots of pictures.” Oh my stars! We were both a basket case! Well, I got on the plane. Now with this sense that everything would change. I was traveling alone. And she was on her way to the hospital with her husband. She ended up having surgery later that day. She is ok now, and I am so thankful!
I was seated in a middle seat between two people, one was a very young mom with a baby. Honest to goodness, that baby was as sweet as could be! She smiled, she slept, she never cried on that 4 hour flight! I had purchased a sandwich at the airport, and as the baby slept, I offered her mama half of my sandwich and she said yes! It was a blessing to share a turkey sandwich with this young mom.
Stacey’s suitcase was on the plane already. So when I got to L.A. I took hers and my suitcases. I had reserved a rental car with Alamo in Los Angeles, at the LAX airport. That airport is huge! Everything is like a beehive of activity! I was focused and I had placed all my reservations and documents in a folder in my travel bag so I could keep it all organized. That helped so much. So I grabbed the baggage and hopped on a shuttle to the Alamo Rental Car place. Just as with the TSA… short line for those who had reserved a car in advance. Much longer line for those coming in without a reservation.
I added the paperwork from the car rental so I wouldn’t lose it. And the way it worked, I had rented a full size car, so you go to the parking lot for full size cars with the keys in them and you pick one. I was a bit overwhelmed as to how to choose. A few customers were also choosing and stopped to give me their opinions (I was grateful!). Ultimately I picked a Ford hybrid… a 2019 Fusion in white. Once they checked me out, I sat there for a few minutes getting use to the car. Instead of a shifter on the steering wheel or a vertical stick, you switched gears with a dial on the console. No biggy, but different. And its one of those cars that you don’t actually stick the key in the ignition. Ok. Got it.
Now to find the hotel in Redondo Beach. Well I used that Maps App on your cell phone that can give you directions on the audio as well so I could hear when I needed to turn. And in about 20 minutes I found my way to the hotel! Valet parking… parking is a big issue in this area, so valet seems to be the way to go. Yes it costs some money, you pay for daily parking at pretty much any hotel. It was nice to have the parking issue solved. I stayed at the Crowne Plaza Redondo Beach (which is where the event was held). And I have to say, it was gorgeous! And such attention to detail and hospitality!
I was pretty busy while I was there so I didn’t explore a whole lot, but everything I saw was lovely.
So I got to my room, and the bed was fluffy and piled high with soft bedding. It had been a long day already and we had a party that night. So I did something kind of lavish. I ordered room service!
There was enough pizza there (and a handy refrigerator in the room) so I had snacks for the next few days. I took a quick power nap, and then got freshened up. I had determined to try and see as many sunsets on the Pacific Ocean as I could. So I scooted out before the party (which started at 7) to catch the Sunset which was suppose to be around 6:15. So the weather was perfect! Maybe 70°, slight breeze and low humidity. It was a Friday and all of the community seemed to be in the mood to be out enjoying the evening. Directly across the street from the hotel was a gathering of classic cars in a parking area near some docks. Yes… the hotel was across the street from the Pacific Ocean!
I asked some nice people in the parking area if there was a place people go to watch the sunset, and they directed me to a pier just a short walking distance away. Their son told me not to settle for the pier but to climb out on the rocks and watch it from there. The mother said, “She’s not going to climb on those rocks!” and as I walked away, he hollered to me, “Remember what I said about the rocks!” It delighted me that he wanted to share that with me!
Well, I made it to the pier.
It was stunning! But now I needed to head back for the start of the conference! I must admit I was a bit nervous, as I had never been face to face with any of these women. I gave myself a pep talk. The sunset had helped too. And I walked to the party.
And as I did, I began to see the faces of women I’ve been connecting with for months!
Photo Credit Carmen Guerrero for the above picture. Carmen also managed to get me on the dance floor, Hah!
Friendly fun smiles, hugs, talking non stop! They had set up all kinds of nice seating areas and extra warm and friendly touches. All of these women felt so bad about my sister Stacey missing out on the event. They sent me home with lots of goodies for her.
This picture below…
Well the next day was an early start with guest speakers with stories that broke your heart and then watching them rise above the burdens and challenges to living amazing lives just so inspired me!
After a day full of speakers, we had a small break, and then we were off to Hermosa Beach Pier for a photo shoot. I’m sure those large group photos will be coming soon. But here are a few shots below.
And here I am below with Patricia Goss Rubel, she is in my Sizzler exercise group, and she writes an amazing blog which features many things including her love of hiking, traveling, fashion and all sorts of things, ThePatrishPages.
So imagine 75 women all lining up on a beach for a photo shoot. It was a hoot! And afterward, many women went to a comedy club, but Patricia and I and her husband Scott, as well as the beautiful Sophie Davies went to grab some dinner at a pub by the pier. Poor Sophie had lost her flipflops on the photo shoot at the beach.
She is from England and has the loveliest accent. As we walked in, she said, “Amy, I’m afraid they won’t let me stay since I’ve lost my shoes.” I told her she could just walk behind me and they might not notice. Well, sure enough the waitress came right over and told her she had to have shoes. At that minute, Patricia speaks up and says, ‘I have some shoes in my bag!” And she pulls out these shoes!
They were Louboutins with the signature red soles! Sophie put those beautiful shoes on and I ordered a cheeseburger at the beach pub! We laughed and laughed about the chances that anyone would have shoes in their handbag, let alone Louboutins! It was such a fun moment!
I slept well that night after a full day, but with a tinge of sadness knowing the next morning was our farewell brunch.
It was a lovely brunch. There was a stirring message from the keynote speaker, Peter Lee who shared his own journey of ups and downs and ultimately to his success with Saranghae, a skin care company. And then were the photos and hugs and goodbyes.
I met so many incredible women. The nicest women ever. Next to me (below) is Rose Dalton, and next to her is Jan Correll, and then the lovely Anita Morris and on the opposite end is Helen Tanner Greenwell. These are talented women with incredible strength and a love for all people. I felt honored to even stand there with them.
In the photo below, so many lovely women, and in the center wearing the two piece gold outfit is Catherine Grace O’Connell, the founder of the Forever Fierce Community and the reason we even had the event. This beautiful woman has an amazing story of tribulation to victory and she reaches out to every single midlife and beyond woman to bring them along with her moving towards a positive uplifting life.
And this lady here (below) Loretta Sayers of Loretta’s Countdown to 60 reached out to me after the event ended as she knew I was taking a short excursion to Santa Barbara the next day, and she took me on a lovely tour of the city! We sat and talked for hours, and she is one of those people I felt bonded with immediately. I will share about our sightseeing tour in a future post! But I am very grateful for her friendship!
I was so sad my sister could not come, but still, it was such a fun excursion! Just pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone is really exhilarating and even liberating! I had butterflies in my stomach plenty of times, like driving in L.A. traffic, or that moment I walked in to meet these ladies for the first time. But it was so quickly apparent that while these women were all lovely on the outside, the real jewel was the beauty of their hearts! And that is a treasure I can take away and give over and over again.
So what do you take away from an event like that?
Ok… for one thing, that California is gorgeous, has incredible weather and truly lovely people.
But even more importantly, at the core, all of us just want to be loved and appreciated for who we are, with all of our strengths and weaknesses, and things that make us uniquely us, both visible and hidden. We want to be accepted and welcomed so that we feel safe and confident to simply be ourselves. We want to look in the eyes of others and find warmth and kindness, and a feeling that we are home. But someone has to go first. When we step out in faith and give love before we receive it, it will be like an oasis for thirsty souls, coming for a cool drink of water and we will be drenched in even more of the very love that we freely gave away.
I came back to my beautiful home and the lovely Michigan October and best of all to my precious family. They missed me and I missed them. And the reunion was sweet.
Thank you to my son Jake for taking the photos back here at home in beautiful Michigan just yesterday, (you can find him on IG @jacob.kennedy21).
I hope you have a fantastic weekend! I’ll be back Tuesday for another Tasty Tuesday.
Only by giving are you able to receive more than you already have. ~Jim Rohn