My Story

“Do not ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”–Howard Thurman

I am a Southern girl who moved to Morocco and then the Dominican Republic where I write, travel, mom, teach, and learn…so far, across 4 continents and the Caribbean.   Every sense is on high alert and I love sharing this journey of adventure, relationship, and beauty–gifts that make life rich wherever we live, whatever our age. I believe there is always something new to discover whether in our own backyard or country-hopping abroad.

Since teaching English in Italy one summer, I’d dreamt of living an expat life.  I’d been to many countries and still wanted to travel more, write more, and learn more from culturally diverse people and places.   My gypsy soul promised myself when the kids left the nest, I’d fly away, too.  As a single mom who taught English at colleges and the school they attended K-12, once they were grown and gone, I was sad.  I needed new. I had a great life in Nashville–an established career, friends, and family I loved.  Though somewhat of a helicopter mom, I also modelled life-in-motion.  Post 50 I was still having firsts–a journalism award, a movie role, an English class I started for Mexican moms. But when the nest emptied,  it was time. to go. In August 2014,  I 48landed in Africa.

Like many who take the road less traveled, I love Paulo Coelho’s words in The Alchemist: “People are capable, at any time in their lives, of doing what they dream of.” We may not get everything we dream of at once, but I’ve learned God fulfills desires He plants within us.   I am so thankful for living my dream of having children and raising two amazing human beings.  I’m so thankful for the creation of another life–mine– and watching it continue to grow.

Travel and the expat life is not all pools and palm trees. Every day there are challenges– having no car, waiting months for a residency card, periodic safety warnings, using French and Spanish keyboards.  I sob and physically ache every time I tell my children goodbye. I miss my family, my friends, my pets and my house.  I miss Nashville.  But I’m very thankful for this time. This season. Since moving abroad in August of 2014 I’ve been stretched,  learned, contributed.

30
Chefchaouen, My Blue City

My love for travel began when I was tiny and my grandmother would fly me to Paris on the arm of her rocking chair.   We’d eat lunch in sidewalk cafes– TV trays set up in front of her sofa. Like Fitzgerald’s Jay Gatsby, my Mama Lou had “an extraordinary gift for hope, a romantic readiness such as I have never found in any other person and which it is not likely I shall ever find again.” She loved beauty and adventure; she was a teacher and a storyteller.  She taught me to dream big and to have faith that all things are possible.

I value faith, family, friends.  SalsaLit and lifeTeaching and learning. And I believe St. Augustine was probably right: “The world is a book and those who don’t travel read only a page.” Writing to share beautiful people, places, experiences makes me come alive.  I hope this blog encourages you to travel. Or to follow whatever dreams you have.  To, in the words of Thoreau: “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams.  Live the life you have imagined.”

At an agriturismo  in Italy friends taught me that La Dolce Vita extends beyond Lake Como, Cinque Terre, or Capri.  Relationships, beauty, joy, and laughter…working to live rather than living to work…can be found wherever we follow our passions.  Wherever we let go of fear and  cling to gratitude.  Whenever we follow our hearts.

Royal Mansour

Fav Italy
Lake Como with a friend…perfection. I fell in love with Italy in 2005 and vowed to move abroad one day.
Vanderbilt blog
Sunday afternoon in Tuscany
IMG_7694
St. Petersburg, Russia, one of the most beautiful cities in the world

IMG_7715

IMG_7703

IMG_7851

IMG_7903

IMG_7570
Moscow
IMG_3779
Montmartre, Fall 2013
IMG_8008
Prague
IMG_6402
Bolonia Beach, Spain
10286836_10152881165569466_232521977636250908_o (2)
27th/Last Graduation at DCA
IMG_3207
Summer 2014 Farewell Party given by my brother-in-law, Jeff, and sister, Penny (from left) Jeff; my daughter, Taylor; my niece, Abby; my son, Cole; my Mom, Beverly; my sister, Penny
IMG_3231
Some of the gang (from left) Andy, Ruffino, Beth, Cheryl, Jonathan, Carol, April,  Best Friend Kim (standing)

10548219_10152181541176426_3537514030555865867_o

IMG_3266
My sis and oldest friend
IMG_4545
Loves of my Life, Taylor and Cole, Christmas Day 2014
IMG_4614
Sahara Palace, where Sex and City 2 was filmed

Typical weekend in Jemma el Fna Square Marrakesh

IMG_4609

IMG_0972
Dairy farm in Holland where cheese and shoes are made
IMG_6940 (1)
Summer 2012 in Amazonian jungle, Ecuador
bucket list
Working the Bucket List
IMG_3507
Favorite dessert, Belgium
girl-on-rock-lake
2000 on Irish Sea
IMG_0723
Park Güell in Barcelona
Cindy McCain Horseback Riding in Costa Rica-2
Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica
hr-0765-254-563--0765254563003
Amsterdam

hr-0765-254-569--0765254569003

IMG_5076
Salsa days in Nashville

526521_10151317894441426_1290666551_n

IMG_5788
Essaouira, Morocco

1

IMG_3666
Ouarzazate, Morocco–film site of Gladiator, Jewel of the Nile, Game of Thrones
10688397_10153299362054466_5137195772655221443_o
Bucket List…the Sahara

IMG_3770

IMG_4055
Looking forward to meeting this guy
IMG_1412
Savannah, Georgia 2012
IMG_6549
The 3 Musketeers together again in London

IMG_3460

IMG_0351

IMG_2752

IMG_2730

IMG_2586 (1)

IMG_2588 (2)

IMG_3002

img_3031

Flew home for college graduation of my son, Cole:3 muskateers

img_3137

img_1909

Version 3

IMG_3526

Version 2

IMG_8064