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Never Too Early to Learn Kindness

I’ve been a “fan” of the Gentle Barn for years now, following their incredible stories of rescue on Facebook, it’s one of my goals  to visit Gentle Barn in Los Angeles in the next five years. So, when Dudley’s story started on Gentle Barn’s facebook page about two years ago, I was glued to the screen following along on his journey to recovery.

Dudley is an amazing cow who lost his foot when he was a calf, luckily Gentle Barn was able to step in and save his life. Now he lives at The Gentle Barn Tennessee in Knoxville, which fortunately for us, is just a car drive away from Atlanta.

After a few months of anticipation, we finally got to meet Dudley at The Gentle Barn Tennessee over Memorial Day weekend.

Getting a hug from a cow really is an amazing thing:

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gentle-barn-knoxville-henry-dudley-pig-cowWhy Gentle Barn is an amazing place:

They not only rescue severely abused animals, they rehabilitate these animals so that they in turn teach kindness to us humans.

gentle-barn-knoxville-maybelle-cowIt is never too early to teach kindness to children.

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Thank you for the hug, Dudley. We can’t wait to visit you again soon!

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The Wild Animal Sanctuary | Colorado

While in the Denver, Colorado area visiting my (not so) little brother, we made our way to the Wild Animal Sanctuary. The Wild Animal Sanctuary is the oldest and largest nonprofit sanctuary in the US dedicated exclusively to rescuing captive exotic and endangered large carnivores.

So it really is: Lions, tigers and bears! Oh my!

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What a great organization, that does great work with rehabilitating animals who have come from circuses, small zoos and roadside attractions, and give them a life that is as close to living in the wild as possible.

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Visitors walk along a mile-long raised walkway so that we can view the animals at the sanctuary without infringing on the animals’ territory.

Read more about the The Wild Animal Sanctuary here.

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Shamrock n Roll Atlanta 5K

5 Business Lessons that I’ve Learned from Running

I’ve never considered myself a runner. Even though I’ve completed my fair share of 5K and 10K races, with one half marathon thrown in for good measure.

But, after 6 years of running, having a baby and losing 30 pounds, I am finally starting to feel like a runner.

Shamrock n Roll Atlanta 5KFinishing at this year’s ShamRock N’ Roll 5k.

It’s only recently that I’ve started to feel at ease when running, and experienced the runner’s high that I’ve heard about. I can finally run an entire 5K without stopping to walk.

Next up is running a 10K without walking breaks.

The thing with running is that it gives you a lot of time to think. Sometimes, I ponder over the client project that I’m stuck on. But many times, I use running to just be in the moment and enjoy the act of running and being outdoors. Inevitably, thoughts still creep into my mind and most recently, I’ve been comparing running to running a business.

Here are 5 business lessons that I’ve learned from running:

1. Set goals
I’m not the type of person who can just run for fun. So, I sign up for races, which give me something to work towards.

2. Don’t compare yourself to others
I’m slow. There, I said it. I’m still trying to run a sub-30 minute 5k.

My husband is a runner. As in, completed multiple marathons and an Ironman… I would always compare myself to him. Don’t do that.

Run your own race. Do the best that YOU can do.

3. Take rest days
It’s important to let your body rest and heal, take it easy at least once a week.

4. The hardest part is just getting started
Sometimes it’s tough just getting out the door. When the weather is gloomy and chilly, the couch looks so much more inviting than the pavement outside. But, it’s days like those when I’m the most grateful after my run.

5. It’s easier when you lose the extra baggage.
In my early days of running, I was overweight and would struggle with breathing. Since my mom has asthma, naturally I assumed that I did too and that there was not much I could do about it. But after losing those 30 pounds, suddenly I have no issues with my breathing while running. Who knew?

 

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5 Things Scuba Diving can Teach you about Running a Business

Scuba Diving in Jamaica
When we were diving in Jamaica a few months ago, I couldn’t help but see the parallels between scuba diving and running a business. After all, when you’re under the water it’s silent and all you can hear are the thoughts in your head.

So, I get a lot of thinking done while diving.

After all, thinking about business is way more fun than thinking about whether I’ll absentmindedly swim headfirst into a jellyfish or brush up against a lionfish, right?

5. Stick with your dive buddy
Or know where he is at all times. The last thing you want when you’re under the water is for something to happen and have no help around. The same goes with running a business, a support group is so important, having someone to bounce ideas off of or just to have some adult interaction is priceless.

4. Be Observant
Look around, be aware of your surroundings, or you at just miss that sea turtle sighting. What a tragedy that would be!

There are opportunities abound when you run your own business. But be aware and ready to act when they come around, because you may not get a second chance.

3. Push yourself
But be smart about it. If you don’t take (smart) risks, you won’t get anywhere.

On my very first open water dive, I practically had a panic attack because the waves were so strong that it was difficult to go below the surface. Luckily, I eventually did and found a whole new world and passion because I was willing to push myself over that hurdle.

2. Continue your education
It’s always more fun when you know more stuff. After obtaining an Advanced Open Water certification, you are allowed to dive deeper (to 100ft), so you get to see more stuff, like wrecks. And who wouldn’t love to dive around and through a shipwreck?

1. Just keep breathing
No matter what.

Just keep breathing.

Vinings Downhill 5K 2013 tshirt

Vinings Downhill 5K

I am not a runner.

I don’t consider myself one. I don’t particularly enjoy running. I run mostly so that I can:

1. Get out of the house
2. Eat more

And even those two reasons are sometimes not enough to get those running shoes on. So, I sign up for races. Having a goal in mind sure does help get my butt out the door to pound some pavement.

Today was one of those race days, the Vinings Downhill 5K, in Vinings, GA. Yes, “Downhill” that is exactly why we signed up for the race. At 5:45am I pried myself out of bed, and we headed across Atlanta to the Vinings. And as we stood outside shivering in the wind (in August… in Atlanta… at least it wasn’t unbearably humid) waiting for the start of the race, I thought to myself:

“Why do you keep making me run these things? Ugh. I wish I was back in bed right now. Oh well, here we go again!”

Vinings Downhill 5k

The race started on a long downhill, which I loved, I was passing people right and left. But, what goes down must come up, and we hit an uphill after about half a mile. Then the rest if the race was mostly flat, some slight rolling hills, and long downhill straightaway near the end and then a short uphill to the finish line.

With the cool weather and help of downhills (and gravity), I managed to pull off a PR by almost 3 minutes! 32:39 was the official time. Maybe a sub 30 time is within my reach after all.

A short bus ride (I was NOT about to walk a mile uphill) to the after party, and we grabbed our shirts and post-race snacks.

My favorite part! I run to eat, remember?

Yum.

Beach BBQ Buffet Franklyn D Resort

Franklyn D Resort in Jamaica

We are on our way back to Atlanta now. But first, I need to gush about the resort that we stayed at for the past week first.

If you have young children, want to dive in the Caribbean and also want to make sure that said children are in safe hands… you must check out the Franklyn D Resort (FDR) in Runaway Bay, Jamaica.

Paul and I are generally not fans of all-inclusive places. Or resorts, for that matter. We like to get out and explore, and really experience a new culture. But, being parents to a 9 month old forces us to step outside our comfort zone a bit.

The thing that really irks me about “all-inclusive” places is how impersonal those places seem. Part of our favorite things to do is to get to know the people who live in the places where we visit. Happily, FDR manages to strike a happy balance between the two extremes.

FDR isn’t a “luxury” type of resort, but it is very comfortable and after spending a week here, it almost feels like home. The staff is all so friendly, you can’t walk past someone without a “hello” or a “yeh mon.”

The food is quite good for a resort. All dining is outdoors, so it can get hot and buggy, but I’m usually quite happy to trade that for the opportunity to listen to the ocean waves while enjoying my food.

There isn’t a great beach on site (there is one at the resort next door that you can use), but I’m also happy to trade that in for having the scuba dive shop on site.

A 2 minute walk to the dock every morning, doesn’t get much better than that.

And of course, our vacation nanny Andrienne, I can’t say enough about her. She was absolutely amazing with Mini-me. Before arriving at the resort, I had my doubts and was very nervous about leaving my baby with a stranger in a foreign country while I go dive in the ocean. But as soon as we met Andrienne, I felt at ease and happily let her take Mini-me off to play.

Which brings me to: Paul and I finally had some alone time. What? Seems like that hasn’t happened in months. Oh wait… it hasn’t. And for the icing on the cake, FDR helped us celebrate our fourth wedding anniversary with cake and champagne.


Vacation nannies, good food and drinks, an anniversary dinner and an on-site scuba shop – I really couldn’t have asked for more from a vacation. We’re already looking forward to coming back for another vacation in a year or two.

Advanced Open Water scuba with instructor Jamaica

Advanced Open Water Certified

Four days and seven dives later, we’re officially Advanced Open Water certified divers!

Here we are with our instructor, Marcia. Yes, I know I don’t look like a diver in this photo… we stayed at the resort where the dive shop is located, so we were able to head back to the room to shower, etc before coming back to finish up our paperwork.

We absolutely loved the dive crew here, what a great group of people! If you’re thinking about diving while in Jamaica, find these guys here. Great people who know their stuff and the area. After seeing stingrays, nurse sharks, an octopus, a loggerhead sea turtle and going lionfish hunting… I really can’t ask for much more.

Well, except for maybe another sea turtle sighting.

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Nurse Sharks and Lionfish

Just in case my previous posts make it seem as though we’re neglecting Mini-me on this trip…

Here we are having some morning fun on the beach before breakfast this morning. Mini-me is absolutely loving her vacation nanny here at the resort, and Mom & Dad are loving being able to get away for a bit to do what we love.

Today we went on two dives, both for our certification in Underwater Photography.

Even for a professional photographer, taking photos underwater is a whole new beast. We’re currently just shooting with a point-and-shoot camera, which makes it even more difficult to get those shots of fast moving fish. One day we’ll move up to a DSLR in housing for our dives, but for now we’re making do with what we have.

The first dive was at a site called Silver Spray. We weren’t expecting much, just some coral reefs and small fish…

Then we came upon this:

That’s a 4 foot long nurse shark. Harmless (unless you swim up and annoy it), but so cool to see on the dive. But that’s not all…

We spotted four more nurse sharks sleeping underneath the coral reef. A couple of the sharks were about 12 feet long. Talk about a sighting!

Our second dive was to a site called Old Pier, also known as Lion’s Den because of all of the lionfish that tend to be in the area.

Lionfish have been spotted in the Caribbean for a good few years now, and they are an invasive species. Meaning, they don’t belong there and will take over since they don’t have any natural predators in the area. So, divers have been catching and killing lionfish in recent years in order to keep them under control (and to hopefully one day eliminate the species from the Caribbean).

I remember our first divemaster in Cozumel simply catching and killing lionfish, about three years ago. But now we know that lionfish are quite tasty – they are in the grouper family after all – so divers are now catching them for dinner.

Here’s one of our dive masters, Fruitti, spear hunting lionfish on our dive.

We found six lionfish on the dive. Someone’s going to have a great dinner tonight!

Tired of my dive pictures yet? Don’t worry, tomorrow’s our last dive day before we head back to the States!