Overcoming obstacles with Optimism

Posts tagged ‘travel’

Losing and Gaining Weight (8,313 Pounds)

On February 28, 2017, I watched all 8,313 pounds of our household belongings be loaded into seven crates.  This is an odd perspective, seeing everything we own (clothes, furniture, etc.) covered with a thick tarp being driven away.



Sixty-three days later, on May 2nd, these belongings -now noted as 3,770 kilograms-  were delivered to our new house on the eastern coast of Sicily.

Gaining Weight


  • 8,313 pounds
  • 242 boxes
  • all fit into 7 crates

…That folks, that is just stuff.


  • 2 beautiful children
  • 1 intact family searching for adventure in this world

….These friends, these are gifts we’ve been given by life. It is our responsibility to remember to remain grateful and embrace the gifts life provides us.


We’ve started on a new adventure life offered our family this spring. There are still many challenges in my life, but I maintain an unwavering optimism to overcome these obstacles.


Stay tuned for my series of See Sicily With Me.






A Work Trip in Numbers

I was fishing for dreams to share and hope to build…. I think I did well gathering both for myself and others during my time away.

Time Quote

I was fortunate to have been invited to speak to a wide variety of people the beginning of this month. This invitation took me halfway across the United States. The day after I returned home I was so exhausted I laid down in my bed early and slept for ten hours. It took me a few days to get rid of the jet lag and resume my usual schedule. It was a lot of work, but it was such an honor to have been invited.

6 Consecutive days
3,712 Miles flown round-trip
14 Presentations
2 Cities
2 Colleges (Thank you University of Iowa and Loras College for your warm hospitality)
1 Education Center (Thank you Regina Education Center. By the way, I loved being there on pajama day!)
1 Nurse’s group mixed with some amazing volunteers (Thank you University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinic nurses and volunteers for the wonderful gift of caring and compassion you provide to your patients daily.)
COUNTLESS conversations with incredible people who were willing to share their time and join me in a journey to help others learn from the lessons our lives have taught.

It was a whirlwind trip, but I always find myself gaining more than I could ever hope to offer when I hear of the impact we are capable of having on one another.

What Happens In Vegas…



The city’s tourism slogan is “What Happens in Vegas Stays in Vegas”. Are you like me and wonder what does happen? Stop back in two weeks, and I will tell you what really did happen in Vegas. Right now I am full of hopeful anticipation. I will be traveling to Las Vegas next week to speak at two venues.

On Wednesday, September 10th at 7PM, a brand new theater located within part of the newly renovated and exciting Downtown Project has invited me to present. I will be at The Window attempting to inspire with lessons of overcoming adversity. We all face challenges. Everyone needs to remember they are strong enough to face these difficulties. We all have it within us to become stronger after the storm has passed.

On Thursday, September 11th, I have been invited to speak at the world-renowned Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health. I will speak to patients and doctors about my first-hand experiences with acquired and traumatic brain injuries. They will hear what it is like to be a patient and live as a survivor.



I am planning on sharing a few stories about what happened in Vegas but pictures… we’ll see.







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Taking Tweens On A Train Through America

This is off topic from my usual posts; however, it is information I am excited to share.  Before this trip, I searched the internet and asked friends about experiences they had taking tweens (children between ages 10-12) on a long train ride.  It has always been a desire of mine to take my daughters through the mountain offering views they could never experience riding in a car or taking a flight high above the clouds.  But, before I committed to a forty hour train ride, I was hoping to gather thoughts and stories from people who had taken this journey before us.  The information I gathered was sparse, so I decided to devote a blog post on lessons learned and adventures gained from our Amtrak summer trip.

                We packed a few games:

Games We Took On The Train

                These could be played in our seats or the lounge car.  The lounge car had tall windows which allowed great views of passing scenery.  It also had tables wide enough for people to sit and play games.

Game time in lounge car on Amtrak

Game time in lounge car on Amtrak

Lounge Car Windows

High windows in the lounge car offered a great view

The lower level of the lounge car has drinks and microwave type food ready to be purchased.  It is also important to note you can bring your own food.  We brought muffins for breakfast and went to this lounge car to eat.

Lounge car items available for purchase

Lounge car items available for purchase

                I was a bit intimidated getting onto the train.  I was carrying a heavy suitcase.  The staircase we had to go up was narrow and had a tight corner.  It was challenging for me to get up these stairs with my game bag and suitcase.  Yet, once we made our climb it was nice and open.  The seats are wide.  They recline and offer a footrest.  Bags are kept above the seat like on an airplanes.  I was glad we took small pillows and blankets to add comfort during the night.  My children were delighted to see outlets in each row to keep electronic devices charged.  Only a few stations we pulled into offered internet.

The general seating area on the top level of the Southwest Chief Amtrak train

The general seating area on the second level of the Southwest Chief Amtrak train

                General boarding seats are not assigned until you get onto the train.  Once you sit down, they come around and put a slip above your chair with the code of the station where you will depart.  This allows the crew to know who should get off when.  The station names are called until the evening.  At this time, no announcements are made until the next morning which allows you to sleep.  If you have a stop during the night, someone comes around to wake you and let you know it’s time to leave.

                There were not many stops long enough to get out and walk around.  Albuquerque, NM was our favorite stop where we stepped out for fresh air.  They had a market which carried things like necklaces, earrings, blankets and dream catchers.  On our way home, we picked up a few souvenirs from here.  Not having many long stops was not a problem because of the freedom to walk throughout the train.

                On the way back, we reserved a sleeping car.  The cost was so high we could only afford it one way.  I hope you are able to try this.  It was great.  The only drawback was it seemed much louder on these cars, yet the privacy was nice.  These rooms are considered “all-inclusive”.  There is a shower room in the lower part of the car with soap and towels available.  A crew member greeted us before we boarded the train and helped carry our luggage up the stairs and turned down our beds in the evening.  Meals in the dining car are also included with these rooms.  Reservations are made a day in advance.

Reservation card for meals in the dining car

Reservation card for meals in the dining car

                I am a foodie and let me tell you: The food is really good!  I was expecting decent at best, heated trays.  Breakfast and lunch meals ranged from $7-$13.  Kids’ meals were also available.  Supper was anywhere from $16-$26.  Again, these meals are included in the price of a room.

The dining car is set up like a real restaurant

The dining car is set up like a real restaurant

My favorite meal was the Mahi-Mahi dinner

My favorite meal was the Mahi-Mahi dinner

My girls picked the steak dinner. Their dad should be proud.

My girls picked the steak dinner. Their dad should be proud.

The triple chocolate mousse won out though over the cheesecake

The triple chocolate mousse won out as our favorite over the cheesecake

We saw many beautiful sights through mountains and plains while traveling halfway across America.

View of a house from the train's window.

View of a distant house from the train’s window.

It was fun to watch our train following us on tight turns

It was fun to watch our train following us on tight curves

It was hard to pick out a sunset or sunrise picture.  They were all breathtaking

It was hard to pick out one sunset or sunrise picture. They were all breathtaking

           It is my opinion that when you hear the conductor call out “All Aboard”, gather your family and jump on-board for experiences you would otherwise never be able to gain and a journey you’ll never forget.

Take a train trip and let me know about your adventures

Take a train trip and let me know about your adventure

“Travel, in the younger sort, is a part of education; in the elder, a part of experience.”
Francis Bacon, Sr. quotes (English Lawyer and Philosopher. 1561-1626)

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