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  to write, travel, mom, teach, and learn…so far, across 4 continents and the Caribbean.   After living abroad three years, I’m back in Nashville, Tennessee telling my travel tales and helping others tell theirs.  Every sense is  still on high alert and I love sharing  journeys 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  the school they attended K-12, when they were gone I felt lost and needed new. I had a great life in Nashville–an established career, friends, and family I loved–but I knew it was time to go. So I 48landed in Africa. Solo. Sight unseen.
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 was not all pools and palm trees. Every day there were challenges– having no car, waiting months for a residency card, periodic safety warnings, using French and Spanish keyboards.  I sobbed and physically ached every time I told my children goodbye. I missed my family, my friends, my pets and my house.  I missed Nashville.  But I’m very thankful for that time. That season. Moving abroad in August of 2014 stretched me, allowing me to learn and contribute in new ways.

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Bucket List Bliss in Sahara Desert


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.

Fav Italy

Lake Como with a friend…perfection. I fell in love with Italy in 2005 and vowed to move abroad one day.


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Sunday afternoon in Tuscany 2009


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I still go to Italy every chance I get and loved New Year’s Eve in Venice.


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St. Petersburg, Russia, one of the most beautiful cities in the world


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Moscow


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Montmartre, Fall 2013


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Prague


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Bolonia Beach, Spain


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27th/Last Graduation at DCA


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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


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Some of the gang (from left) Andy, Ruffino, Beth, Cheryl, Jonathan, Carol, April,  Best Friend Kim (standing)


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My sis and oldest friend


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Loves of my Life, Taylor and Cole, Christmas Day 2014


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Sahara Palace, where Sex and City 2 was filmed


Typical weekend in Jemma el Fna Square Marrakesh
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Dairy farm in Holland where cheese and shoes are made


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Summer 2012 in Amazonian jungle, Ecuador


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Working the Bucket List


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Favorite dessert, Belgium


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2000 on Irish Sea


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Park Güell in Barcelona


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Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica


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Amsterdam


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Salsa days in Nashville


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Essaouira, Morocco


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Ouarzazate, Morocco–film site of Gladiator, Jewel of the Nile, Game of Thrones


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Bucket List…the Sahara


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Looking forward to meeting this guy


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Savannah, Georgia 2012


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The 3 Musketeers together again in London


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Pepe Nero, Pasha's Palace

Moving to Morocco was one of the best decisions of my life.


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In August 2016 Taylor and I moved to The Dominican Republic for a Mother-Daughter adventure.



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

My son, Cole, graduated college and started his career as we explored the Caribbean.


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Travel is always worth it.

Traveling to over 25 countries and living abroad in two of them was something I’ll never regret. Though I lost more than expected, I gained more than imagined.

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