Pairings Retreat: From Dream to Reality

One day, shortly after the beginning of the new year, my friend Cristina from Your Personal Producer and I were on G-chat as we normally are, sharing our dreams for 2018. She was in a funk and I was in a post-Paris high! 2017 had seen some serious ups and downs for both of us and we didn’t want 2018 to end up being the same old song and dance. You know…dream big at the beginning of the year, start off strong and lose it somewhere around mid-April.

In a moment of honesty, she blurted out: (paraphrasing) “I wish I could just get away. Go on a retreat and get my thoughts in order for 2018.”

And I said “Let’s do that!”

The funny thing is, it’s usually me who dreams beyond my reach and usually she steps in to tell me: “That’s possible.” But on this day our roles were reversed and soon our dreaming turned into a game plan!

She threw out a concept, I took it and threw things back at her and an actionable plan formed not only in our minds and on our proverbial cocktail napkins, but also on a shared Google Drive folder that would soon become an actionable itinerary for the retreat of our dreams.

Pairings Retreat

We started off with the dream of a beachy, intimate retreat filled with instagrammable drinks paired with vision board creations. Photo sessions paired with content calendars. Adorable products from bakeries like P is for Pie and brands like band.o to inspire our own creative juices. It all came together like the stories you hear of visionaries in restaurants spit balling ideas and then…one day, we have Twitter. Or in a parent’s garage and all of a sudden…Apple is born.

In fact, Cristina and I have this thing that happens to us when we really get going on an idea on G-chat. One of us will type out an idea and hit send only to find the other person has thought of almost the exact same thing as well. Leading to a lot of “GET OUT OF MY HEAD” and “HOW IS THIS HAPPENING?”

In moments like these, we are so like-minded that our dreams and visions become transcendent. Like somehow God is planting ideas in both our heads and because He had the good sense to make us friends, He’s smiling at His handiwork when we, humble creations that we are, realize how our ideas fit together just as they are meant to!

So fast forward through all of our pre-planning and big dreaming to the retreat itself.

Road Trip Reunion:

Cristina flew in early Tuesday morning. We didn’t want to skip a beat or miss precious time enacting our respective visions. I grocery shopped and product sourced ahead of time with a handy shared shopping list on the G-Drive (the thing that helps us get all things done.)

Pairings Retreat - a creative retreat for blogger by Cristina and Liz

The drive to Madeira Beach is about 2 hours from Orlando, so we had plenty of time to get our thoughts in order and make some plans ahead of our scheduled time of making plans. Plus, we had a chance to get important friend catch-up time in there as well, which is vital to a partnership like ours! We strive very hard to strike a balance between best friends forever and business partners. And that comes with equal helpings of dream casting and venting about elements of our everyday life.

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Werk Werk Werk:

Once we reached our destination, we were in for a penny, in for a pound. We wasted no time unpacking the car, setting up our rooms and our work spaces, making our first round of drinks and getting our hair into sensible work pony-tails. We had a quick lunch on the beach of Publix subs, because Publix subs are the be all and end all of sandwiches for any home grown Florida girl (and we both are!)

Pairings Retreat - a creative retreat for bloggers by Cristina and Lizzie

Next, we set about our goal setting. With the help of some materials Cristina brought along, we began to ask really tough questions about our goals. What we wanted to achieve in life? What was stopping us? What did we allow in our lives that caused road blocks we may not even be aware of yet? What emotional juggernauts did we each have to work on and overcome in the coming year to make space for big dreams? So…no big deal. Just the extremely big, life-altering questions of the every day life, right?

Visionaries:

Following that, we set to the task of vision boarding. Cristina’s board was and all-encompassing snap shot of the life she wants to create for herself. A sensible 11×17″ format that would fit nicely in her carry on and be easy to take home with her.

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My vision board…well, you know I don’t do anything the “normal” way. Mine turned into more of what I like to call, a vision journal. Each page representing a different aspect of my personality that I wanted to highlight or work on or change altogether.  (more to come on vision journaling!)

Sunsets are Non-negotiable:

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After getting a whole lot of WERK done, we made a rule about Pairings Retreat…Sunsets are non-negotiable!! So we walked out to the beach (which was mere steps away from the front door of our beach cottage) and watched as the day sank into nighttime. Sunsets are the best way to end a day, IMHO. They remind you that there is beauty waiting at the end of whatever you just went through. And they reminded us to consider that the world has so much to offer.

Winner, Winner, Pesto Dinner:

When pairing up with a Forever Friend and future business partner, it’s nice to combine skills. Some of which I have, some of which she has and some of which we share. But making a delicious Pesto Chicken Pasta for dinner…that’s all Cristina!

Throughout our day we were cognizant of the moments when we wanted to hunker down and get through our list, as well as making room for moments when we needed a little R&R to refresh us for the hard stuff. Pairings Retreat quickly became about so much more than scheduling blog posts and creating actionable plans for our future. It was only the end of day one and already we both had the feeling that we had stumbled upon something really special.

Second Verse, Better than the First:

We awoke at a reasonable hour in the morning on Day 2. Actually, I got up a little earlier to go sit on the beach and watch the day break. Breakfast was mimosas and bagels from Brooklyn Water Bagel, a local place in Winter Park and a favorite place of mine (shop small!!!)

Pairings Retreat - a creative retreat for bloggers by Cristina and Lizzie

We analyzed our schedule for the day over breakfast and made some adjustments. We wanted to have more time for photo sessions and wanted to take advantage of the weather in the morning. Being flexible in the midst of a set schedule became really important for us. We had things to accomplish, but we also wanted to be free to move with the day as we needed to.

Snap My Picture:

Cristina has gotten very good at taking my picture. From our days of working on my web series in New York to her constantly being my photographer for fitness series and fashion posts. Me…I’m not as good at it. But this was a chance to stretch myself. I’m usually the one in front of the camera, because I like to be there. She’s usually behind it, for the same reason. But Pairings Retreat is about challenging yourself. Creating what you need. And learning that the walls you have to climb are only as tall as you let them be. Learn to climb and you don’t have a wall problem anymore, do you!

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Photo by Cristina Fowler
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Photo by Cristina Fowler
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Photo by Cristina Fowler (she really is good at this game!)

Working Lunch:

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We continued to bump things around and change our schedule as our needs dictated for the day. Lunch became a working lunch. We put the finishing touches on our vision boards and started in on our writing session. Whatever that meant for each of us. We are both bloggers, but I took that time to continue filing out my questionnaire about my future, which became addictive and illuminating. I didn’t realize some of the things that were coming up in my answers and it allowed me a perspective on my future that I had not considered yet.

Treat Yourself:

Who among us isn’t energized by a treat? The mere mention of a cupcake in the vicinity and I perk right up! Prior to the trip, I had procured a couple special treats for us. Pies from P is for Pie, cupcakes from Small Cakes Cupcakery and extra large Hershey’s chocolate bars for each of us (milk chocolate for Cristina and dark chocolate for me.) We had a drink pairing for each portion of our day and delectable meals lined up around every corner.

Pairings Retreat - a creative retreat for bloggers by Cristina and Lizzie

We didn’t over eat. We didn’t get drunk or binge on sweets to the point of sugar comas, but we did enjoyed our time together to the fullest and took time to treat ourselves as we worked hard and got our check lists done! This is now a founding principle of Pairings Retreat. TREAT YOURSELF!!

Bring Me that Horizon:

As I  mentioned before…sunsets are non-negotiable at Pairings and we took the chance to get another photo session in before the sun took it’s bow for our last night on retreat.

On the Town:

To add a big, shiny bow to our fabulous and very productive 2-day retreat, we went out to dinner Wednesday night. We couldn’t believe we had only started the morning before. We had gotten so much done!

There’s something about fresh seafood on the porch of a beach town restaurant that is especially rejuvenating. We had more fruity drinks and more delicious desserts. And we talked about how we wanted to expand our idea for Pairings. What if we offered this experience to more bloggers who were looking for what we had found here?

To the Future:

It’s funny. After a certain age, things like camp and sleep overs and getaways become hard to come by because of life circumstance or frowned upon because of age. 30-something women don’t have slumber parties anymore. Adults don’t go away to sleep over camp. We grown-ups have it all figured out, after all. But I call shenanigans!!

Pairings Retreat - a creative retreat for blogger Cristina and Lizzie

We need to get away sometimes. We need to recharge our batteries away from the people who spend the most time using our batteries up. We need time with other creatives to spark our own adventures and dreams. That is exactly what Pairings became for us.

And even better, that is what Pairings can be for you too!!

If that sounds like just what you’re looking for, then…Stay tuned!

Pairings Retreat - a creative retreat for bloggers by Cristina and Lizzie

39 Times Rom Coms Pissed Me Off

You know what really burns my butt? Romantic Comedies!! Because here I am over here…liberated female, free from the ties that bind me and then a movie like When Harry Met Sally comes on and all that level-headed nonsense goes right out the window because…reasons! It just burns. It stings actually.

Pissed Off Yoda

And the worst part is that Romantic Comedies and Dramedies and Sitcomedies and all manner of romance, to be honest, make me weak at the knees. One shot of a semi shirtless Mr. Darcy emerging from the pond at Pemberley and I know what I’ll be dreaming about that night. One little romantic speech from Tom Hanks and farewell normal, everyday human male specimen…don’t even bother, cause you’re no Hanks! Again I say, it burns! Because I don’t want to have that vision in my head. That romantic ideal and yet there it sits. Waiting for the moment to strike. The moment when a guy chooses to take me to a Starbucks for a first date instead of guerilla paintball a la 10 Things I Hate About You. Or at the airport while boarding my plane and no one comes to stop me from getting on…how rude! Or how about when I’m at a holiday party with no date and then…no one bursts through the door to save me.

The beautiful truth is that I can save myself, thank you very much. Always have, always will. The crappy side effect of my frail humanity is that I still want to be saved sometimes. In moments of weakness and ice cream… I want it.

And I’ve decided that Rom Coms are to blame. It doesn’t mean for a second that I’ll stop watching them, because I’m a weak human girlie specimen. And also…reasons! Regardless, here are the 39 romantic moments that just piss me off!!! Who’s with me??

(**This is not the order in which I love hate these movies.)

39.The Switch

The Switch Jason bateman gif Rom Com Movie Moments

38. Love and Basketball

Love and Basketball Gif Rom Com Movie Moments

37. No Strings Attached

No Strings Attached Rom Com Movie Moments

36. Leap Year

Leap Year Rom Com Movie Moment

35. Never Been Kissed

Never Been Kissed Rom Com Movie Moment

34. My Big Fat Greek Wedding

My Big Fat Greek WEdding Rom Com Movie Moment

33. Someone Like You

Someone Like You Rom Com Movie Moments

32. She’s All That

Freddie Prince Jr. She's All That Rom Com Movie Moments

31. Jerry McGuire

Jerry MaGuire Movie Moments

30. The Bodyguard

The Bodyguard Movie Moment

29.  Grease

John Travolta Grease Rom Com Movie Moment

28. The Wedding Planner

The Wedding Planner

27. Ella Enchanted

Ella Enchanted Rom Com Movie Moments

26.Say Anything

Say Anything Boom Box Movie Moment

25. Lady and the Tramp

Lady and the Tramp spaghetti gif Movie Moments

24. Clueless

Clueless Paul Rudd Rom Com Movie Moments

23. The Nanny Diaries

The Nanny Diaries Rom Com Movie Moments

22. Friends with Benefits

Friends with Benefits Justin Timberlake Rom Com Movie Moments

21. Jane Austen Book Club

The Jane Austen Book Club Rom Com Movie Moment

20. Because I Said So

Because I Said So Gabriel Macht Rom Com Movie Moments

19. Hitch

Hitch Rom com movie moments

18. How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days

How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days

17. Dirty Dancing

Dirty Dancing Patrick Swayze Movie Moments

16. Emma

Emma Movie Moments Mr. Knightley

15. Moulin Rouge

Ewan McGregor Moulin Rouge Movie Moments

14. Sleepless in Seattle

Sleepless in Seattle Rom Com Movie Moment

13. 27 Dresses

27 Dresses Rom Com Movie Moments

12. Pretty Woman

Pretty Woman Rom Com Movie Moment

11. The Mirror Has Two Faces

The Mirror Has Two Faces Rom Com Movie Moments

10. 13 Going on 30

13 Going on 30 Rom Com Movie Moments

9. 10 Things I Hate About You

10 Things I Hate About You Rom Com Movie Moments

8. While You Were Sleeping

While You Were Sleeping ROm COm Movie Moments

7. The Proposal

The Proposal Rom Com Movie Moments

6. Love Actually

Love Actually Rom Com Movie Moments

5. The Princess Bride

The Princess Bride As you Wish Movie Moment

4. You’ve Got Mail

You've Got Mail Tom Hanks Rom Com Movie Moments

3. Bridget Jones’ Diary

Bridget Jones' Diary Rom Com Movie Moments

2. Pride and Prejudice (mini series)

Pride and Prejudice Mr. Darcy Movie Moments

1. When Harry Met Sally (My favorite of all time!)

When Harry Met Sally Rom Com Movie Moments

 

OK, so some of them aren’t Rom Coms. There are Rom Drams and Rom Musical Coms up there, but you get my drift. Romance is stupid and yucky and I love it hate it!!! Hate with a capital H and that stands for Hate and that rhymes with Hate!

Which Rom Coms are your favorite least favorite!!

7 bonus movies that I was reminded of after hitting publish:

Fools Rush In

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The Holiday 

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The Decoy Bride

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My Best Friend’s Wedding

giphy

Return to Me

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Sweet Home Alabama

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Runaway Bride

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Dear Carrie Fisher,

I’m sorry that we live in the kind of world where appearance is what we are judged on above all other merit. To some degree everyone is judged in this manner, but no one is judged quite as harshly as women over a “certain” age. A threshold that seems to creep younger and younger each year.

What a shame, because women (like men shockingly enough, world) get better with age. You, Miss Fisher, are better with your age. You don’t need anyone’s validation about this point, much less mine. And from your poignant responses to such ridiculous criticism, I know you know this more than anyone else!!

We, the viewing and critical public have the luxury of watching your face in a darkened movie theater. We who are not held to the standard that you are. We (NY Post author…I’m looking at you) who have not the fame and fortune that you have and we (still looking at you Post) who are, perhaps, jealous of those things.

I’m sure that as an actress with your great stature and respect in the nerd community alone (we will follow where you lead, General) you probably have access to the best resources in weight loss and boutique fitness and sure, as the Post author has suggested, even the best drugs out there for the Hollywood elite. Having read about you for years and years, I find it shocking appalling UNACCEPTABLE for anyone to suggest to you the things that have been suggested!

I look forward to a future where women are not judged by how good they look in a gold bikini, but rather on their merit as a genuine human being! But hey, I’m a hopeless optimist like that.

Thank you for returning to the big screen! Thank you for fulfilling the dreams of women everywhere to see more of the one and only Princess Leia, now General Leia. It was every bit as epic as I dreamed! And I hope to look half as good as you do at the age of…38! 😉

Photo from StarWars.com
Photo courtesy of StarWars.com

The Force is with you!!! So very with you!

With love,

a fangirl

** To anyone who doesn’t know what NY Post article I’m referring to, you can go Google it. Because I refuse to link it in this blog post!

Tips from a 9 Yr Old Fashionista

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Meet H. She is 9 years old. A New York transplant to California’s sunny, beachy Santa Monica.
She is an incredibly creative kid who loves fashion, writing and skateboarding down Wilshire.

She’s been begging me to let her have a post on my blog. So here she is with a few style tips and her favorite outfits.

“I call this The Fashion Girl.”

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“When picking an outfit, it’s important to make sure your jeans aren’t wrinkled and also to roll up your sleeves because it makes you look like you always know what you’re doing.”

“This is Fashion Einstein.”

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“Stripes show intelligence. Wear stripes to school!”

“This is called School Farmer.”

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“Overalls show that you have talent. Make sure to leave one side unbuckled. It makes it seem like you’ve done this stuff before.”

“I call this Fun on the Stairs.”

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“Put pep in your step and people will be able to see your fashion style.”

“Snooze Till You Never Lose.”

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“Just because you’re going to bed doesn’t mean you can’t be fashionable.”

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There you have it folks. How to rock your style from a 9 year old!

I Pitch My Tent in the Valley

I had a revelation about dating. It’s not ground breaking information or anything. Just a thought about me. The person I know the most and spend the most time with. And maybe you’ve felt or feel like this and that is why we share. To find connection. To say, “Hey, you’re there right now? Me too.”
So…I don’t like dating. It’s no secret. And I recently went on a date with a really nice guy. He was socially well adjusted and he liked nerdy things and he loved Jesus. He was quite possibly a unicorn. But I wasn’t having any of it. I didn’t wanna go. And when he asked me out for a second date (something I’ve never been on with anyone) I dragged my feet about it. And turned into a whiner. I whined about it. “Do I have to go?” I asked my friends and family. The same friends and family who have heard me complain time and again that I don’t get asked out by decent guys and have heard me complain that I’ve never even been on a second date with anyone…ever.
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What was wrong with me? What have I been saying??? “Unicorn!” “Where are all the unicorns?” “If only I could find a unicorn then maybe my relationship stuff would be over.” But here was a unicorn sitting in front of me and I couldn’t be bothered.
It wasn’t adding up.

There’s an element that I have not shared with you beautiful nerds. I’ve kept it close. It was too private to share. But…here goes everything.
I accidentally fell in love somewhere in the 8 years I was living in New York. And yes…accidentally falling in love is as stupid as it sounds. And it doesn’t produce the happy outcome that you readers and viewers and family and friends so graciously hope for my life.

I’m only giving the highlights because of anonymity and because if he ever reads this (highly unlikely), he knows all he needs to about it and doesn’t need to know any more than what I’ve chosen to share. And because there is way more to it than this, but this is the important stuff.

The bullet points are as follows:
-He’s a boy
-I’m a girl
-We were friends
-Then we were roommates
-I moved out
-I missed him
-I started to feel more
-But knew it was not a possibility
-So I tried to get over it
-And failed miserably
-I told him I was in love with him
-But nothing happened
-Then I moved to Florida (not because of!! Important note.)

Now as I mentioned, this unicorn guy came along after the bullet points. And the bullet points, of course, have a lot to do with a lack of enthusiasm about the unicorn.

Here’s what it boils down to. I’m 32 now. I’m not getting any younger. But hey!! I am getting way…way better!!
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I’m about to be an aunt. And almost all my friends and family are married. It’s natural. It’s what happens. But maybe that’s not what “happens” to me.

See…dating comes with a price tag. The price is that there are a set of expectations in a dating situation that for a hurricane like me, are unavoidable and undesirable. Expectations like…do I like him? Would I kiss him? Do I want to have sex one day with him? Would I marry him? (I’m drastically over simplifying but you get it.) All the while society and well-meaning church folks ask the dreaded questions…”When will you be getting married?” “Should I set you up on a blind date since you’re still single?” “Don’t you want to be happy?”

So instead of turning to a unicorn who I know there is potential with, I turn to and fixate on the bullet points. Cause there is no future there. There is no expectation of more. And that is ok with me right now.

But “NO!” you say. You’re shaking your head that it isn’t better. I know what you mean and I know why you shake, but I currently disagree… because I’m not looking for ‘The One’ I’m looking for a friend. Friendship is what you hope to end up with at the end of a long married day. A friend. Who gets you and loves you and sure…wants to have some sexy time with ya. But who is ultimately…your FRIEND.

If the only expectation on a date was getting a friend out of it, maybe then it wouldn’t fill me with the crippling fear that it does now. I don’t let fear get in the way for me usually. But with this dating stuff, for some reason, I listen. I don’t want to worry about whether or not some guy is gonna hold my hand or try to kiss me and will I be too polite to tell him I’m not really feeling anything but friendship for him. And why has it become such a crime or an emotional wrecking ball to have that conversation.

I want amazing. I want exciting and I want it with some one who knows me the way the bullet points knew me. But who also loves me back.
And it’s a Catch 22 that won’t happen if I avoid dating. I know that, mom! (She’s pretty smart!) This blog has no answer. It has no solution.

But then again, this blog has never been about having it figured out. Or about teaching how life works. It’s always been about the journey and the figuring and the valley moments. Cause that’s where I find my tent pitched 89% of the time. I’ll let someone else write about the mountain top.
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Brand New Episode

Previously on So…This Happened…

And now…

Episode 35: Boys vs. Girls

Starring:

Liz Tailor, Sheila Williams, Brianne Blessitt, Eriana Burdan & Patrick Cann

Ethical Closet (Click the links below):

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Sponsored by:

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(Click here for more information on our sponsor: Licensure Exams)

For more information on the companies we partner with and what they stand for CLICK HERE, and for more on the fashions and where to get them CLICK HERE.

Photo by Cristina Fowler
Photo by Cristina Fowler
Photo by Cristina Fowler
Photo by Cristina Fowler

Check back every Tuesday for brand new episodes!!