Getaway to McKinney, Texas : Where to Stay, Play, & Dine

My annual birthday celebrations never arrive quietly or without including a good deal of planning and travel. I believe birthdays should always include a person’s favorite things and people and as you may already know, exploring new places is one of my most favorite things. For this birthday weekend celebration, I partnered with Visit McKinney and Texas Travel Talk to bring you a weekend itinerary full inspiration and a weekend you can easily replicate for a visit of your own.

Where to Stay in McKinney, Texas

Mckinney Bed and Breakfast

McKinney Bed and BreakfastWhen planning a weekend getaway in a new city, it’s easy to default to the most familiar hotel chain. Let me encourage you to HIGHLY consider a bed and breakfast when visiting McKinney, Texas. If you are shocked to hear this recommendation coming from me, I’m honestly a little surprised myself. It is no secret that I enjoy luxury accommodations. For my first stay in bed and breakfast ever, the accommodations at McKinney Bed and Breakfast were top notch. It’s not a hotel and it’s not a home but for a Mckinney getaway, it is better than both. I would be so happy to stay here with the hosts Vicki and Wayne Hill anytime. They took such good care of us with coffee and gourmet biscotti delivered right outside our door. Breakfast was several delightful courses. I had no idea how lovely a bed and breakfast stay could be. I look forward to coming back for another visit with them soon.

McKinney Bed and Breakfast room

McKinney Bed and Breakfast meal

Where to Eat in McKinney, Texas

As if breakfast at Mckinney Bed and Breakfast wasn’t enough there are plenty of places to tempt your taste buds. There are plenty of options to satisfy your inner foodie in Mckinney. Here are a few of our favorite recommendations from the weekend.

  • SugarBacon Proper Kitchen – Seasonal approach to American cuisine
  • Cadillac Pizza Pub – Pizza, Music, Beer
  • Hugs Cafe – Non-Profit employing adults with special needs
  • Patina Green Home and Market – Daily lunches served in an edgy antique shop
  • Paciugo Gelato Cafe – Italian ice cream and coffee
  • The Yard- McKinney’s backyard hangout with great food, cold drinks, games, and awesome vibes
  • Harvest Seasonal Kitchen-Farm to Table Restaurant
  • Frios Gourmet Pops- Fresh, Frozen, Gourmet Popsicles

What to Do in Mckinney, Texas

Beyond food and relaxation, there is a ton to keep you busy from morning to night on your visit.

Shopping on the Square

While I’m not typically a hardcore shopper when traveling, I was completely taken with the shops surrounding the Downtown Mckinney Historic Square. These are not your aunties boutiques and stereotypical antique shops. The shop owners here are in tune with today’s customers and have curated interesting and original selections of goods that cannot be found elsewhere. I was also happy to find that the personalities of the owners and staff were just as original as the goods they market. Every great travel experience is about the people and the people I met inside the shops of McKinney Texas will have me driving back to shop again and again.

Get Ready to Laugh

One unique entertainment offering in Mckinney is The Comedy Arena. If you are up for a night of laughs, you might want to give this a try for date night. The Comedy Arena is in downtown McKinney, TX just a little off the Square at 305 E. Virginia and is one of the few options that is supplying comedic entertainment every weekend of the year. There is a family-friendly show in the early evening and a more adult show just following later in the evening.

Enjoy Live Music

If you enjoy live music and visit on a weekend, you will be hard pressed not to find live music playing somewhere on McKinney’s downtown square. Almost every shop and restaurant has commissioned a musical act to perform. It’s clear that art and culture are valued by residents and visitors alike.

Unique Ideas and Insider Tips We Love about McKinney Texas

McKinney Farmers Market

Food Walks Of Texas Tours Food Walks of Texas offers guided, walking food tours of historic downtown McKinney. Perfect for visitors or locals, you’ll learn about our city’s fascinating history while enjoying its best eats. In addition to delicious food tastings, you’ll learn interesting tidbits about the backgrounds and inspiration of the chefs/owners behind the eateries, as well as plenty of historical, cultural, and architectural information relevant to the historic downtown McKinney Square.

Mckinney Door on the Square

Look for the tiny door on the Downtown Square This tiny door is one of my favorite insider secrets on the Downtown Mckinney Square! If you keep your eyes open on one of the corners you’ll see a small door with stained glass just at the height of your shoes. An artist installed this artwork to remind those who were looking that there is always something to see if we’ll just pay attention. Let me know if you find this door when you walk the square here okay?

Get a UNIQUE picture taken The UNIQUE letters are currently located in Mitchell Park and make a perfect photo to commemorate your visit. The City of McKinney launched the #IAMUNIQUEBYNATURE campaign to define the city’s image for our residents, businesses, and visitors. It speaks to the inherent uniqueness and embodies the spirit of community in Mckinney, Texas.

Learn How to Bake French Macarons Learn to bake French macarons like a pro in one of Savor’s hands-on baking classes. Each person takes home a gift box of macarons and tote bag from the class.

There is so much more to explore I HIGHLY encourage you to bring a friend or your family and come to find your favorite spots in McKinney, Texas. Be sure to come back and tell me what you loved most, won’t you?

What We Did on Our Summer Vacation 2018 : The Airstream Adventure

Every summer, in an effort to reinforce the pillars of exploration, curiosity, and independence, we plan an exciting summer adventure with our family. The qualifications for each adventure is that it be a little different than the year before and something that none of us have done previously. Being the extroverted bunch that we are, these qualifiers become more challenging year after year. We were fortunate enough to have some amazing partners to help us, quite literally, pull this adventure together(<<you’ll see why that was such a great pun in a minute). So, before we get too far along in our story I want to say a BIG thanks to Ford, Airstream, Vogt Family Fun Center, and KOA for helping make this summer adventure one that our family will never forget.

When we were dreaming up what this year’s adventure would look like, the travel method was a resounding: “ROAD TRIP!!” In a world full of technology, online reviews, smartphones, we are simultaneously more connected and less connected than ever before. There is just something classic and inspiring about heading out for adventure knowing you have every amenity and luxury of “home” literally right behind you. To be honest, the combined amenities of the Tommy Bahama airstream, East Austin KOA campsite, and the Ford Expedition we were traveling with may just have afforded us more luxuries than home.

Truck and Towing – What the Haul?

Maybe you’ve been secretly been interested in trying this out too but you’re a little nervous?

Never towed anything before? Same here. Put those fears aside you have nothing to worry about.

Being brand new to towing and hauling a home on wheels, I was a little apprehensive about calculating travel time, towing hookups, and setting up the airstream at the campsite. I may have been having flashbacks of the RV scene from National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation with cousin Randy outside in his short robe…..which let’s just be honest, is not a good look for anyone. Thanks to the ease of the 2018 Ford Expedition and the great instruction from the crew at Vogt Family Fun Center, it was incredibly easy even for newbies like us.

The good news was that we had absolutely nothing to worry about because before we left we were given a very detailed walk around answering any questions we had. The ease of hooking up and towing with the technology in the Ford Expedition was going to make this trip a breeze. You don’t even need a spotter because you can see everything and are perfectly guided right behind the wheel.

Now that we were all hooked up, It was time to get on the road! You can read Randall’s account of the journey featured over on Thrills and Wheels. It’s a pretty sentimental father-son story that I really enjoyed hearing from his perspective.

Texas Airstream Adventure

The mileage between Dallas and Austin isn’t very far, even driving a little slower with the added weight of towing an RV is only a few hours. We’ve traveled a good deal of Texas so we the location wouldn’t be the unique factor but the accommodations would be. I’ve never been much of a camper. Lucky for me camping in a 2018 Tommy Bahama Airstream is the most luxurious way to stay on the road. Combine that with the amenities that were available to us at the East Austin KOA site,  it was like living a dream. This was in no way going to be a typical camping experience.

Setting Up Our Glampsite

Staying at a KOA site is really cool! There are various levels of camping available, from roughing it my preferred style of ‘glamping’. We had no idea how cool these locations could be! It was our first time to stay a KOA and it definitely won’t be our last! Some locations have tiny homes, treehouses, or teepees you can reserve. I really like the unique campsite ideas. It’s pretty much the only way I want to camp from now on.

Getting set up at our reserved campsite was so easy! We checked just a little after regular office hours but there was still an attendant on duty to give us a check-in packet. Getting our hookups in place and only took about 15 minutes to get set up.

KOA Airstream set up

Our deluxe campsite came with outdoor patio furniture, a fire pit, and a gas grill. The staff who also stay on-site came by to check on us and make sure we didn’t need any additional help. Everyone we encountered was so friendly.

KOA deluxe campsite

I really loved the East Austin KOA location and HIGHLY recommend booking here if you are staying in the local area. I’ll share a more detailed post specifically about this in a post of its own but for now here are a few pics of the amenities onsite!

KOA pool

Inside the Airstream – Home Sweet Home

We have always played with the idea of a tiny house or something of that nature all the while living in Texas-sized accommodations in the neighboorhood of 3000 sq ft. Could we really manage a vacation in an airstream? Not only could we but we loved it! My biggest concern was whether we would be cool enough since the forecast for the weekend we chose was hitting over 100 degrees every day. Not only were we cool enough, one evening we woke up and turned the air conditioner up because we were getting chilled.

Inside the Airstream were all the comforts of home. Let me take you on a quick tour….

In this first space, you’ll see the full kitchen(gas stove, microwave, ice maker, sink, refrigerator), dining room ( which transitions into a full/queen sized bed), bar area and SO MUCH storage and plenty of USB/outlets for all our devices. That part was a dream for traveling with teenagers who are always charging. Even on vacation.

Inside the Airstream kitchen

In this second view, you get a better view of the rest of the kitchen, pantry, queen size bedroom, television, closet, and an idea of where the bathroom and shower are located. The KOA site had amazing wifi so in the evening we could stream a movie or shows if we wanted to but we were so busy having fun there wasn’t really time for that. Still, it was cool to know that if a rainy day had been in the forecast we could have.

One area you can’t see from the pictures is the bathroom with a full shower, toilet, sink, mirror, and storage. The door folds in when not in use to give you more room in the bedroom. It folds out when in use to provide more space when someone is taking a shower etc., It never felt crowded or cramped. We were really impressed with the excellent use of space.

Glamping vs Camping

Glamping vs. Camping means that we expored city life too. While we did spend a good deal of time at our KOA exploring the property, swimming, and lounging about in our fancy airstream accommodations but we also got to enjoy our FAVORITE city some too. It’s no secret that we love Austin and we have the BEST time every single visit. We ate Torchy’s Tacos because truly their queso is heaven. We went night swimming at Barton Springs. It was too hot to sit over a campfire for smores so we went for fancy Smores rolled ice cream from a food truck. Oh, and did I mention I forgot to pack shirts? Yep, not a single one because …. ? That was totally okay though since Austin has some of the best thrift stores- vintage and otherwise- We went family thrifting.

I got this adorable dress for $8. Our whole family got new outfits actually and we decided to have an impromptu photo shoot. It truly made for the best memories and I’ll be hanging these new family photos on our living room gallery very soon.

As you can clearly see there is a lot of personality in our family. We love spending time together at home or traveling. This adventure was incredibly memorable for reasons I’m not sure I’ve entirely written here. Memories like this get deeper as the years go on. They are the things you talk about at Thanksgiving, weddings, making plans for the future and things your kids tell their kids. I’m actually tearing up just thinking about it.

Bottom line, get out and adventure with your family. Camp. Glamp. Take a road trip. Just get out, make crazy good memories and explore in every season of life.

Gaining Insight and Elevating Expectations | The 2019 Honda Insight

HondaJet 2019 Honda Insight

Some experiences in life take you by surprise, remind you of what’s possible and elevate your expectations. This was so not the story I was expecting to tell when I first received the invitation to drive the 2019 Honda Insight in Minneapolis, Minnesota. I expected to come back sharing a story of my fondness for thoughtful, hybrid vehicles and their makers, i.e. the 2019 Honda Insight. It’s safe to conclude it became a little bit more.

Remember when you were a kid and sort of had this underlying feeling that anything was possible or something wonderful could happen at any moment? I left Minnesota dreaming a little bigger and reminded that joy is often just waiting to be found. I hope when you are finished reading you come away a little more inspired and ready to dream a little bigger too. ( If you would like the condensed info on the 2019 Honda Insight, check out my latest article at ThrillsandWheels.com)

Arriving at Hotel Ivy

After meeting up with a new friend and my drive partner for the trip at the airport. I arrived at the Hotel Ivy, where I would be staying on this trip. Hotel Ivy features nearly 2 dozen luxury suites, a fitness club and one of the best spas in Minneapolis. The guest rooms were spacious, with comfy beds, a sitting area, and a large desk space. The limestone bathrooms were spa-like with both a glass shower and deep soaking tub. It has some very unique features and history I’ll share with you in a post of its own soon. I’d highly recommend making a reservation for a stay here if you’re planning a trip to Minneapolis anytime in the near future.

Hotel Ivy

After getting unpacked and making myself at home in my room, my new friend and I were off to explore “the tunnels” of Minneapolis. These “tunnels” are really called the Minneapolis Skyway System. They connect various buildings over 80 full city blocks and 11 miles of pedestrian walkways. It’s really quite fascinating even if I did feel a little like a hamster in a cage trying to make sense of them all at first. We spent a couple of hours exploring the skyway system, getting in a count of just under 8,500 steps before dinner.

The Guthrie Theater

The Amber Room

photo credit: plsn.com

Dinner that evening and our official introduction to the 2019 Honda Insight would take place at the Guthrie Theatre. After reading the vision of the Guthrie I couldn’t imagine a more inspiring place to partner with for this occasion.

The vision of the Guthrie is this:

“to create transformative experiences that ignite the imagination, stir the heart, open the mind, and build community through the illumination of our common humanity.” 

Sold. You had me at transformative experiences and talk of community building.

The Amber Room is Solid Gold


Along the top floors is a viewing area called the Amber Room. This was our space to mingle before the event introduction. The room is made of glass that is tinted in a yellowish tone that is best described as a living Instagram filter. From this space, you can take in a panoramic view of the river and the surrounding city that is no less than breathtaking and a perfect place for gaining a new perspective. This is definitely a place I would consider making an entrance because I’m creative and fancy like that.

Honda Insight Introduction

Taking New Roads in the 2019 Honda Insight

The next morning was breakfast, presentation, and drive day. I actually look forward to the presentation portion as much as the drive time. I was always a really good student in school. The Honda team always has an exceptionally well-prepared presentation in all forms of communication- kudos to them for that.  There are usually really nice pens involved too (I love nice pens almost as much as nice flowers)

Honda Insight Presentation

It was finally time to drive. Like everything in the Honda line-up, the Insight is a great car. It doesn’t immediately make you think hybrid, no dramatic exterior or colors that give it away. I like to think of it as the Clark Kent, just waiting to save the day. It is the perfect vehicle for anyone interested in making the first transition to hybrid life.

You guys know I like nice things and behind the wheel, I didn’t feel like I was sacrificing anything. Driving the Honda Insight at Touring trim level carries many features I look for with larger 17-inch wheels, navigation, a power moonroof, dual-zone climate controls, leather-trimmed and heated power front seats and a large 8-inch HondaLink infotainment system all at an affordable $28,985.

In addition to features of comfort, you will also find the full range of safety and driver-assistive technology. Honda Sensing is standard on all Insight trims. It fully met my requirement of non-negotiable features at an incredibly reasonable price point. (For full details on the LX/ EX/Touring trim levels and pricing click here)

We Found a Beach!

Honda Insight New Roads

Did you know that there are beaches in Minnesota? Are there beaches in Minnesota?? Actually, I’m not really sure. This was my first time visiting. We may have crossed over into Wisconsin. We were thoroughly enjoying the drive and may have missed a turn here or there. Although we were off-course a bit, it didn’t feel like we were completely lost.  Sometimes the wrong turn is exactly where you are supposed to be.

At this point, we were definitely off course but had reached the “let’s see where this road goes” phase of our adventure.  Imagine our surprise when at the end of this beautifully shaded, curvy road was a totally empty beach! It was really like stumbling on a movie set or something. We opted not to worry about getting sand in our shoes and pulled over to explore. 

2019 Honda Insight Beach

It was super peaceful and totally unexpected. We took a few pictures and then headed out. I could have probably spent the rest of the afternoon there and been completely happy but I definitely didn’t want to miss out on what was coming next.

Honda Insight Beach 3

Living my best Top Gun life in the HondaJet

Honda Insight Friends

We headed immediately over to our lunch destination at Holman’s Table located in the Downtown St Paul Airport. We dined on the patio, enjoying our lovely meal while we waited for our scheduled flight time in the HondaJet to get an aerial view of Minneapolis—St. Paul. HondaJet is the fastest, highest-flying, quietest, and most fuel-efficient jet in its class.

HondaJet Collage

When it was our time to board, I had the opportunity to sit with the pilot. Of course, I said yes! I so wish I could tell you I played it cool but the ear to ear smile could literally be seen across the tarmac.  Basically, I was living my best Goose-Maverick-Top-Gun-aviator-wearing life that day.  It was an awesome, multilayered experience that I will not forget. It is no exaggeration to tell you I can feel my entire face light up every time I think or talk about it. I will never be able to play it cool. This smile will give me away every time.

Honda Insight Friends

It really is the little things

As if the day couldn’t have gotten more magical, this happened. When I exited the building, I could swear I heard the sounds of an ice cream truck.

Guyssss…. THERE WAS AN ACTUAL ICE CREAM TRUCK WAITING OUTSIDE AFTER OUR PRIVATE JET RIDE! Was this real life?? 

I could pick any kind of ice cream I wanted. Childhood dreams becoming real.

I selected my ice cream bar and enjoyed it next to a friend sitting on the steps outside the airport in the warm breeze. In case you were wondering, I got the Strawberry Crunch Bar, obviously.

Honda Insight Ice cream

In summary

Remember in the beginning when I said: Some experiences in life take you by surprise, remind you of what’s possible and elevate your expectations?  This entire trip was a series of moments that reinforcing all of that. Living a joy-filled life is all about the sum of moments like this. They happen all the time if you look for them and expect something wonderful to happen. Here are 3 life lessons I will be taking away from this adventure :

  • Be open to adventure and don’t worry too much about taking a wrong turn. Trust your path, even if it looks a little different than everyone else’s.
  • A new perspective can make a situation look entirely different. Make sure you have looked at what you are working on from all angles. MSP looked entirely different through the yellow tint of the Amber Room than it did flying overhead in the HondaJet or even driving it at street level in the Honda Insight.
  • Remind yourself each day that anything is possible. Don’t limit yourself. The potential for your dreams really is unlimited. You never know when YOUR ice cream truck is going to be waiting outside after a private jet ride.

I want to say a HUGE thanks to Honda for making this trip possible. As is common in the industry all travel, accommodations, etc were provided for.

Road Trips Redefined : The Only Three Things You Need On The Road with Kids

If you’ve been following us for any amount of time, you know we love to road trip. There is not a single road trip that is too long or short for us to venture out on. We’ve pretty much had it down to a science and could get off work Friday afternoon, throw the essentials in a bag, and be out the door for a weekend away in no time. Now that we are planning road trips with a tiny human again, we’ve been rethinking our minimalist packing strategy. How much more will we really need? Thanks to a partnership with Red Tricycle and Amazon we’ve discovered there are really only three things you need on the road with kids of any age.

Amazon Fire 7 Kids edition tablet

After a lot of consideration, we’ve determined that there really are only three things you need on the road with kids. Yes, only three, really! Keep reading to see what they are. I promise it will simplify your packing and ensure a ensure a perfect road trip designed with kids in mind.

Road Trips Redefined : The Only Three Things You Need On The Road with Kids

Before year one you probably can get by with “Oh the baby will just sleep in the car.” If only it were that simple in the few years afterward. Those of you with small ones know that packing the car with the right gear can make all the difference. With our older children, a weekend away would mean a stop at the grocery store to stock up on snacks and then by the library to pick out books to be read on our trip. If the vehicle we were driving had a dvd player, we would also pick out a couple of movies to borrow as well. These movies we would watch over, and over, and over. Yes, we all remember the cross country summer marathon viewing party of Elf. It brought a whole new meaning to Christmas in July.

Entertainment

Amazon Fire 7 Kids Edition

The Amazon Fire Kids Edition tablet has revolutionized our road trip entertainment options. So much of my previous errand running is totally eliminated. It saves space in the vehicle and it’s portable. I can download their favorite movies, books, and apps at home before we go so that everything is accessible when we are on the road without wifi.  There are 15,000 books, movies, TV shows, educational apps, and games to choose from and Fire Kids Edition includes a year of Amazon FreeTime Unlimited at no additional cost.

It also comes in this awesome kid-proof case, your choice of color, so you don’t have to worry about sitting right beside them in the car. On top of that the Amazon Fire Kids Edition tablet comes with a 2-year worry free guarantee. Really, you don’t have to worry!

My favorite part of this tablet is that it’s designed for ages 3-12 so it can grow with the age ranges of our family for years. We can also set up separate profiles on one device and switch users. With most vehicles having the outlet to recharge in the back we can even charge our device on the go so I’m not having to monitor power usage.

amazon Fire 7 Charging on the road

Snacks

Snacks are always going to be important because you never know when traffic will have you stalled or when other that roadside diner looks less than desirable. Also, road trips by definition require snacks. Here are a few snack suggestions and tactics to make this as easy as possible.

Amazon Fire 7 Road Trip Snacks ideas

  1. Do not go to the grocery store for the pre- road trip snack run- AMAZON PRIME will deliver it to your door!!
  2. Get a good mix of fruit, dry snacks – think easy to vacuum up- like cheerios. My favorite is the individual breakfast boxes. Also add in some pouches that are easy to hand out and have hidden veggies.
  3. Add in a few of their favorites that you reserve for luring them back into the car with. After several hours on the road, even I need an incentive to get back in my seat.
  4. Reusable water bottles. We make sure everyone has their own and we refill them when we stop for bathroom breaks. Staying hydrated is super important and this is a great way to keep track when traveling. Reusable bottles are also good for the environment.

Roadside Attractions

Roadside attractions are definitely something you should plan for. You are going to need to get out and stretch your legs or maybe the roadside attraction is just part of a day trip. Either way these make the trip fun for the kids and they are super great photo-ops for your Instagram presence. You know you’ll have to stop for bathroom breaks and to refill your water bottles so why not make it a fun one.

Roadtrippers app Amazon Fire 7

Need some help finding unique spots along the way? 

Roadtrippers.com is one of my favorite sites to help plan your trip and they even have an app in case your route changes you can find new stops along the way.

Roadsideamerica.com has several forums of user suggestions and feedback on what is worth visiting and RoadTripAmerica.com will create a map of all your stops and is available as an to download in the app store for iPhone users also.

Bonus Tip Amazon Fire 7

*Bonus idea: Life is messy.

Before you take off, loop a reusable tote bag around the headrest for trash or for items you need to locate quickly (charging cords, change of clothes, etc. When my other kids were small they hated wearing shoes in the car so once they were buckled in their car seats, I would immediately take off their shoes and put them in this bag that way I wasn’t searching the car trying to find shoes. If you aren’t in that stage anymore it’s still a great way to keep the car tidy when traveling!

In the next week or so I’ll be listing our favorite Amazon Fire Kids apps, video, and book recommendations for various age ranges so be on the look out for that! If you are considering purchasing an Amazon Fire Kids Edition tablet for your family (Fire HD 8 Kids Edition tablet an 8” HD Display, 32 GB of storage and a kid-proof case $129.99 or the Fire 7 Kids Edition tablet 7” display, 16 GB of storage, kid-proof case $99.99) feel free to ask any questions in the comments below or on our social channels. I’m happy to share what I know! Feel free to connect with us anytime!

Thanks again to Amazon for providing the Amazon Fire Kids Edition tablet you’ve see in the pictures above and for sponsoring this post!! We appreciate your partnership in helping us share great stories.

 

Conversations with Strangers

Conversations with strangersForget everything you’ve heard about not talking to strangers. Okay, maybe not everything. Trust your instincts always, but from time to time the perspective a stranger can offer is exactly the view you’ve been seeking.

Conversations with Strangers

I’ve often been told my life plays out like a rom-com of the late 90’s. Truthfully, I’d love it if my role in life was anywhere near the adorable characters Meg Ryan played in You’ve Got Mail, Sleepless in Seattle… I’d even settle for When Harry met Sally… but this isn’t that kind of story. No meet cute in the story I’m about to tell you. I don’t think the interactions I have are especially unique, I just think they happen because I tend to be pretty approachable in my day-to-day behavior. I smile at everyone, make direct eye contact, and use lots of pleasantries with my servers and I try to really listen when others speak. Basic manners and good human-ing, you know?  All of this typically leads to extended conversations with all kinds of interesting people and thanks to the internet I often stay in contact with them for years to come. It’s made for a very interesting life with LOTS of stories. Coming home from New York last week was no different.

I had arrived at my airport gate to discover my plane had been delayed. Sigh. Not a huge surprise when you travel frequently, you get use to plan B, and plan C, and even sometimes plan D. I’ve learned to be flexible and find that the most unexpected things are exactly what was supposed to happen.  This time my flight was not direct and I had a connection that I was a little concerned to be missing. I courteously walked up to the counter to inquire about the status. No luck. As I headed back to my seat I encountered a woman who was also traveling on my flight. She struck up a conversation and we began discussing where and why we were traveling. She was very pleasant. I was engaged immediately and thought to myself she was the type of woman I’d invite to coffee if we lived in the same city.

So, What do you do?

Then she asked the question that always trips me up in general spaces. “What do you do?” I think this question makes most of us who operate in multiple capacities hesitate. Not because we don’t know what we do but because we wear so many hats it’s not always easy to simplify. “I write”, I tell her “kind of freelance.” This is true, blogging is just kind  of hard to explain as a job.

Instead of taking the answer and moving on the woman replies,  “Do you blog? You seem like a blogger.” 

I am both flattered and taken aback. ( What exactly does blogger imply?)

I give credit to her still seeming nice and that blogger wasn’t being used derogatorily in this instance and ask her if she also blogs.  She tells me that while she isn’t a blogger herself she reads lots of them and has for years. She mentions several blogs that she has been following religiously and it was fun to hear the familiar blog names and knowing that several were people whose contact number was saved in my phone. She reminisced about when she was once introduced to one of these favorite bloggers. It was as though she was describing a meeting a celebrity. Ah, the rise of blogger to influencer…. micro-stardom.

She asked how long I had been blogging and who I followed. I recommended a few blogs I currently read on a regular basis and then the conversation got deeper.  She told me how she missed the days when she would get up in the morning, coffee in hand, open her computer to read what her favorite bloggers had done the day before. She loved following them just to know what happened from day-to-day. “They would share their favorite blogs and then you would follow their friends too. It made the world seem more connected.”

She went on to say that it was harder to find blogs like that these days and that bloggers aren’t sharing like that anymore. “Everything just looks like a magazine now”

She said she recognized it’s become a business but she missed the days of real connection.

Me too.

It made me wonder if we had forsaken our audiences for a paycheck. Had we sold out for money and impressions? Did we sell the very thing that made us special?

I told her I really appreciated her feedback and she asked for my card and said she would follow me. I hope she does. I want her to know that our connection mattered.

This conversation with a stranger is making me re-evaluate how I’m blogging today. I do think so much of it has become manufactured beautiful pictures, SEO and bigger social numbers. I wonder if we create projects to project an ideal that even we can’t fully obtain sometimes. I know I don’t want to do that for myself or for my audience. I’m not saying you won’t be seeing sponsored content from me but maybe it’s sparked a redirection to more of the way it was. It could be the best or worst thing that I’ve ever done… hopefully, y’all are along for the ride. Maybe if it’s good you’ll keep inviting your friends. More connection. More conversations with strangers.

I truly believe that the greatest thing in life is to love and be loved, to see and be seen in return.

There was once something very special about this place we created on the internet. These places where we allowed strangers see us, connect with us and we connected right back. Places where we knew we aren’t alone. They were places to connect and have the most meaningful conversations with strangers.