Setting, Circumstance and Decorum: Two Days In The Life Of Lenn Harley
I remember the first time Lenn Harley affectionately described her home as "the one surrounded by the moat." Being a Native New Yorker, this was something I really wanted to see (LOL). Lenn was sure that if I started down that road (on another impromptu AR Road Trip to share an eye candy adventure), I would not be able to miss it or her if I followed my directions carefully. In case you were wondering: Me plus Driving Directions sometimes equals Oxymoron (LOL). When I neared my destination, I realized the significance of the inside joke regarding "the moat" as I wandered my way down the highways and around the winding country roads leading to her house...
When one is easing down unfamiliar roads it is very easy to imagine the possibility of getting lost. If you are a driver who is also a photographer, you may find yourself very tempted to take an excursion to see what is just beyond what you perceive to be an inviting bend. When Lenn showed me one of the many spots she loves to go fishing, I realized this trip was only the tip of the ice burg regarding things yet to come.
I quickly decided that I am going to love getting lost in MD and VA with the little minions and a few of my girlfriends (LOL). I have excellent guides up and down the coast who are filling my "things to do with the wee people list" as fast as the speed of thought. Exploring life is what we do and my kids are really curious little buggers so they are going to love getting away for a random day or two to hit the parks, see the sites and discover fishing. Yes, I am going back to visit with Lenn and fish. We were too busy playing with the shotguns to get that done, so there will be a few more sleep overs down the road (LOL).
I definitely have to bring a girlfriend along. I have two boys who frequently roam in opposite directions and since we make things up as we go along adult reinforcements would be nice (LMAO). I am looking for rubber reptiles to place in the moat. My kids would love that (LOL). I fear the river rock by Lenn may get rearranged as well. There isn't a bug, twig or rock my shorties don't find interesting so hanging in the yard seems to be the point of order for my next visit. I mentioned after my call conference we have a workbook project we need to do and I bet I could get Noah to take lots of pictures in MD and VA. I also need to update you guys on the turning blue gray incident. The color of her landscaping stones reminded me I need to go back and comment on that post (LOL). I haven't said much in over a week. Been very busy working on the album, paiting for the gallery, running around on road trips and laughing at your messages as to my lack of writing. Did you forget I have three books I need to produce? (Lack of writing my a$$ - LMAO).
BTW, I still have two bars of the exotic soap from Hell... I want answers so I guess I'll have to have a dermatologist explain it to me when I get a chance to make an appointment. Might make for a very interesting Wordy C blog post down the road but I digress (LMAO). Back to my lovely visit with Lenn... ;-)
If you ever have the pleasure of visiting with Lenn Harley, one of the first things you're going to notice is her passion for landscaping. My boys and I love digging in the dirt and planting fruit trees. We have managed to plant something every time we go hang out in the minions fields in South Carolina. I was a little nervous about what I should and shouldn't take a picture of while visiting her home (because there is a lot of eye candy - LOL) but a couple of hours into my visit I decided to approach it like a big kid showing something to the wee ones because sometimes pleasure can been found in something as simple as an arrangement of river rock in a flower bed or a spot of pot gardening. I am learning a lot from my son Noah. Small details can be just as interesting as the grand overview... If you are going to take a picture, do so because you want someone to see exactly what you are seeing. I may have to write a few more posts because I have a lot of photographs I want you guys to see. Lenn suggested a slide show. I do believe she's right... I'll do that later. Her neighborhood is amazing. :-)
Lenn has a simple philosophy that I am trying to embrace: If you're going to do something new, approach it without any expectations because if you have no expectations you will not be disappointed. I held onto that thought en-route to trap shooting and kept that thought in mind when wandering about her property (and several neighborhoods) as well. She blew my mind when she took me exploring by the Potomac River and showed me a host of beautiful and historic sites. I have decided I have to paint several landscapes from here to show during the Summer. Turns out Lenn is an artist as well and we have a date to paint together. Fishing and painting... I'm grinning like a little kid just thinking about it because Margaret Rome and I are going to be taking a few more blog hostages through boot camp so I have to plan my visits carefully so I can criss cross the border efficiently while the wee people, my gal pal and I invade a few states to visit with my friends (LOL). If you are going to be a writer the least you can do is have some fun with it. I'm having a blast mixing pleasure with business and plan on picking the brains of all of my mentors. Who knows what I'll be posting later. We have lots to chat about and a slide show to develop. I am arranging some music for it and shall let the wee people help do the final edit when they get off from school today. It's a half day so the shorties are going to get some studio time (LMAO).
I am also a sucker for the scenic overlook signs but will show the same amount of curiosity regarding public access roads that take you to the edge of a river bed, lake or camp site. She had to save me from myself because I was so busy hiking and exploring I missed a high-voltage don't climb warning in the woods by the river (LOL). I'd rather she explained that one... Yeah, I'll admit I took the shot before I got down (LMAO).
Speaking of "taking the shot," Lenn is an excellent shot (LOL). The range is beautiful and has so much to offer because it's part of a larger recreational facility. My kids wont like the noise but I bet they'd love the park grounds. I have to figure out what to do with them if we do decide to go back to the range. Hmm... I may have to lay off the trap shooting or arrange a visit with Granny Tann. My Granny lives in VA and I am seriously considering talking my Dad into taking a road trip to meet me there because she has never met Stephen the Blur Minion and her 5 acres would make that kid run in circles all day. My shorties love farm land and if there is a tree with a branch they can reach they will try to climb up (LOL).
In case you are new to my blog I take a lot of road trips, detour like it's an art form but don't blog about them all because I like hoarding my eye candy to slowly release some as the mood strikes me. Writers who write everything right away frequently blow their virtual load. Just because you can say something doesn't mean you have to. I promised Jessica I would post something about my trip yesterday so here it is (LOL). If not for Jess you'd still be waiting to find out what the heck I've been up to (LMAO). I like taking my time, frequently tease people and thoroughly enjoyed driving my closest friends crazy not saying a single word about what me and my blogging buddies have been up to. We have been refining our business models and taking writers hostage until they escape Club Chaos boot camp by writing their first blog posts. Who needs a hotel room when the volunteers are inviting you to sleep over, but I shall save that for another blog post when I get back to MD and Margaret (LOL). We are still working on the things for my kids to do list that would make for excellent Localism.com posts. :-)
Sometimes, I need to scope out interesting places for my kids to explore before they visit so when I eventually bring home lots of pictures their reactions will determine if we visit a place or not when we do joy ride to an area to visit with friends. I am excited about our new workbook project because photography is an addiction, just like music and art. Sometimes, my collection of photographic material is off the hook but you would never know that I took 100 plus pictures of something because I may only use one or two photographs on my blog.
Today, after dropping the shorties off at school, I am going to go to Staples and pick them up some supplies and put all those photographs to good use. We're going to be making some very colorful educational PDFs together this week end and may take our trip at the end of the month. Lenn gave me a private class on copyrights and I am going to make some special image catalogs of my work and burn a bunch of DVDs with the wee people. The kids are going to help me. I may have to take a business trip down south to see Jeremy Blanton who is teaching a class for ActiveRain University on how to customize our blogs. I'm thinking about making an educational flash workbook of some of my images for learning disabled kids to enjoy and 210 Consulting Social Media Advisors seems like a good place to start. I need advice. Lots and lots of advice because I may be giving the boys their own blog. The three year old will be doing lots of film. After all, shorty can't read, write or type (although he loves to text people crazy messages on my phone - LOL).
I love driving and have a chauffeurs license so road trips are mad fun for me. Some of my friends call me "Joy Ride" because that's what I do. I am infamous for always having my "Go Bag" and running out the door on a moments notice if hubby will minion sit. I don't leave home without it because i never know what I am going to do until I do it. It is equipped with two Nikons just in case the battery on one goes down (because I hate missing the shot - LOL).
I have always imagined what it would be like to relax and play the Lenn Harley way because I have so much fun lurking on her blog and chatting with her. I am at a loss for words to convey what that means in real life because Lenn has to be experienced. If you've never had a fine wine how do you convey what makes it special to someone who has not tried it? It's something I highly recommend you experience for yourself if you ever get the chance because Lenn is smart, talented and lots of fun. She is a very unique lady who has a gift for observing the setting and circumstance of a blogger's position and finding the appropriate level of decorum to respond. There are steel beams under girding her words because she does not suffer fools lightly and since I am pretty blunt, very quirky and have lots of issues, neither do I. My foolishness occupies my time so I don't have room for another fool in my life (just in case you were wondering - LOL).
Lenn routinely says what she means in virtual and real life so be yourself when you do spend time with her. There is no pressure to perform or act in any way contrary to your nature. People sometimes do that when they meet someone of importance. Take a page from her book. Meet people with no expectations and find out who they are for yourself. It's the only way you're going to discover if you really like someone, or not. I love the way her mind works and like people who can call a spade a spade without stubbing their toe on one. I also like people who are very well rounded with diverse interests. You can relax and not be bored if you hang out with my girlfriend.
You also don't have to talk real estate all day with Realtors if you do come out to play with one. We're people. We do regular people things (LOL). I promised a few of you I would tell you something new I learned about Lenn so I shall have to post the cooking in the kitchen film later (LOL). ;-)
We've been gal pals on-line for approximately 22 months. Melody Botting sent me in her direction in April of 2008. In sum and substance, Meloudious explained that many people will use the phrase "hard core real estate" but if you take a poll and ask what does that term mean, the majority of industry who bother to provide answers to your poll will produce simply two words: Lenn Harley. Being a dutiful newbie, I started reading every word Lenn had to say slavishly (LOL).
Some months later, I don't remember the exact date, I only remember that it was a brief moment of melancholy that inspired me to write a comment about the last time I had been fishing. It was with my maternal grandmother who passed away from cancer. I expressed the wish to someday go again and Lenn surprised me with an open ended invitation to come join her. I was woefully unprepared for the intimate gift of having someone with that stature and influence inviting me to stay at her home, coupled also with the generous gift of offering to take me fishing. There's a lot of prep work involved in that so don't think it's a casual thing. Although she did not want me wading into the Potomac River while we were hanging out almost a year later, I found myself wishing my Granny Wisdom was here to see this. MD and VA are beautiful places to experience and made even more gorgeous when you are experiencing it with the people you care about.
Pizza used to be pizza until my three year old discovered it. Now we hunt through NYC on the week ends looking for the perfect slice of pie (LOL). If your business trips are just for business, you may want to rethink them and try to arrange meeting your loved ones in the vicinity so you will have so much more to look forward to before returning home. We miss out on so much because we rationalize away why we should and should not do things... Small things can bring you pleasure if you let the small gestures in. They can blossom into something huge and beautiful when you least expect it. :-)
Knowing what I knew through reading Lenn's blog and the occasional phone call, this was one ActiveRain Road Trip I was determined to never miss because Lenn Harley may be a lot of things but she is never boring.
Some people like being invited to a round of golf. I'd rather fire off rounds, go hiking and fishing or tinker in the garage and garden while we chat about business and pleasure. I like chopping wood and playing with power tools. If you didn't hang out with me in SC you wouldn't know that until I told you. It's a lot more fun seeing it than that one line may convey (LOL). The last time I invited Rainers to hang at my parent's home none of them came. Maybe next time we'll have that BBQ. By then you'll have read several more of these and if I tease you enough you might get curious enough to come. :-)
I almost didn't go when invited because for the first time since my hubby gifted me with my GPS to improve my life as a Realtor, my TomTom gave me genuine pause for it warned me in writing of a new dilemma: I would be traveling upon unpaved roads. Did I want to avoid them? Yes or no?
I remember sitting in the driver's seat thinking, "What the heck is that supposed to mean? Am I about to be bogged down in 5 feet of snow? Does Lenn have a two mile unpaved driveway?" The map showed lots of country and very few road squiggles so I decided I'd deal with the road when I got there.
Unpaved state roads or not, I was sending my little four cylinder Hyundai sedan off roading if I had to because this is the great Lenn Harley and I viewed an invite from Lenn with the same awe as an invitation from Donald Trump (LOL). i made up my mind that while I was visiting I was going to play apprentice and interview one of the best minds in the real estate industry. However, I shall admit the thought of "unpaved roads" sent me doing a mad dash to hunt through my bag for my AAA card in case I needed towing (LMAO). If you are going to be brave, don't be stupid if you do decide to go wander off on an adventure (LOL).
Isn't her home gorgeous?
This visit has been in the making for a very long time. My schedule up until recently kept me from going fishing with my gal pal for almost a year so i really do have to get back there and test out the waters. When we both confirmed attending Margaret Rome's ActiveRain Open House, I left Lenn a voice message stating, "Text me an address for my TomTom."
Chicka knew I was finally a-coming and moved her schedule around so we could relax and catch up. We were giggling like little kids while playing phone tag to plan our activities because we realized if you placed two unpredictable Club Chaos women in a SUV for a multiple state tour on the hunt for eye candy, anything was bound to happen. We could show up anywhere at anytime on a whim to visit with other people.
We did (LOL). I shall blog about that later. Promise... Will I wait another week to post it? Hmm... (LMAO).
There are so many little thoughts that run through your head while you are trying to share a few moments of what you did, saw and thought. I remember after being distracted by a lovely, winding, country road and the reflections in the water, I eventually pulled over next to an ancient Chinese wheel barrow parked on her property. I knew it was old and hand crafted but didn't think too much about it because I figured since she was standing in the drive I could explore her 1.5 acres later. I was very excited to see her. However, when I discovered the wheel barrow was over one hundred years old I was back outside snapping pictures in no time (LOL). There were so many little moments like that which were really neat and sweet. :-)
I love antique Chinese furniture and was amazed at Lenn's collection. My fave are the bench and planters, but they are all wonderful, handcrafted works of art.
I found a comfy spot near her original paintings to set up my outside office but never used it (LOL). We were too busy having fun and I didn't want to blog about it until I had time to think about what I wanted to share. When you spend a lot of quality time with your friends through social media and are also fortunate to get to spend time together in real life, there are so many stellar moments that can't be articulated because once you have them, they tend to be held close to the heart as a secret little moment only you and the people involved share. Like the time SarahGray Lam and Patti Caldwell cooked me dinner and I had a sleep over with them in NC (which was fabulous and I have lots of pictures and film you have yet to see - LOL).
I have digital film of Lenn cooking me dinner as well and keep think I did promise to share something new so "Cooking With Lenn," may very well be my next blog post if I can get my schedule figured out today (LMAO).
She is an excellent cook. How could I not shoot a shot of my food?
Besides, just look at Lenn's kitchen! It's gorgeous and we had a really good time hanging out in it. See those two stools? The next time I take this shot the little minions will be seated upon them eating peanut butter and jelly (LOL). We are coming back to visit when the weather improves to help with the landscaping, paint in the backyard on some canvass and let Noah wander about taking pictures.
Some deer live up the hill directly across the lane from her front door. I have it on very good authority if you hang out long enough in her home office you might also get to see a fox, turkey and occasional cow wandering down the lane (LOL). My kids would absolutely love seeing that and so would I. I bet my gal pals will get a kick out of it too.
Would I say spending two days in the life of Lenn Harley has changed my life forever? Yeah... Most definitely. Just as getting to spend quality time with the people living in my computer has always had a profound, positive affect on me.
Not only is Lenn a gracious host and a good friend, she did me an extraordinary kindness: she sat me down at her desk and trained me on how to improve my business and blog. She introduced me to builders, construction projects pending and a new perspective on how to approach what I would eventually like to do. My head is still spinning from the information overload in a good way. She also took me to meet her good friend Jason Barr of Ryan Homes as part of tour and education. Meeting Jason was a real treat and I shall blog more about that later, plus show you the wonderful project he is working on.
I was privileged to sit in on a business meeting between Lenn Harley and Victoria DeMeza at Cardinal Bank. Victoria used to live in New York so it was fun talking about where we have lived and where we vacationed. It was a pleasure to watch Leen in action and I am quite happily confessing to the whole world that my previous business plan is now thrown in the trash (LOL). I have soooooo got to start from scratch and make another one so I need Melodious to help me work on my builder and bank files.
I keep thinking if I had this much fun hanging with Lenn for two days, how much fun will I have in TX with Melodious this May or June. In case you are new to my blog Mel is the boss of me and will be my hostess for a week when I go off to have my artist vacation retreat (LOL). She's the TX chick that holds my feet to the fire and makes me accountable for the good, bad and ugly that I sometimes do as a person who confesses her secrets to her friends for advice. Being a flawed individual with issues, I tend to say exactly what I am thinking and need all the help that I can get with that trait and a few others. Melody is quite helpful when it comes to putting me in check (LOL). Honest friends who are smarter than you are priceless. :-)
Melody Botting, Lenn Harley and Margaret Rome are brilliant women. I love them so I am a wee bit biased (LOL). However, a word of advice: If you ever make the acquaintance of someone smarter than you make sure you try to become a real friend to them. Only your real friends will tell you the unvarnished truth, point out your deficiencies in a matter of fact way, then explain in great deal how to overcome and fix them. Not just with business. With everything. People who genuinely care always take a vested interest in the people they care about. That includes yelling at them when they need it and talking quietly when they don't.
Road Trip Translation: (1) Don't be a poser. You will be found out. (2) Don't squander your social media relationships because you could be missing the loves of your lives regarding your friendships. Friends are the family you get to pick for yourself and just like real family members they come in all shapes, dispositions and sizes. They do a lot of things you have no idea about (and wont) until you befriend them. You may even discover they are a wee bit quirky like me (LOL). You don't know what you're missing when you take them for granted and never make the effort to just stop by and just say hello.
Why would you not try to visit with a person you call friend? If you are going to take a business trip, mix pleasure with business.
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