Back in March, a stranger contacted me through LinkedIn, asking me if I wanted to meet for coffee. Busy, I didn’t respond. A few weeks later, Kim Ratcliff continued to stalk me on LinkedIn, emailing me a second time to set up a coffee date to discuss our career backgrounds. I agreed and haven’t regretted it for a second.
After the initial coffee, we worked as job search buddies throughout the spring and summer. One word that describes our friendship was “SUNSHINE”. Meeting once a week, we provided inspiration, proofed professional materials, pushed one another to take risks and dealt out some tough love. We both gave as much as we took, working hard together. We also spent a lot of time texting questions, giving advice, and even more support.
Developing a special bond in a short period of time, we talked each other off a ledge more than once. Her enthusiasm and kindness was so refreshing! I laugh when I reflect on the afternoon we logged on to SnapChat for the first time. We sounded like dinosaur’s attempting to run over the hurdles, tackling the social media app head-on.
Fast forward to today. In less than two weeks, my husband and I will move across the country to another Bay Area, Tampa Bay. Living in California for the last 8.5 years, saying the word ‘goodbye’ has become increasingly harder. My eyes flood with tears. I guarantee saying goodbye to this Cali surfer girl/LinkedIn stalker will be one of the toughest.
Joined by her dog Kua, Kim and I drove down 17 South to Santa Cruz and shared a special Sunday afternoon. Our first stop was Cafe Sparrow, a cute little French country brunch spot in Aptos. Witnessing Kim’s indecision when ordering brunch made me smile so hard, I thought my face would crack. We talked over each other, we laughed, we even cried a little. A glass of Chalk Hill Chardonnay provided a tasty dash of California sunshine, via Sonoma.
After brunch, it was time to get down to business. We headed to Warmth Company in Aptos. We were in search of something special for the house My Man and I purchased in Tampa. With indecision beginning to cloud our ideas, Diandra swooped in. She was our Warmth Company savior! Along with some small plates we picked out, she helped us build a gorgeous display for my new home’s front entry table. She was so helpful!
Walking around the store, I am pretty certain Kim and I touched everything in sight.
After we left Warmth Company, we zoomed over to another Aptos store, Loot. As soon as we walked in the door, Kim saw a small table that captured her fancy.
While she hemmed and hawed over the purchase, I walked around the store, snapping more photos.
The succulents at Loot were on point.
We then headed to the beach to reward Kua for good behavior. Before walking down to the water, Kim laughed at the footwear I had chosen to wear: leopard booties. OK, even I could admit they might not have been the best decision.
Words can’t describe our time on the beach. Watching Kim run along the beach with Kua warmed my heart. The cold, wet sand felt so refreshing as it squished between my toes!
Getting splashed by a few waves was well worth it as we walked along the beach. The beauty was intoxicating. We couldn’t stop taking photos or shooting videos.
Kim enjoyed sticking her finger in the sea creatures on shore. We made sure to record a few videos along the way.
We watched surfer after surfer enter the water. It was a gnarly day for waves.
Before we headed home, we stopped by Warmth Company’s Santa Cruz store. I am still kicking myself for not buying this set of coasters.
Driving home, we finished the day by sharing how we ended up with our husbands. The stories led both of us to appreciate each other even more. I close this blog by thanking Kim once again for stalking me on LinkedIn. She taught me a life lesson I will bring to Tampa with me: don’t be afraid to reach out to someone you think could help you grow, learn and laugh.
Why Travel, Cooking and DIY? A creative type, I have always loved painting and decorating as a hobby. Upcycling is a real passion. My mom was a Home Ec teacher when we were growing up. I learned a lot from her and because I love hosting get-togethers, I had to step up my game in the kitchen as well. And lastly, my love of travel comes from my Grandma Schmitt.
An Illinois native, I worked in the White House Communications Agency early in my career (President Reagan), prior to returning to Illinois State University to finish my undergraduate and Master's. After a couple of post-graduate internships (minor league baseball and Big Ten Conference), I then worked in college athletics full-time for more than 22 years -- first at the University of South Carolina for 15 years and then at Santa Clara University for the last seven years. We moved to Tampa, Florida in Dec., 2016 after spending 8.5 years in Northern California.