austin, Part 1

The planning begins in earnest.

After that whirlwind of a month in Dallas, we were ready for a little calm. The drive down I-35, while always harrowing, was uneventful, and we were excited to check in to our next home-for-a-month. This Airbnb in north Austin is in a large condo complex, in a nice treed area. The best part is that we can walk to lots of shops, restaurants, and even a movie theater!

Our cozy, aka small, living room

The condo has two bedrooms and provides us both a nice working space. Even better, I can close the door when I’m on calls, so Phil doesn’t have to tiptoe around or worry that he’ll show up on video. But the very best thing about this place is the acorns.

Plenty of acorns for stomping!

Let me explain. Long ago when we took our kids on autumn walks, we discovered the pure joy of stomping on acorns and hearing them crunch. This caught on, and now we are ace acorn stompers. And this condo complex, full of live oak trees, provides a plethora of acorns. I think it’s a bit like people who like to pop bubble wrap. Anyway. . .

We rented a 5′ x 5′ storage unit last year when we began roaming. Now that we’re planning to move to France, it was time to confront the stuff again. After three trips we managed to empty the unit and bring everything to our apartment. Did I mention that it’s quite small? The entire living room and one of the bedrooms was awash in stuff. But we sorted through everything and made hard decisions about what to keep. Donations went to Goodwill, paintings to family and dear friends, and a few precious items will be shipped to our new home in France.

My mother’s china: going to France!

In early November I had a final business trip I was both dreading and looking forward to: a presentation at a leadership retreat hosted by Thunderbird Leadership Consulting. Back in July, dear friends and former colleagues Dorothy and Amy asked me to present a session on the most intimidating topic ever: “transcendent humility.” I was terrified, but realizing it would be an incredible growth opportunity, I accepted. I read, studied, searched online, and eventually came up with a way of understanding what transcendent humility might be and how it could impact not only healthcare, but the world. 

The conference organizers/hosts

The conference, held in Phoenix at the art museum, was exceptional. About 40 healthcare executives participated, and each session was brilliantly presented. We all came away inspired, and it was a joy to reconnect with long-time friends and make fabulous new ones. We had several interactive sessions, including one that required walking through the museum. It was a lovely place for this event!

An Oscar Munoz exhibit at the Phoenix Art Museum

Did I mention there was music? Kevin Monaco and Nate Bachofsky provided music for several sessions. Kevin is a composer and pianist, and his pieces provided the perfect background for grounding, mindfulness, and introspection.

The next exciting thing that happened was giving my notice at work. I didn’t intend to announce retirement this early, but my boss shared some plans about expanding my role, so I couldn’t let him plan without knowing I’d be leaving. So—my last day at work is January 21! And the very next day, Phil and I are moving to Montpellier, France.

A few of the Renestance team members

We hired Renestance, which bills itself as the Swiss Army knife for settling into French life, in December 2020 after attending their two-day virtual educational conference. They are helping us with everything–visas, lodging, language lessons, the whole nine yards. Our primary consultant, Ann-Lii, is from Sweden, so she has been through this process. We met her, along with several other Renestance folks, on our July reconaissance trip to Montpellier. Over wine, of course!

The day after I returned from Phoenix we drove to Houston for a special event: a party! High school bestie Patricia hosted a lovely cocktail party honoring her son, daughter-in-law, and two grandsons.

Trishee’s boys

We spent a delightful evening watching the boys play, noshing, enjoying adult beverages, and getting to know Patricia’s lovely friends. Then it was off for a quick sleep before our visa appointment! We completed the visa process and headed to House of Pies for lunch with Patricia before heading home.

Once back in Austin, we raced through the week to get to a very special weekend. First up, on Friday we visited the beautiful house-in-progress of dear friends Jayme and Victoria, followed by dinner at El Monumento in Georgetown. We hadn’t seen them since their wedding in October 2019 (aka the before times), so this was a sweet reunion. I really think we could have talked all night! Also, the margaritas were the best of my life.

Victoria and Jayme

The next evening we had cocktails at the home of our closest Wimberley friends, Danny and Lynn, followed by dinner at El Jardin. As we settled at our table, in walked Barbara, Chip, and daughter Courtney! Barb was my pledge sister in college, and we reconnected as we moved to Wimberley in 2017. We pushed tables together and proceeded to have the best evening ever–but we forgot to get a picture!

Honey and Cora (aka the most beautiful baby in the world)

But the best, the VERY best thing about our time in Austin so far is our granddaughter Cora. She is perfect, and holding her is total bliss. We want as much time with her as possible before we leave for France. Oh, and we love seeing her parents, too!