Tavernier Retreat

October 7, 2011 · 9 comments

If you’ve been treated to a delightful retreat and blog about it, and then others tweet about your post and still others send the message along to their own followers, does that count as retreating or retrweeting?

We live in complicated times.

And that’s why the opportunity for us to stay for a week in late August in Rick and Dana’s new little cottage in Tavernier, Florida, was so incredibly welcomed.

This summer, the Sordahls took an 80-year old getaway and converted it into a delicious vision of gracious space, enviable green economy of scale, and gentle generosity that seems to be uniquely theirs to employ on the planet.

Fortunately for Rick and me, they offered it to us at exactly the time in our life when we really needed grace, space, gentleness, and evidence of generosity in the world.

We needed a runway to visualize a new future for ourselves. And there’s nothing like nowhere to be and two rocking chairs on a porch with an ocean view to get some life direction thinking done.

The ocean front 25 yards away is the real thing. There’s no shipped-in sandy beach, no tiki bar, or no resort-style handsome pool boy with fresh towels and a margarita anywhere in sight, unless you count Rick, which I most certainly do.

While he never actually schlepped towels to the waterfront…

… Rick did bring his guitar down to the little bench and serenaded me and our new friend with beautiful acoustic Brazilian jazz.

Others hung out to enjoy the music, too.

It’s a genuine neighborhood, complete with kids who are allowed to ride their bikes to the waterfront, barefoot and helmet free.

There was something about this dude that helped nudge the life-reorienting thinking project in a most helpful direction.

If you could ride anywhere you wanted, barefoot and with the wind blowing through your bean shave, where would you go? This seemed like the right kind of place and time to ask such a question.

The delightful cottage itself was also the perfect host for this line of thought.

Dana brings an exquisite touch of “just right” to every space she engages. Somehow in an area of about 700 sq. ft, there wasn’t one necessary thing missing…

… yet she left room to breathe and imagine and rest.

Not a bad idea for a living space, or a life, either, for that matter.

Everything was clean and crisp, yet warm and even whimsical. It’s a place where you can dream of starting over. Or starting something new. Or just plain starting.

Details, baby… The details matter.

Touches of humanity and humor are critical in both a living space and a life, so getting them right is important. The goal for both is no clutter, yet something rich in personality and the intention to enjoy the ride.

These are some keys. They are Florida keys.

Get it?

Everywhere you looked, the message was, “Take a moment and appreciate the color, texture, and thoughtful design of this small space that you’re living in, right now.”

Make your inside align with your outside. Or maybe it’s the other way around. In either case, inside/outside harmony is important.

Let yourself be distracted by apparently unrelated input and stimulus. This is an important ingredient in productive creativity: making connections between previously unconnected ideas.

Innovative re-use of previously cherished concepts, passions, lessons learned, and parasols help define a new space…

… and new ways of dressing up functional necessities make the whole thing fresh and full of life.

Be where you are…

… and love those you’re with in the best way you know how.

Bring the old worth keeping into the new worth creating…

… and take delight in the unexpected explosions of light that splash into previously under-appreciated corners.

We woke up to this little ray of “Hi!-How-are-ya?!” every morning we were there.

Don’t be afraid of the wildlife you encounter along the way. Most of the time, it’s pretty innocent and often wildly entertaining.

I was surprised to learn that these little critters can hop up stairs.

These, on the other hand, didn’t hop anywhere because they’re ceramic or concrete or plasticine or something. Dana put them there, just for fun. I didn’t even notice them until the day we were leaving.
Another lesson learned: keep your eyes peeled along the way. There is always more to take delight in than you initially think.

Finally, when setting a new direction for your life, wear orange and flounce like you mean it.

Thanks, Rick and Dana.

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Debra November 8, 2011 at 12:41 pm

Simply sweet…nice…felt like I was there with ya! 🙂 Glad you were able to enjoy like it reads you did! 🙂


Kathy P. October 8, 2011 at 8:19 am

Ahhhhh…isn’t the seaside wonderful? How I miss the ocean!

This morning, thirty-five degrees at dawn in the Bitterroot Valley — but scarlet & golden trees, fresh snow frosting on the peaks, and candy-pink cloud wisps in a big blue sky made the temperature absolutely immaterial.

I’ll be back to CA and all its otherness in 5 days.
See you there!


rickandkathy October 8, 2011 at 10:25 am

Hey, Katie P! Looking forward to catching up. Post photos!


Pegi Chesney October 7, 2011 at 8:39 pm

Wow Kathy, you have such a way with pictures and words. Such a delight to read and view your fun and loving times with your “soul mate”. Thanks for sharing. I feel blessed being a part of your experiences.
Your neighbor in HMB..


rickandkathy October 8, 2011 at 10:24 am

Pegi, thanks for your sweet words. Our delight to share!


Lisa October 7, 2011 at 7:44 pm



rickandkathy October 8, 2011 at 10:23 am



Zinc October 7, 2011 at 7:17 pm

Stunning…perfect..loved it..especially the orange dress..my favorite colour.really!


rickandkathy October 8, 2011 at 10:23 am

Hey, Zincky! Thanks. I’ll remember that when gift giving time rolls around.


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