Still Reinventing Wendy

This month’s Live Like It Matters Challenge comes from a dear friend, named Wendy. We’ve been through life stuff together, prayed together, and planned ministry events together. She finally knows what she wants to be when she grows up, and she wants to help us figure it out, too.

Still Reinventing Wendy

by Wendy Payne

Do you remember hearing this question when you were a child? I sure do. I remember inquisitive adults looking at me like I should have an idea. I remember putting pressure on myself as a teenager about not knowing or at least having some semblance of an idea of what I should become. Sometimes this anxiety and fear were so overwhelming I felt like I needed to flee. 

I grew up in northern New York about twenty minutes from the Canadian border. So close in fact, Hands across the border which was a part of Hands across America was about 20 minutes from where I lived. If you are an 80s fan, you will recognize all those references.

The 80s also define me. From Baby Boom to Working Girl, the expectations for women for “having it all” was really high and of course, why not? We can, can’t we? This message was told to women for over two decades. Another indicator of being an 80s product and aforementioned “having it all” mentality was to succeed at every aspect of your life,  being a stellar wife, doting mother, successful business owner, exceptionally physically fit, you must first love Jesus with all your heart and understand His will for your life. (I am actually a big fan of the last two.) 

I have figured out a few things. I am an explorer. Staying in one place for too long makes me antsy. I am a happy person, most of the time. I like most people and want to help or teach. These things are certain. 

All of this pressure to succeed, and know what you should do and then also to be a “CHAMPION” can lead to lots of questions. At least it has been for me. I hope in writing this article others might see their life in my blurb and say, “Yea, I totally get that crazy, that’s me, too. I am so glad I’m not alone.” Well you’re not. 

Family Roots

My parents are amazing and patient too. They have raised us with a strong sense of community, to help your neighbor, always. Of course, it was reciprocal. We enjoyed fall hayrides on barrels stacked three deep while the sun was setting that led to an empty harvested field. A bonfire was lit roasting hot dogs while kids ran around playing tag. Yup, or sometimes we would gather firewood with neighbors in the dead of a New York winter. A team of snowmobiles and sleds led us into the forest to gather wood, and we knew we would have to walk back home in the knee deep snow. The whole time laughing and sharing stories with family and friends. Yes, this is how I really grew up. 

Eddy, actually my home was in an “eddy.” Our house was located near a stream that ran through our four corners. If you are unfamiliar with this term, during the early 1800’s while America was being developed an “eddy” was also the confluence of commerce and trade for people on their way to the “big cities.” My house in fact, was the general store and dance hall for the community. Across the street was a one-room school house, which also served as a church. We were also surrounded by farms on every side.

It was an unbelievable, dreamlike place to grow up. We had such a closeness to my neighbors they feel like cousins. In fact, we still keep in touch quite a bit, thank you Facebook.

I believe this kind of grounding and belonging has given me wings to fly over and over again. This kind of stability comes from knowing these people will always love me!

He’s a Keeper

For almost thirty years I have been married to a saint of a man, Jon. I really mean it. I am so in love with this man who is my constant, constant.  We laugh about it, but I can be a bit intense. I prefer to call it being passionate. In my opinion, life is not meant to be lived passively or as a spectator. We are meant to engage, embrace and live. Jon, thankfully supports me all..the…time!

Since we said, “I, do.” My husband has stood by my endless entrepreneur endeavours. Here’s a list of my hobbies/passions/ since May 28, 1994.

  • Event Planner, Easter Seals of Pennsylvania
  • Mom – because most of us know this IS THE HARDEST & NEVER ENDS!
  • WP Desktop Publisher, Alabama
  • Cake decorator and design, Washington, DC
  • Catering, Cove Catering, Huntsville, AL
  • Food Service Director, Cove Church, Huntsville, AL
  • Restaurant Owner, Around Your Table, Huntsville, AL
  • Historic Docent, Burritt on the Mountain, Huntsville, AL
  • Non-profit Executive Director, Deep Roots of Alabama, Huntsville, AL
  • Travel writer, blogger, tour operator, content creator, Germany, Alabama and the world
  • Currently, Travel & Tourism Small Business Coach

Yea, I know, he’s a saint. Most men would have been like, WHAT? He’s a keeper.

There She Goes Again

As an over 50 gal now, I have learned a few things about “having it all.”  This next part, might help those who are struggling with either focus, mission, or business ideas. 

Follow what makes you light up!

Recently, I won a ticket to PODFEST 2020, a podcasting conference in Orlando, Florida. I just started a podcast, yet another thing. HA! I am learning the community here, too. While at a round table meet and greet, we all introduced ourselves. I’d practiced my elevator speech which sounds like this, “Hi, I am Wendy Payne of Travel with Wendy, I am a blogger, vlogger, podcaster and I travel the world supporting and helping small businesses.”

I boastfully thought it was spot-on. However, this is where God kinda sends his angels to humble us a bit. As soon as I was done with my speech, a gentleman at the table said, “Really, I want to talk to you after this session alone if you don’t mind.” I totally felt like I was being called into the principal’s office. A rebel underneath, I am still a good girl, so I sheepishly agreed.

After our meet and greet, this man was kind enough to share about my business with me for an hour. He told me, my elevator speech was not entirely true, then began to unfold a truth I needed to hear. He said, “You have to stop introducing yourself that way.” Yes, of course I was taken back. I love my job. He then went on to say, “You are a helper, you want to help and support small businesses around the globe.” It was like the famous #ahamoment (thanks, Oprah!) and a God-smack all at the same time. He went on to say, “When you started talking about helping and supporting small businesses around the globe your whole body language changed, your eyes lit up, your body was upright and you couldn’t stop smiling. You are super passionate about that, DO THAT!” 

Sometimes I feel like I can’t feel the presence of God and other times, totally. It’s true. Then no, joke, this morning, I heard affirmation from Roger Martin, Jr. with his morning words 5 minute video. Hospitality and kindness, and to help each other. YES, now go, do.

So what do I wanna be when I grow up?
a resounding, ME! 

Wendy Payne is a serial entrepreneur with a zest for life that is invigorating and inspiring. She loves to support small businesses around the globe creating a sustainable tourism industry. Her passions are sharing her travel discoveries with the world, hiking, and her family. She continues to grow her brand, ©Travel with Wendy and most recently began an added value podcast called Talking Travel with Wendy.

While Huntsville was their home five years prior, Wendy’s family moved back to Huntsville from Germany recently. During their tenure in Germany, Wendy served as a writer for the U.S. military community stationed overseas.

She currently lives in Huntsville, Alabama with her husband, Jon, retired, US Army and two of their three children, Christopher (22) and Jessica (17.) Jon and Wendy’s oldest daughter, Katy (24), still lives and works in Germany.

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