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In Search Of A New Life And The Perfect Sunset!

Updated: Dec 2, 2020

Lake Howard, Winter Haven, Florida

It's never too late to change your life up! You can believe us because we haven't done it once, we've done it twice and in dramatic style! We sold our house, packed all our belongings into a 7 x 7 x 8 POD and set off on the road with our cat, Bailey, and dog, Logan, not knowing where we would end up?! Throwing all caution to the wind, we set off in our Jeep in search of a new life and a perfect sunset!

Caroline: Since that fateful day, back in August 2005, when Laurie sent me a “wink” via an online dating site, my life has been turned completely upside down and I LOVE it! At the time of “the wink” I was living in a small, quiet English village and only just embracing my lesbianism, while Laurie was living across the Pond in Massachusetts. A little over a month later, after endless long-distance phone calls where we shared the details of our lives with each other, I boarded a plane to Massachusetts for our first date.

Laurie and Caroline Hart

Eight days later, when it was time for me to leave, we both knew this was the real thing. That one true love, love of my life, soulmate kind of real thing! We literally had to make this long-distance love work and we did. It started by us flying bi-weekly for 18 months, carefully blending our families together, we have 3 sons between us.

Then came fighting the federal government to have our marriage recognized, gaining the support of politicians, including New York Congressman Jerry Nadler and current Presidential Candidate Senator Elizabeth Warren, along with celebrity activists

The Hart's, As Featured in The Advocate

which included Sharon Stone, Debra Messing and Kelli Giddish, to name just a few. With their help, our story went all the way to the judiciary committee in Washington D.C., in support of the late Edith Windsor’s landmark supreme court case, which led to overturning Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act.

New York Congressman Jerry Nadler

Senator Elizabeth Warren

Because we met later in life, we want to make the most of every minute together, experiencing as much as we can. We made our house a home in Massachusetts, developed a wedding photography business, despite own marriage not being recognized, became activists for equality and raised our wonderful and supportive boys into men, who we are immensely proud of. Now we decided it was time for a new adventure!

As the snow fell upon us in Massachusetts, we began to dream of warmer climes, but it didn’t have to be a dream did it? While our youngest son was busy planning to fly the coop and begin his college life in London, we were scrutinizing the states, wondering where we might want to make a new beginning. It’s never too late for a new beginning, we prove that, we also prove that long-distance love can work too!

Laurie: Some may say I’m a dreamer, but I not only chase them, I have the will to make them come true. Will this pull me out of my comfort zone? Of course it will, but this year I turned the “BIG 50” some might get depressed and think their life is half over, for me my life was only going to get better!

As Caroline mentioned, we met later in life, already had children, and had to cope with ailing parents from the get-go. Now this was our time, some would say the honeymoon phase and I was excited to play house all over again.

We decided to put our Massachusetts home on the market, it sold at the first open house, we photographed our last wedding, our change in latitude was fast approaching and we still weren’t sure where we wanted to settle down. The unknown was rather exhilarating! One thing clear, no more snow!

Sometimes I find it amazing how we end up making decisions, like our last name for instance “HART”. When we were married neither us wanted to use our current last names, so our final decision came from a TV show we both loved, remember “Hart To Hart”? SO, we both decided that our new home would be in a warmer climate.

I mentioned our zany idea to my good friend Nancy, a nurse, who resides in Saint Cloud, Florida. Nancy and I use to work together at a hospital in Massachusetts back in the early 90’S and kept our friendship alive through the years. “So where are you moving to?” Nancy asked. “We have no idea” I replied. We literally didn’t.

First we toyed with the idea of The Carolina’s and Georgia, but then what about Florida? We had both been to Florida and loved vacationing there, but to live? There was so much to consider? Where would we live? East coast? West Coast? Central? Gay Friendly? We still had no idea. Nancy was very gracious and opened her home to us and our geriatric pets, while we house hunt. Now getting to Nancy was the next question, especially with a 12-year-old Cockapoo with impaired vision, hearing loss and our 12-year-old, indoor pampered British Blue.

Caroline Packing the POD

With a new lease on life, this was the perfect time to de-clutter and get rid of all the things that others would appreciate. One thing that life has taught me, it’s not the things, but experiences you live that will nourish your life. After boxes were packed, we condensed of entire lives into a 7 x 7 x 8 POD.

While I was doing endless research of different areas of Florida and pet friendly hotels, Caroline was planning a driving route along 95 South. It was getting real! On July 1st, set the GPS and started our journey. First stop Maryland!

Things were going smoothly, Caroline decided on driving the first leg, Mr. Dick, aka Logan the Cockapoo loves going for rides, was nestled into his comfy pet crate, behind the driver’s seat and Miss. Pussy, aka Bailey, the pampered British Blue was seated in her plush cat carrier, with built in litter tray directly behind me. You all know where this is going right???? After an emergency stop, and a squirt of perfume, we were back on schedule. Refueling the Jeep and stomachs along the way, we finally reached our first destination. Exhausted after covering 8 hours the first day, we all had a restful night. We we’re surprised on how well our fur babies adjusted to their new sleeping arrangements.

Logan and Bailey Our Traveling Fur-babies

River Street, Savannah, Georgia

The next morning, we set off bright and early and heading for South Carolina. This was our first long distance road trip and things were going surprisingly well. We were proud, proud of ourselves for having the courage to follow through, at one point it was only a dream.

Then onto Georgia! After venturing out to see the historic “River Street” in Savannah, we we’re back on the road to Saint Cloud, Florida, our final destination.

July 4th, only 10 minutes remaining, and we’d be at Nancy’s house. Caroline and I hadn’t seen Nancy in nearly 8 years, but true friendship never disappoints. Nancy greeted us in her driveway with open arms.

Best of Friends, Caroline, Laurie & Nancy

Frankie & Otis

The next 5 weeks we would live with Nancy, as a blended family, with her two geriatric dogs, Otis and Frankie. And let me tell you the laughs we had along the way. That will need its own feature!

Endless searching led us to a property in Winter Haven, a city located in central Florida, edging closer to the gulf coast, and only 54 minutes from Nancy. The perfect location with endless places to go in every direction. Now would the property live up to this ideal location.

Lake Hartridge, Winter Haven, Florida

We arrived a few minutes early to scout the area and instantly we fell in love with the idyllic house nestled behind the large Spanish mosh tree. We had already viewed all the interior photos online numerous times, but excitement flowed through my veins when I peeked in the window. Caroline and I strolled down the well-manicured street to the breathtaking view of the Lake. When we found out moments later that the lake was called “LAKE HARTRIDGE”, we knew we hadn’t chosen the right place, it chose us!

New Horizons

Caroline and Laurie = theLexperience: Now that we’ve settled in Florida, we are extremely excited to officially register theLexperience here. For those who don’t know, theLexperience is an empowering news/media site for women. As we launch into our new phase of theLexperience we will be focusing on women who are making a difference and inspiring other women to have the courage to follow their dreams! It’s never too late to change directions in life, or to start something new, you are the only person holding you back. We can all make excuses not to do something, but if you have a burning desire in life make it happen, the only thing you’ll ever regret is not trying. You may need to have different versions of your dream, depending on your situation or circumstance, but never lose sight of it.

As theLexperience flourishes we want to be able to offer grants to help women achieve their dreams and goals in life, from starting a business to making a movie. We know women don’t always get the support they need, and we want to be able to help with that.

A Perfect Sunset on Lake Howard, Winter Haven, FL

Life is about experience and we want you to be loving the experience, so join us as we continue this crazy, beautiful, inspiring journey on theLexperience!

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