Point of No Return

30/01/13 9:26 PM

Yesterday, I gave myself an early birthday gift….

I turned in my letter of resignation!


I have to say, I have a lot of emotions running with this one.

I have waited so long for this opportunity and I thought it would be one of the best days of my life. But to tell the truth, I was in shock after I hit that send button. All of a sudden, this adventure became more real than it has ever been.

After the shock wore off, I could feel this small voice inside saying…

“Are you sure you can do this?”

“Are you sure people are going to come?”

“Why are you leaving a job with a stable salary?”

“What are you doing you crazy person!”

After I took a deep breath, I answered my small voice.

Yes, We can do this. We have a great love and passion for this plantation and we are going to do whatever it takes to make this successful. We have a great vision for the years to come. And we know that all the dreaming and planning and research will pay off.

Will people come? How can they not?

What a wonderful plantation full of history and beauty. It only took us one visit to be hooked on it and it will do the same for others that venture to the plantation.

Yes, I have a stable salary, but I don’t have satisfaction in my job. I have worked for over ten years for this corporation. When I hit my ten year mark, my reward was a block of plastic that had the corporation’s brand on it and the words “Ten Years”. My first thought was really? I worked hard, over produced and got this? I can’t give another ten years for another block of plastic. I want my life to mean something. And I know through this venture, it will.

Yes, I am crazy. Crazy about what endless possibilities we have working for ourselves. We make the decisions, we reap the rewards. Our limits are only set by the limits of our imagination and drive. And best of all, there are no blocks of plastic.

And just for the record, my birthday is tomorrow. I will be 47 years old.

No, I am not ashamed of those years. I have earned each and every one of them.


Posted by Michelle Darnell | in Darnell History | 358 Comments »

358 Comments on “Point of No Return”

  1. John Says:

    It takes great courage to do that, God bless your adventure!

  2. Thank you! I think the shock is over and we are ready to run! Now the count down begins! My last day is March 29th.

  3. John Says:

    tick – tick – tick – tick !!

  4. You are so funny John! How am I ever going to get through this next two months!

  5. John Says:

    “busy” always works for me… Idle time is trouble time.

  6. Dianna Says:

    Well, Happy Birthday to you!! And I think you gave yourself a wonderful present!

  7. I think so too! Thank you!

  8. terry1954 Says:

    good luck with an early retirement and happy birthday tomorrow!!!

  9. Thank you Terry! But I can’t say its really going to be a retirement! But it will be worth every minute of work.

  10. terry1954 Says:

    i know. that is the best word i could think of when you leave a job. lol, retirement from that job and full time into the plantation

  11. πŸ˜‰

  12. Sarah Says:

    Change is usually scary, but often rewarding! Happy birthday!

  13. Thank you so much Sarah. I truly believe that.

  14. We are the same age. Happy Birthday! You may feel uneasy today, but when Belle Grove is up and running I bet you will be glad you took the plunge. It’s hard to leave any comfort zone but sometimes it’s necessary to grow. Don’t look back, just look forward πŸ™‚

  15. Thank you! What a great age we are! I think I am pass the uneasy stage now. I am ready for the big count down! March 29th here I come!

  16. maureenc Says:

    Well done and Happy Birthday. It takes courage to walk away from financial certainty and embark on pursuing your dreams!

  17. Thank you! I agree! And I think this dream is so worth it!

  18. edgar62 Says:

    Happy Birthday. A great Birthday Present, which, given the location and the history and your dedication, will be well rewarded. Oh and I loved the visit to the ” White House” and the painting of Lee and Jackson is one of my favourites.

  19. Thank you! I know it will be worth every thing we have been through and have yet to go through. I know this is where I am suppose to be. The White House was wonderful. I just wish I could have gotten pictures inside. I loved the details! And I do love the Lee and Jackson painting too. Wonder if they would gift it to Belle Grove… nuh.. but a good thought. πŸ˜‰

  20. Happy Birthday, and the all the best with your future at Belle Grove

  21. Thank you so much! We can’t wait for March 29th when I am free.

  22. Birthday cheers, and good for you…

  23. Thank you so much!

  24. mlspell Says:

    Happy birthday, and good luck!

  25. Thank you!

  26. Wow, what a courageous step! I’ve always believed change is good for the soul, and you seem so ready and so excited for this new venture. I’ve certainly gotten caught up in your excitement over the past few months of reading your blog, and I look forward to some day visiting the plantation.

  27. Thank you so much! I do believe change is good for the soul too! In the past years, I have become so stuck in doing the same things over and over. I wasn’t growing. Now I feel like I am on “Miracle Grow”! Thank you for following along and supporting us! We hope to see you one day at the plantation!

  28. Bravo! I am your age and did the same thing two years ago and haven’t looked back. Have the happiest of birthdays tomorrow!!

  29. Thank you for the encouraging words! We are at such a wonderful age with sky as the limit!

  30. Lillie Says:

    Yay! Happy, Happy Birthday! Speaking from personal experience, 47 is a great age to reinvent yourself and ‘start over’ again! I know it will be as awesome for you, as it was for me (five years ago…).

    Now, come on March 29th, where are you already? *grin*

  31. Thank you Lillie! I haven’t thought of it that way but I love it! I am reinventing myself!

    Are we there yet?

  32. lynnwyvill Says:

    Happy birthday! And Congratulations on making the “leap.” I remember when I resigned from my job to start a business. My small voice asked the same questions yours did. I never regretted my decision to leave and follow my dream. My guess is that you won’t either. Best wishes for this exciting new chapter in your life!

  33. Thank you! It is so wonderful to hear that I am following in such great foot steps! It’s like I’m not doing this alone!

  34. lynnwyvill Says:

    Oh, no, you are not alone!!!!! I found that when I went poking around, there were lots of people who had taken a “leap” of one kind or another. Their stories inspired me.

    So, go out in the sunshine and smile on your first day of your new adventure!!!!

    Hope I can come visit the plantation this spring.


  35. Thank you Lynn! The sun is truly shining on us today! We can’t wait to see you at the plantation!

  36. Happy Birthday and Congratulations! You have bigger and better things ahead of you!! And yes- they will come!!!!

  37. Thank you so much! The words of encouragement have been the best gift this year!

  38. tbgoodall Says:

    I’m so excited for you! This is just what you’ve been waiting on – full speed ahead!! And I love your self talk – reminding yourself of all you know to be true. Happy Birthday!!!!! I think you gave yourself an awesome birthday gift :)))))

  39. Thank you! What a great year we have to come! Can’t wait to see you back at the plantation! We were going there on Feb 9th to pull bricks from the ground! Want to come? πŸ˜‰

  40. Amy Says:

    Happy birthday! Doing something that you are passionate about will bring you happy and meaningful life. Good luck to you!

  41. Thank you so much Amy! It has been the best birthday! And it isn’t even here yet!

  42. Mara Kaktins Says:

    I know you guys will do great! What strength you have! And Happy Birthday!

  43. Thank you Mara! We can’t wait to start “digging” the landscape and bring things for you to see!

  44. fpdorchak Says:

    Congratulations on taking the leap—and happy birthday! Wishing you all the best!

  45. Thank you so much! I feel so blessed by all of you!

  46. gardenlilie Says:

    Happy Birthday! Yeah, what an adventure! I’ve had many ideas in my life n different dreams. It’s been a wonderful busy life, but now I’m getting to some of those n making sure I do them. You are younger so good for you. Enjoy.

  47. Thank you! It is time to pursue that wonderful chapter in my life! I can’t wait!

  48. Cheryl Young Says:

    YEAH for YOU!!!! What a Wonderful birthday gift you’ve given yourself.
    People will come for sure, all your pictures are beautiful. Have fun and don’t look back. At 47 you are just getting started! You go girl!

  49. Thank you! You are so right! I am just getting started!

  50. Deb Says:

    Best wishes on your new path in life. Life is too short to spend it on a hamster wheel.

  51. Oh yes! That is the image I see! Well, I just jumped off!

  52. Of course they will come! How can they not?

    Happiest Birthday! What a grand adventure you are on!

  53. Thank you so much! We can’t wait to see everyone there!

  54. When one door closes, another one opens. Happy Birthday!

  55. Thank you! I really believe that!

  56. Congratulations! Keep telling that small voice what’s up, it may talk back to again. πŸ™‚

  57. Thank you! I will! It doesn’t rule my life, just reminds me to stay grounded at times.

  58. ramaink Says:

    There’s power in positive thought. It will all work out beautifully because you are willing to suit up and show up to work on your dream. The Universe is listening, so heave ho. I, for one, will be visiting with my family. πŸ™‚
    Wish you all the luck in the Universe! And a very happy birthday!!

  59. Thank you so much! I believe our minds are like a computer. What we say aloud is programmed into our thoughts and actions. So I am thinking and saying good thoughts!

    We can’t wait to see you and your family at the plantation! What a grand time we will have!

  60. Best of luck to you! Running the inn will pay off in so many ways that the “steady and stable” job can’t. You’ll hear great stories from the guests and you’ll give each of them something magical to hold in their memories. Happy birthday!

  61. Aw that is such a wonderful thought! I hope we can give them lots of wonderful memories that will draw the back to the peace of this plantation! Thank you!

  62. seniorhiker Says:

    Sometimes the ‘scary’ things I did were absolutely the right things to do. I have a feeling it is exactly the same for you. Happy Birthday.

  63. Thank you! I think so too!

  64. God bless you and I hope you are very successful! Happy Birthday!!

  65. Thank you so much! We are truly blessed!

  66. Chuck Ring Says:

    You’ve done it in your minds, therefore, you have done it in your hearts and souls.

  67. Wow Chuck! That is good! Thank you!

  68. Follow your bliss — good for you! ~ Kat

  69. Thank you so much! We are running after it as fast as we can!

  70. Preveena Says:

    Best wishes! i believe you should always follow your instincts.
    HaPpy BiRtHday!!!! have a rocking day!

  71. Thank you so much! I will in about 30 minutes! My day has begun and my future lays ahead!

  72. E.W. Spider Says:

    Congratulations!!! So exciting!!! Enjoy the ride, ok?

  73. Thank you so much! We are so enjoying it! Good or bad it has been worth the trip!

  74. Ogee Says:

    Sometimes you just have to throw yourself in the deep end…and guess what? You really can swim…and the water is fine πŸ™‚

  75. Thank you! We have stepped off and are swimning fine! Plus we have all of you “Life Guards” there to watch over us!

  76. janna hill Says:

    I am so excited for you! Happy birthday and the bestest of wishes. πŸ™‚

  77. Thank you! We are so excited to be on the way!

  78. I believe this is one of the best presents you can give yourself for your birthday! I’m sure everything will be great and you are working hard with the plantation, hard work pays off! I wish you the best luck and Happy Birthday for tomorrow!

  79. Thank you so much! We look forward to getting there, but love the trip on the way!

  80. Congratulations. This journey takes bravery and you have demonstrated that beyond reproach. I was searching for a suitable quote but all i can come up with is “If you build it, they will come”. πŸ™‚

  81. Haha! That is one of the best for us! Thank you!

  82. I plan on visiting!

  83. We can’t wait to see you there!

  84. πŸ™‚

  85. njbrown Says:

    Happy birthday! (I turned 70 this week, and I’d gladly trade you.)
    No, you’re not crazy. Every wonderful thing that has been accomplished has started with stepping out in faith.

    Best wishes,


  86. Thank you Nancy! Happy Birthday to you too!

  87. So much courage! Your dreams will come true!

  88. Thank you! I am counting on it!

  89. Dusty Roads Says:

    Best of luck to you. Your post really struck a cord with me as I would have been with my comapany 10 years in May. They are closing my office March 31. It’s too far to commute to the new location so I too have given my resignation. (I will be 62 in Feb.) My feelings mirror yours. Much success to you as you pursue your new future. I will be following your adventures.

  90. Thank you! I really do understand. But you know, its going to be okay. I think everything happens for a reason. And I am sure yours is the same.

  91. Dusty Roads Says:

    I do believe that. πŸ™‚

  92. marydpierce Says:

    Happy Birthday, and Bravo!! You can do it. It’s important to follow your dreams. I don’t usually do this, it’s personal, but my son made a short video about his year for family and friends. In 2012 he graduated from college and found just the kind of job he was hoping for. The video is short, 3 minutes, but it speaks to exactly what you are experience – wanting to live your dream. Maybe it will reassure you that you are doing to the right thing.
    Congratulations, and best wishes on a wonderful adventure!

  93. Wow! That was wonderful! I love the “tree house” mansion! It’s so cool seeing other follow their dreams just as we are. It really is inspiring! Thank you so much for sharing it!

  94. vanbraman Says:

    Congratulations on this big step, and also an early Happy Birthday. I am sure that you will be missed by your many co-workers. Good luck as you get ready to face new challenges.

  95. Thank you! I am sure once the new person replaces me, I will be a far off thought in their minds. That is until they think about me living my dreams while they “slave” away for a block of plastic. πŸ˜‰

  96. Jennifer Says:

    Well done, happy birthday and welcome to your future! πŸ™‚

  97. Thank you so much! We are looking at the goal line. It is coming into view!

  98. You go girl, and a very Happy birthday, may God bless your venture

  99. Thank you so much! We truly do feel so blessed!

  100. Angeline M Says:

    Congratulations! and what a wonderful birthday present to yourself!

  101. Thank you! It really was a great gift!

  102. shofar Says:

    Good for you, you can do anything because with God’s help, ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE! You’re young enough to work at building up Belle Grove Plantation B & B!

  103. Thank you so much! We know that very well!

  104. Congratulations on your new life – and happy birthday! Have a wonderful day.

  105. Thank you so much! Just two more months and we will be living the dream full time!

  106. radhika25 Says:

    All the very best to you!

  107. Thank you so much!

  108. steve Says:

    Happy Birthday & Best of Luck !!!

  109. Thank you so much Steve!

  110. Congratulations!!! Well done. That takes courage and boldness. I have looked at the photos on your blog and would love to come visit some time. that is after I go back to work after being semi retired for the past 13 years… Oh to be in my 40’s again, I may feel more confident in heading into the work force… I fear they may throw a block at me! Again, congratulations, you are following your dream DAF

  111. Thank you so much! You know you can do anything you put your mind to! And age is only the physical. Your true age lays within!

  112. πŸ˜‰

  113. lazarioana Says:

    Happy B-day and may your adventure be amazing, full of accomplishments and of course … plastic-block free πŸ˜€ !!!!

  114. Thank you so much! I don’t know if I could look at plastic the same way again!

  115. Happy Birthday, Congratulations and Best Wishes! What an exciting way to start your 48th year. This adventure you are on with Belle Grove should definitely make it an amazing year.

  116. Thank you so much! I know that this year is going to be one of the most exciting to come!

  117. throve Says:

    Happy Birthday.:) It takes courage to do something new. Most people don’t jump. Well done for following your bliss. You know you are doing the right thing. If we could see around the corner every time then there would be less anticipation or excitement in our lives.
    Make that wish when you blow out the candles and savour that moment.

  118. Thank you so much! How true! Its the adventure that makes life full! Wish has been granted!

  119. throve Says:


  120. Happy Birthday! I had similar feelings when I left the corporate rat race (to be a stay at home mom). Congrats and best wishes on ALL your endeavors!

  121. Thank you so much! You know I did that for five years when the kids were young. Then when back for the ten. Now its for me!

  122. ccblittle Says:

    What a great gift of courage and adventure you’ve given yourself! Brava!

  123. Thank you! I can’t tell you how wonderful it really feels!

  124. tucsonmike Says:

    You have to go with the flow. It is difficult and a risk. But your gut is the best thing to go by.

  125. Thank you! You know I have never been the kind that goes with the flow. We travel off season, we eat out on Thursdays and we never do or go where most go. We have found more out of life by not doing what is normal than those that follow along never to the difference!

  126. Happy Birthday! and just go for it. From reading your many blog posts, you have the determination and the passion and those are the building blocks I think. Although I was made redundant from my ‘career’, I took the opportunity to do something creative, something I had a passion for and although I still have to work in the corporate world part-time, I am a much happier person than I was earning a much bigger salary but being a full-time wage slave. Best of luck to you. As soon as my partner and I have some money, we will be right over to stay in your beautiful house… πŸ™‚

  127. Thank you so much! I like your term “wage slave”. That is truly what it is. I want the chance to call the shots and to make the mistakes and to reap the rewards. Thank you for encouraging me!

  128. Congratulations! Because of the economic crisis, my husband and I lost our corporate jobs and had to retire at the age of 62. My husband was laid off 3 days before his 62nd birthday. Money has been tight from time to time. We now have part time jobs that we both love and would never go back to that. So happy for you that you don’t have to stay as long as we did. I loved your description of corporate work and the appreciation. I now work in daycare and I love the thank you’s I get everyday and the hugs aren’t to bad either. I get up every morning looking forward to going to work compared to corporate America when I got up every morning enduring and hoping someday my life would begin. Your Life Is Beginning!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Hooray!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  129. Wow you have just said exactly what I was feeling! Thank you so much!

  130. augusta Says:


  131. Thank you!

  132. Susan Norden Says:

    Good for you! I certainly can relate to how you feel and what’s really important in your life. I, too, am in a job that isn’t at all rewarding. I’m just hanging in for another year or two and take an early retirement and starting doing all what I want to do. I’ll still be in my 50s, so I have a chance at a “second career”: working for myself! Congratulations!!!

  133. Thank you! I know that you can do it too! It has been so worth it all!

  134. Craig Cribbs Says:

    Congratulations! I was in banking for 23 years and left the profession in 2001 so my wife and I could start a business of our own. It’s been a struggle at times, but I have been able to do and accomplish so much more in life. Using a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson…Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail. Happy Birthday and have a GREAT day!

  135. YES! I love that quote! We are blazing a new trail today! Thank you! We wish you much success in your venture too!

  136. Happy Birthday, good for you!! You are living your dream and although quitting your job is a huge (and scary) step you have the drive and determination to see your dream come to fruition. I know you will have tremendous success!

  137. Thank you so much! We appreciate your support through the past months! It means so much to us!

  138. iknead2knit Says:

    I felt the same way when I retired last December. I stay busy and maybe we don’t have the discretionary income we had, but I’m happy and my spouse is happy and that’s priceless.

  139. That is what we want! To be together and to love what we are doing Thank you!

  140. Pam Says:

    “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” Quote by Neale Donald Walsh which I remember often as I begin to reexamine and rebuild my direction. More power to you – believe in your dreams! You GO girl, and happy birthday!

  141. Thank you Pam! I love that quote!

  142. uribg Says:

    Hi there,
    Thanks for “liking” my post “Desert in Bloom” on

    Happy Birthday to you! Yes, you can do it! Be brave,it might be hard sometimes but you will be doing what you like, what you believe in. What’s better than that?!


  143. Nothing is better Gabrielle! You are so welcome! We hope to see more too! Thank you!

  144. Happy Birthday and best of luck!

  145. Thank you so much!

  146. You can do it! I too am entrepreneuring it, starting in June (I gave them six months notice–silly me). Frightening, but exciting!

  147. Thank you! Yes we can do it! Wish you much luck in your venture!

  148. Lynda Says:

    Do you know how excited I am for you? That was a big decision, but the rewards will be coming in no time at all! Take a deep breath; let it out slowly; it will all work out in the end. Oh yes,


  149. Thank you Lynda! We are rolling towards that goal line. Just step is one closer to it. This just happened to be a big one! πŸ˜‰

  150. talkavino Says:

    Congratulation! I’m proud of you! You will make it!
    And Happy Birthday!

  151. Thank you! (I think I need a good glass of wine!) πŸ˜‰

  152. Laura Says:

    Happy Birthday, and congratulations! I am excited to read about all the exciting adventures.

  153. Thank you Laura! We are so excited to share them with you!

  154. jodyfisher Says:

    So inspiring! Good luck! You will be a success! I would love to link to this post in my blog tomorrow.

  155. Thank you! We appreciate you sharing us with your readers! It means a lot to us!

  156. Shari Says:

    Congrats! Happy birthday! When will the plantation open?

  157. Thank you! We have a date of May 1st right now. But that will depend on how fast we can get moving once the final meeting for zoning is doing in March. Fingers crossed!

  158. Shari Says:


  159. sued51 Says:

    Happy Birthday! It’s scary, but I think judging by the work you have shown on this blog, you WILL BE successful! Best of luck…don’t look back!

  160. Thank you! We have ripped out the rear view mirrors! πŸ˜‰

  161. Mark1 Says:

    Good luck and Happy Birthday. I am 52 and on major decisions like this one you just made I try to say to myself, “If not now, when?” You will surely succeed.

  162. Thank you Mark! That is a great statement! Now is the best time because when never seems to get here.

  163. romantic09art Says:

    Good luck and Happy Birthday!

  164. Thank you so much! I think I need to rethink my clothing! No more pant suits and jackets for me! πŸ˜‰

  165. David Says:

    Happy Birthday!
    I hope you kept that “10” block for display at the plantation. So when a guest asks how you came to Belle Grove, you have an ‘artifact’ to begin your story. Now, let’s have some cake. πŸ™‚

  166. Thank you David! I wish I had thought of that! The fact is I dropped that block of plastic where it belonged, in the trash! So I don’t have it to show. But it would have made a great starter!

  167. Also I love cake!

  168. twoscamps Says:

    Wishing you the best – there’s no time like the present to follow your heart. Life’s too short.

  169. Yes, Life is too short. I learned that last November as I watched my 65 year old mother pass away. Now is the time! Thank you!

  170. Happy Birthday…I felt the same way when I left a 15 year law enforcement career to follow my passion for wine making. Don’t look back, you’re not heading that way…

    You will do great…you are following your passion – people will come…


    Cindy Cosco

  171. Thank you Cindy! We really need to sit down over a great glass of wine some day! I think we would have a lot in common!

  172. That would be awesome…next time I am in Virginia I will definitely come visit…

  173. Great! I will see if we can have a cellar full to pick from! πŸ˜‰

  174. When I resigned from my last job, I burst into tears. Very difficult, no matter how much you have planned. Go for it and good luck. Dianne

  175. Thank you Dianne! You know I don’t think I will cry when I leave at the end of March, but I know if I do, it will be tears of happiness!

  176. museconfuse Says:

    That;s great! Congratulations on taking a bold step forward. While it’s scary, I’m really envious that you are now able to focus on something that you’re passionate about!

  177. Thank you so much! It was scary but now I feel that I can do anything!

  178. lyndaanning Says:

    good luck!

  179. Thank you so much!

  180. Sandi Says:

    Many kudos! It’s hard to walk away from something stable, but I am in hopes that you will be happy in the long run. The biggest regrets are from not doing what we feel we should have done.

    And I’ll be 47 this year, too. It’s a GREAT time of life to be adventurous. πŸ™‚

  181. Thank you! You are so right! Life begins at 47! No regrets here!

  182. sarahlouisek Says:

    Happy birthday! And remember the words in the book Shoeless Joe: “If you build it, they will come.”

  183. Thank you! We have been busy building and I have all the faith in the world that they will come!

  184. gwynnem Says:

    I wish you all the best in your venture. I need folks like you to inspire me to not get in a rut. Happy Birthday!

  185. Thank you! We are moving forward fast!

  186. Happy Birthday! After a couple mornings of sleeping in, or of sitting with a cup of coffee or tea, relaxing in the morning, you will smile. Been there and done that. And I probably smile about it every day now. Follow your dream.

  187. Thank you! I don’t know about a morning coffee, but what I dream of is the evening sunset on the plantation I love with a glass of wine and hundreds of good friends visiting us at that plantation!

  188. Happy Birthday, Michelle! And congratulations on the next step. I believe in you!

  189. Thank you so much! Just for that, I am going to have a bacon biscuit for breakfast! In fact, I think I need to come up with a special breakfast in your honor at the plantation. Give me a few days and we will see what we can do!

  190. Aw! Aren’t you the sweetest! Hope that bacon biscuit was da bomb!

  191. πŸ™‚

  192. gooseyanne Says:

    Happy Birthday! And congratulations of having the courage of your convictions.

  193. Thank you! With all this support who could have courage!

  194. cookazido Says:

    I love how you answered your small voice. Happy birthday, and congratulations on having the courage to follow through with your dream.

  195. Thank you! I can’t say I answer all the time. I tend to ignore most of the time. But sometimes, you have to beat back the fears and take that leap!

  196. Mama Bear Says:

    Happy Birthday!!
    Congratulations on the next step of your life!

  197. Thank you! It was a big one, but from all this support, looks like I had several watching out for us!

  198. Happy Birthday! And congratulations on moving forward. I know it can have mixed emotions, my husband had to make the decision to retire 3 yrs earlier than planned…it was scary after working since he was 15, but he did it and is better for it. He loves retirement and doing what he likes, just like I know you will be rewarded doing what you enjoy in caring for Belle Grove. You go girl!! πŸ˜€

  199. Thank you Patty! I know we made the right decision. It is going to be so wonderful!

  200. I am so excited for you guys and feel privileged to read about it as it unfolds.

  201. Thank you! That was so sweet!

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  203. Thank you so much for sharing us with your readers! We really appreciate it! It means so much to us!

  204. rosekat08 Says:

    Best of luck in this new chapter of your life. It will be challenging and exhilarating! Happy belated birthday too πŸ™‚

  205. Thank you so much! We are looking forward to this new chapter!

  206. leo brady Says:

    Best of luck!

  207. Thank you so much!

  208. Happy Birthday and best wishes for the future…I’m sure it will be great!

  209. Thank you so much!

  210. pommepal Says:

    Happy Birthday, today is the first day of the rest of your life and you are going to be doing some thing you really love. I look forward to following your journey it will be hard work for you but also exciting. and rewarding

  211. Thank you so much! It has been readers like you that have kept this journey so much fun!

  212. pommepal Says:

    It is so interesting to watch your journey. Looking forward to the coming year

  213. Thank you! We like to call it the “Reality Show” lol

  214. pommepal Says:

    Sure is πŸ™‚

  215. Pat Says:

    “Hallelujah”!! You took that leap of faith and it will pay off! “Happy Birthday”!! There is nothing like doing what your heart cries for! Yes indeed keep looking at what you’ll gain and forget that plastic,I am so happy for you all and I know the success will be running over.
    Love you and enjoy your “Birthday”!! πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€

  216. PAT!! I have missed seeing your comments! Thank you so much! We love you too!

  217. Pat Says:

    Michelle I’m sorry,I have been up and down so much with these sinus problems for sure.

  218. Aw, I am so sorry! I do feel your pain! I have been battling it too! You’re in my prayers! Love you sweetheart!

  219. Pat Says:

    Thanks so much!!

  220. swabby429 Says:

    We only go around once in this life. To live it according to your own values and priorities is the best gift you can give yourself and others.

  221. Thank you so much! Those are some really wise words!

  222. […] great post from Michelle Darnell (Virginia Plantation here on wordpress), who earlier this week quit her job to run her new bed and breakfast full time. Her story and her conviction to remake her life makes me want to visit! Congratulations and good […]

  223. Thank you so much for sharing us with your readers! We really appreciate it!

  224. Bravo! And best of luck to you!

  225. Thank you so much!

  226. Happy Birthday, and what a great thing to do, We did just that 3 years ago, packed in work and moved to the country to set up a B&B. Haven’t looked back although last year was a difficult year, what with the worst weather in a summer for 100 years and recession etc, so we didn’t have as many visitors as we would have liked, but even so don’t regret the decision. Still lots of work to do renovating the derelict third of the house but see how far we have got, look us up at

  227. Thank you for your encouraging words! I see we are walking in some great steps!

  228. Happy Birthday! Looks like you gave yourself a big adventure. The sweetie’s birthday was yesterday, so you’re kindred spirits! Congratulations. Now you will be doing something you love. I’m sure it is going to be a huge success.

  229. Thank you so much! We are looking forward to seeing what is to come!

  230. lvaletutto Says:

    Happy belated birthday and congratulations! It takes guts to follow your passion in life. And some never have the chance to find theirs. Congrats!

  231. Thank you so much! Maybe through our blog we can inspire others to take that leap of faith.

  232. Ken Gwira Says:


  233. πŸ™‚

  234. Haute Pepper Says:

    I’ll come!!! What a crazy wave of emotions for sure but I have no doubt that you are going to be so glad you did it.

  235. Thank you! We are pass that fear… for now. I am sure we will have to relive it at the end of March when I finally walk away.

  236. You are following your calling it is a done deal. Your concerns are normal and when Your B &B opens you will have many, many returning guests coming and staying with you; many couples who get married or have their honeymoon at Belle Grove will come back to celebrate their union and the renewal of that love. I am sure many who read your blog, like myself are just waiting for you to open your doors. Congratulations for following your calling.

  237. Thank you so much! Your words of encouragement like those of others mean a lot to us!

  238. Erinina Says:

    Happy birthday and congratulations! Can’t wait to watch it grow!!

  239. Thank you so much!

  240. sarasinart Says:

    Congratulations on your decision. Sometimes you just need to take that step……….you’ve made some good plans with sensible moves and a wonderful property. Life is best when you love what you’re doing!

  241. Thank you! We appreciate the words of encouragement!

  242. willowandbee Says:

    Congratulations! I wish you the very best…I’m talking to Mr. Man to plan a stay out there…looks beautiful! Hope you had a Grand Birthday too!

  243. Thank you so much! We can’t wait to meet both of you!

  244. Marisa Says:

    Michelle…the only crazy thing would be to stay to earn another block of plastic. Good for you! Your place is beautiful.

  245. Thank you so much Marisa! I agree totally!

  246. Jeff Duba Says:

    Your Bed and Breakfast looks stunning. My wife and I would love to visit sometime. I’m glad you enjoyed the post on Highland Chili (I found your Blog as as consequent–and so glad I did!)

  247. Thank you so much! We hope to see you both some day! We also look forward to seeing more of your blog in the future!

  248. susank456 Says:

    Happy Birthday! With your passion and determination you will be a great success and if we ever get a chance we will come and visit.

  249. Thank you so much! It was a wonderful birthday! We can’t wait to see you one day at the plantation!

  250. melmannphoto Says:

    Make memories, not plastic blocks. Besides, fear is a great motivator! Stay connected in a friendly way, treat guests as you’d want to be treated, and the word-of-mouth advertising will keep you busy.

  251. Thank you so much! I agree, there are enough plastic blocks in the world! Let’s make those wonderful memories and friends!

  252. Jack Curtis Says:

    Been there; did that. Harder than planned, no regrets whatsoever. Beats hell out of looking back wishing and wondering! Congratulations, good luck and try to plan for the worst while building the best…

  253. Thank you Jack! I think you summed up just how we feel!

  254. A very happy belated birthday! My human mommy says you gave yourself the greatest gift in the world–the freedom to be you, to do the things you love with the people you love. Congratulations!

  255. Thank you so much! And thank you to your human! Hurley, our sweet one loves it too! πŸ˜‰

  256. Now you can spoil him full time, or at least that’s the way he’ll see it!

  257. That is so true! Check out the picture we took of him today!

  258. Bdor24 Says:

    What’s life without a bit of daring? Go on that adventure and follow your dreams.

  259. Thank you! I plan to make the most of it!

  260. Anna Hergert Says:

    Congratulations – on your birthday and resigning from a job that did not provide you with enough personal satisfaction. Resigning was a huge step, leaving behind the salary is one thing, but forging ahead as one’s own boss, self-motivated and owning every action and decision is by far the better position to be in. Sending you energy and support across the miles!!

  261. Thank you so much Anna! We appreciate all the support!

  262. Happy Birthday to you!
    We had that very same feeling 19 seasons ago, when we quit our great paying jobs in the San Francisco to do what we do now. It always works out, even if it doesn’t pay quite as much.

  263. Thank you! We appreciate all the support! We are looking forward to that day soon! March 29th!

  264. The best present (birthday or not) is freedom and joy & you have opened yourself to receiving both πŸ™‚

  265. Thank you! I am so excited. March 29th will be my unofficial birthday as I will be leaving one chapter behind and will be moving to a new one!

  266. RobiniArt Says:

    Proud of you for being brave! You’re really inspiring!

  267. Thank you! It will be official on March 29th!

  268. RobiniArt Says:

    So cool! Well, again, best of luck. I’ll be keeping track!

  269. kiwiskan Says:

    Good on you for following your dream. You’ll never regret it.

  270. Thank you! March 29th won’t come fast enough! πŸ˜‰

  271. Nativegrl77 Says:

    Happy Belated BDay … they always say do what you love the rest comes … always a work in progress

  272. Thank you! I can’t wait for the new chapter to start!

  273. Amanda Wood Says:

    Go for it! You can only move forward. If you look back at the fence, you will bump into the next one.

  274. I like that! We are looking ahead! Thank you!

  275. I admire your courage and your passion. That is what life is all about. I am eager to hear more about this new chapter in your life! πŸ™‚

  276. Thank you! It is exciting to be living it. We can’t wait to start the new chapter on March 29th.

  277. Virginia…..Congratulations. Way to go girl…..You are now going to create possibility in your life. You have been liking my posts for quite awhile. I would like to celebrate your courageous move by giving you a gift. I would like to give you one free life coaching session over the phone gratis. Contact me at my wordpress site with your phone number and best times to reach you, and we can try and figure out when to do it…..I wish you the best.

  278. Wow thank you! I will do so!

  279. Nativegrl77 Says:

    as always … I appreciate the likes=support ! Hoping N.Pelosi gains her leadership back !!!

  280. You are so welcome! Thank you for stopping by!

  281. Congratulations!!! This was a necessary step for the next part of your journey and you did what you needed to do. I am beyond thrilled for you; you’re living your dream and what could be better than that!!!

    “Nothing can bring you peace but yourself; nothing, but the triumph of principles.”
    Ralph Waldo Emerson

  282. Thank you so much Jennifer! Brett and I have appreciated all your support over these past months! We look forward to this next chapter!

  283. Russ L Says:

    My very best wishes for you!

  284. Thank you so much!

  285. colmel Says:

    Awesome! I’m thrilled for you. You ARE doing the right thing, and YES, we will come – all of us – plus so many others. Your dedication and perserverence will pay off!

  286. Thank you! We can’t wait to meet all of you that have supported us through this wonderful journey!

  287. pstpierrep Says:

    Happy B-day.
    Yes, you can do this. Have faith!!

    Thanks for the like.

  288. Thank you! We know we can! You are so welcome!

  289. Yvonne Says:

    Happy birthday, As I am on the last 1/3 ( or s it really 1/5) my life,it is the things I wished I had done instead of the thing I did for security that I regret. My hats off to you to have the balls to do what I wish I had done.

  290. Thank you! It has a jump, but we are happy we made it.

  291. Wow! Congratulations. Best of luck with your new venture.

  292. Thank you! If you haven’t found us on Facebook – Please find us at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Belle-Grove-Plantation-at-Port-Conway/271783509524776 – Please Like Us!

  293. Well done, it’s a decision few of us have the guts to make. I really hope it works out for you.

  294. Thank you so much! If you haven’t found us on Facebook – Please find us at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Belle-Grove-Plantation-at-Port-Conway/271783509524776 – Please Like Us!

  295. fionaward Says:

    A happy birthday and a huge good luck to you!

  296. Thank you so much! If you haven’t found us on Facebook – Please find us at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Belle-Grove-Plantation-at-Port-Conway/271783509524776 – Please Like Us!

  297. kjwinston Says:

    You have done the absolute right thing. Listen, how many times have you heard people who are doing what they want to do say they are sorry they followed their heart? You are brave and wonderful and I am inspired by you. I am in California – but if I get to VA – and I might, I have friends in Cville, I’ll be there!!!

  298. Iamrcc Says:

    Good for you. I retired early from my job just because, I was tired. It was well before the normal retirement age. It was the best decision I have ever made. I always tell people, I didn’t have as much money in my pocket after leaving, but I also didn’t need as much because the peace and joy I gained was worth every dollar I left behind. Thanks for the like of my post “Slight Opening”.

  299. You are so welcome! We hope to see more of your blog in the future! I don’t think I will regret it either!

  300. good for you for following your dream. there has to be satisfaction in what you do for a living or you are just doing time. life is too short to just take up space. the best of luck to you.

  301. Thank you! I love the way you look at it! I don’t want to just be doing time!

  302. Clay J Mize Says:

    Well said. You have inspired me.

  303. Thank you! Mission Accomplished πŸ˜‰

  304. atridim Says:

    Happy Birthday. You are at a good age to begin this journey. You have the wisdom and knowledge of many years to guide you. If you don’t do it now, soon it will become difficult to β€˜push the launch button’. Only those who take risk can realize real gain. Good things don’t come easy. Always think positive. You have a great sounding board of friends here if times ever get difficult. Push the button my friend and never look back.
    Captain Rick

  305. Thank you Captain Rick! The button is pushed! πŸ™‚

  306. Marianne Says:

    I wish you the best on your new venture.

  307. Thank you so much!

  308. mionsiog Says:

    This is a couple of weeks late but Happy Birthday. Thank you for stopping by my Kiss blog. If you hadn’t I would have missed your site. What a great adventure you are heading out to experience I wish you all the best of luck.
    Take Care.

  309. You are so welcome! We hope to see more of your blog! Thank you! We hope you will stop by again!

  310. congratulations! What an accomplishment for someone to achieve at such a young age. You have obviously decided to live while you are alive. So many people never reach that point. I wish you well and will recommend your B&B to everyone.

  311. Thank you so much! We are so excited to take this step! Great things to come! Thank you for sharing and recommending us to everyone!

  312. Shaz_Designs Says:

    Happy birthday, and good luck to you. Hope all your birthday wishes come true on this new venture and after 10 years you will see your hard work has blossomed into something more than a block of plastic!

  313. Thank you! It is my hope too! I hate plastic!

  314. opreach Says:

    Happy Birthday (belated), Congratulations, and Best Wishes!!

  315. Thank you so much!

  316. mayadk123 Says:

    That’s great. Doing what you love is great! Taking a leap of faith takes a lot of courage, so this is an inspiration! And belated Happy Birthday! πŸ™‚

  317. Thank you so much! It was a wonderful birthday. Now on to the new chapter!

  318. Peeksi Says:

    Plastic is used to create representations of real objects that are crafted from natural materials. Your block was molded to look like success, but, in reality, it was just plastic. Your true success is the living, breathing plantation teeming with love and life crafted by your heart and soul. Grab your success and leave the plastic somewhere conspicuous as a reminder of what couldn’t fool you or satisfy your inner-drive to succeed.

    Congratulations and Happy Belated Birthday!

  319. All I can say is “Wow”! I think I am going to have to put this on our Facebook Fan Page. I love it!

  320. Peeksi Says:

    Thank you (blushing :)). It was inspired by your words.

    Congrats, again! I, myself, am feverishly trying to accomplish something daring and foreign to me. I truly believe we can all succeed and deserve so much more than a piece of plastic for giving up the precious time we have in this life.

    Warmest of wishes to you!

  321. No blushing! Those were your words! Thank you! They have given us a spark to run harder!

  322. The only way you know if you can do something or if it will work out is to try it. I always say “it’s not a real leap of faith if God is holding your hand,” which you probably get I mean if you have a completed guarantee, it is not a leap of faith at all. Good luck and God bless.

  323. Thank you so much! We are so excited about our new chapter!

  324. Thank you for making a different choice, taking what seems like a risk, and knowing it was the right decision. Happiness doesn’t come in a block of plastic. Sing to the world about your success when it comes your way. Tell’em to put that plastic down and choose LIFE!

  325. Thank you! Very well said!

  326. Anne Emery Says:

    Dream on! Take nthat risk! No blocks of plastic can give you the wonderful happenings to come. Faith, friends and family will push you on.

  327. Thank you! We are so ready to take this step!

  328. tmalloy21 Says:

    Congratulations for jumping off the cliff! I could have written the same post just this past Monday. I look forward to following your journey. I look forward to owning my own campground sometime this year. I also am turning 47 this year. Good luck!

  329. Yay for 47 year olds! Life begins at 47! We hope you have wonderful luck with your venture too! We will be keeping a tab on you! πŸ˜‰ Thank you!

  330. pstpierre Says:

    Thanks for your like of my post. We’re going South on Sunday wish your B&B was open……

  331. You are so welcome! We hope to see more of your blog too! We wish we were open too! Soon!!

  332. zehirablog Says:

    Thank you for stopping by my Blog. It is so refreshing to read about someone who takes risks. I wish you every success with your venture and hope that the decision to leave your job and pursue your passion pays off – good luck!

  333. You are so welcome! We hope to see more of your blog in the future! Thank you so much!

  334. cookingwnana Says:

    Congrats. Know it is scary..but follow your heart. Iam a gma and went back to school at 50… so worth it!.

  335. Thank you so much! My heart is leading me to the plantation!

  336. Thank you so much!

  337. Best of luck, take a deep breath, and follow your dream! Just about 7 years ago, I took a similar flying leap of faith to pursue a dream. I left a secure job with health insurance to go freelance so I would be able to devote more time to said dream. It’s been spotty at times, downright scary at times, but it’s still been worth it. I am still standing and I’m here to tell the tale. (And I’m older than you, too!) Carry on! πŸ™‚

  338. Thank you Jeanne! It’s people like you who have taken the leap of faith before the lead the way for others! I am right behind you!

  339. moontoefairy Says:

    Congratulations! Following your dream is heaven!

  340. Thank you! Just 20 more work days left!

  341. Robert Says:

    I am very happy for you. Follow your dream and do what you are passionate about. My company let me go a week ago and I am working on building my own business. I am happy that I can help people and i feel free. All the best, to both of us.

  342. Thank you! I hope you will find your dream too!

  343. Great job Virginia, to KNOW is the key… keep it up!

  344. Thank you! It’s not much longer!

  345. Bob Lee Says:

    Congratulations! It takes courage to overcome that fear and I wish you (and all of us) the best of success. πŸ™‚

  346. Thank you so much! I am down to just 20 more working days before my “retirement” from the corporate world!

  347. Congratulations for follow your heart. Its only scary as we think of it. Cheers to you and your new adventures!

  348. Thank you so much! I can’t wait to start this new chapter! Just 14 more working days!

  349. Wow. Your journey is so much like mine. My husband and I have just purchased a home in Mexico that we plan to turn into a fabulous multi rental suites as well as quarters for us. Just this evening at work I was entering my up-coming shifts in my calendar and thinking these will probably be the last ones I will ever enter as I plan to be retired by June. Kind of scary to say the least! I look forward to following your journey and hope some day to stay at your amazing b & b.

  350. That is so cool! I understand your fear, but it is so worth it! Good Luck on your venture! We hope it goes really well!

  351. 1annecasey Says:

    Belated happy birthday! Carpe Diem (Seize the day)!!!

  352. Thank you! The day is coming and I am ready!

  353. dawnspitfire Says:

    Good for you!!!
    I wrote out a very long, supportive but humorous, comment. …with high praises, etc., etc., etc…..blah blah blah. JUST TO ACCIDENTALLY LOSE IT!!!
    Now I’m left here shaking my head.
    Botton line…”What a Wonderful World”. ENJOY! β™₯

  354. Thank you! These are just as inspiring!

  355. Well done. Best of all possible luck. Me, I did this in reverse. I used to run a bed and breakfast in Suffolk (England), moderately close to the Harwich Ferry (to Holland) and to Stansted Airport, but not close enough, evidently, as we didn’t get enough punters, so I retrained as a college lecturer, which is what I’m doing now. But you don’t want to hear about that. Your plantation looks amazing. I don’t know how you found my blog btw…

  356. Thank you so much! It’s always nice to meet someone with experience!

  357. Yayyyy! Good for you – what a way to celebrate! Know you the B&B will be a great success, and your posts/stories are great. Thanks as well for liking and earlier post “Ski Day Today”. That trip to CO was a much needed break! Here’s hoping the spring season starts with many reservations!!

  358. Thank you! We really enjoy reading about others as much as we do writing our own history. We are so glad you enjoy ours!