airplane rules

airplane rules put your own mask on firstWho gets the oxygen first? I’ve always found it a bit counterintuitive when flight attendants give their safety briefing and tell you to put on your oxygen mask on first before attempting to help others. Okay, so maybe you won’t be much help to anyone if you pass out from oxygen deprivation, but still shouldn’t at least the kids come first? Then I went to see a psychic.

Wow, that flight took a sharp left eh?

I’m not one to seek out metaphysical advice, in fact this meeting was pure chance.  A celestial alignment of a girlfriends weekend, the Presidential Suite, and fortune telling. Curiouser and curiouser…

I won’t go into details revealed to me about the future. We’ll just say that monetary windfall needs to make a landing before the teen gets into Berkley.  Tarot cards and mystic crystals aside, she had some true wisdom to impart. Wisdom she calls, “The Airplane Rule.”

Rooted in that safety briefing, the idea is rather simple. In the same way that we wouldn’t be much use helping someone else get their mask on if we were passed out on the cabin floor, we aren’t much use any day if we don’t we don’t take care of ourselves first.

Here is how Airplane Rules work; Take six minutes a day to just be with yourself. Do something just for you. Meditate, take a walk, enjoy a cup of tea all by yourself. Turn off the noise and welcome the quiet.

Simple? Yeah, right!

Yes I do realize that making time to care for ourselves is typically anything but simple. With a new school year looming, making time for myself seems about as likely as having Sam Heughan show up on my doorstep bent on whisking me away to 18th century Scotland. That said, I’m really starting to think that The Airplane Rule has some merit.

sam heughan in a kilt what girl wouldn't love to be resuced by this Outlander hunk? We women tend to feel the urge to nurture others so strongly that it comes at the risk of failing ourselves. Or worse, feeling guilty about making time to do that. Guilt and I are lifelong pals.  Half an hour at the salon getting my nails done is an open invitation for guilt to take up residence on our sofa.

That psychic said something so profound to me, “Everyone has six minutes. There is nothing on your to-do list that can’t wait for you to dedicate six minutes to yourself. Find that six minutes and then before you know it you’ll have 12.”

So I gave it a try this morning

I went back to using the Headspace app. It’s a free and easy way to make some time for you through guided {or unguided} meditation. Maybe it was ten instead of six minutes, but it turns out I had time for even that long. The result? I got more checked off that to-do list than I’d even planned for.

I think I might just start to live by the airplane rule.

Motorola Droid Turbo Giveaway: Take Better Travel Photos

Take better travel photos from anywhere in the world with Verizon WirelessIf I had a dollar for every time a member of my family rolls their eyes over how many pictures I take I’d check one of those items off my bucket list.  Take an epic solo trip – CHECK! How many travel photos do you think you’d take if you won a Motorola Droid Turbo giveaway?

Though they may find my laying on the sidewalk to get the best shot both annoying and disturbing, there is a reason why I take so many pictures. Kathleen was her name.

I can still remember the sound that marked her arrival in our one-tumbleweed town – a low rumble, followed by a roar. I was five years old the day Tropical Storm Kathleen sent a nearly four foot wall of water through our town. I’ve never forgotten that sound.

Her wake washed away life as my family had known it. Once she was done I’d never again hold my mom’s hand, a trembling ball of excitement waiting to get a wave back from the Engineer driving the train that ran past the house. No train would ever travel those tracks again. The friendly rabbits that took shelter in Manzanita grove behind our neighborhood would never come back. Nearly every photo my mother treasured was damaged or destroyed.

We were lucky that September day. The sandbags held, for the most part. Much of our town was damaged. At the bottom of the mountain they weren’t so lucky.  Homes, lives, almost the entire town was lost.

So much can be gone in the blink of an eye, in the roiling waves of Nature’s furry, on random happenstance. Having seen that first-hand at such a young age shaped me. A quiet voice in the back of my head tells me to hold on. Pictures are how I hold on to the people, places, emotions that shape our lives.

With my very first “job” {hocking greeting cards from a company that advertized in the back of a magazine} I earned myself a Polaroid 1000 Land Camera – complete with Instamatic film cartridges and a fancy disposable flash bar. I was well on my way to becoming the next Dorothea Lange. 

Or… not. 

My photography skills – or lack there of– were fodder for endless comic relief. “Hey, look! Jason is Flash Gordon. See the blur?!” I was notorious for beheading my subjects, on film at least. Shaking a photo to aid in development became the preamble to public humiliation.  Yet, I was undaunted. I wouldn’t let a few bad photos {okay, a ton} keep me from snatching those memories and holding on tight. 

In the many decades since that first camera I’ve gotten a little better at snapping a photo. I’ve also had the chance to capture pictures in some of my favorite places around the globe. Sometimes there is still blur, but for the most part everyone has a full head on their shoulders.

I took this photo with the HTC One M9 Smartphone while visiting Canadian Parliament in Ottawa. Taken in the dark, the only filter used was the low-light feature on the phone. Not bad, eh?
I took this photo with the HTC One M9 Smartphone while visiting Canadian Parliament in Ottawa. Taken during their Northern Lights display, this is a night shot. The only filter used was the low-light feature on the phone. Not too bad, eh?

The advent of smartphones with good cameras {and let’s be honest, great filters} may not have made me a better photographer,  but it has made for better pictures. I’d like to think my willingness to lay on that sidewalk, stretch out over the precipice, and elbow the elderly out of my shot has had an impact as well. 

I hope that one day the rolling of eyes and the exasperated sighs of my family will fade. It may be a bit much to think that they’ll ever appreciate my insistence that they never take a bite before I get a picture of the food. I hold hope that they’ll eventually forgive me for forcing them to ask the Irish Customs Inspector wait until I was set up to get the shot before he stamped their passports – and then sharing it on Instagram because I have great Global Service with Verizon.  Even if none of this ever happens, no matter where we roam in this crazy adventure, I will  have the pictures to remember. These are the moments that I never want washed away.

A group of some of my favorite Wanderlusters have teamed up with me and OM Media Group to let you know about Verizon’s Global Service, help you stay connected while wandering the globe, and make sure you never miss a shot. Share your favorite travel photo(s) for a chance to win (a Motorola Droid Turbo). Be sure to join @theonlinemom and the Verizon Wireless Buzz crew for some fabulous Twitter chats – every Friday at 3:00 p.m. eastern using the hashtag #VZWBuzz
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms:

 

Valid to residents of the United States only. All photos must be original with no copyright or distribution restrictions. Photos remain the property of the entrant, who further agrees to give Chicken Nuggets of Wisdom, OMMedia Group, and participating bloggers permission for use solely in promoting this giveaway. Entries with nudity, violence or illegal activities will be deleted and the entry voided. Prize fulfillment will be completed by OMMG. No cash value or substitutions. Winner will be chosen by random number generation and announced within 48 hours of the contest end date (8/30/2015). Winner will be notified via email and has 72 hours to provide shipping information for the prize. If 72 hours lapses without contact, a new winner will be drawn.

 

 

 

Disclosure: As a member of a very cool team of influencers for Verizon Wireless I sometimes receive compensation, cool gadgets to test drive, or get attend special events. All opinions entirely my own, based on my experiences, because you deserve nothing less! 

 

Your Parenting Philosophy Is A Joke!

What is your parenting philosophy? Um, try not to get them killed and hope they don’t grow up to loathe me? When that blurry little plus sign materialized on the stick trembling in my hand I was wholly unprepared for what lay ahead.

Confession time; I never wanted kids. That biological yearning to mother another human, it just wasn’t a part of my makeup. Or so I thought. Turns out that you don’t have to declare a desire to rear children in order to conceive. Who knew?!

Only everybody. 

When my oldest “reality check” came along it was almost instantaneously obvious to me that I’d been living some deluded idiom.  The kid was {is} cool.  Cooler than I ever would or could be. I was totally into this parenting thing. Maybe even made for it.

Naturally this revelation also came with an instant, fully-formed, and completely correct in every possible way, parenting philosophy.

Fellow parents, you may roll your eyes now.

My son was singularly brilliant. I’d teach him to read before he could crawl. Yes, he was going to be multilingual by age five. Never would a commercially produced morsel of food find its way past his cherubic lips. He’d wear only the best, washed always in Dreft {also known as the precursor to organic, fragrance free, sustainably produced, vegan, non-gmo laundry detergent.}  A smudge of dirt had less than a thirty second life-span anywhere on him.

Is that the sound of rapidly spinning rotter blades I hear? 

And, like a Highlander… there could be only one. Then, two lines in the window.

When she came along, my first daughter turned my world on its ear. Sixteen years later I’ve yet to right things, and I like it that way.

Your Parenting Philosophy Is a Joke - Because They Have Thier Own PlansWhere my first child was in many ways shaped after the me I thought I was, she would march to her own beat from day one. In fact the first photo snapped of her – seconds after eviction from the womb- shows her with a graceful, long, perfectly-formed middle finger resting on her chubby little cheek. This kid would do things her way.

With all four of my kids {yeah, the “no kids” plan is shot to hell} I’ve tossed out that whole parenting philosophy thing. Instead I just try my best to help them find their place in the world. By world I mean exactly that. We work hard to teach them that there is a common thread that connects us all, no matter our geographic location, spiritual beliefs, or economic situation.

Sometimes those lessons come through our travels, or our “Travel Nights” – a fun family tradition that lets us “travel” without leaving home by bringing in food, music, and cultural information about places we long to explore. Other times it comes in helping them connect with people who don’t look or live like they do through work with organizations we adore – like the UN Foundation.

For as long as I can remember, my oldest daughter has been the most taken with the idea of Global Citizenship. Her personal mantra is, “I will go to all the places.” So I’ve always expected that she’d want to study abroad at some point. Like her senior year of college. But as a Junior in high school? Yeah, no.

Be careful what you ask for, right?

I’m not sure why I’m all that shocked that she is so ready to fly. People tell me she’s been asking to spend a summer abroad since middle school. Somehow, I didn’t hear that.  Ignore it, she’ll forget about it like she did One Direction. Much like my feelings for the boy band genre, I’m not cool with this.

Gas up the chopper! 

I was nineteen when I moved to Spain. It’s not like I went without a safety net – or even by choice– the Navy had that covered. My parents never had to find a host family, a reputable program, do background checks, take blood samples, and interrogate anyone that might possibly have contact with their daughter. I was an adult {legally speaking.} She is a baby {mostly.}

This whole give them roots and wings thing is a load of crap. Sappy copy for greeting cards and fridge magnets. How about we just give them that tentacled vine thing they kept beneath that trapdoor under the three headed dog at Hogwarts? Who says we have to equip them with life skills to help them grow into confident, responsible, self-reliant adults?  Bah! 

take the world with you whever you goThe globe has lots of citizens, I only have one KK.

 

 

 

 

Tips for Viewing the Assateague Island Pony Pinning

photo credit: Bonnie U. Gruenberg
photo credit: Bonnie U. Gruenberg

At around ten years old I got the best Christmas gift any kid could ever ask for – my first horse. Well, technically she was just a hair too short to be called a horse. I loved her all the same. She and I would while away many a summer afternoon in the shade of an outcropping of trees that sprung up around a little stream carved out at the base of a leaking water tower near her stables. While she nibbled on sweet watercress, I’d read (and reread) the classic; Misty of Chincoteague.

The story of how Paul and Maureen longed to buy one of the ponies that swam across from Assateague Island, was pure romance to my preteen soul. It didn’t hurt that my pony was a Paint with a large white marking on her side. It was one of those bittersweet books that crawls into your heart and makes you somehow enjoy the sad parts as much as the triumph.

Far removed from that stream by the water tower – my horse long passed – I now live close enough for a day-trip to Assateague Island. Taking my family down there is a treat. The beaches are far less crowed than the rest on the Delmarva peninsula, nearly pristine and yes… there are still wild ponies. 

surfing off Assateague Island MarylandThe population of the herd is kept under control in part by the annual Pony Penning (now called the Pony Swim) which remains nearly the same as described in Marguerite Henry‘s classic. On the last Thursday of July the Volunteer Fire Department of Chincoteague, Virgina – aka the Saltwater Cowboys– drive the herd on a short swim from Assateague to Chincoteague at slack tide. Here the foals are separated from the herd. 

The first foal to make the crossing will be named King or Queen Neptune and raffled off at the carnival that evening. The rest will be sold at auction, the adults returning to the island to live wild and free. 

Here are some tips for viewing the Assateague Island Pony Pinning.

Information on the 2015 Chincoteague Pony Swim

Date: July 29th, 2015

Time: Slack Tide (usually between 7:00 am and 1:00 pm

Admission: To view the swim is free

Parking: (free) Chinoteague Combined School – 4586 Main Street, Chincoteague, VA 23336

Other activities on Chincoteague Island Saturday, July 25, 2015:

  • 28th Annual Chincoteague Island Blueberry Festival (9:00 AM – 4:30 PM at the Chincoteague Center)
  • 90th Annual Chincoteague Fireman’s Carnival (7pm – 11pm at the Carnival Grounds)
  • ‘Misty of Chincoteague’ playing at the Island Theater (Check the Theater for show times)

Wild Ponies of Assateague Island Just as when I was that awkward book nerd who’s only friend was her not-quite-a-horse, I’ve mixed feelings about this tradition. In my ‘logical brain’ I understand the need to control the size of the herd. Can’t have them breeding and eating themselves out of a home. On the other hand, softhearted soul in me sees a certain cruelty in breaking ‘families’ apart.  

For now I think we’ll stick to spending lazy summer days on Assateague Inland, enjoying the sun, searching for a new shell for the collection, and keeping an eye out for wild ponies.

Not that they’re that hard to spot….

Roaming the roads Wild Ponies on Assateague Island Maryland

 

Travel. Eat. Drink. Write. REPEAT