Category Archives: Uncategorized

On the Eve of History

Loitering low on the horizon, casting slowly spreading embers, the sun has begun to set. It sets on a day that will never again be. On a world that will change forever come tomorrow. Tonight we sit on the eve of history, the sun glowing brilliantly upon us all in equal measure. 

I rarely use this space to talk about politics – unless it’s in the form of championing veterans causes or prodding you to think about ways to do social good – but today the sun sets. Tomorrow Americans head to the polls to cast their ballots in an election that, no matter the outcome, will be historic. I’ve a few things to say about that. 

In life choices must be made, the consequences lived with. Some of those choices lead us to wonderful things like love, puppies and winning lottery tickets (not that I’ve ever chosen one of those, dammit!) Others choices can take us down some dark and winding roads. The one thing all choice has in common is that it is something that must be decided upon from within. 

Though we may tell ourselves that we’ve been forced into making choices, the simple truth is that just isn’t possible. You choose. Yes, you may have had to make some pretty crappy choices, but in the end the choice was yours to make. My opinions, what your partner says, brow-beating by the media, none of those truly matter in the end. Choice is a solitary endeavor. 

This is the bedrock of democracy. One person. One Vote. Your choice. 

Those who live in democratic societies have been given a rare gift of choice. We are allowed a voice in the shaping of the country we live in. That isn’t to say that our voice is often heard, that we always get what we want, or that our countries conform to our ideals. But, we do have a choice. One that a large swath of humanity does not have.

I can’t say that I joined the Navy to defend your right to make choices. At nineteen I was mostly just looking for a way out of the one-tumbleweed town I grew up in, and to escape some of the youthfully irresponsible choices I’d made.  Again, I chose. 

That said, I can tell you that seeing places during my service and in my subsequent decades of travel, where many choices were denied to women, those with little means, those who love differently and entire ethnic groups lit a fire in me to exercise my right to choose whenever I could. Not just vote but to choose the type of person I wanted to be, the types of people I wanted to lift up and admire. I understood that by doing this I may have an impact on the world I’d one day hand down to my own children.  Again, my choices. 

Tonight we sit on the eve of history. Tomorrow I’ll go to the polls and take my children along to witness history.  No matter the victor tomorrow, my children will know that I made a choice. I can only hope the majority of us choose wisely. 

What Makes it a ‘Travel’ Blog Anyway?

The heart beat quickens. A quiver runs through your being. You’ve a bag at your side, a ticket in hand. That first step toward a new discovery has been taken and the thrill is an inescapably rapacious. You are a travel junkie.  And I sympathize. 

what makes it a travel blog
take the world with you wherever you go

Of late in groups I belong to, across small tables laden with half-drunk coffee, in checkout lanes and on welcoming sofas I’ve experienced a marked increase in conversations about travel blogging.  Some are of the mind that to travel you must have a dogeared passport filled with ink blotches blending together into barely readable smudges. Others are a little more philosophical about it. They subscribe the idea that the minute you set foot outside your comfort zone, you’ve gone somewhere. Per usual, I seem to fall somewhere in the middle. 

When I started writing this blog years ago it was a whole different being from what it is today. And yes, a blog is a living thing. You might even have guessed that simply from the title. Let’s be honest, I totally get that “Chicken Nuggets of Wisdom” doesn’t scream travel blog. 

Much like travel itself, blogging – or writing of any sort– is a journey. In the early days I wrote about the chaos of life as a mother to four with an ever lessening grasp on her sanity. At one point I had children in high, middle, elementary, and preschool all at the same time. To wine or not to whine… that was the question. Often times the answer was, both.

In sharing those stories of maternal struggles and the rare triumphs, I found not just an audience but a community. What I didn’t find as much of, was a reason to talk about the things I got excited about, that I loved doing. Which pretty much mirrors the experience of any mom with younger kids. 

What, mom wants to do something other than feed us and drive us around? NO WAY! 

and then they grew up…

One day things got easier. The kids could all use a toilet {if not always managing to flush the damn thing – seriously, I must have failed at potty training these people} and the world was our tidy bowl. 

what makes it a travel blog
oh the places we have gone. now to go to all the rest!

I’ve always been a wanderer, never liking to sit still for long. I was – and am – sure there something new to see if only I could get there. Now I could take the kids along, make travelers out of them. And I did.  So I started blogging about it – after all this was always a blog about ME! Give me a minute, have to adjust my tiara.

Okay, maybe it’s about more than me. I’d like to think that the two people {not related to me} that read every post have gotten a little something out of it. Maybe it was that sense of community from the early days, or the inspiration to visit one of the places I’ve fallen in love with. Either way I know one thing for sure… the journey continues and I plan to enjoy the ride.

Come along with me!

 

Five Easy Ways To Happy

“Happiness is not something ready made, It comes from your own actions.” ~ Dalai Lama

Life isn’t always a happy place. What with all the pressure we put on ourselves to achieve, gain, do for others, make the world a better place, not throttle the teen when the data overages on the cell phone bill are higher than your car payments, happiness can be hard to find. I get that. Boy do I ever! The thing is, happy isn’t just waiting around for you, you have to go out and find it.  Maybe give these five easy ways to happy a try, they work for me… most days. Not on cell phone bill paying day, naturally.

Five Easy Ways To Happy

In a busy life, whether you’re a parent to humans, fury folk, or just yourself doing any combination of these five things can help put a little happy into any day.

Five Easy Ways To HappyDance, Dance, Dance!

Remember how good it felt when you were a kid and dancing was pure joy? Oh man, Lips Inc took me to Funky Town and I could have cared less who was around – beep! beep! Give yourself permission to groove, spin, plié, two-step, Dougie… whatever. If you’re worried about looking silly, close the office door or head to the laundry room {we know nobody is going in there voluntarily} and shake it.  

I love to put on my wireless headphones and shake a tail feather while doing dishes. It’s liberating, and happiness inducing. I’m even not too mortified when I find that I’ve been singing along with JT and The Tennessee Kids and while my own kids are filming me from the hallway.  So what if I’m on the down slope of 40-something, I can still take it on down to Dancinville – it makes me HAPPY!

If an abiding adoration for Justin isn’t enough to justify {<– see what I did there!} dancing in your book, how about doing it because it makes you smarter? So says Physiology Today.

Put Pen To Paper

Even if you don’t write for a living, or even as a hobby, the written word still has power. Try writing down six things a day that made you happy. Just simple stuff, not an essay. You can even break that up into three in the morning and three at night. I know I’m happy about coffee when it’s 6:00am, my treadmill when I finally get that endorphin rush three hours later, and sleeping kids are bliss.

Exhale

Sing it with me kids… shoop, shoop, shoop, shoobie doop, doop doop. Okay, that’s about as much Whitney as I can do.  The point here is to take time to breath in the good and exhale the bad. Just breathing deeply, quieting your brain for the span of five or six breaths, can bring with it a jolt of joy. The great thing about doing this is anyone can do it, any where, any time, in any situation. 

Quiet is hard for me. Not even so much because I have a house full of kids, nor because they’ve all adopted Italian speaking volumes, but because I just have a noisy brain. There is always something rattling around in there, often keeping me from being truly in a moment. Breathing brings me back. That moment may not always be a happy place to be in, but taking control – even for just those few points when I exhale – brings me peace. 

Send It To Get It Back

I recently read an article about what’s believed to be the world’s oldest Message in a Bottle washing up on the shores of Germany. Ocean currents had buffeted the bottle around the North Sea since first being set a drift by an English Marine Biologist had set it afloat in 1906. Inside was a post card asking for the finder to fill out where they’d found it and send it back to the university from whence it came. 

The thrill of those who found it spread to joy at the folks at the British Marine Biological Association, as well as to people like me who read the story.  One little post card touched so many. So why not send off something yourself. Not an email, we get enough of those already. Something written, a note, a card, or even a package, for no reason at all. See how long it takes the happiness to float back to you.

Drink Tea

I completely understand if you aren’t the tea type. I happen to be, but that isn’t the point. While in Ireland this spring one of the best moments I had was just sitting in a tiny tea room, overlooking the cobblestone streets on a rainy afternoon. Just letting life wash over me, hearing the Beatles softly play in the background as heavy accents of gaelic brogue and baking scones filled the air, was probably one of my happiest moments.

You don’t have to travel to Ireland to get that, or even drink tea. Just carve out some time in your day to wrap your hands around a warm (or cold) drink and be.

There is happiness to be found in the simplest of things.

Though this was not a sponsored post, it was inspired by Shari’s Berries’ #HappinessHappens. I adore this company, not just for their treats but because they enjoy spreading happy.