Points on a Timeline

There are pivotal events that mark every generation in time.  Some generations have more than one event and some events last a while.  These events are so profound, that everyone you speak to has a story.  They remember.  They remember the day, the time, the feel, what they were doing, where they were.  They remember the impact it had on their lives and how the world was changed by a point on a timeline.

For my great grandparents, the events of WWI and the Great Depression spanned many hard years interspersed with years of joy.  For my grandparents, it was WWII and the rise of Communism.  For my parents, it was Vietnam, walking on the moon (my mom tells a story of where she was precisely as this event occurred), the oil crisis, MAD and the fall of the Berlin Wall.  For me, while I remember the fall of the Wall, the events of September 11, 2001 will forever be seared in my memory.  That was a day that caused a tremendous shift in my life.  A day I will never forget.

Flashback to early 2001.  I was working as a teacher in a local high school.  I was not married, didn’t have kids, and while my family was nearby, I have always had a bit of an adventurous spirit (I am sure you are surprised by this revelation) and decided to join the Army.  That probably isn’t where you thought this story was going….but it’s true.  As a 25-year-old, I enlisted in the Army and my ship out date was September 11, 2001.  I signed my paperwork in March 2001 with a “delayed” entry – I wanted to finish teaching and work one last summer in Maine – then I was headed to basic training, then to become an Arabic linguist.

Plans were following as scheduled – I arrived VERY early morning to the Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS) in Portland, Maine on September 11th (with my mom in tow) and in between being weighed, drug tested, measured and examined one last time before I shipped off, my mom and I watched the horrors that we know as 9/11 unfold before our eyes on the big screen TV in the MEPS lobby.

The situation quickly became critical.  No flights were offered and who knew when the skies would be safe again?  The phones were sporadic, reports were all over the place and panic’s arms embraced us as we didn’t know WHAT exactly was happening to our world.  No one at that MEPS station had been sworn in yet, and on that morning, all the new recruits were hurried into a small room and were told to “Go home.  The world has changed.  You are not obligated to fulfill your contract.  You are FREE to go.  Those of you who want to ship out, we will be in touch”.  This paraphrase is as close to accurate as I can make it 18 years later (I don’t remember what I ate for lunch 5 days ago – but this I remember).

I eventually went home and waited.  My resolve was solidified.  I would not run away in fear.  I would not turn away from my word.  On the 16th of September, only HALF the people who had pledged their word showed up.  I do not hold it against those who did not show up.  They had their reasons and I had mine.  I left for basic training.

I won’t go into all the details of THAT adventure – and adventure it was!  But I will say that the delay caused by 9/11 significantly shaped my life in so many ways.  Little did I know that my future husband was 3500 miles away in EXACTLY the same situation as I and we both ended up in the same battalion and company in basic training.  We were both to be linguists and the very event of 9/11 and the activities that followed for me and my husband, lead to 17 years together and two gorgeous kids (and a WHOLE LOT in between).

I am not thankful for 9/11 – I am sorrowful.  It pains my patriotic heart and also fills me with great pride to be an American – there was so much sacrifice, love, selflessness, generosity, courage and commitment on that day and the days that followed.  I believe my husband and I would have met eventually anyway – we were fated to be together – our love was written in the heavens for sure – but 9/11 was the catalyst for that time in my life.

I pay homage to those who made the ultimate sacrifice for their fellow man that day; for those who had no choice, and for those that DID have a choice and ran towards danger anyway.  I pray for the families who lost so many loved ones and I want them to know I remember those fallen and I remember THEM.  I will also never forget the pride I felt as an American on the days that followed, and I will strive to BE that human every day; to personify sacrifice, love, selflessness, generosity, courage and commitment.

For so many reasons, I WILL NEVER forget.

America the Beautiful

The weekend of July 4th, my hubby and I took our daughter and 3 of her friends “camping” at my dad’s small cabin that is on the banks of a tributary to one of our local lakes.  We got a “new” used camper this season and wanted to try it out before our week long vacation, so taking it to my dad’s to work out the bugs was just what we needed.  We brought up our boat so the girls could go tubing and we had wonderful weather and a wonderful time!  My daughter and her BFFs had a blast and while we didn’t get to fix any of the issues in our camper, we did make a punch list, so there’s that!

While on the boat Saturday morning – at 9am to beat the crowd – I sat in awe and wonder at the fortuitous life I have.  Sitting in that boat, watching these amazing 12 and 13 year old girls enjoy an activity I also enjoyed at their age, made me think of how very lucky we are to live in THIS amazing country.  I don’t want to hear about bad politicians, problems people have with race or gender issues, abortion, religion, drugs…. No complaining.

I have seen other places and because I have seen the REAL of other places, I can say how great America is.  I don’t always like the politics and I know sometimes things get pretty shady, but for the average Joe, this is a darn great place to be.  Those girls on that tube…they can be anything they set their mind to.  They have limitless possibilities in their future – and I think that’s why I adore teenagers so much – I am in awe of the life they have ahead of them and pray fervently for their success – whatever that looks like for them.

Those girls on that tube have choices many 12 and 13 year old kids will never have and cannot even fathom.  Choices that are theirs solely because they were born in this country.  They have rights as citizens and humans and it is their CHOICE how they exercise and cherish those rights.  And as I look out over these girls giggling and making memories in the summer sun, I know they cannot fathom how fortunate THEY are.  Someday they will know.  I hope the America of “someday” is just as beautiful as my America today.  I hope we continue to improve.  I hope PEOPLE continue to improve.  I hope you all have that glimpse of America the Beautiful.  It’s out there – look for it!

Here are some of my favorite pictures that say America to me!

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Moonrise over Pine Island, Long Lake, Naples, Maine

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Sunset in the Pennsylvania countryside

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Acadia National Park, Maine

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Nubble Lighthouse, York, Maine

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Cogg Railway, Mount Washington, New Hampshire

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Mount Washington, New Hampshire

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Sunset in my backyard, Maine

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Boy Scouts, Memorial Day parade, Small Town America

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My favorite American pastime – Football!

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Swift River, Kancamagus Highway, White Mountains, New Hampshire

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Erathusa Falls, New Hampshire

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EPCOT, Disney World

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Tuscon, Arizona

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Tuscon, Arizona

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Ossippee Lake, New Hampshire

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Ossippee Lake, New Hampshire

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Lake Winnipesaukee, New Hampshire

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A grand harvest, Maine

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Autumn approaches, Maine

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Monterey, California

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Capitola, California

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Williamsburg, Virginia

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Tampa, Florida

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Key West, Florida

Taking it slow

Last month, I wrote a bit about Impact Travel and my own experience with the emerging trend.  Another emerging trend in travel in Slow Travel.  This type of adventure engages the traveler in an experience that revolves around not only immersing one’s self in the cultural aspects of a destination, but that idea is reinforced and made possible by the ACT of traveling slowly.  Examples of slow travel include rail vacations, river cruising (all over the world) and the American favorite – the road trip!  Traditional ocean/sea cruising can also take the form of slow travel, but the idea would be staying overnight or multiple nights in one port before moving on.

I think this concept was brought about by the fact that we desire to slow the revolution of the earth.  Time is fleeting and the older we get, the faster it seems to go!  We are so busy; we have so little vacation time; we realize our kids grow so fast and our parents are aging before our eyes.  Our family trips to Disney are wonderful and anything BUT a vacation and hopping from spot to spot on a cruise ship is not only filled with constant entertainment, but endless stimulation options that busy the mind and exercise the spirit.  People are realizing the beauty in slowing down, stopping to smell the roses, and the knowledge gained by personal interactions in culture and with people who are different than we are.

Every vacation can contain some aspects of slow travel – whether you are traveling abroad or to another part of your own country.  For example, instead of aiming to visit four destinations in a week-long trip, choose two and dive in – eat where the locals eat.  Shop where locals shop.  Ask a local about the hidden treasures of their city – they want to brag about THEIR place on this big blue ball and they are the EXPERTS!  Try a new mode of transportation!  When my daughter and I were in Paris earlier this year, we not only did a bike tour but also “rented” Lime scooters (the kind you stand on like a big kid) and scooted around everywhere!  Find a quiet place and reflect.  This single act allows me to inhale a place.  Become a people watcher and learn through observation.  Basically, slow it down.

Don’t get me wrong – there is a time and a place for the hurried vacation – I am planning a group cruise to Hawaii in 2021 for my son’s graduation (wanna go?) and know that we may never go to Hawaii again – especially as a family – so we are seeing as much as possible!!!  In the meantime, I plan on enjoying a few slow travel experiences in my near future – a river cruise in November and our weekly long camping trip coming up later in July – it doesn’t get much slower than camping!!!  The world is big and time is flying by….take it slow!

Here are some ways we have experienced aspects of slow travel on our adventures.

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Amtrak Downeaster on a gorgeous summer’s day in New Hampshire! Old school slow travel.

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Anyone need a hat?

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Harbour Island – ACTUAL pink sand!!!

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Cadiz, Spain. Churros and chocolate and a little bit of people watching.

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Try a new form of transportation….Char and Sable on a Segway tour of the city – in Europe, kids can do many things they aren’t “allowed” to do in the US.

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Try to blend in. Zurich, Switzerland – these are our “Polish faces” – my sister in law is Polish, and she said Americans smile too big in pictures – so this is how we imagine the Poles smile!

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June 2018. Shortly after sunrise over Vatican City. I ache for another opportunity like this one….we were high tailing it to our private Vatican Tour so we could barely stop to smell the roses, but man, I wish I could’ve frozen time in this very spot. It was so peaceful and serene.

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Well, I am not generally a wine drinker but I was in PARIS!!! A glass of wine was a requirement. Eat and drink like the locals.

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The Eiffel Tower was closed due to the weather, but we scooted all the way there to take in the rare sight!

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Eating like the locals in Quebec….this place was off the beaten path and we were rewarded with an amazing dinner. Everyone got a platter of thinly sliced beef, then there was shrimp and chicken to fondue as well!

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Our appetizer..bread dipped in cheese!

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Taking it easy at the Siberian Spa outside of Quebec. A family trip to remember.

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It isn’t hard to eat like a local in Italy. Lemon risotto – the most amazing risotto ever!

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Scooter pick up! Try a new form of transportation….the best way to see the Amalfi Coast!

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Limoncello to end the evening! Drink like the locals! This is the restaurant near the Vatican – halfway through our meal about 20 priests walked into the restaurant….a good beginning to a joke!

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Eat where the locals eat. Giuseppe and his biggest fans!

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So much Caprese!

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Our greatest find! Just hop off the highway to find your treasure!

Christmas in July

Last fall, I had some friends contact me about taking a river boat cruise for the Christmas Markets in Europe.  Most people plan these a year or so out, but I love the spontaneity of these folks, so getting a last-minute request for such an amazing trip was both awesome and a bit hurried!  But, we had sweet success in finding the perfect trip and my clients really enjoyed their experience.  They have given me permission to share some of their photos and it is always fun to show off other people’s travel experiences as I get to see the world from someone else’s eyes!  Check out these fabulous memories!!!

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The lobby of AmaWaterways’ beautiful ship AmaPrima

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The AmaPrima decorated for Christmas

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Gegenbach, Germany

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Great eats at Heidelburg, Germany

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Heidelburg Market

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Rudesheim, Germany

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Strasburg Market, Germany

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Strasburg, Germany

Downton in Bean Town

Sometimes it is fun to tour at home.  I live in a gorgeous part of the Northeast – not too far from Boston and close to the coastal Maine towns of Ogunquit, York and Kennebunkport.  I also live less than two hours from the beautiful White Mountains of New Hampshire and lakes galore in both states.  My husband and I love taking local weekends – even off season – to enjoy the beauty that is in our own backyard.  A simple date night in Perkins Cove, Maine makes me feel a bit like I am on vacation.  If you have never heard of Perkins Cove – Goggle it.  You will love it!!!

A couple weekends ago I had the pleasure of joining some girlfriends in a day trip to Boston.  While it is lovely to just get together, we did go with a purpose – and that was to see the special Downton Abbey exhibit that was in town for two short weeks.  We decided to make a day of it.

We left Dover, New Hampshire (close to our home towns) via the Amtrak train Downeaster in the morning and headed to North Station in Boston.  We splurged on the Business Class seats ($31 per person round trip) and enjoyed some visiting and relaxing – watching the world go by.  I had forgotten how much I love traveling by train….the train trip is coming back in vogue!  It is part of a travel movement called “slow travel” and it is emerging as we begin to love our journeys as much as our destinations!  Stay tuned for a blog I am working on about slow travel and what it’s all about!

While in Boston, we road the “T” – the subway, walked a ton, ate at “Cheers” in Faneuil Hall, shopped, saw our exhibit, got caught in a rain shower, passed through some type of filming (movie or TV show, we aren’t sure – we didn’t see anyone famous!) enjoyed Boston Commons (a lovely park) and made our way back to the train station to catch our ride home!  It was a fabulous day with friends and I got indulge my Downton Abbey obsession just a little!  Perhaps there will be a post about that someday as well!!!

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Amtrak Downeaster on a gorgeous summer’s day in New Hampshire!

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The ever busy and fun Faneuil Hall

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I love the juxtaposition of old and new on the east coast – our cities are a blend of history and modernity.

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Outside the Downton Abbey exhibit

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Mr. Carson’s pantry.

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The famous maid’s bell board.

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Bell board up close.

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The amazing costuming is something I really love about period dramas. Downton Abbey really shines in this department!

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The dining room!

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Outstanding evening dresses for Lady Edith, Lady Mary and that FABULOUS pants outfit by Lady Sybil!

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This car was on the “set” of the movie/show we saw while in Boston.

The Doors

I always want to bring home a ton of things when I travel to a new place.  I find so many things that are cool, unusual, and signify an experience I never want to forget. My son “collects” key chains and my daughter “collects” snow globes from our travels.  My husband “collects” shot glasses and I always bring back a Christmas ornament for my tree.  Recently, I started collecting Nativity Scenes unique to the place I am visiting.

Another ritual I have is taking pictures of doors.  I love how doors are so culturally significant and really indicative of personally, class and background.  I love the variation of size, color, materials and purpose.  I imagine what is on the other side of the doors, how old they are and what stories they would tell if they could talk.  I enjoy making simple blank greeting cards out of many of the pictures I take during my travels and sending those to clients.  The door pictures are some of my favorites.  Here are some I took last year in Italy and last month in Mexico.

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Rome, Italy

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Rome, Italy

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Rome, Italy

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Rome, Italy

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Rome, Italy

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Rome, Italy

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Sorrento, Italy

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Villa Cimbrone, Ravello, Amalfi Coast, Italy – the most stunning place I have EVER been!!!

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Villa Cimbrone, Ravello, Amalfi Coast, Italy

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Pompeii, Italy

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Pompeii, Italy

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Oaxaca, Mexico

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Oaxaca, Mexico

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Oaxaca, Mexico

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Oaxaca, Mexico

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Oaxaca, Mexico

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Oaxaca, Mexico

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Oaxaca, Mexico

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Oaxaca, Mexico

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Oaxaca, Mexico

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Oaxaca, Mexico

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Oaxaca, Mexico

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Oaxaca, Mexico

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Oaxaca, Mexico

 

Impact Travel

There are so many different reasons to travel.  For my own experience, I have traveled for work and school; to visit friends and relatives; to vacation and for adventure, but in May, I had the opportunity to embark on my first experience at Impact Travel.  Here is some information about Impact Travel and why I think it is wonderful!

In May, I had the amazing opportunity to serve a community in Oaxaca, Mexico.  This experience was organized by a fabulous group called Forward Edge.  Forward Edge is a faith-based mission organization that arranges impact travel experiences all over the world.  My church has partnered with them in the past, and this year, a team of volunteers ventured to Mexico to help an emerging community build homes and foster relationships.

I was honored to accompany this year’s trip, along with my 16 year old son, and a group of 11 other individuals with hearts for service.  We knew we would be doing hard, physical labor in hot conditions in an area that was poverty stricken.  We knew we would be working with and for Christians and non-Christians.  We knew we were going there to have a positive impact for the people we were serving.  What we didn’t know, was how much of an impact Oaxaca and her people would have on us.

This was my first mission trip.  I have been in the church long enough to know what a mission trip is, and my church is very involved in mission work in our own back yard – although we do venture outside the US every 12-24 months.  We knew we would be out of our element; not knowing much of the language, exactly what we would be doing and knowing that our “first world” comforts would be challenged.  We all approached this knowledge with calm reserve and were ready to take on Oaxaca!

I won’t describe our day by day, but I will say that we did, indeed, work hard and made some fabulous relationships!  We took part in various stages of building cement and earthen block homes, from the actual making of the cement and earthen blocks, to the removing of wooden framing (and pulling countless nails from boards that are used over and over).  We helped mix, transport and pour bucket upon bucket of concrete and learned how to set up ceiling forms and unbend re-bar (the most frustrating job of the week).  We cut out channels in concrete walls to accept electrical and water lines and we made doors for homes.  We worked with the children of the area playing games, doing face-paint and generally losing our hearts to this crowd of proud, intelligent, diverse young people who live in this community.   We worked with locals on job sites and were guided by Mexicans and Americans, alike.  We grew together as a team and another family was born out of common experience.

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The community we were working in.

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Our host community.

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Our host community.

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The earthen block machine.

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Earthen block machine.

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Adobe – the special type of dirt that gives the earthen blocks their rusty color.

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Completed earthen blocks. When dry, they each weighed 22 pounds each.

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Some of the kids playing soccer, of course!

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Who doesn’t love a tire swing?

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The main home site I was working at. This is the home this family of 4 has been living in for the past 3 years.

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The family’s NEW house!!!

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“Forms” to hold up the concrete roof.

You see, not only did we help a community outside of our regular sphere of influence, we came together for a common goal – in a way we cannot do on a regular basis.  In many ways, I feel most travel experiences lead us to this overwhelming opportunity to know what it really is like to depend on others.  To work together.  To NEED each other.  An Impact Travel experience amplifies this experience out of necessity.  Not only did I come home with a rejuvenated appreciation for my own life and opportunities in my home town, I came home with two new families – the one I hope to see in Oaxaca again next year, and the one I get to live life with here.

All of my travel experiences have had some impact on me.  Impact Travel creates a bond that is unlike any other.  It is a bond with people, with an experience and with a feeling.  I hope you all have an opportunity to serve on some type of mission trip – humanitarian or faith-based.  It will change you.  It will challenge you.  It will break your heart and it will restore your faith in the human race.  It will make you a better person.

Here are some photos from my trip – our work site, our projects and some touring we had the opportunity to do.

TBT…BEFORE the cruise…

Before our fabulous cruise in May of 2015, we hung out in London for 5 days and toured the area!  We arrived in April and we were met by my brother in law and his wife and daughter.  They live in Poland and we took advantage of being close to them and arranged a short holiday!  This was our second visit to London and we enjoyed it very much!  We stayed in a suburb all together and did some AMAZING touring!  Here is a photo journal of that visit!

 

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We walked EVERYWHERE and this photo was taken on way to Harrods!

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Windsor Castle – one of our favorite stops! We were rushed in our visit and I cannot wait to go back. This castle is really a fine example of Royal castles and it was a highlight of my stay in London!

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Windsor, Char and Sable – you all haven’t met Sable yet, but this kitty gets around. She even has her own book series in the works!

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Windsor!!!!

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My first favorite thing about this London visit (aside from seeing family, or course) was scoring coveted tickets to tour Highclere Castle – AKA Downtown Abbey. Here, Sable checks out the grounds as “Downtown Tabby”.

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My handsome hubby and I at Highclere Castle.

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Family photo taken by dad. Yes it was cold, rainy and windy – it was April in England!!!

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Kelly and I ate out one night while the kids went back to the flat with the family. We ate at a restaurant in the basement of Harrod’s that specialized in TRUFFLES!!!!! It was SO good!!!!

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Kelly and Freddie Mercury at Madame Tussauds.

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Sable MIGHT have been getting a bit too familiar with the queen. Madame Tussauds.

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Kelton’s hair resembled Albert Einstein’s a bit too much!! Madame Tussauds.

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Oh Char….well this is a statue representing the overindulgence of King Henry the VIII’s court at Hampton Court – another FAVORITE stop of mine – a must see!

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Char strikes again….sleeping next to the famous wine fountain that was created for a treaty meeting in northern France between Henry the VIII of England “and France” and King Frances I of France. This fountain flowed with wine in front of a “castle” built out of golden cloth to represent King Henry’s magnificence. So famous is this amazing tent that the event in history is referred to the Field of the Cloth of Gold. My history buff side shines through!

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Gardens at Hampton Court

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My beautiful rose petal and Hampton Court gardens.

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Iconic Tower Bridge!

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Mind the gap. We got an Oyster Card and used all manner of public transportation throughout London! I love this shot of Char and Sable!

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A view of Parliament from the London Eye.

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Westminster Abbey

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Big Ben!

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These adorable sheep were all over the city and the kids posed with them whenever possible! The sheep were dressed in outfits that represented the area where they stood.

Girls’ Trips, and why you need one!

 

For about eight years, I have attempted to organize and take a girls’ trip.  We have been successful MOST years, and we have done a few different things – including staying in Eleuthera, Bahamas multiple times and taking a cruise.  Our numbers have ranged from 4 of us to 11 so far.  In 2020, we are going to our first all inclusive in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic and for this trip, we are up to 28 ladies!!!  It should be an amazing week.

Before I begin, let me start off by saying this isn’t about dad-bashing and why moms/women are the only ones that deserve a “break”.  Dads and father figures TOTALLY deserve a break and I encourage that!  But since I am a woman, I can really only speak from that perspective, so while it may seem like I am saying moms need a break because we do so much more than dads, that’s not totally true – although some DO do more than their significant others – or just DIFFERENT things.  When it comes down to it, it is typically the men at home holding down the fort so the moms CAN go away – so for that and so many other things, I am truly grateful.

But let’s face it!  Women do a lot!  I have a wonderful husband and I praise God every day for him.  But when it comes to the running of our home and keeping everything in smooth working order, that falls mostly on me.  I am the shopper, planner, chef, banker, appointment maker and taker, housekeeper (for the things my children do not do for chores), gardener, business owner, secretary and more.  I don’t resent this lot I have willingly accepted, but I do get tired of feeling like I do “everything”.  I am sure a lot of it has to do with my Type-A personality and things having to be a certain way (my way), but that is the way of it and I either embrace it or it breaks me.  Enter the girls’ trip!

I am so lucky to have a wonderful group of friends that truly care about one another and each other’s lives.  These ladies are people I can count on when the going gets rough and if you live in the real world, the going gets rough sometimes!  Relationships, marriages, raising kids, work, self-worth…these are all things women deal with and they are hard.  Many talks have been had at sunrise on the beach in Tarpum Bay, Eleuthera about feelings of shortcomings as wives, mothers, daughters and friends.  Beach therapy has saved some of those relationships and continues to work to preserve others.  The opportunity to spend precious time with other people who can relate to our most personal experiences on some level is priceless.

But it does cost.  Our girls’ trips have been kept at around $1000-$1200 each for a week.  So many women have said, “Oh I wish I could go but I just can’t afford it.” And for some, that is true.  People who raise a family on one salary, are still paying college loans, have had extra bills lately or unexpected expenses.  I get it.  But some people say they can’t afford it but really what they mean is, it isn’t necessary in their lives.  Rather, they would prefer to spend the $45 every two weeks on their nails or buy a new iPhone every time it comes out, or get Starbucks four days a week or whatever it is they CHOOSE to spend money on.  And that’s cool – for those people, those expenditures might have the same soothing effect as my once a year girls’ trip.  But for me, I want to go someplace (almost any place) where the only person I have to tend to is me.  I only have to pack for me; make sure I put on sunscreen and not everyone; skip a meal if I want; read in bed until 10am if I want; only do my own laundry and not have to clean up after anyone!  To me, that is worth the $20ish I have to save per week to go on my girls’ trip every year.

Every year, the ladies that are able to attend changes slightly, but I have some steadfast girls’ trippers and I am thankful for them and the close relationships we have formed on the beaches of the Caribbean.  I look to these ladies for help, guidance, celebration and they make up the core of my village.  These are also relationships that have taken work and as I have experienced with so many other relationships, it is worth the time and effort for those we care about.

I hope you get the chance to take that friends getaway – that time of rejuvenation, reflection, growth, self-evaluation and a little indulgence.  When you return to your families, you will do so with a fuller heart and a patient soul – ready to take on the world like the wonder woman that you are!  Here are a few photos taken on some Girls’ trips so far – most of the photos we take are group selfies so these are just some of the picturesque places to preserve the privacy of my friends.

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Storm clouds following the island. Lighthouse Beach, Eleuthera, Bahamas

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Queen’s Bath, Eleuthera, Bahamas

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Sunsets on Eleuthera are the most stunning ever! Tarpum Bay, Eleuthera, Bahamas

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Lighthouse Beach, Eleuthera, Bahamas

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Glass Window Bridge – where the “Caribbean” meets the Atlantic, Eleuthera, Bahamas

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Harbour Island – ACTUAL pink sand!!!

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The stillness of Tarpum Bay, Eleuthera, Bahamas

Throw Back Thursday….Growing up Disney

If you know me in real life, you now that if you start talking about Disney World, my eyes light up, my voice raises an octave and I talk 100 miles per minute because I LOVE DISNEY!!!!!  I know people who hate Disney and I am not sure they are human or believe in magic 😊  Seriously, though…I think you either love Disney or you do not…there aren’t many wishy washy Disney people out there!

When we plan our Disney trips (we go every 12-18 months), we start getting pretty psyched about a year out!  We start with the WHEN (we never go during school vacations or holidays), then move to the WHERE (we have stayed at Saratoga Springs, Bay Lake Towers, Animal Kingdom Resort, Coronado Springs, Old Key West, Art of Animation and the Polynesian).  We plan out which parks we will be at which days based on crowd projections, plan our dining experiences and fast passes when the time is right.  And then we wait – probably not so patiently – for our vacation to begin!!

I love helping my clients do all this planning as well!  It is a labor of love – as not all agents take on Disney, but I know it well and love to help bring the magic to others!  Every new trip presents a new point of view and new experience!  I have enjoyed this ritual trip with my family and have enjoyed how, at each stage of my kids’ lives, Disney brings another level of wonder and growth along with the crazy joy that is Disney!

Here are some of my favorite memories from some of our trips at Disney over the years.  This succession of memories are so precious to me!  They are experiences my kids will always remember as times spent with their parents, family and friends.  I hope as they become adults, they will also enjoy bringing their families to Disney and have the same fond remembrances that I do of my own childhood at Disney with my mom.  What an awesome gift!

PS – we ALWAYS wear matching/themed shirts and always will!  That is part of the fun!!

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I have a picture of my kids doing this SAME thing in London in 2013. It is fun to recreate special moments in different locations! EPCOT 2019

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Beef hot dogs. OK – well…what can I say?! We were at Disneyland Paris and needed a pick me up!!! 2019

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From the other side!!! Disneyland Paris 2019

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Finding Eva and Wally – pure joy!!!! Disneyland Paris 2019

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Gusteau’s!!! Disneyland Paris 2019

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Germany/EPCOT 2018

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Seven Dwarf’s Mine Train, Magic Kingdom 2018

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Cousin’s Trip – Animal Kingdom 2016

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Magical Christmas – EVERY year!

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Magic Kingdom 2017 – mom and dad’s second trip to Disney without kids!!!!

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France/EPCOT

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Sunset from the Contemporary 2019

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Our first trip to Disney as family. Magic Kingdom 2006

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Magic Kingdom 2006

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Magic Kingdom 2009

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Magic Kingdom 2009

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Polynesian Luau 2013

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Morocco/EPCOT 2015

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Hollywood Studios 2015

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Hollywood Studios 2015 (our favorite time of year to go to Disney is during the Holidays!