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November was hard, but it also changed my life

It’s the last day of November 2016 and what seemed like a hopeful time at the start of the month has become somewhat filled with uncertainty for so many. Who knew 30 days could pack such a punch?

However, this isn’t my first rodeo. There have been a lot of really tough times – which honestly have felt even tougher because they have been so much more personal in the past. I have allowed myself all the emotions that come as a result of these past few days (ahem, the election), but I also quickly was able to identify what I wanted my role to be and how I wanted to approach it all. For all its crappiness, November has brought some really positive changes too.

Teen driver safety.

Letting go of the parental wheel, to help your teen be safer behind the wheel

One of the biggest hurdles I had to overcome as a parent was learning to let go once my oldest hit those teen years. Of course, any parent will tell you that “letting go” is something we are always doing, but when they become teenagers, and especially when they get their license, letting go is both heart wrenching and more necessary than ever.

Our teens need more opportunity to learn to navigate the world on their own, mistakes and all, without the hand holding and the constant check-ins. But it’s even more important to consider how our concern as parents can actually make it more dangerous for them, especially when they are driving.

NYC travel

Last minute NYC weekend on a budget

This post is sponsored by OneMain Financial.

As a native New Yorker one of the things I pride myself on the most is in being able to bypass all the expensive, shining things that draw visitors to the city, but also put a burden on their budget.

So when OneMain Financial, as part of their Customer Appreciation Days, challenged me to take on two days and one night in New York City with only $200 in my pocket – including a hotel stay – I jumped at the opportunity, and ended with $20 still in my pocket, smack in the middle of holiday season too!

Photo Carl Scheffel/MSG Photos)

Getting Married with Elle King, and other things I am thankful for

On December 30, 2003, my husband and I got married on a sandy beach in the Dominican Republic, just as the sun set.

Were I to leave that story there, it would be beautiful.

Wimberley, Texas_GirlGoneTravel

Opening up to the beautiful things

Deep breathing.

It’s going to take a while, folks, so bear with me.

That said, I have to thank professional responsibilities for forcing me to focus on the world in a different way. It’s healthy – not easy – but healthy. Strategy and purpose requires a clear mind.

I especially have to thank my kids. My boys’ biggest concern now is whether they have behaved well-enough this week to merit extra video gaming time over the weekend. They want to know what’s for dinner, and if their friends can come over to play for a few hours after they are done with their home school work.

These are the beautiful things, the things that inspire me to wake up and do something new.

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Traveling while brown through Trump’s America: Tips, advice, and words of empowerment

At the posting of this blog, it is day two post-elections. The country is more divided than ever and emotions are raw. But I know many of my readers, as well as many of my peers, on both sides, are already tired of hearing all the chatter and want the lot of us to just move on and get over it. But before I get back to business as usual, I will share some tips on how my community and peers can start to take care of themselves, because I know there are many of us out there living scared now and I am not going to pretend you don’t matter.

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Photography of a Fall road trip in Montana (and lessons in homeschooling)

As my regular readers know, I ventured into the world of homeschooling this year. I started this summer, so as of the publishing of this post it has been 5 months since we’ve been on this journey, and boy have we learned a lot already.

One of the things I wanted to do upon homeschooling my kids was travel more with them. I had struggled in the past with taking them out of school for trips and then either dealing with frustrated teachers or having my kids burdened with a backlog of work and tests (because there are always tests) that they had to catch up on. It wasn’t fair for anyone – the teacher, the boys, or me. And though I didn’t take on homeschooling for the sole purpose of traveling with my kids, I saw it as a great opportunity and a huge stress factor we didn’t have to contend with any longer. But learning is still important and figuring out ways to incorporate it into the travel experience was something I gave a lot of thought to and even planned out.

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It took me a year to write this, and just as long to return to me

It’s been a little over a year since I gave a keynote speech at TBEX Florida. As far as my speaking career goes, keynoting at TBEX was a highlight for me. The topic, where I shared with the audience a very vulnerable experience during a press trip, had more to do with confronting my own insecurities, realities of the stereotypes I face regularly as a plus-size woman, and finding the courage and strength to move on to my goals, rather than specifics about the press trip itself. It was so well received and touched so many people who felt I had spoken to their own realities that comments and feedback were coming at me for many months afterwards. Giving this speech was therapeutic and empowering because I opened up and spoke about issues that I face and struggle with as a professional travel blogger and as a member in a space that doesn’t really acknowledge people like me and instead rewards and celebrates limited beauty standards, youth, and sex appeal over quality of content, experience, and knowledge. It was incredible to come off that stage having exposed all my vulnerabilities while simultaneously sharing how I overcame them and triumphed, and then to be surrounded by men and women of all ages, shapes, and walks of life who told me their own stories and thanked me for sharing mine – it was, to say the least, an incredible high.

JORD Wooden Watches

Celebrating Fall with a Giveaway

Taking a little break from travel sharing, to celebrate the best of fall. The colors, the fashion, the comfy warmth by the fire on a chilly night.

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New Orleans: Friends In The City That Care Forgot

As I’ve gotten older, as one tends to do, and as friends have come and gone, I’ve found it more and more important to cherish the relationships in my life. And while some of my closest girlfriends no longer live on the east coast, it’s so important to take the time to nurture those friendships to ensure that they last. I’m in it for the long haul people! All this to say, that it was time I got a few of the girls together for a little getaway. And when my college bestie Meena relocated to NOLA I knew a trip was in order. So I called up my girl Lisa in California and set the plan in motion. We’d both be traveling from our respective coasts to meet Meena in New Orleans, for a weekend of reconnecting friendships and beignets of course!