Opening up to the beautiful things

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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.

I went through a series of photographs from our month of travel in October and so many of them made me smile. Hundreds of them are of my children as this need to capture every single step they take becomes more and more desperate with every inch they threaten to tower over me in height.

And a few others are of the people I saw along the way that shared something of themselves and thus enriched our understanding of this world even more.

An example of this was during my visit to Wimberley, Texas.

Wimberley, Texas_GirlGoneTravel

Here is a fact: Texas, in general, has never been a place I feel comfortable in visiting. I love San Antonio, and Austin is cool, but what draws me there is family. This is luck because my love for them forces me to break past my insecurities (and fears) and venture into a territory where I don’t trust that I will always be welcomed. Being around my sister-in-law provides me a safe space to then go out and explore. And when I do that, I get to see something new, something I wasn’t expecting that makes me feel less afraid. My children are too young to share my fears, so they get to see these things in a different way, without the scrutiny and distrust in which I approach it. They get to have these experiences that will totally shape their perceptions in ways that are so different from mine.

That is also a beautiful thing. That is the essence of travel, the validation of why we should all break past our little bubbles, fight our fears, and give ourselves the opportunity to make up our own minds about things and places.

My family lives in the hills of Texas, 35 minutes or so outside of Austin. There are a lot of newcomers from places I can relate to there, such as Brooklyn and California. But there are also symbols of the things that terrify me, such as overly religious signs and Confederacy pride. My sister-in-law drove right past those and showed me the things that bring her joy and that she enjoys. She loves the place she calls home and is proud of the little homestead they have built. And I am proud and happy for them and opened my heart and mind to love it too.

My children had a blast. They spent a week with their cousins and made new friends, and went camping and saw a snake and got dirty and ate tons and tons of tacos.

Wimberley, Texas_GirlGoneTravel Wimberley, Texas_GirlGoneTravel Wimberley, Texas_GirlGoneTravel

Wimberley, Texas_GirlGoneTravel Wimberley, Texas_GirlGoneTravel

It was little things, like going to the local farmers market or the favorite swimming spot that helped me relax and open myself up to the beautiful things.

Venturing into Texas always feels so huge for me. There is always so much apprehension. But in general, I found Wimberley to be charming and sweet and I am so glad I got to explore it. (Read more about my time at Wimberley on the Expedia Viewfinder travel site).

Wimberley, Texas_GirlGoneTravel Wimberley, Texas_GirlGoneTravel Wimberley, Texas_GirlGoneTravel

We were able to spend an afternoon taking in the sights and sounds of the annual Sacred Springs Powwow. Not the kind of experience I expected to have in the hills of Texas. An important lesson for me. The event was beautiful.

The world is a pretty big place, and acknowledging that some areas make us nervous is OK to do. But don’t let that fear get in the way of your experiences. When traveling to a place that makes you feel a little bit more apprehensive than normal, find someone who can offer you a safe space and stand by your side as you navigate the waters and connect with locals that can offer you a different perspective. Open yourself to the beautiful things. Even in the darkest of places, these exist. There are apps out there that help you connect with locals willing to share the best of their home destination or even host you in their home for a meal.

Make sure to spread the love for any destination that made you feel welcomed and where you felt more at ease than when you arrived. Spreading the message also contributes to encouraging others to move past their own perceptions, but most importantly contributes to the places and people who embrace us as outsiders and newcomers. The world needs to know who they are and that these places exist, especially in a time when so many of us need to know that they do. I still very much advocate for research, safety, and evoking change through our economic power.

I thank my family and the people of little Wimberley, Texas for sending us home with such warm and happy memories, and most importantly for making us feel welcomed during our time there.



In partnership with Embassy Suites. All opinions are my own. Find more travel tips from experts and other parents by visiting or follow the conversation on Twitter and Instagram using #prettygreat.


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Carol Cain

Carol is her happiest when on an adventure, either close to home or farther away. She's the mom to three fun boys and wife to a handsome Irish/Scot. She lives in New Jersey with her happy crew, but will always be a girl from Brooklyn. You can read her full profile here.

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