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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!

My kid is an independent driver…now what?

My oldest son will finish his freshman year of college this year and it already feels like he’s been at it for years. There are certain things that I have learned to not stress about as much anymore – like will he figure out how to cook himself a healthy meal, without burning down the dorm? Will he be distracted by the fun college activities too much to focus on the serious stuff? Will he shower…I mean, for the benefit of his roomies, at least?

Yup, I don’t worry about those things anymore. He’s managing it all really beautifully, enough so that sometimes I forget he is still not fully matured.

Day trip to High Point State Park, New Jersey

The longer I live in New Jersey, the more I fall in love with all it has to offer. That’s a big change from 6 years ago when living in New York and not thinking much of my neighboring state. It’s been s much fun venturing out in search of new hiking trails and learning more about the area and all the beauty around us.

Our latest venture took us about an hour away to the rolling hills and farmlands of Sussex County. High Point, as the name indicates, is the highest point of New Jersey with a monument standing at the 1,803 feet above sea level marker.

24 hours in Milan, Italy

Milan was the very first Italian city I visited 28 years ago. I had visited the country for the Christmas and New Year holidays. I remember how cold it was and often even gray, but I also remember being incredibly impressed by the stylish people, many of whom reminded me of those I saw along 5th Avenue in NYC. I was also really captivated by the architectural beauty of the city, the cobblestone streets reflecting an older time and how it all fit so beautifully with the cosmopolitan flair of the city life. Spending the winter holidays in Northern Italy was a highlight in my life as a young traveler.

On my most recent visit, this time with husband and kids, I only had one full day to share as much as I could with my family, since it was their first time in the city, and reconnect with the city that had so impressed me years ago.

Getting your kids to enjoy museums

I remember the first time I took my kids to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. They were so little and so fast that I questioned my judgement. I am sure that others did as well. Why would anyone in their right mind bring a toddler into a museum with things that can fall and break? Expensive, ancient, irreplaceable things, at that.

What got me there was the family programs they offer. Some museums, like the MoMA, offer their family friendly programs to members on early weekend mornings (before the museum opens to the public), and since we were parents of little ones already awake and ready to go, we thought, why not try it?