A Focus On Travel

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Hello Everyone!

I’d like to share with you my plan for a new project. Hopefully I’m not, as is my custom, spreading myself too thin. As many of you know from reading my recent post on Starting Late in fulfilling my dreams of travel, I plan to finally start having the life experiences that I’ve always wanted and imagined for myself. It’s been a lifelong dream that has taken me into my 30s to start becoming reality.

Because I’ll be posting quite a bit more travel posts, I thought that I should create a seperate blog with that focus. I don’t know if this blog, my first child, will grow the travel audience that I’m seeking. I know that many of you love travel as well and I’ll continue to have some posts here on the topic, just not to the extent of the other.

I’ve got a few destinations up my sleeve. The most recent one will be Thailand next month! I’m dying of excitement and a crampy stomach from my Typhoid Fever pills.

I’ve never told you this, but one of my dreams has been to be a travel writer. I’ve been practicing along the way with the places that I’ve been visiting. It’s going to be a learning process, but I really hope that you’ll join me along the way and share these experiences with me. As Albert Schweitzer said, “Happiness is the only thing that multiples when you share it.” I would love so much to inspire those out there who haven’t yet taken off on the journey that they want to be on, or are like me, starting late. I want to share the practical things that I learn and the personal growth that I experience. The first posts on this new blog will be ones that I’ve previously posted here and here and a few others.

As with any new venture, I’m nervous. As it is, my wifi seems to be throwing a tantrum, as it would do. Me and technology have a tumultous relationship. I can’t be too mad at it as it’s allowed me to connect with people and the world in a way that was impossible not very long ago. And, of course, this new blog has wrapped up in it so many things that I love — travel, writing, photography and some videos as well, so excitement trumps pain in the ass technology issues.

I’ll continue to strive to apply the words of Brene Brown who says, “I don’t have to chase extraordinary moments to find happiness– it’s right in front of me if I’m paying attention and practicing gratitude.” Whether I’m at home or abroad, I want to present the beauty of the world and the everyday adventures to be had for all to enjoy. I’ll see you on the road!

XO

Lyz-Stephanie

P.S. Thank you so much for your positive energy and support.

 

 

 

 

 

Girl’s Getaway: South Beach

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Raleigh Hotel

I embarked on this journey with 3 girlfriends. The excitement buzzed in the warm and sparkling South Beach air. Step one to having a great girls’ weekend getaway is to choose friends that laugh easily and let things go.

Just so you know, I’m the type of traveler who tries to scrape by with the minimal requirements for lodging, namely air conditioning and a bed. I never look for something fancy. But this weekend was different. It was a treat. And obviously not chosen by me, good thing.

Turning into the drive of The Raleigh Hotel, we are enveloped by the shade of lush green palms and cabana strips. I instantly feel like I’ve arrived. Arrived where? Arrived at life. Because of many years of knowing myself, I immediately sit myself down for a talk. “Now listen,” I say lovingly to myself, ” I know this is new and your blood is hot. You’re ready to rush in there and touch everything. Be calm. Absorb. Nothing is going anywhere. Take it easy.”

I’m relieved to find that the valet is welcoming. He laughs at my joke and seems genuine. Not bad. So far, so good. I walk in through the doors and have 3 heart attacks.

The Releigh Hotel is one of those places that impresses and sometimes intimidates the unaccostomed. My eyes see chairs low for lounging and sea foam colored velvet couches. I smell good coffee. “Control yourself, Lyz,” I say to myself. We gather at the front desk where a sweet young lady is smiling sweetly and speaking in a sweet voice. I don’t say this sarcastically. I didn’t grow up luxuriously and having positive reinforcement that I’m not among snobs makes me feel good. I start sliding away from my friends. I wouldn’t stay in one place for very long, and everyone knows it.

My goal: get my fingers and booty on that couch, and it isn’t long before I’m carassing it shamelessly right there in the lobby for everyone to see.

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The restroom in the lobby is impressively old. Not like, “Oh look at this charmingly dingy Victorian toilet.” It’s more like, “Seriously? No one thought anywhere through these past 30 decades that it was time to spruce this baby up?” Of course, 50 years from now, folks will walk in and admire the dingy charm of this 1980s toilet.

Through the lobby and out the door brings me face to face with a large gnarly tree that one would want to get married under. Or, if you’re averse to marraige, have a dreamy dinner party under. The pool is expansive and heated. They had me at heated. The palm trees around this place look as if they probably come with pedigree documents. Their lineage cannot be challenged; they are superior, indeed. I don’t care how politically incorrect that may be to say. I don’t mind myself a mutt dog; I’ve had a few and they are fantastic; but these trees make me feel like royalty, and a girl needs that now and then.

After a couple of hours of mojito-infused shenangigans by the pool, it’s a short stroll to the beach.

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Being from South Florida and having lived here all my life, lounge chair-lined beaches scream tourist unloading zone. They may as well put up a sign that says ‘Middle America Safe Zone’. I normally keep it moving past those sections, but just like tourists, we want to ‘stay close to the hotel.’ Within 10 minutes we are all digging for the tiniest cutest seashells. Darn it, they got us.

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After a long night of dancing, our plan to find a cute spot for breakfast is cast aside and we order room service on the terrace. So worth it. We lounge like lizards in the sun, soak in the view and sip fresh squeezed orange juice and coffee. Everyone’s food is as delicious as it looks. I know because I try it all. My omelette is so stuffed with goodness that I have to remove the plate from my presence to ensure full functioning for the day ahead.

The day ahead includes a 15 minute car ride from the hotel to the dock where our chartered boat is awaiting us. We spend the next 4 hours dancing, paddleboarding and swimming the waters of the intercoastal. Okay, there is champagne too. Our captain is very knowledgeable, letting us know who resides in which Spanish-styled, Modern-styled or Italian-styled mansion. If you’re a fan of architecture and design, a tour of the various islands should be in order.

We got back to shore at the end of the day sunbaked and sufficiently cleansed by the water.  When everyone’s tan has worn off and our hair is washed, the memories will be the longest lasting gift that this trip had to offer.

A Natural Parent.

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For many, many years I felt guilty about something. It was a secret that I shared with only my closest compadres. The dark secret was this: I didn’t feel comfortable in the role of motherhood. The idea of being a mom scared the woman out of me. This is natural, you may be saying. How about this? Even after I became a mom, I didn’t feel comfortable in the role of mother.

You see, before I had my firstborn, I was woefully undomesticated. I had to learn a ton about keeping a house through trial and error, and pulling my hair out, and sitting in corners staring in disbelief. To top off this new life of responsibility, I was a full-time college student. So imagine my dismay when I discovered that I was pregnant; just when I’d started getting a grasp of things.

I had, up to that point, never changed a single diaper. Never held a new baby. Or a fairly new one. Never had any real desire to actually ever hold a baby. I checked my feelings. As women we are always told that the instinct will come. They -the confident ones- always make it sound as if you were split in half and the other half of you would one day show up at your door, packing in her suitcase the part of you that wants to be a mom, and you’ll greet her with open arms. And you will be complete. Because, of course, something is missing at present.

So I checked my feelings and nothing. But surely, after I had my son I expected that the surge of mom juice would intermingle with my stale old brain juice and I will feel like a natural mother. I may be mistaken, but it doesn’t seen that people expect fathers to instantly feel naturally fatherly. Of course, some fathers do, and get no credit for it. Anyhow, I relished when my kids were sleeping. Yes, this is normal. But when my son was an infant, him falling asleep on me meant that I would not move from my location for hours to ensure that he didn’t wake up. The same was true later for my daughter. Now, I loved them both with all the cells in my body. However…

As they got older, I was the mom who forgot to pack water bottles or snacks. I was the one mom not saying how much I missed my kids when they were away at school. I was the mom who wasn’t sacrificing the gym or my hobbies for the sake of my children. I was the mom who caught her child two inches from the ledge. I felt, quite often, like the weirdo mom. What happened to those instincts I was supposed to be bestowed with? I grew instincts; I wasn’t endowed with them. And that’s okay. If I’m a good mom then who cares how I got there, right?

I like to think that my lack of heightened sensitivity allowed them a childhood of more carefree exploration and confidence-building then were I to be on their heels and attentive to every footstep. Naturally, there is a middle ground. All I mean is that if I had to choose, I’d let them eat dirt.

There’s the type of parent that imagines that their child will be the one kid on the playground that will ingest a parasite from eating dirt. Then comes the doctor’s bills.

Then there’s the type of parent who could never imagine that their child would be the one to catch the parasite. Secretly they think, “Only dorks get parasites. My kid ain’t no dork.

So obviously, if your kid is a dork, you love him all the same and keep him out of the dirt pile. In education we call that differentiated instruction.

Don’t listen to the hype. Motherhood, parenthood, is amazing. Do the very best that you can and sleep soundly at night. Afterall, we aren’t this lady.

cola for babies

 

 

 

 

 

 

Be a Lady, But Don’t Be Nice

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So, I’m trying to teach my kids how to be entrepreneurs. I want them to understand the benefits and the mindset needed to be independently successful. That being said, I had to teach my daughter to not be nice. Yes, it seems like a direct contradiction to the title of this blog, but here’s why LIFE SKILLS trumped NICE the other day.

My daughter is always looking for ways to make more money. It’s great to see. Therefore, I’m always suggesting ways for her to make more money. Recently, she decided that she’s into jewelry making and would start making some to sell to her friends and peers. An awesome idea!

Her and her brother made a few beautiful pieces (more beautiful than I had expected, to be honest) and I began to see some potential and follow through. Because she had been working within some limitations in design as she had only two types of beads to work with, and being the zealous crafter that I am, I went out and bought her more materials. I brought back beautiful stones of various shapes, sizes, colors, and textures. A feast for the eyes.

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So, a few days ago my friend came over with her daughters.

Because my daughter had already begun to ease off the enthusiasm she’d been riding high on (before I spent my money, of course) I wanted to reinvigorate her drive by making the activity a group one. A circle of friends will surely increase productivity.

My plan worked. Everyone gathered around the dining table and beads were scattered atop it. Everyone was talking and being creative.

Naturally, kids  were starting to get attached to and fall in love with their creations. Keep in mind I say creations in the plural. So I had a decision to make. Do I keep this nice thing going, or do I teach my daughter a lesson in keeping a mind on her business?

I chose the latter. I declared to all the soon-to-be brokenhearted that everyone was allowed to keep only one creation. I let all of the kids know that my daughter had these materials set aside as part of her business, and that if she gives too much away she’ll lose money (and so would I).

See, of course I want my daughter to be nice, to be a lady and gracious. But I also don’t want her to make a distinction between being a lady and being a leader, or a business owner. The two are not mutually exclusive, right? Right.

Yes, I had to shut down some hearts in order to build another day. In the meantime, when they decide to wear their creations, they can let their friends know where they can get their own handmade jewelry.

Now just imagine if schools dedicated time and resources to teaching these skills. I think as parents we need to start pushing for entrepreneurial courses in schools. What are your thoughts?

In the meantime, here’s an article in Inc. magazine about raising kids to be entrepreneurs. Enjoy!

http://www.inc.com/magazine/201703/tom-foster/raising-entrepreneurs.html

 

 

 

 

 

First Solo Trip with Kids: Washinton D.C.

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So I wasn’t the only one starting late. My children were born in the age of my confinement, and thus never had the pleasure of travel either. They were getting older, 8 and 11, and my daughter, in particular, was getting itched by the travel bug. “When will we go to California,” she’d ask. “When will we see the big city?”

My son was a bit older and understood some of the complexities of a complex situation, and so he tried to hold back his sense of angst and disappointment. It’d come out in drizzles. My daughter was triggered by anything on television that showed a possible travel destination, and she was relentless in her urging. Like flies around dung relentless. Like, my friend’s were given the ‘Don’t you dare mention your travels in front of this kid’ relentless.

Of course, my dream had always been to travel with them; and the older they got, the more these questions and pleadings made me feel like a failure. I couldn’t blame it on anyone. I was responsible for getting them on a plane and helping them to see that life is not an insurmountable mountain; that our dreams don’t just belong in our minds; that adventure is not just for story books and movies and other people.

Finally, I made it happen. I found an airline with really cheap tickets and we booked an exciting… one day trip to Washington, D.C. Now, you may think I’m saying this sarcastically, but I’m not. You see, one thing I’ve learned throughout this Starting Late experience is that small victories are still victories and worthy of celebration.

My goal on this trip was not to embark on some spectacular extravaganza; the trip alone was a grand adventure.

A little background about me.When I had my first child, I would sit solidly still for hours for fear he’d wake up and start screaming bloody murder, as was his custom. Later, I’d wait for their father to come home before embarking on a trip to the grocery store. If there was an awesome family event happening in the next city, we were NOT going. Me and traveling with children was oil and water. But here I was– bleary-eyed and dashing through an airport with my two darlings. So yes, it was one day, but it was a good solid step to accomplishing bigger missions later.

The plane ride was a doozy. A near-disaster, though I like to remember it fondly as an exciting addition to the journey. So the plane roared to life and started down the runway. Little hands gripped the seat handles in terror and exhilaration. I stared at their faces like I was watching the formation of the universe.

Then, suddenly, something I’ve never before experienced– something the kids have certainly never experienced– something the kids have certainly never experienced– the pilot slammed on the brakes! Like, you’re driving and a puppy runs out into the street slammed on the brakes! Like, you’re driving and a puppy runs out into the road slams the breaks.

What the %*!# is this &#!*@?! The kids, in all their utter lack of experience, ask me if this is normal. My heart doesn’t beat hard enough to destroy my chest when normal things happen. I want to kick something, but the person in front of me isn’t to blame. There was a light on apparently. Things needed to be checked out. I scream inside, “We’ve got a blasted schedule to maintain! We’ve only got one $*!#&@ing day to make this happen!” I try not to panic because my energy will become their energy. This will be my first trial. Two hours later, the plane finally departs.

Trial number two quickly presents its ugly face when I realize that our prime destination, the Smithsonian’s Museum of Natural History, is an hour away from the airport we landed in. I had figured D.C. was fairly small and so I didn’t bother with confirming whether this was the best landing location. Besides, my airline only flew to this one. Again, I have to tell myself to not flip out. Don’t show a drop of disappointment. A hundred-dollar taxi ride is nothing, right? I’m independently wealthy and there’s money from the… NOT. I’m flipping the f#&! out on the inside. But only for about 12 minutes. Then I remember what we’re doing and how far we’ve come. We’re together and on our way. Life is good.

Why do I share this embarrassing little inconvenience? So that when you go for it, that adventure, you don’t have unrealistic expectations of perfection. Things may go wrong. Oftentimes they will. Roll with the punches.

The sun was bright and the day was clear. This gave us a renewed sense of invigoration. My immediate impression of D.C. was that I’d never seen streets so clean. The whole city looked as if it had been power washed the night before. When we walked up to the door of the museum, I felt totally empowered. We made it!

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The Smithsonian was beautiful. My daughter stuck her finger between the chiseled buttocks of early man and we awed at the most spectacular and varied gem collection we’ve ever seen. My son, the scientist, loved this room the most. My favorite was the exhibit of animals displayed in various positions. When I approached the life-sized buffalo, I understood, truly, for the first time the gravity of our loss. My goodness, these creatures are majestic. I stood staring at this creature like I woke up one day, having never heard of rainbows, and stepped outside to see one sprawled across the sky. I was almost moved to tears.

 

We had had a long day. By the time we were ready to buckle under with fatigue, it was time to catch our flight back home. That hour-long ride back to the airport was a good time for a nap and the kids knocked out shortly into it. I aim to have more of these trips with them in the future. Short trips and longer trips. Near and far. It’s the steps that make the journey. Do what you can and make plans to keep moving forward. I’m so glad that I did. We are so glad.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Had A Typewriter

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Sometimes I sit and think about how lucky I am to be a part of the last generation to use typewriters for real, not for nostalgic purposes. I was using a typewriter when the computer was getting introduced and all the families in my neighborhood were starting to get one.

I was using a typewriter when it was becoming a sign that your family didn’t have money. If they had money, they would have a computer by now. I was a walking advertisement of our family’s financial situation.

We could still go out and buy the black tape for typing, but I couldn’t hand in an assignment to my teacher without getting a sideways glance.

I remember the cranking sound that the wheel made to wind up the paper, and I remember that  it was brown and I didn’t think it was pretty. I remember thinking I should keep it anyway because this is the end of the line. Of course, I got married and it stayed with my parents. Me and typewriter lost touch after that.

I didn’t appreciate it back then. But I did, and I do, love the feel of pressing those raised keys and hearing it click and tap.

Now, I love an old thing as much as the next gal, and I’d love to find an older model outside of Etsy. I have daydreams of stumbling onto a perfect one at a thrift store and discovering it’s only  5 bucks…  Daydreaming about finding awesome things for cheap is one of my favorite pasttimes.

Now here’s a problem. Have you seen the remix of typewriters? The colors that typewriters are being coated with now are enough to make me swoon. There’s all types of cool retro colors that I never had when they were actually ubiquitous. So what’s a girl to do? Do I dare own two?

 

 

If you’re into nostalgia like I am, here’s a great blog dedicated to all things nostalgic.

P.S. If anyone wants to donate a typewriter to me, I accept charity!

Congratulate Me, Gosh Darn It

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So we congratulate our children a lot, don’t we? It’s great. There’s always a first this, that, or the other to give them a high five or a hug for. We come from the generation of keep their self-esteem up and make sure they feel pride.

When it isn’t overdone, when it’s deserved, it’s a great thing.

But what about us, huh? Who’s going to congratulate our successes? Well, how about our children.

I launched a company recently. Something I’ve wanted to do for 5, maybe 6 years. My son, the cynic, who had been a witness of me talking about it for years, did not hide his disbelief in me. I worked and worked on it, but I never pressed publish. And he noticed. He made comments like, “Oh, you’re still working on that? I thought you’d forgotten about it…” Most times it didn’t bother me. His pessimistic attitude bothered me more than his actual view of my progress. Most times. Sometimes it hurt.

My daughter is a bit more oblivious but the eternal optimist. She’s got hope, confidence, a well of positivity. The last thing I wanted was her telling her future children that grandma had this dream that she never “got to” fulfill. Or worse yet, that she still talks about. Yikes.

I wanted to be an example for both of them. To prove one wrong and to prove one right. And maybe it’s good to have both sides of a mission. I was aiming to achieve silence and applause simultaneously.

So this January, I did it. I pressed Publish and my site was live. I come home from work and I work some more. I move with my computer. It’s become an appendage. And I’m not complaining. I normally have the attention span of a goldfish, but here I am for hours– being creative, working through tediousness, reading, researching, stretching my brain and troubleshooting endless technology issues. It leaves me wondering if my brain has actually been pushed at all in recent years. Who knew I was so capable?

But I’ve noticed something: When I accomplish something big or small, it’s usually a solitary celebration. That tech issue I’ve been fighting to figure out for days? The complete overhaul of my design for a more obviously effective one? That creative eureka moment? Alone. I do a little dance, cheer myself on, tell myself I’m awesome. Yes, I do that.

What I’m trying to figure out is when I became too old to get high fives and hugs for my successes? When did I get cast out into the cold praiseless world of adulthood, and should this be what’s expected of adulthood anyway?

Where’s that skeptical kid who always threw his two sense in? Oh yeah, he’s relaxing on the couch. Where’s the girl who’s been rooting for me? Watching a movie. I think it’s about time we start including our kids in our successes. It’s time we adults start getting some high fives and good jobs and hugs and looks of admiration. We’ve given them plenty and the now the chickens have come home to roost.

How else are our darlings to know and appreciate and admire? Let’s make congratulations a two-way street. Maybe we’ll even go out for ice cream.