For the second leg of my Ultimate Bucket List For the Next Decade And Beyond (but really, I’m shooting for a decade)™, voy al sur- I’m heading to Central and South America. Over the past few years, I’ve had the pleasure of knocking off a considerable chunk of must-sees by visiting Cozumel, Lima, Peru; Santiago, Chile and Easter Island, but it’s time to branch out even further. Since I’m a bit of a completist, wanderlust is taking me beyond the confines of the Caribbean and the Western coast of South America, into parts unknown…
Now that I’ve been traveling internationally for well over a decade, I think it’s time to challenge myself a bit more. I’ve accepted that my wanderlust might never be completely quenched due to work obligations, budget concerns or both. However, I’m a firm believer in declaring what you want as the first step into making it happen. Here I go!
Perhaps I was inspired by my recent Global Entry application. Obviously, I’m in it for the long-haul if I’m willing to pay for the privilege of line-skipping. I began compiling a list of places I wanted to visit, starting with all fifty states then branching out internationally. The ultimate goal is to visit every continent, but I also wanted it to be realistic due to my work schedule. For the first part of this series, I decided to stick closer to home, focusing on the Northern part of the Western Hemisphere.
- Alaska Range Cruise
Maybe it’s because of the many afternoons I spent watching Bob Ross paint happy little trees in front of magnificent ice-capped mountains as a child or maybe it’s because of the “purple mountain majesties” I had to sing about at that one assembly in 3rd grade. Either way, I’ve always preferred the mountains to the beach. Ironically, next December, I’ll be embarking on my third cruise to an assortment of tropical destinations. To switch it up and combine my love of cruising and mountainscapes, I want to take an Alaskan cruise. Cruising through the Inside Passage while enjoying a gigantic mug of hot chocolate is my kind of vacation.
- Niagara Falls
It had always been on my list, but after watching Jim and Pam’s first wedding on The Office, Niagara Falls has been towards the top. I’ve been to New York and Canada several times, but I’ve yet to make my mark in Ontario or Western New York. I’m all about killing two birds with one stone and this will be the perfect opportunity. Whether enjoying the view of the Horseshoe Falls and the Bridal Veil Falls from the safety of Rainbow Bridge or while getting drenched on the boat deck, I know it’ll be a thrilling time!
Now that travel restrictions have been lifted, it’s the perfect time to visit the vibrant and mysterious Cuba. When I think of Cuba, I envision a kaleidoscope of pastel-colored façades, impeccably restored classic American cars and the clearest water imaginable. I look forward to spending an afternoon strolling along The Malecón, dipping my toes in the goldspun sand of Playa Pilar, enjoying an ensalada in one of La Habana Vieja’s many ice cream parlors and finding out all that this beautiful island has to offer!
“Information overload. Overworked, underpaid. All news seem to be bad news. Kindness is on the endangered species list.”
When it comes to simply living life, it’s a stressful and complicated endeavor. If you manage to make it through the day without hearing of some tragedy, you’re already ahead of the curve. Let’s face it. Times are tough and it’s not easy to shrug things off and not feel hopeless…to some degree.
Sadly, most of the things that happen around us are out of our control, yet they still manage to affect our mind, body, and spirits in a negative way. So, how do you rise above it? How do you find your way off of the daily crazy train with all of your faculties intact? You must learn the self-sustaining act of “Self Care”.
Self-care is a loving act of carving out time to minister to your personal needs. Every human being has a breaking point, self-care allows you to take a moment and dial back the stresses of the day and do what is necessary to soothe and protect your own mental health.READ MORE
There’s an old saying, “Growing old isn’t for sissies”. There’s a lot of truth to that. Growing old makes you bolder and less patient for nonsense in general. Having been a lifelong people pleaser, I’ve surprised myself quite a bit as I have grown older.
I have a very low tolerance level for boorish, selfish behaviors and I find myself speaking my mind in objection to it more often than not. I guess I figure I have nothing to lose by refusing to accept unacceptable behavior and truth be told, neither do you.
The good news is that you don’t have to wait for gray hairs or saggy skin to appear in order to stand up for yourself. Here are my top five reasons why you should stop being’ nice’ and start being more authentic:READ MORE
Previously, I shared one of my favorite ways to deal with stress. While gaming is a great way to unwind after a hectic shift, I found an even better, long-term way to alleviate stress: loom knitting! Knitting without needles has been incredibly therapeutic. It’s relaxing, keeps me focused on achieving a goal and once I’ve finished a project, I have something tangible to give as a gift or to keep for myself. But the absolute best thing about loom knitting is that it’s incredibly easy to learn. I’ve been doing it for two years and made over seventy different projects from hats, scarves, bags, socks and blankets. All you need is patience and a free afternoon to get going!
Before You Get Started
Loom knitting is a relatively inexpensive hobby to start. For most projects, you need a loom, a loom tool, a crochet needle and yarn. The type of loom you’ll need depends on what project you wish to start. Most people start out learning how to make scarves on the loom, so for a thick scarf suitable for winter weather, a rectangular loom is best. For a light fall or spring scarf, a round loom is fine. Generally, rectangular looms are for scarves, blankets, place mats and similar projects. Round looms are for hats, scarves, gloves and socks.READ MORE
All of us, no matter what field of work we’re in, have to find positive ways to deal with stress. Whether it’s hitting the gym, catching a live show or taking the occasional weekend trip, finding ways to reduce stress has become increasingly important. As a relative newcomer to shift work, I unfortunately found this out the hard way. Luckily, after a few minor bumps in the road, I’ve found a positive outlet to alleviate some of the anxiety from my job: PC gaming.READ MORE
Why Yearning Will Do Little to Help You to Realize Dreams
I think it’s only natural to yearn for some thing, some place or even some one, but for the sake of this discussion, let’s focus on some thing. It indicates a desire to accomplish, to achieve, to seek something that is not presently within your grasp. Unfortunately, procrastination is also natural. Yearning allows us to envision the possibility of what we could have and inspire dreams that if we’re not careful, will remain as just that.
We have to begin pushing the worlds of wanting and achieving together so that we can make our yearnings a concrete reality. First, you have to devise a plan of action. To quote Katherine Peterson: “A dream without a plan is just a wish.”. Wishes are just that: immeasurable, invisible and at the end of the day, sheer fantasy.
Once you begin to take those creative visualizations and set realistic goals to achieve them, you will have put a plan of action into motion. Ask yourself the following:READ MORE
Arriving in Arusha, Tanzania after the 32-hour journey, the four of us are exhausted. And jittery, for the next day we start our six-day trek up Mount Kilimanjaro. I think back on the year. My wife Nicky coming home one day, excited, having convinced the board where she works, The GI Cancer Institute, of her idea to solicit donors keen to climb Kilimanjaro. The Institute raises funds for clinical trial research dedicated to improving treatments for patients suffering from gastro-intestinal (GI) cancers.
Finding people touched by these cancers is not difficult. Whether any of them want to climb Kilimanjaro is another matter. At first it’s us four– Nicky, me, son Benjamin (age 25) and daughter Jessica (age 23). Luckily others join, and in the end, there are fourteen climbers, who together raise $142,000, doubling our initial goal.
The next day we arrive at Rongai Gate, elevation 1800 metres (5900 feet), and pour out of the bus. We see the porters for the first time: Dozens of them, preparing for our arrival. Lunch is served but I am too excited to eat. The trail is visible, snaking off into the trees. C’mon everybody, I think, finish up so we can get started!READ MORE
How Believing in Yourself Might be the Biggest Risk You Could Take
Recently, I’ve experienced a significant number of losses in a relatively short span of time. I guess it’s inevitable that such things would give anyone pause and start them on a journey of self evaluation. It becomes clearer and much more magnified how fragile life truly is and it makes us rethink our choices, the people that we associate with, the things that we’ve put off in one way or another and without fail, the amount of needless bullshit that we’ve tolerated on an on-going basis.
It’s often thought that with age comes wisdom; that through surviving a vast number of experiences – both good and bad – that you become stronger as a result. However, once you throw in a myriad of variables, quite the opposite could happen. Years of conditioning – positive or negative – can either build or breakdown a person’s will and spirit. If the latter occurs, it could literally take years to find your way back to some equilibrium.READ MORE
My English Cottage Garden Redux
Have you ever had a vision of creating something fantastic and the final outcome only registered a “blah”? That’s precisely what happened when I bought my house in 2001. I had just sold my townhouse because I had a dream of living in at least my version of an English Cottage Garden oasis and 300 square feet of outdoor space wasn’t going to cut it.
I needed something larger, something that would allow me to realize my vision of what a garden that was situated in the Cotswolds would look like. Except, the location would end up being in a sleepy little town in North West Georgia. I can’t say exactly what drew me to a little blue and white cottage but I knew that I wanted to buy it even before the realtor pulled up to the driveway.
It met all of my requirements: It had a basement, a deck and a front porch. The deal breaker would always be the porch. As a lifelong southerner, it was imperative that I had somewhere to sit and people watch. The best part is that it sat on one acre of land. The yard was mostly remnants of what could be termed as grass but you could tell that the former owner had tried to add her own touch to it at some point.READ MORE