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Requiem of a burned out travel blogger

July 6, 2014 • By

You know how it feels when you’re walking down the street and you catch a glimpse of something familiar. Something that you know without a shadow of a doubt, who or what it is. Your pace quickens as you get closer, so sure that once you’ve caught up with whatever you’re chasing, you will be greeted warmly by sturdy hands embracing you because your presence was missed too.


I feel that way about writing. As you can see from my utter lack of recent posts, I took a long break from it in order to pursue another dream that I felt was calling me. I am so happy to have done so because I don’t ever want to live with even more regrets. I will continue with it, but I am most certain and harbor no doubt that writing is where I am meant to be.

Writing has been a part of my life for almost as long as I have been breathing. It has allowed me to encapsulate my deepest fears and most hopeful dreams safely within the realm of a collection of bound pages throughout the years.


It gave life to words that I dared not utter for fear of judgment or ridicule. It was my sacred place to store all of the feelings that both haunted and elated me and I could come back to revisit them at my own choosing.



How to stop tap dancing for the world and reclaim your sanity

July 29, 2013 • By


Are you at a point in your life where you’re constantly frazzled, burning the candle at both ends and can barely fire two synapses together because you are on emotional overload?  You’re being pulled from all sides….the boss has you on an impossible deadline and so far the only thing that you’ve managed to produce is a case of the heebie jeebies (but who can afford to be out of work in this economy?).  Your kids are convinced that you have tentacles that can extend and retract at will.  Your significant other (an otherwise bright and intelligent person) becomes befuddled when it’s time to load a dishwasher and the mere mention of housework makes them apoplectic.

The irony of it all, is that you are stressing because of someone else.  Don’t get me wrong we all have obligations, both professional and familial.  While your hands may be somewhat tied when it comes to your livelihood, it does not have to be the case anywhere else.  Unless that’s how YOU want it to be.  A lot of the pressures that we feel come from external forces.  We’re supposed to have an immaculate home, perfect robotic children, run the daily car pool like clockwork and fix seven dinners a week that would make Wolfgang Puck jealous.  We are too busy living the life that others expect, in fact, demand of us.

Luckily, there is a way to get off of the crazy train.  By giving yourself permission to orchestrate your life in a way that is meaningful to you, you can reclaim your sanity.  Here are a few tips to get you closer to that goal.


Boycott work




Ok, maybe it’s not as dramatic as it sounds, but some of us give our undying devotion to a job that will easily be given to another drone as soon as you’re gone.  Sometimes, we sacrifice so much to get ahead without much thought as to where that might lead.

It may be worth the trouble to take a step back and decide what it is that you truly want or need from your employer or employment.  Is it really worth working 15 hour days when you can’t even find the time to enjoy your earnings?  There’s a reason why it’s lonely at the top; most people realize the price that you have to pay to get there.


Let go of control




No one likes to feel as if they are puppets and have no say regarding matters that directly impact them.  But sometimes, to coin a phrase, you have to pick your battles.  You have to decide what is worth fighting for and what you must let go because you can no longer allow it to have power over you.

You can’t go through life getting pissed off about everything that doesn’t happen to go your way.  If you do, you will end up spending years, literally, being angry at the world because guess what?  Not everything is within the realm of your control.  Stuff happens.  Deal with it or it will deal with you and not in a healthy way either.


A little dirt can wait until tomorrow, it will not cause the world to end




Oh, I remember it well.  I used to pride myself in having a spotless home.  My greatest avocation was in keeping it clean and immaculate.  In retrospect, I believe that I did it for others more than myself.  My ears would delight in hearing the various compliments from friends and family who would rave about my Suzy Homemaker skills.  I would never go to bed with anything out of place.  Can you imagine what a barrel of laughs I must have been to live with?

Eventually, I learned that a little dirt never hurt anyone.  My house looks more lived in these days.  It is no longer a museum for germaphobes, it’s a home…a well used home that serves me…not the other way around.


Stop being a people pleaser and give up your disease to please



If I could recapture the years that I’ve spent worrying about what others thought of me and added them to the end of my life expectancy, it would be extended by a few decades.  I won’t go into all of the useless meanderings about how stupid I was to care about people who probably wouldn’t spit on me if I were on fire, I will just say, if you are doing it now.  Stop.  It never leads to anything good.  You are wasting precious time, that could extrapolate into years, if you let it.

Truth be told, people are probably too busy trying to live their own lives to care about what you are doing with yours.  So, spending inordinate amounts of time ruminating, worrying or wondering what they think about you is such an exercise in futility.  Focus on rebuilding or start to build self-esteem.  The more you care about yourself, the less you care about how others perceive you and you will suddenly find that you have more time to be concerned about things that actually matter.  Perhaps, you will begin to stop trying to live up to the expectations of others.


You want to be an artist in a village of doctors



Family expectations can be a %&@!*.  If there is a historical lineage that traces your bloodline back to several generations of the same profession, don’t be surprised that the folks will be expecting you to follow suit.

If you share a similar goal…….Yay!  But if your heart isn’t in it, don’t fake it just to appease others.  The worst thing that you can do with your life is to allow yourself to become a carbon copy of someone else.   Now, I can understand how declaring your independence could literally start another world war in the family, but ask yourself what sense it would make to utilize your higher ed to prepare for something you have no desire to do?

Even if it means that you will have to fund your education yourself, it will be money well spent it if means you get to determine your own fate. Remember: you don’t have to stifle your dreams to please others.


Discover the life-saving  properties of the word, “No”



Contrary to popular belief, saying the word ‘no’ will not condemn your screaming soul into the bowels of hell.  Whenever someone attempts to use guilt to get you to give in, they are playing dirty.  That means all bets are off.  You have the right to decide what is worthy of your time and attention and there is no shame in deciding to limit the number of activities or causes to get involved in.  We all get the same 24 hours and good news for you, you get to decide how to spend it.

Now, it’s your turn.  What sticky situations have you gotten yourself out of in order to reclaim your life?  Please share your travails in the comment section.



When carving your path in life, make sure that you’re the sculptor

May 1, 2013 • By

change road

Everybody has a story.  Each story is a mix of varying parts of happiness, sadness, hope and regret.  It’s rare to find anyone who is completely happy with their lot in life, but the smart ones know that complaining never helps nor does it make anything better.  If they are dissatisfied with the path they’re on, they’ll strive to make changes that will take them on a different route. But some folks worry about what others might say in response to the new attitude that seems counter the way that they’ve always known them to be.

For the same reason that pencils have erasers, you can decide to change anything about your life that doesn’t mesh with the person that you presently see yourself as…..or even want to be. Even though a pencil can erase, you can still see the vestiges of what was underneath.

It doesn’t negate what has gone on before; it just allows you to move beyond it….to clean the slate… redirect your path.  You can change the storyline; remembering that just because it happened doesn’t mean it doesn’t deserve a rewrite.


Sometimes, you will have to ask yourself how much of your life is genuine versus how much is simply living up to other’s expectations?  Who’s really pulling the strings? How many times have we caved into the pressures of society, family and friends?  How many times have we pushed down into obscurity our heart’s true desires to appease others? I think one of the main reasons we fail to pursue what we truly want is that we don’t want to be perceived as acting out of character.  People are usually uncomfortable when you hit them with aspects of your personality that they may not have been privy to.  Some do not do well with change and prefer the familiar. Ask any brave soul who has come out of the closet if the task was easy?


Or it can be something as simple as changing course when it comes to your career.  Take Myron Rolle, a former All-American at Florida State who was by-passed by many teams during the draft in 2010.  Why?  Probably because he decided to delay participating in the draft in order to attend Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar.

One would wonder why a football team would eschew a player simply because he placed a higher value on education? My guess is that from a corporate point of view, not much currency is placed on the lives of men who aspire to do more than just kicking around a pigskin.

His reality didn’t match up to their perception of who he should be; maybe their concern was that he wouldn’t stick around to make them money like the others. I will never forget comedian Chris Rock’s stern observation about the perceived ‘wealth’ of such ballplayers by young men who are striving to make it big on the field:

[quote] Shaq is rich; the white man that signs his check is wealthy. Here you go Shaq, go buy yourself a bouncing car. Bling-Bling . . . . I ain’t talking bout Oprah, I’m talking about Bill Gates. OK!.  If Bill Gates woke up tomorrow with Oprah’s money, he would jump out a …window.  I’m not talking about rich, I’m talking about wealthy.  [/quote]

There is a big difference between the two.  A. Big.  Difference.  If the team owner can afford to pay each player millions, you’d better believe it’s because he can afford to.

I suppose that the now twenty-six year old, Mr. Rolle  has proven them right after all.  He’s retiring from football to attend medical school.   It’s to his credit that his desire to want more out of life wasn’t dampened, especially since these young men aren’t usually encouraged to succeed beyond athletic aspirations.

The ‘lucky’ few who do manage to make a career out of it will find out quickly that they will need a Plan B as many are forced to retire due to severe injuries and few are left financially solvent when they do.


In the end, we are all given lives to live as we so desire.  The trick is to be brave enough to have a heart to heart with your conscience and decide what it is that you want and then set about achieving it.  Just remember…..what may be best for someone else may not be best for you.  It’s up to each of us to find what our passions are and to pursue it abundantly, without apology.

Usually, the best way to deal with people who aren’t on board with your plans is to surround yourself with others who can lend support and encouragement.  Ultimately, that will help you to pursue realistic goals that will lead to you achieving your dream.


Where I am likely to vacation (i.e., run for my dear, sweet life) when the Zombie Apocalypse finally hits….

April 8, 2013 • By


[box type=”info”]I decided to write about something a little different (and fun!) today. Perhaps, I am going through withdrawal symptoms given that The Walking Dead is on hiatus until October 14th and this allows me to work through my pain. Say what you will, this Zombie Apocalypse thing has people talking and to some degree, I think some are looking forward to the possibility of it happening.  So I decided to run with the idea.  What would I do, should such an unspeakable horror occur?  Keep reading to find out. [/box]
zombie1 zombie2
zombie3 zombie4



To the untrained eye, it seemed like the Canadian Provincial government had their priorities straight.    However, closer examination yields that like most governments, they have broken their promise.  Small wonder that Governments rarely survive such a catastrophe!  Which one you ask?  The Zombie Apocalypse which could totally happen, by the way! Ask the CDC!

I think there’s a great possibility that people could wake up one day with a thirst for someone else’s flesh and brain matter. Before you laugh, have you seen the way our own (American) Congress has been acting up lately?  Scary, huh?   Or………. I could be watching too many episodes of The Walking Dead.   So, there’s that.

It’s strange that no one has been able to explain why people would start feeding on one another.   I am going to have to take a guess at what may have happened and say it was an environmental disaster (or maybe sabotage?) that rendered the populace into zombies and spared a select few.  Naturally the assumption is that I will be amongst the latter or this exercise is a complete waste of our time.

This is really not the time for riddles.  When giving warnings, clarity is a must!!

This is really not the time for riddles. When giving warnings that can mean the difference between life and death, clarity is a must!!

I think it goes without saying that Zombiedom essentially condemns you to the most god-awful living (or undead) conditions.  Watch any zombie movie and you would be hard pressed to find anything but unsanitary, dilapidated, inhumane conditions….but enough about my last hostel stay.

One would have to surmise that there was a dreaded chemically-induced genesis to this catastrophic event because it looks as if an atomic bomb was dropped on the entire globe.   The Walking Dead gives me a little hope in that most structures are still rendered stable and livable provided you build a bonfire to eliminate the less fortunate victims who always seem to be left behind in their beds, on their sofas, etc.  I’m often left wondering if they decided to stay and see what happens or accepted their fate?

Selecting the right house for safety and shelter can be problematic at times.

Selecting the right house for safety and shelter can be problematic at times, but the good news is that no one will be giving you sass.

Alright, let’s get serious for a moment and ponder about what I would do and where I would go if by some cosmic miracle I could find a living and breathing pilot to get me away from this hell on earth on short notice?   I would pack up as much food and water as I could as I battled fellow survivors for any canned goods left behind at the grocery store.  I would thank the stars above that I won’t have to deal with ridiculous baggage fees or worse worry about having to abandon said luggage due to weight restrictions.

I’m not sure if the apocalypse would noticeably change anything related to the TSA.  But any issues with them (real or imagined) would no longer be a problem because I am sure karma would render most of those agents as useful as they are today, but they would never be able to clock out.  Muaaaah—-ha—ha—-ha!!!

Screen shot 2013-04-07 at 5.17.38 PM

I’ve got your job security for you!

I would bring a few clothes and sensible shoes because I would hate to get bit because my feet hurt and I couldn’t outrun the dead.  I would be able to freely carry weapons to protect myself.  On general principle, I would find a Katana sword just like the one that Michonne brandishes on The Walking Dead.  I can attack from a safe distance and avoid alerting the others as I whittle their numbers down.


No one can wield this sword like Michonne who prior to the apocalypse had only been trained in fencing. Guess, I’d better get busy.

I would surely stay away from the cities.  I would probably just stay away from the entire USA and the city of London period since that seems to be where zombies like to congregate, at least according to Hollywood.  It never seems to end well.  And as discussed above, no government will exist, much less come to save you.

Big cities can be problematic.  Especially if the catastrophe manages to destroy all living things like in the book, “The Road” by Cormack McCarthy.  All vegetation would wither at the root and collapse, animals would die and cannibalism would be the new nouvelle cuisine for those who managed to survive.  In that case, all hope would be seemingly lost, but I would like to think that I would still attempt to fight my way through it all.

It's probably best not to fraternize with the undead, no matter how affable they may seem to be.

It’s probably best not to fraternize with the undead, no matter how affable they may seem to be.

I would probably end up on an island, after doing a thorough sweep, of course.  I know for a fact that zombies can’t swim nor operate machinery so I should be relatively safe.  They’re fairly slow but can become quite dangerous as a herd.

Now what island would be the best candidate for my daring escape?  I will go with Easter Island.  It’s the world’s most remote island but if by some chance zombies showed up…..probably because a ship that has become infected, shipwrecks there…..maybe they will feast on the Moai because let’s face it, they’re not that smart.


This would be me, chilling like a villain and hoping that the Moai take a few for the team while I make my getaway. Of course, I would have to take a pic first!

I’ll just sneak up on them, katana in hand and take them out one by one.   Now, some would say that since Easter Island has been deforested, my cover would be blown in no time (I think Cormack had a hand in this!).  Despite all of their failings, the walkers eyesight is excellent.  So, don’t let their sunken eye sockets and bloodshot eyes fool you.  They can see and smell you without much effort, so it probably wouldn’t be wise to tempt fate.   I think that would work to my advantage because I would be able to see them easily too.

There would be a plentiful supply of tropical fruits, beautiful landscape and a smaller populace (if they’re infected, there will be fewer to fight).  The negatives would be fewer resources due to its distance from the main-land so that would make life  just a little tougher.

If things work out the way that I hope, maybe I will have a happy ending (mostly) like these folks:

twd cast

[quote style=”boxed”]If……. heaven forbid, a Zombie Apocalypse were to happen….where would you go?  What would be your plan of action?  Please share your thoughts in the comments section![/quote]


Not all those who wander are lost

October 11, 2012 • By

racism There are certain unpleasant truths in life.  Racism is one of them because it refuses to die a natural death and can and will live on forever into eternity if left unchecked.  Many would have us believe that it’s unfashionable or gauche to declare this fact.  I suppose it’s because it’s uncomfortable for them to acknowledge it and it’s easier to either to deny or ignore the damage that it causes to the ones it’s aimed at and the one who doing the aiming.  As long as it is marginalized and not dealt with forthrightly, it will continue.  But it doesn’t have to.

A travel blogger friend of mine was relating how she’s constantly refused taxi service in Indonesia.  Of course, there will be the requisite declarations about how difficult everyone has it.  It’s one thing to suffer from the mere state of being human.  It’s another to suffer because of preconceived notions about your status as a human being.

There is an old saying, “Your blues ain’t like mine”.  It’s not meant to minimize anyone’s personal journey.  It is meant to illustrate the difficulty and the ridiculousness of being made to pay for a deficit that exists only in the mind of the person holding false truths about someone.  I’ve always felt that I can’t make everyone love me, nor would I want to.  But I  refuse to tolerate blatant disrespect that I’ve never earned.  This same friend has been notified by her broker that the owner doesn’t want black people living in the apartment that she’s paid for six months in advance.

 “Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends.” – Maya Angelou

At some point, people will have to stop being lazy.  They will have to bother getting to know their fellow human being by personal experience rather than propaganda promoted by certain media outlets.  The truth of the matter is….there are good and bad people in the world.  To believe that ‘bad people’ are wrapped in a particular skin color is convenient, stupid and blatantly ignorant.

Stereotyping allows you to mass brand and dismiss people who you deem to be your inferior.  The mere fact that one thinks they are superior to another by virtue of the fact that they have a different skin tone, hair texture, eye color….whatever, is so insulting to mankind in general and embarrassing in particular, for the person holding that point of view.

We are all different.  Not everyone in the same country holds the same outlook on life.  Not everyone in the same city has identical dreams.  Not everyone in the same household has the same wants or needs.  We are different and there is nothing wrong with it.  That difference doesn’t make one particular trait better than another.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard a black traveler say that they’ve gotten poor treatment in Europe and Asia in particular until they speak and the offender realizes that they are American and magically, they are suddenly treated with deference.  So, they happen not to be Africans and suddenly they command respect?  What an insult!!

So, what is the solution to this problem?  Can we hypnotize the world and make everyone suddenly love and accept one another?  Hardly.  Acceptance of one’s fellow man/woman has to come from the heart.  Usually people fear what they do not understand, which begs the question of why is it necessary to try to understand someone who just happens to be different?  Is it that person’s problem that you have an issue with them simply because you haven’t made the effort to step outside your familiar circle?

Is it up to the targeted person to make you feel relaxed and secure in your own ignorance or would it behoove you to reach out and educate yourself?  In my opinion, that would be the first step.  Whatever preconceived notion that you have of any one…..whether they look like you or not…..let it go.  Challenge yourself to be more cerebral and not give into bad habits, stereotypes and xenophobia.

 “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain

As for my fellow travelers who have been discouraged by this behavior and those who have yet to start ticking off their bucket lists….do not stop traveling.  One of the major concerns that black people have about traveling is how they will be perceived or treated by other cultures.  Personally, that has never been mine.  I’ve felt from the outset that I had as much right to travel as anyone else and if someone else disagreed, that was their problem.  The worst thing that you can do is to let narrow-minded haters win.  There are so many beautiful, exceptional wonders of this world waiting to be revealed to each of us… can you allow anyone to steal that opportunity from you?

The world needs to know that we are not going anywhere.  We are not hiding nor will we make apologies for any one else’s shortcomings.  In a way, we are like pioneers.  Some cultures have had little to no exposure with other races, so let them see us in their stores and restaurants.   We are here to stay and we will be everywhere.  The world belongs to all of us, not a select few, so some folks will just have to get over it.  Or don’t.  In the end, it really won’t matter to the rest of us.

May all your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view, where something strange and more beautiful and more full of wonder than your deepest dreams waits for you. -Edward Abbey


The heart wants what the heart wants

August 30, 2012 • By

desolate-forest What a familiar refrain, it’s romantic and decisive; but what if it didn’t matter? What if some things are simply out of your reach no matter how much you desire it? I’m the biggest proponent of going out into the world to fight for what you want, but there are times when fighting, no matter how valiant, is useless.

I was gently reminded of that fact on the eve of my birthday earlier this week; that just because an opportunity presents itself doesn’t mean that it will end favorably. Realizing that fact is probably the most pertinent; otherwise, you will allow yourself to drift into a state of delusion.

“Doubt is a pain too lonely to know that faith is his twin brother.”
– Khalil Gibran

To be denied something as simple as an answer to a long-held question can knock the wind out of you; leaving you confused and stunned and asking why? It can cause you to turn inward and start inventing shortcomings and doubts about the one person that you should know best…..yourself.

The truth of the matter is that whenever another person is added to the equation, things become more complex. Neither personal stamina nor perseverance can be the determining factor as to whether or not you can resolve an issue. There is another person or cosmic event out of your control that has to be factored in, thereby limiting your ability to resolve the issue on your own.

So, how do you (fully acknowledging this terrible gut-punch) move on in spite of it? First, you must accept the fact that you can’t and shouldn’t control the actions of others. You have to respect the fact that everyone has free-will and the right to exercise it. No one is promised a happy ending or closure. It would be nice to have, but ultimately, we don’t get a say in whether it happens or not.

“When there is no wind … ROW!”
– Latin Proverb

I do believe that everything has a season and a reason. Sometimes, we will never totally understand the why’s of our lives, but they exist to serve a higher purpose. I believe that purpose takes the form of lessons that must be heeded to. However, one must be open to learning those lessons and to resist countering them because it does little for the soul except to cause more pain.

A few weeks ago, I posted my top 5 favorite poems. Among them was “After Awhile” and I think it’s more than apropos here:

After a While
By Veronica Shoffstall
After a while you learn the subtle difference between
holding a hand and chaining a soul,
And you learn that love doesn’t mean leaning and
company doesn’t mean security,
And you begin to learn that kisses aren’t contracts
and presents aren’t promises,
And you begin to accept your defeats with your head
up and your eyes open, with the grace of an adult,
not the grief of a child,
And you learn to build all your roads on today
because tomorrow’s ground is too uncertain for plans.
After a while you learn that even sunshine burns if
you get too much.
So plant your own garden and decorate your own
soul, instead of waiting for someone to bring your
And you learn that you really can endure…
That you really are strong,
And you really do have worth.

Realize that just because someone denies you the privilege of knowing “why?” doesn’t mean that life stops in its tracks. You will now need to write an alternative ending to that story; the one that ends in a different reality. You have not been diminished in any way. Dust yourself off and move on because in the end, you will have no other choice. Your heart will ache, but it hasn’t been crushed. One of the inevitabilities of life is to feel rejected, unaccepted and worthless, but those feelings are always temporary. They will go away and you will come through this a wiser, more thoughtful, person.

All is not lost, the only thing missing……… is what should be.


Whatever their motive, never let anyone steal your joy of traveling

August 4, 2012 • By


Something interesting happened within the confines of a majority black travel forum that I’m a member of.  One of the members shared how her boss’ countenance changed when he overheard where she would be going on vacation.   She regretted that he had heard the exchange almost immediately.   As a result, she posed this question to the group: “Do you tell your employer  or coworkers where you are going or just that you are talking said day off?”

I was a little surprised by the avalanche of responses that not only said “No” but were adamant about it. The commentary ranged from:

“It’s none of their business”

“My boss is jealous that I can do what he can’t do at his salary to “I don’t hide my travels but I don’t go out of my way to share”

“My boss knows how much I make so he’s going to try to figure out how I can afford a vacation outside the country”

“I rarely tell them”

“When I was in corporate America, I wouldn’t tell anyone”

“Not anymore, people think I’m made of money when they hear about it and like to make snide remarks”


Naturally, one would wonder why there is such a strong stance against discussing something that people do everyday.   Then I began to remember some of the ‘sage’ advice of my elders back in the day.   I was admonished “Don’t put your business in the street” or Keep your business to yourself”.   It was never explained why you had to do it, you just had to.   This conventional wisdom countered my own personal philosophy on relationships – with co-workers or friendships.   Not that I believed in going around sharing my tax returns or the most intimate details of my life….. I didn’t but I thought withholding the fact that I was going on vacation (and where) was strange.

As I began to work in various office environments, it was clear that a lot of my co-workers got that same memo.   Folks were very tight lipped and thin-skinned about every aspect of their lives, words not related to the job were rarely spoken.   It usually led to very staid and boring work situations too.   My overall philosophy after experiencing that barrel of laughs, was to be friendly and not make assumptions or blanket statements about people until they have given me a concrete reason to.   In other words, I would give the people that I spent the most time with—even more than my family—the benefit of the doubt.

I don’t know what inspired what could only be termed as fear into their hearts.   But some of the explanations from the group members revealed what I think is a deeper psychology.  I think some felt: “If they know how much I am enjoying my life, they will somehow find a way to take it from me.”   Of course, that’s just my opinion, but one commenter did state:

“I care because my bosses are haters. The kind that would find more work for me to do as a kind of punishment. And I wouldn’t even put it past them to decide that since I have all this money laying around to travel, that I don’t need x amount as a bonus at the end of the year.”


Far be it for me to dispute or deny that her boss would do just that.   I just think it’s sad that she works in that kind of environment.   Personally, I have had some crappy jobs in the past, but I believe at a certain point you have to realize your worth.   I have died a thousand deaths working in that type of company…well…several companies and it was only after I had the good sense to leave that I felt life was good again.  But what if there is some truth in what they are expressing?

I decided to write this column in an effort to bring to light what is rarely discussed but happens nonetheless.   While it is true that whites may travel more than blacks, it mostly has to do with the fact that on average, their earning potential exceeds blacks.  As a person of color who travels frequently, I have found myself to be one of the handful of blacks in a given city.  When I visited Easter Island, people wanted to take pictures of me to send back home as proof that they had seen and spoken to a black person.  In some areas, we are an anomaly which is why I encourage blacks in particular,  to get out there and see the world.  We will become less of a novelty if we were seen around the globe in the flesh, not just on a tv screen.

However, when a black person does travel extensively, there is a suspicion that something is not right.  Some people wonder: “How can she afford to go to all of these exotic places when I am living paycheck to paycheck?”  What’s not being verbalized is that deep down they  think it’s unfair for a person of color, long known to be the underdog, to be doing better than they are.  I doubt if that person would ever admit to it….or even if they are consciously aware that this is how they truly feel.  So, yes, I would say that they are not necessarily paranoid when it comes to their not wanting to share their ‘business’ because what they fear is grounded in truth.

However, I still disagreed with their position.  My response was:

“I see traveling as a blessing so I am never afraid to tell anyone about my adventures. I am quite aware that people are going to hate or talk about you whether you are good, bad or indifferent. That’s fine….while they are wasting their breath talking, I’m thousands of miles away….not caring.”


I refuse to let anyone or anything steal my joy.  I will not live down to anyone’s expectations so that they can feel comfortable in their preconceived notions of what I am supposed to be, what I am supposed to have and what I am supposed to do.  I am my own person and if my jet setting offends you….stay mad.  I feel free enough to shout it from the rooftops that I have been blessed to do the thing that I have desired to do for decades.  It would be such a dishonor to the realization of that dream to  actively hide it from people who didn’t like or couldn’t accept it.  That person’s problem is his or hers to deal with….I will never make it mine.  Therefore, I think when you do everything in your power to obfuscate your blessings….to hide or conceal it….you are giving those people control over your life.  This is something that I will never do.

Of course, this covers a multitude of situations where someone wants you to make yourself small so that they can overshadow you.  I will spend my last breath staying true to myself because if anyone has my best interests at heart, they would expect nothing less.  It should make you all the more determined to go after whatever dream in life that sits undisturbed on a shelf dying of loneliness.  Never let anyone make you think that you have to hide in the shadows or make excuses for living a life fulfilled.  You owe it to yourself to live a life unfettered of someone else’s issues.  That is why I disagree with my compatriots.  I would not let fear of reprisals, jealousies (real or imagined) extinguish my absolute joy about anything that I was doing.  To do so, gives them too much power; their opinions shouldn’t matter that much and if it does perhaps it is time for you to question your life and your choices.


What say you?  Do you think that they are justified in keeping it private?  Are they over-reacting; am I?  Have you gone through something similar that you’d like to share?


There is nothing to fear, but fear itself

July 31, 2012 • By
This is the last day of the Ultimate Blog Challenge. Yay!!! I made it! I thought it would be a good idea to end my journey with a travel related article. It’s about a dear friend of mine who shall remain nameless who wants to travel but is afraid to. There’s so many things that you want to say to encourage….but I didn’t want to think too much about it. I will just speak from the heart and hope that she hears it.


I have a friend who really wants to travel internationally, but she can’t bring herself to do it. She told me that she is afraid to travel across a body of water and the long plane trip won’t be a picnic either. I can sympathize that both issues can be disconcerting, but it should not be a deal breaker. Traveling, while it is fun and wonderful, can be challenging. It will be a challenge for my friend, but I know her deep desire to conquer that fear is why she reads my blog for encouragement.

The most difficult thing about meeting a challenge is taking the first step. She’s done that, so she’s ahead of the game. She’s flown domestically which would always be my first suggestion to conquer that fear. Take baby steps all the while realizing that this will probably be one of the hardest things in your life that you will do and then resolve that you will do it. It will take equal parts bravery and planning but it can be done. We are all faced with things that are uncomfortable…… hell……. unfathomable to conceive of doing. However, we must remind ourselves that in order for great things to happen to us, we have to be willing to receive it…to allow it to happen. Resistance is the antithesis to receiving it. Stop pushing away things that could potentially change your life for the better.

There’s a saying, “The heart wants what the heart wants”. It’s a bit anticlimactic if action isn’t put behind that sentiment. You can want anything, but unless and until you put forth the effort it won’t happen. You must learn to reign in any fears or trepidations that keep you from making it to the finish line. Anything worth having is worth fighting for. One of my greatest regrets was waiting so long to travel myself. If I had been thinking clearly, I would have taken off my freshman year of college to see the world.

But familial expectations, personal cowardice and the fact that I was thoroughly convinced that I couldn’t afford it is what took me on a journey that lasted over twenty years. Twenty years that could have been spent exploring this magnificent orb that we call earth. I believe everything happens for a reason though. It took me this long so that I could exist here right now to convince YOU not to.

Let me be your test case because I really wish that I had someone to shake me out of my stupor and tell me that I’m not immortal. Life is precious and painfully short. To spend one more day avoiding the thing that you find compelling is counterintuitive. It’s living in massive denial that we are all frail human beings with an expiration date that comes all too soon. The best way to get ahead of the panic that fear instills is to move forward acknowledging that the fear is real and it’s there but you are going through any way. It’s when you pause that you let the fear rise and consume you. Fear is just an emotion; the only power that it possesses is the power that we give it.

Resolve today that you are the master of your own destiny. Do not allow irrationality to steal your joy. There are literally hundreds of flights that depart to various destinations without incident….every day….you deserve to be on one of those flights. Now, it’s up to you to believe that.


A psalm for my soldier

July 30, 2012 • By
We’re down to the wire! Two days left of the Ultimate Blog Challenge. A few years ago, I wrote this on the day that several soldiers were killed during a mission in Iraq. I started to think about the families that they left behind who would never have another chance to say, “I love you”. They would never have another opportunity to say the untold number of things that they wished they could have shared. I wrote this from the point of view of a loved one entrusting the life of her soldier into the hands of the military. This is how I would feel if I had to say goodbye.



My smile flew away the moment you kissed me goodbye and walked through the gate.

It waited patiently for you to come sit beside and hold it within the warmth of the hollow of your hands and safeguard it ’til you reached your destination.

I remembered that you had the good sense not to look back because you knew that you would see the jumbled, emotional mess you’d be leaving behind.

We didn’t talk about the almost month of Sundays when we would be separated by an ocean or two, instead we talked about what we’d do the moment our eyes caressed one another again.

We marveled about how we’d sit down and discuss the ‘must-haves’ for the new house that would accommodate the things a sentimental fool like me couldn’t bear to part with.

You never complained because you knew how difficult it was for me to let go of things near and dear to my heart.

We spoke of wishes and hopes and dreams and gave no power to the underlying fear that went unspoken, but certainly felt.

Be safe, my love. I pray that you will come back to me; if not whole in body, then in mind and spirit.

But should God decide that He needs you more, know that my heart will be forever waiting for you on the other side.


Going the distance

July 29, 2012 • By
Day 29 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge. I’m getting to the point where I am getting stumped and finding it difficult to get to the finish line. I decided to get inspiration via a website that offers writing prompts…something that I love and gravitate towards. The prompt is to write about distance in honor of the start of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. Here’s my take on that word….distance.



I think today’s word is quite apropos given that this challenge ends in a mere three days. It is a chance for me to look back and say that even though I got sidetracked or behind at times, I can see myself dashing across that finish line. I can look back on how I allowed myself to use this wonderful medium to show my readers the human, creative side of Renee King….travel blogger.

I didn’t want to be viewed as one dimensional. I wanted people to get to know me better through my short stories, my poems, my opinions above and beyond the fact that I loved to board airplanes. I have always been shy and reserved and I have always found it difficult to be open in real life as I am with pen in hand. I think that I have come a long way and in some ways I have bridged the distance between being painfully shy vs being an extrovert. It feels like progress; like I am on a clear path to realize several goals that lay before me as a result of this challenge.

I’ve started writing that novel…the one that was borne out of this process. I’m very excited about the possibilities…where all of this may lead. It’s a love story aimed at pre-teens….something sweet and innocent….a throwback to a time when romance trumped salaciousness. I’m making strides, I’m coming to the end of that finish line and I couldn’t be happier.