Inspiration, Lifestyle

How to Avoid Being Stuck in the Yearning Phase of Your Dreams

March 9, 2016 • By

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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


Africa, Inspiration, Lifestyle

Climbing Kilimanjaro by George Lancaster

January 25, 2016 • By
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Today’s post is a little bittersweet for me.  As you may recall, I have mused about my desire to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. As luck would have it, one of my dearest friends who happens to be my former boss, recently completed this feat along with his family, in November.

It was for a worthy cause and since he is one of the best people that I know, I applaud his accomplishment (the jerk!). Here is his first person account of their amazing journey. Please be sure to read the entire, unfiltered story by clicking the link at the end of this post. You won’t regret it. Thanks, George. Now, I really have to play catch up.  

Climbing Kilimanjaro

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


City Views, Travel Advice, Trip Reports

48 Hours Discovering the Magical Parks of Utah

November 30, 2015 • By
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The Petroglyphs of Monument Valley, Utah

A Few of the Many Beautiful Sights of Utah

I’ve developed a fond appreciation for brief vacations.  If nothing else, it proves that you can still enjoy and experience a great deal that a city has to offer without spending an extended period of time there.  I’ve spent 24 hours in Amsterdam and 36 hours in Savannah and didn’t feel like I sacrificed anything in the process.  When I managed to find an exceptional fare from Atlanta to Salt Lake City for $139.00 RT via Google Flights, I  knew that I had to book it.

While I enjoy touring cities with the best of them, nothing makes me feel closest to the Creator than experiencing the Great Outdoors.  I have a poster of the Petroglyphs in Monument Valley in Utah hanging in my office.  After looking at it for five years, I decided that there was no time like the present.  In fact, I booked the trip for early November which happened to be during the off season, but thankfully the parks were still open.

My first order of business was to order an annual park pass for $85.00 (including shipping; it arrived in less than a week) from the nearly century old National Park Service.   The passes are free for park volunteers, members of the military and the disabled.  Citizens 62 years or older can get a lifetime pass for $10.00.

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City Views, North America, Trip Reports

The End of an Era? | The Seattle Gum Wall

November 19, 2015 • By

I heard about it while doing some quick research on a city that I had longed to visit and quite frankly, my stomach did a somersault at the mere thought of it. The gum began appearing right outside the entrance of a little hole in the wall, the Market Theater, thanks to the creativity of patrons lining up for the next show.  It’s located right beneath the main entrance of the Pike Place Market, one of the must sees of any first time visitor to Seattle.

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As with all bad habits, the idea caught on. Over the course of twenty years, it began to mimic some version of abstract art. This colorful, gaping wound of three dimensional graffiti soon took on a life of its own.

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Newbie How-to's, Travel Advice

The Newbie’s Guide to using Google Flights to search for the best fares

October 26, 2015 • By

Planning trips can be confusing to the inexperienced.  But if there is only one thing that you take from this post let it be this: “Booking your flight is the absolute first thing that you must do when planning your vacation.”  Why?  Because airfare will arguably be the most volatile expense that you will incur.  The cost of gas (as of this writing) is steadily declining, so airlines are offering fantastic bargains as a result.  However, these great fares aren’t available for all destinations.

That makes it all the more critical to plan ahead, monitor flight prices, be flexible with your departure dates and destinations as much as possible because some times are better than others.

Once you’ve decided where you want to go, my suggestion is that you start with “Google Flights“.  Much like its search engine counterpart, it allows you to search for the best flight deals to any destination.

Here’s how it works:

Once you have reached the Google Flights home page, you will see a search box.  The first screen will give you the option of selecting a round trip (where you travel to one destination and take a return trip back to where you started), a one way (is just as it sounds, you go to a destination with no plans to return or if you’re not exactly sure when you will, you can purchase a return one way ticket at a later date) or you can choose the multi-city option if you are planning on visiting several locations during the course of your vacation.

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Inspiration, Lifestyle

Take a Risk By Believing in Yourself

September 7, 2015 • By

life is short

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


Budget Tips, Lifestyle, Travel Advice

Introducing “Eat With” – The New Way to Eat Locally and Deliciously

August 31, 2015 • By

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Traveling can sometimes be a lonely endeavor.  Sometimes, you’ll find yourself in a strange town surrounded by people you don’t know.  

At dinnertime, you will call down for room service, pull out a menu from one of the local restaurants from your hotel nightstand or you venture out into the darkness hoping that something will spark your interest.

Well, it doesn’t have to be that way.  If you are familiar with how the online website, AirbNb works, then Eat Withmay be just the thing for you when you would like to eat locally. The website describes itself as “ a technology platform that brings people together. Sharing a meal, sharing stories, sharing laughs with new people in someone’s house is deeply personal, authentic, and intimate… it also happens to be the original social network.”

You can enjoy a home-cooked meal specially prepared for you and other guests in the private homes or exclusive private venues of chefs and cooks who’ve registered with and have been vetted by the site’s owners.READ MORE


Travel Advice

20 Top Tips for Planning a Dirt Cheap Vacation

June 30, 2015 • By

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Helpful Tips for Planning Your Next Vacation

Plan ahead!

* The sooner that you decide where you want to go on vacation, the more likely you are to realize your best deals. Visit travel oriented websites like Frommers, Fodors, Virtual Tourist, Lonely Planet and Rick Steves among others to get solid ideas of where you would like to travel. Once that has been established, start looking for airfare and hotel deals to the destination.

* Consider the possibility of getting a package deal which consists of air, hotel and some taxes and junk fees. It’s a kind of one stop shopping where you often realize discounts by purchasing them together.  Also, if you are going with a partner, you may find that this is the most economical way to travel because single travelers are often hit with a supplemental fee to offset the lost revenue that a couple would bring.

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You may find that it is cheaper to book a package deal where you pay for a visit to two or more cities, round trip air, hotel, attraction tickets and train fare b/t cities for one low (or at least reasonable) price. There are several reputable online travel agencies that have exceptional vacation package deals like Go Today, Gate 1 Travel and Nordique Tours, among others.

* The further out you plan your itinerary, the more lead-time you will have to locate deals, especially during your destination’s “off-season”. While there are last minute deals to be had via sites like Travelocity, it’s prudent to take a proactive approach and plan early. Once, I missed a great fare deal to Paris because I took to long to decide if I really wanted to go; when I finally decided the fare was long gone, which meant that I had missed an opportunity to save a lot of money because I was not decisive.

* Be flexible about your travel dates for your vacation, fare amounts can be extremely volatile and change radically from one week to even one day to the next. If you can save hundreds by postponing your trip by a week, isn’t it worth it?READ MORE


Consumer Advice, Travel Advice

The Newbie’s Guide to Booking Accommodations -Part 2

June 1, 2015 • By

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Back Again With Helpful Tips for Booking Accommodations

Today we are continuing with the second installment of our three part series that breaks down the choices one has in booking accommodations for vacations or holidays. We will now look at mid-range options for those travelers who want a little more comfort than hostels can provide but at a more reasonable price than hotels.

If you think you are up to the task, I would recommend trying Priceline when booking accommodations because it allows you the chance to place bids on the price of a hotel room.  However, if you don’t like taking risks, then I would suggest trying aggregator websites like Home AwayVRBO (Vacation Rentals by Owner) and AirBnB.  They list homes, rooms, guesthouses and cabins owned by people who want to rent them out to vacationers for a set daily, weekly or even longer rate.

Some of the aggregators will charge a service fee that will not be refunded should you cancel.  However, you should always note what the owner’s cancellation policy is because you are usually charged for the full stay as soon as you book it.  Most will refund your money if you cancel well in advance of your stay; some are generous enough to refund in full with one day’s notice.READ MORE


Fun stuff, Gardening, Lifestyle

How to Propagate Hydrangeas

May 18, 2015 • By
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What’s not to like about this beautiful blue and white, variegated leafed, lace-cap hydrangea?

6 Easy Steps to Propagate Hydrangeas

I used to hate hydrangeas.  And roses.  But, let’s stick with hydrangeas for now because I hated them for the same reason.  My mother had so many that I became immune to their beauty.  They shared equal billing with kudzu and weeds, something else that we had a lot of.  Like many kids, I hadn’t yet developed an appreciation for all that they were.  Luckily, I grew out of my aversion to them and now welcome them gladly into my life and more specifically, my garden.

I have almost every variety too!  From lacecaps, mopheads, oakleaf to peegees, most are somewhere in my garden.  Whenever I troll the local garden centers, I am mysteriously led to the aisle where these lovelies can be found.  As you can imagine over time, it gets expensive.  So, I decided to ask my friend, Sharon, how she manages to have so many in her garden without going broke.

She gave me a really simple explanation on how to propagate hydrangeas so that they keep giving back.  I had my doubts because while I love to garden, I’ve pretty much stuck with digging a hole and planting a bulb or perennial in said hole.  My garden limitations were propagation and planting seeds.  I had managed to maneuver my way around not having to know how to do either until I decided, “Nothing ventured, nothing gained!”.READ MORE