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Never Put Off Tomorrow What You Can Do Today – Traveling On Your Own Terms

February 20, 2011 • By

Recently, I was asked to write a guest post at Baby Boomers Traveling by another travel friend, Doris Gallan.   I soon realized that it was actually a continuation of a post that I wrote last month, “How to get out of your own way and live the life you want“.  With Doris’ permission, I am posting it here.  I hope that it inspires someone to reach out and grab life with gusto:

I was raised in a household of ten kids with two parents and as you can imagine, freedom of movement was a scarce commodity. I think that is where my first yearning for wide open spaces came from. It’s difficult to live life feeling confined, so I suppose that gave rise to my desire to be unencumbered; unrestricted. I had always been interested in geography because I learned so much about places so far removed from the reality of my life. It was like a pleasant dream to politely acknowledge, but I never believed that it would or could possibly come true.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to visit Paris – the venerable city of lights. Like so many would-be nomads, I allowed the dream to sit unfettered in the deep recesses of my mind. I never allowed myself to believe that it could become a reality for me. It was safer to let the years drift by; to craft excuse after excuse as to why it was OK to not do a single thing that would get me closer to that elusive goal. Until one day, I had a ridiculously simple epiphany: “Just Do It”. Nothing was going to happen until I made it so. No travel agent was going to come knocking to see what my plans were. I believe so many of us are sitting, waiting for supernatural signs to tap us on our collective shoulders. It will not happen that way. As with anything worth having, you have to work for it, to plan for it….that is truly the only way it will come to pass. It’s about taking a leap of faith, of believing that you have as much right as anyone else to live dreams previously unfulfilled.


That is my main purpose in starting my travel blog, A View To A Thrill. It is a call to action to anyone who has the desire, but perhaps, not the knowledge to explore this vast world that we live in. It is an appeal to believe in the possibilities; to believe in your own ability to navigate through this life on your own terms. Rest assured, there will always be naysayers; those that can think of every reason on earth as to why you’ve left your senses. You will be surprised to see that their protests are usually deeply rooted in their own self-doubts. And yes, there are those who will think that you see yourself as high and mighty simply because you want to expose yourself to different cultures, different experiences, different….anything. It goes against their predictable and limited expectations and some would even ask what are you running from?

When I travel, I never put restrictions on myself. If there is something that I want to do, I do it anyway…even if some folks thinks it’s for other people. If I want to go to a country music concert, I’ll go. You’d be surprised how many people (black and white) would find it odd that I enjoy country music. Never let others define you and tell you what you should be doing, do what pleases you. I think older people are probably most guilty about towing the party-line. Sometimes, you have to risk being judged or even mocked. If you have unconventional tastes, own it! You only go around once, live it to the fullest! I’ve always said, unless you pay my mortgage, utilities and buy my groceries, you don’t get a say in how I live my life. Conformity takes the color out of rainbows, harmony out of a song and the joy out of living.


My goal is to reach out to those who want to travel on a budget without sacrificing comfort and also to provide guidance to those who want to travel, but never have. To that end, my blog focuses on the reality that most people are living paycheck to paycheck. In these economic times, it is even more important to share ways of traveling on a budget. It’s about making adjustments, even sacrifices to your current lifestyle. There are lots of tricks to save money without even trying to or learning how to deny yourself when you see that pair of jeans that cost more than a fancy winter coat. It’s not going to be a piece of cake, but the reward will be worth it. Just as important, is the person who wants to travel, but has no idea of how to get started. My desire is to share some of the things that I wish others had told me about when I was just starting out.


Why Gratitude Is The Best Gift That You Can Give Yourself

February 7, 2011 • By

I usually try to post on Sundays, but I was hesitant to share a story….my story with the rest of the readers of this blog.  However, after some thought, I feel that in order to understand someone; you must know where they came from.  A few years ago, I wrote a piece about a lifelong struggle and I feel that it’s appropriate to share here because I want to convey the lesson of acceptance and gratitude.  Sometimes, we get so bogged down in our everyday life that we forget to take a step back and take inventory of what we are blessed to have whether that be friends, family, careers, money to do things we love like traveling, or simply life itself.

Some times we make the mistake of living as if we alone made our successes possible; we forget that more often than not, there has been someone along the way who extended the hand of friendship and love to get us to that place.  So, this post is a call to action.  Whatever challenges you may be going through, remember that someone else may be carrying a larger burden.  What are you doing to reach out to someone else?  How are you giving back?  Whether it’s giving your time, money or attention to someone less fortunate, do something.  The best medicine for what ails you is to give back to others.  Whenever you find yourself wallowing in self-pity, go out and help someone else.  Pay it forward in whatever way that you can.

I share this story not to elicit sympathy, but to remind others that we are more fortunate than we realize. My story is long, but the lesson is valuable.  I hope it affects the life of someone who is reading it.



“At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.” — Albert Schweitzer

I was six when I first learned that I was different. None of my classmates seemed to want to talk to me much or play with me during recess. I didn’t exactly understand the giggles and the pointing. My innocence made me believe that the pointing meant that they were choosing me; that I was special and being singled out to be their very best friend. I learned that I was wrong when the pointing abruptly ended with howling laughter and my new ‘friends’ turning away to continue their schoolyard games.

At home, I had lots of playmates; nine siblings who played hide and go seek, dodge ball, London Bridge and other rough and tumble games on our rather large lot that surrounded our roomy brick house. As we grew older, it became more difficult to find a willing partner because those siblings didn’t want to be around me as much as they began to hear the same giggles from their friends. As I grew old enough to understand my differences as explained by the plastic surgeon that operated on my six week old body for the first time, I became ashamed of what I perceived God had allowed me to be.

I was born with a cleft palate, hare lip and my nose has a flattened appearance that some would say rendered me unattractive. My mother, ever so helpful, would always take her thumb and forefinger and run it down the bridge of my nose, as if by doing that she would will it to straighten or extend its length. I know that she meant well, now. But it hurt deeply as it was happening, but I didn’t dare ask her to stop because it would shatter her dream of having six beautiful daughters instead of five. As you can imagine, the surgery that I had in 1958, wasn’t exactly groundbreaking, but I was told it was pretty exceptional work given the time.

I had regular appointments with my Plastic surgeon, an absolutely gorgeous man that I had a crush on since forever, who said that they would have to wait until I reached majority to complete my battery of surgeries. I spent years waiting for the day when I would reach the age of eighteen. Finally, I walked into his office to get the details of the surgery when I was told that I must have misunderstood. There were to be no further surgeries, there was nothing more that could be done. I walked out dejected; but happy that mother wasn’t there with me to hear those words. I wasn’t sure who would be the most let down. But that day, I am certain that I would have won that battle. I believe that they had hoped new technologies would exist in 1976, but they were wrong. My doctor has since passed and after googling his name, I’ve learned that his son has followed his footsteps, but in the Palo Alto area. I wish that I could tell him that his father meant a lot to me, and that I know that he did what he could and I appreciated it.

As painful as it was, it was a relief to know that I didn’t have to keep on hoping for something that was destined to never come. It kept me living in a parallel world where I convinced myself whenever someone laughed right in my face, that one day, they would fall at my feet and worship the ground that I walked on. I had lots of plans for that new face that Dr. Marzoni would give me, I had picked out lipstick colors and bronze foundations that would be laughable on the face that I currently owned, but so gorgeous on the face that would be crafted for me. I wasn’t living in the ‘now’, I was living in the ‘what may be’. It kept me from living an authentic life, so I exhaled when I left that office and I never looked back. It was time to begin my life with the cards that I was dealt. I felt free.

Over the next thirty years, I eventually learned to stop apologizing for existing. I learned to not turn my head away in shame whenever people looked at me. I learned to stop questioning a man’s motives for taking an interest in me. Most of the time, they did truly like me. There were no ulterior motives or hidden agendas. Still, I became more empathetic, helpful, generous and kind….maybe to a fault. Because I felt that in order for me to be loved and accepted I had to go above and beyond to first of all, not be laughed at and secondly to be befriended. Over time, I learned that I did have a good heart and that did not happen merely as a result of my insecurity. I loved people despite everything and I love helping because I believe that is my calling.

Perhaps, it’s because I can identify with rejection, it allows me to reach out to others in similar pain. I have become more forgiving because that is where the healing begins. I remember my brother who is one year younger crying to me that he was so glad when I graduated elementary school and started high school because finally the kids would stop making fun of him because of me. I know that he was hurting….so I forgive him because it was his pain that was talking, not him.

I had considered going back to see if technology had caught up with my lifelong dreams, but decided in the end not to pursue it. Maybe for the same reasons that Barbra Streisand chose not to have rhinoplasty or Jewel chooses not to fix her front teeth……maybe it’s ok to just BE and if others choose to catch up…then good for them.

As difficult as it was for me to walk downtown and pass people who stood against the storefronts waiting for their respective buses, to force myself to look down so that they wouldn’t notice me….God gave me a revelation that helped me to get over my fear. One day, as I stood against those same storefronts, a young girl exited the bus. I didn’t notice at first until I heard the audible gasps coming from the bystanders. She was quite possibly the bravest girl that I had ever seen in my life. Her facial features were so distorted that she resembled a cross between the elephant man and a kaleidoscopic view. The most beautifully ironic thing about that countenance was a bright, gleaming smile radiating from somewhere deep down inside. I was stunned. I was ashamed. I thought about how I could have the gall to question God when this wonderful spirit who scared so many, bounced gleefully down the sidewalk, oblivious to those who thought themselves superior.

I think, sometimes, God puts us right where we need to be at a particular time in our lives. That scene is forever etched in my memory. I think back to that time so long ago, when a girl who in most people’s eyes should be banished to the dark recesses of the family basement, helped me to realize that old saying “God made me and God does not make junk!” I will never be what some call beautiful, but I believe that I am beautiful where it counts, when all of the superficial physical beautiful is a distant memory; I know that my life has more meaning because I believe that the beauty lies within my soul.

I am reminded of a song by of one of my favorite gospel groups, The Clark Sisters….led by Karen Clark Sheard. This song is called “Simply Yes”….the lyrics in the middle of the song means so much to me and is appropriate here: “my circumstance allowed a second chance for me to find love, or was it that love found me?”


How To Get Out Of Your Own Way And Live The Life You Want

January 23, 2011 • By

Excuses. We’ve all got a million of them. We find every reason under the sun to justify our inaction. We insist that the time isn’t right. The weather is too cold. We’re too fat, too poor, too indecisive, too finicky,  too (insert your own excuse here).  I’m not trying to alarm anyone, but unless you believe in reincarnation, this is the one life that you get.  Are you using it to its full potential?  Or are you just burning daylight?  At some point,  you have to take stock of your life.  Have you accomplished the goals that you’ve set for yourself or are you just leaving everything to chance?

If  I could be frank for a minute, there are people who are living like they are literally waiting to die.  They have very little ambition, no drive, no sense of purpose.  Somehow, they have allowed life’s circumstances to beat them down, to kill their spirits.  They have bought into the lie that their dreams don’t matter.  If plans don’t pan out the way that they’d hoped, they take it as a sign that they are being unrealistic; that they are reaching for the unreachable.  They become easily discouraged, not realizing that the race really isn’t given to the swift but to the one who endures.


“The reason why your windshield is larger than your rear view mirror is because where you’re going, is greater than where you’ve been. Go. ” – Kirk Franklin

Sometimes, these things do not happen in a vacuum.  If you find yourself always discounting the things that you really want to do, the places that you want to see, then it’s time to get out of your own way.  You’ve heard the old saying that sometimes we’re our own worst enemy.  There’s a lot of truth to that.  Once we allow fear to permeate our thoughts it takes on a life of its own.  The writer, Fulton Oursler, once said “Many of us crucify ourselves between two thieves – regret for the past and fear of the future”.

While you can’t change what has been,  you certainly can make new choices that will be more life affirming.  Besides, if we aren’t at the ready to shoot down our own dreams, there are always others who are all too happy to take up the slack.  I call them “emotional vampires”.

These people will find seven ways to Sunday to convince you that you are being stupid for thinking that you have the right to create your own destiny.  They seem to take pleasure in making you doubtful and miserable because that’s the path that they’ve chosen and like crabs in a barrel, they will do whatever it takes to pull you down with them.  I mean, who do you think you are?


Your attitude determines your altitude

Surrounding yourself with people who look at life in a more positive way can become infectious.  They can show you all of the possibilities that life has to offer.  You will begin to get a new sense of yourself and notice that things can become less cloudy, less uncertain.  You will find that things actually get easier when you believe in yourself.

Like attracts like, so if you are around negativity, you will become more negative and vice versa.  Try to seek out the good things that life has to offer but know that not everyone is happy to see you prosper.  Some people rejoice in another’s misery, but you can’t let that stop you from trying to attain your goals.

So start doing whatever it is that you’ve always wanted to do.  Whether it’s changing careers, moving to another state or country for that matter,  taking a round the world trip, do it.  A little careful planning is the key, not the obstacle.  If it’s big enough to dream about it’s realistic enough to go after it.  For me, personally, that is the one common thread that I have found in the travel blogging community.

There is a positivity amongst its members who come from every corner of the world, every faith, every religion but they share a commonality: A love of the world and the people who inhabit it.  They seek to learn something new every day about their global community and nothing makes them happier than a full immersion in the experience. Moreover, they are all too happy to help you to achieve your own dreams.  Sometimes, you have to let go of friends you’ve outgrown and find other like-minded kindred who share a love of the same things that motivate and inspire you.


Photo credit: gwennypics on Flickr

What obstacle have you personally overcome that allowed you to accomplish a lifelong dream?  In what way has that changed your life?

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