Category Archives: Beauty

The Funny Thing About Time…

Around 10 am this morning I was sitting on my couch, enjoying an iced coffee, and feeling very grateful for a relaxing Sunday morning. As I reflected on the morning I thought about all I had accomplished, yet felt very calm and content throughout the whole morning.

hourglassBy this time I had meditated, cuddled with my daughter for a bit, fed my daughter breakfast and two snacks, ate breakfast, got my daughter and myself dressed and ready for the day, went on a hike and took photos, did a few sun salutations and yoga poses, read 2 chapters in Life and Teaching of the Masters of the Far East, changed a few diapers, drove through a car wash, vacuumed and cleaned the inside of my car, went grocery shopping, fed the dogs, completed some households tasks (washing and putting away dishes, washed a load of laundry, picked up toys, etc.), and sat and read to my daughter.

Considering that I can easily remember a time when I wasn’t even out of bed by this time, I would count this as a very productive morning. I also can remember many mornings when I did much less and felt stressed, rushed and frustrated. So what was the difference with this morning, when I did quite a bit, but felt relaxed and calm?

My state of mind.

Time is a tricky thing. Often we feel it is limited and probably use it as one reason we can’t get to things we want to do. When we look at our long to-do list, and focus too much on the past or future, time seems to shrink. It moves quickly, keeping us hurried and scattered, trying desperately to get as much crammed in as possible.

In today’s world we often feel hurried and overwhelmed by all that we “have to do”. This perspective leaves us moving through minutes, hours, days, month and years at a rapid pace. The tragedy in this is that we miss truly experiencing so much and never seem to do what we want to do.

However, we can make time expand by changing the way we think. When we focus on this current moment and simply glide from one activity to the next without looking too far ahead or letting our mind get too focused on the past, time seems to move much slower. We can accomplish more than we ever thought we could and truly enjoy it.

Time also feels different when we prioritize the things we want to do. While we may have to clean the house, we can take a moment to do something we find enjoyable like reading, creating or sitting with those we love. Many hobbies or activities we truly enjoy can be done around the things that are our responsibility but not our favorites. Even if it is just a few moments, sprinkling in the activities that inspire us can truly pull us back into the moment and make time move a little slower.

The way we perceive and approach time makes a difference in how it feels to us. Using a practice of present moment awareness can create a feeling of endlessness to the moment we are in. This will ultimately lead to being more productive and can give room to add in the things we love.

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Are you missing beautiful humanity?

The other day I stopped to grab my husband and I breakfast sandwiches. Due to the time, it wasn’t a quick stop. I arrived with the expected sight of long still lines and hurried staff behind the counter. As time went by, I challenged myself not to distract myself with my phone or the news playing on the television above me.

Periodically I will do this when I am waiting and tempted to make the time pass. This practice helps me focus on staying present and supports me in not needing to be entertained, but rather be completely content observing.

I am so glad I chose this particular moment for my practice and will be forever grateful for what I saw.

I saw a father instruct his teenage son to help a lady with a large order to her car.

I saw the son get up and offer his help without even a slight hesitation.

I saw a mother gently rub her daughters back as they stood in silence waiting for a small shuffle to get closer to the counter.

I saw the manager hurrying around, making sure orders were getting out and checking in on the customers waiting every few minutes with genuine kindness.

I saw a father pick up his coffee then say “Come on beautiful” to his young daughter.

I saw the daughters face light up at her father’s casual statement.

I saw an employee joke with the people in line as he passed out free donut holes.

I saw an elderly couple sit quietly in the corner enjoying their coffee as they watched everyone else, with their lips slightly turned up.

No matter who I looked at, I saw beautiful humanity.

In a time when we are being consistently exposed to conflict and disagreement (especially here in the US during a presidential year) these moment remind me of the light in each of us.

Here we were, all different sexes, races and religions with a common goal of getting some breakfast. There was no hate outwardly expressed. Each of us has our own stories. Each of us has our own struggles and suffering. But we were there together, not allowing any of those stories to affect us in how we treated one another.

Each person in this busy store showed love in some way. There was not frustration or anger, despite the long wait. There were only people respectfully co-existing.

As I walked out the shop 45 minutes later I was so in love with the beauty in people. This simple situation gave me faith in our potential as humans to let love guide and truly exist in peace.

It also was a great reminder of how many times I miss these moments. We all do. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t there, just waiting for us to look up from our phones or get out of our thoughts.

Beautiful humanity is everywhere around us and it would serve us all if we started to see it.

Cleanse Your Spirit

Summer is an amazing time of the year.  There is a light and fun energy in the air.  People reconnect with nature, spend time with family and friends and take much needed vacations.  Being outside in the sun, opening the windows in the house and riding with the windows down listening to music bring us excitement.  We tend to smile more, work less and feel a need to connect with those things most important in our life.

With this type of energy floating in the air, it is the perfect time of the year to shake things up and take a look at how to get rid of clutter in your life; mentally, emotionally and physically.  Leveraging this mood that tends to take us over, we can focus on cleansing our spirit and reconnecting with who we are.  This time of year, people sometimes feel the need to clean their house, clean their diet and clean their lives.  A sense of freedom comes with performing a cleaning out and your spirit feels lighter.  Developing a summer ritual to cleanse your spirit allows you to head into the fall feeling renewed and reconnected.

In honor of this great season, below are several ways you can leverage the summer energy to cleanse your spirit and reconnect to who you are.  Depending on what is cluttered in your life, different ones may resonate with you.

Cleanse your diet – Everything we eat takes a toll on our bodies and energy levels.  The heavier we feel, the less energy we will have.  This can lead to spending too much time on the couch versus doing activities that nurture our soul.  Eat light with lots of things that come from to nature.  This is the perfect season to get tons of fresh vegetables and fruits that can become staples in your diet.  Try some new recipes or foods you have never had.  You may even consider doing a detox, fast or cleanse to rid your body of the toxins.

Cleanse your house – If you missed spring-cleaning, now is the time to clean house!  The stuff we accumulate can take a toll on our energy and mind so get rid of anything that isn’t needed or taking up unnecessary space. Do you have clothes you haven’t worn in a year?  Do you have stacks of books that you won’t read again?  Let them go to make space in your life.  It is even more rewarding if you give to others that could benefit from these things.

Get outside – Nature is the very best medicine for stress and feelings of being disconnected.  Unplug and spend some time camping, hiking or swimming in a lake.  Take in all the beauty that surrounds us this time of year.  It will help you feel renewed and re-energized.

Get through that To-Do list – Most people tend to have items that linger on a to-do list too long.  There are many things we need to do that we don’t enjoy doing so they may get put off for days, weeks or even months.  It may be making that dentist appointment, cleaning out the pantry or calling that family member that we just haven’t made time for.  These things take a toll on our mental energy as we are constantly reminding ourselves that this has to get done.  Get it out of the way and then enjoy the feeling of not having to think about it anymore.

Re-evaluate your priorities – Are you spending your time where the most important things are?  Take some time to sit and really think about what matters most to you and if you are honoring those things.  Typically when we feel the unhappiest in our lives, it is because we have lost connection to those things that have the most meaning to us.  Commit to a few small changes that will help make sure you don’t get stuck in that cycle.

I hope you fill every moment with the beauty of this season and completely feel the joy that summer brings!

Who Are You?

I want to know who you are.  I don’t want your name or any particular labels that have been given to you (unless they resonate), but what your soul would say if it were asked.

Why?  I want to know simply because I want you to know those things about yourself. 546699_488339164510904_704481975_n If you don’t take time to think about it and if no one ever asks, you may never truly find those answers.

We often hide parts of who we are.  We grow up putting on label after label so we can describe ourselves in a way others understand.  As we go through this process, we often start eliminating those that don’t seem appealing or acceptable to others.  For example, we may hear a child say “I am beautiful” but it is far less common to hear an adult say it.  This is something many take out as they begin to judge themselves or are judged by others.  It all starts when we are really young and before we know it, we forget what some of these things are.

We begin to define ourselves by what we do or who we are in relation to others.  Very few people start a conversation with a complete stranger with anything other than what we have chosen as circumstances in our lives such as a job, our marital status and if we have kids.  A few other “likes” or “dislikes” may come up but that is as deep as it often gets.  Sometimes we make lifelong friends with people who know everything about what has happened to us or things we have done, but we never disclose who we are.  It just never comes up.

The reason this is a challenge is it is impossible to honor, respect and love yourself if you have no idea who that is.  How can you pursue things that serve you, serve your soul and your ultimate happiness if you don’t know what they are?  One reason that people sometimes struggle to find happiness is they are living a life that doesn’t serve their happiness.  Getting perspective is sometimes all we need to know what changes to make and get closer to happiness, even if it as simple as starting a new hobby.  Going through the motions of life you may never take the time to ask yourself so I am doing it for you.

Sit alone, with no one providing their input and opinion and write on the top of the paper Who am I?  Start the next line with I am… and list out everything that comes to mind.  Don’t judge what you write or feel guilty about those that you leave off that “should” be on it.  You may find things start to list out that are things you always wanted to do but hid from out of fear or judgment.  You are already all those things; you just haven’t lived the experience yet, accept them as truth.

If you find harmful or hurtful words come up then you can uncover areas that need your compassion and love.  These are beliefs you have that can be holding you back from your dreams.  Working through them so they are no longer on this list is critical in moving forward and uncovering self-love.

Allow the words to just come to you and don’t force them, you may be amazed at what you learn about yourself.  Below are pieces of my list, my husbands and other people I know who have done this exercise.

I am a writer.  I am a healer.  I am divine light.  I am a friend.  I am a musician.  I am full of energy.  I am peaceful.  I am joy.  I am a spiritual guide.  I am awesome.  I am a mother.  I am a husband.  I am an animal lover.  I am a student of life.  I am a teacher.  I am an artist.  I am crafty.  I am love.  I am a leader.  I am a speaker.  I am blessed.  I am living gratitude.  I am a dancer.  I am a dreamer.  I am a gypsy.  I am beautiful.  

Who are you? I would love if anyone wants to share some of theirs here; I promise you will be met with only unconditional love and support.  If not here, than share with someone you are close to.  The more you vocalize these, the more they become part of your daily life and you will be astonished on how amazing that can be.

Managing Stress

You know the feeling, we all do.  When your muscles ache with tightness, your brain can’t stop thinking and you feel like there is so much to do you can’t stop for a second.  Stress is something that we all deal with from time to time.  It often creeps up on us and then suddenly we are at a breaking point.  Stress is a perception of situations.  It isn’t actually a real tangible thing, however it does create real and tangible symptoms if we let it.  Many people end up with pain, some become overweight from emotional eating, others sluggish from drinking too much, etc.  These are all things that we do when we get into this state when we let stress become real in our life.

Another symptom when we are feeling stressed is our lack of compassion for others.  We begin getting short tempered or just tuning out to others because we already have too much to think about.  Next thing we know we hurt someone unintentionally because we became more focused on us and whatever is causing our stress, rather than the people that matter most to us.  If we do this long enough or often enough we can seriously damage meaningful relationships in our lives.

The good news is stress that is something you can mitigate in your life.  It would be unrealistic to think you can instantly remove it however there are things you can integrate in your life to minimize the chances of stress getting out of hand and causing an impact.  Doing these things all the time will also help you from being venerable to stress.

Eating well – When we are stressed often we change our eating habits and become less concerned with that we are choosing to eat.  We gravitate to what is quick and easy or what gives us comfort.  Often these are things like sugars, unhealthy carbs, alcohol, etc.  All of these things cause inflammation in the body and will deplete your energy levels.  It will cause you to feel worse, therefore more sensitive to stress and you eat more of it.  It is a vicious cycle and your body pays dearly for it.  Think about what your patterns are when you are stressed and try to come up with healthy options to eat/drink instead of your normal defaults.  This will help relieve some of the effects stress has on the body.

Stretch – Although a complete exercise routine would be ideal, when people are so busy adding an hour of exercising every day may seem overwhelming.  Integrating stretching a couple times a day for a couple minutes does wonders for helping with stress.  It helps relieve the tight muscles and gives you a couple minutes to break from everything to get re-centered.

Sleep – Often when we get busy the first thing we cut out is time to sleep.  It is either because we keep completing tasks past our bedtime, or we want to squeeze in relaxation time before we sleep and didn’t give enough time for it.  Either way, the more sleep you steal from your body, the more stressed you will become and the less productive.  Sleepy bodies and brains don’t work nearly as well as rested ones.  This is one thing you shouldn’t ever compromise.

Meditate – Meditation helps you train your brain to make space for quiet.  This allows you to stop constantly thinking about the running to-do list.  You can’t force these thoughts to quit in meditating but focusing on something else, like a mantra, your breathing or a prayer, helps your brain rest from the thoughts.  This calmness will become more natural and occur in a non-meditative state as well.  This will help you sleep better and focus on one task at a time.

Ask for support – Support may be someone just listening so you can get emotional stress out or it may be asking someone to help do things for you.  Whatever the case may be, it is important to recognize when your plate is too full and you need help.  Friends and family want to see you healthy and happy.  Helping you get there is a key part of these relationships and I am sure the day will come when you can help them.

Find a beautiful place – Find somewhere close to your home where you can go and look at something beautiful often.  It can be nature, art, watching kids play, amazing architecture, etc.  Whatever it may mean to you, seeing beauty helps you focus on the good in life and remove the focus from the stress.  Taking a few breaths and enjoying a moment of beauty can help you feel calmer instantly.

Never forget, stress isn’t real.  It is a perception and allowing that perception to bring havoc to your life isn’t necessary or healthy.

Let go of what doesn’t matter, focus on what does, and honor your health and wellbeing always.

The sky is one of my close by Beautiful Places 🙂

Finding Patience

Often it is challenging to be patient. We live in a world that is very fast paced and we want to get everything done now. This creates a sense of urgency that filters into many areas of our lives, whether we want it to or not. It seems we are less and less patient standing in lines, waiting in traffic or even waiting for commercials to end and get back to the show we are watching. When this occurs, we loose some of the beauty that can be found in observations of that moment. We are looking forward and feeling an eagerness that sometimes overrides any benefits we could gain from practicing patience.

This can extend to our larger life as well. We are often feeling like we want to skip ahead to a “better” time. It may be finishing school, losing weight, or getting to the next vacation. We can get in the cycle of wanting to reach our goal so badly that the current moment seems useless and perhaps unbearable. This is especially prevalent when we are trying to transition to something that we believe will give us more fulfillment or happiness in our lives.

The problem in this cycle is that once we get there, we will most likely want to go somewhere else. If we feel we “need” something in our lives to change in order to achieve happiness or have our lives really start, then it is likely we will never arrive. Some other stage of our life will always look better than our current circumstances. The process of getting to our goal and the events that occur between now and then IS your life. Your life doesn’t start once you get there.

Here are a few things you can do become more patient in your life:

• Be Present- Any time you are feeling like you need to get on to the next thing or need something to go faster close your eyes and take a deep breath. When you open them again look around and observe what is going on around you. Being anxious and impatient won’t make anything happen faster. Being present and observing will make it feel more enjoyable.

• Be Grateful- Gratitude is a key in creating patience. Once you stop focusing on what isn’t going right or what you don’t have and shift to what is wonderful in your life, you will be more patient in allowing things to flow versus trying to speed them up.

• Remember Your Past- How many times have you thought you wish you could go back in time when it was “easier”? Well, when it was “easier” you probably couldn’t wait to speed ahead into another time in your life. How many people want to grow up when they are young then want to be young again once they are grown up? Reflecting on this and where your mindset has been throughout your life can help remind you to enjoy this moment, as there will most likely be a time when you wish you had it back.

Patience is often the hardest lesson to learn but once you do, there will be happiness no matter what you are working towards or wanting.

You are Beautiful

Generally I stay away from the word beautiful.  When I do use it generally it is about the beauty around us or inside of us.  Utilizing it in terms of physical appearance is something I avoid partially because of my own insecurities that get shaken awake and partly because of the emotional tornado that comes with the word.  People instantly cringe inside and their inner critic takes over.  But, it is incredibly valuable to understand why that is and what we can do to undo any of the damage the word may bring.  As with most things in life, facing it is the key to changing it.

The word beautiful is one of those words that every person customizes.  When I say beautiful, what comes to mind?  I bet you it is a different image for every person reading this, even if slightly.  It varies even more when you are talking about beauty with people.  We all vary in what we find attractive in a mate and what we envy in those of the same sex.  It is a word that creates more pain and pleasure than most words in the dictionary.   It is a word that consumes our minds whenever we look in the mirror or are looking at someone else.  It is a word that creates an instant stream of judgment that is heart wrenching to many.

The key here is to remember it is just a word, and a word for a perception at that.  There is no clear definition of beauty, however convinced you are that you won’t fit into that category.   As a society, there are general themes for what we believe is beautiful which is clear and evident in our celebrities.  We even create whole magazines around the topic.  But this society varies from that of other countries and every society varies in what they perceive is beautiful.  Despite the amount of weight someone loses, how much plastic surgery they get, how much muscle they build or how much make-up they wear; it is impossible to fit everyone’s view of beauty.   It will never be done.

With that being said, you should know that you are beautiful.  We are all.  Maybe not in a typical way, maybe not in the way that will make us movie stars and maybe not even in the way we would prefer.  But you are beautiful.  It is a matter of perception, just like any experience in our life.  The way we view beauty in ourselves completely depends on how we look at it.  If we shift our focus from the things we see in ourselves that we think are not beautiful and begin to celebrate the things that we think are beautiful, the level of happiness and acceptance of ourselves will flourish.

How are you beautiful?  If your mind instantly went to “I’m not” then you have some work to do.  Sit down and write out everything that is beautiful about you, inside and out.  Look at your body in a different way then you have.  Don’t focus on what you don’t like, look at what you do.

Here is a list of things that I have found beautiful in every person I have ever met to get you started:

Your eyes – Eyes give away secrets of the soul.  It doesn’t matter what color they are, how long your eyelashes are or if you have wrinkles.  Your eyes are incredibly beautiful and tell a story of your individuality.

Your smile – This is best gift you can give to the world.  Your smile brings an instant moment of peace and joy to every person you show it to.  It doesn’t matter how big your lips are or if your teeth are perfect; your smile conveys the most beautiful part of life – joy.

Your hands – I know many people don’t look at their hands and think about beauty but let me tell you, they are amazingly beautiful.  They allow you to take care of others, create beautiful things in this world, embrace others and demonstrate love.  If you take a moment to look at anyone’s hands and think about what they bring to the world you will see the beauty instantly.

There is your list to start…what else is beautiful about you?  Write it out, tell it to the world and believe it with all your heart.  If you feel extra daring look at yourself in the mirror and say “You are so beautiful” over and over again until you feel the peace and acceptance warm your heart.  If you do nothing else, simply remember that I believe, and will always believe, that you are beautiful.

Be You.

In today’s world it is often difficult to know who we really are.  Every day we are being told what we should like, what we should want and who we should be.  We are pulled in many different directions and try to live up to many different expectations, whether we put them on ourselves or are from those around us.  Society as a whole has created molds of what a successful life should look like and many of us struggle to fit into this mold.  Even when we do, often times we are not content with it.  Because of these various influences, we can lose ourselves and have a hard time understanding who we actually are.

Many of us do not take the time to question if the life we are living is true to who we are rather than a manifestation of expectations and fears.  When we do take a moment to reflect on this, often it is after many years of unhappiness and frustration.  The reasons for this vary but ultimately fear surrounds most of them.  It takes a large amount of courage and confidence to decide that you are not what others would like you to be and to live your truth.  However, the risk is worth it.  The only way to true purpose and happiness is to be who you truly are, not what you believe you should be.

If you feel that this applies to your life, that maybe you are not living your whole truth, than there are steps you can take to move in that direction.

1-   Stop Judging.  This applies to judging yourself as well as those around you.  When we judge others it is generally because there is insecurity within us.  Also, the simple act of judging others causes us to fear being judged.  It is extremely difficult to stand up for who you are if you are afraid of others judgments and if you are not accepting of who you are.  Next time you catch your thoughts drifting to judgments quickly assess the root cause and replace the judgment with acceptance and love.

2-   Listen to yourself.  If you don’t ask yourself who you really are, what you really want and who you would like to become than you will never know.  The key here is to be completely honest with yourself and listen to your gut.  If you head says “I want to be a doctor” but your gut cringes, it is most likely someone else’s dream for you that you are repeating.  Remove everyone’s expectations and just listen.

3-   Meditate or Journal regularly.  Getting in touch with who you are requires you to spend time alone getting to know yourself.  When you meet a new friend you have to spend time with them to know what they like, what they don’t like, what their values are, etc.  If you are disconnected to who you are then you have to reintroduce yourself.  Meditation or journaling is the best way to be completely honest with yourself without fear and judgment.

These are three steps to start with.  Although they may sound simple, they are not easy and take time and dedication. You will never find true peace or happiness if you are not living your truth.   So go ahead, take some time to get to know yourself and start being the beautiful person you truly are.

Releasing Expectations

One of the largest sources of dissatisfaction in our lives comes from our own expectations.  Generally, frustrations experienced in our day-to-day life come from things not being as we expected them to.  It may be a situation that didn’t have the outcome we thought it would.  It may be that someone in our life isn’t behaving in the way we would want.  Often it is simply we are not living up to the expectations we have of ourselves.    These expectations may be created consciously or subconsciously, but they will ultimately lead to that feeling of anger when things don’t work out the way we want.   Learning to release expectations in your life is critical in feeling ultimate fulfillment.

The first step in releasing these expectations is realizing that they are an illusion.  We put this pressure on ourselves and experiences in life because we think that things are supposed to be a certain way.  We think that our spouses should show love in a certain way, friends should show loyalty in a certain way, situations should have certain outcomes to be classified as successful.  These “should’s” are simply expectations we created throughout our lives.  They are nothing more than your thoughts and desires.  Understanding that expectations are ultimately not created by outside, but generated from your perceptions gives you the control to change or release them.

The next critical step in releasing expectations is acceptance.  Once you begin to allow things to be versus comparing them to something created in your mind, you allow the situation or person to just be as they are.  This includes perceptions of yourself.  You can begin to accept things as they are instead of focusing on what they aren’t.  This is what will allow you to be engaged in the moment fully instead of only being engaged in your thoughts.

Finally, be grateful for how things are, especially if they aren’t the way you would have expected them to be.  Often there is a gift as the result of the situation ending how it is or a person acting as they do.  Looking for the beauty how things are instead of focused on how you wanted them to be will allow you to avoid any frustrations and experience more joy than you can imagine.

So, next time you find your self thinking- “I should be…” or “They should have said…” or “It should have worked out…” stop yourself.  Accept the situation for what it is and find the beauty in it.  Practicing this will allow a higher level of joy and fulfillment in your life without having to change a thing!

My Travel ABC’s

This won’t be a typical posting for me.  The below survey was passed on to me from another blogger.  I decided to do it because when we take the time to retrieve memories like this it is a form of journaling in a very fun way.  I couldn’t go through this without smiling and getting an incredible feeling of happiness with recalling some great experiences I am grateful to have had.  I went through with answering the first thing that comes to my mind.  Because of that, you will see some of the same places pop up because the places held incredible moments for me.   You will also see more photo’s than I typically post- I am not a photographer but love taking pictures so figured this is the perfect time to share.

I encourage all of you to take this whether you are an avid traveler or not.  It is a great way to smile and remember all the great things you have seen in your life.

A: Age you went on your first international trip: It was Canada and age is hard to say.  If I had to guess I would say 7 or 8, but I thought it was beautiful…even if some of it looked similar to my home in NY.

B: Best (foreign) beer you’ve had and where: Mountain Goat and I was around Melbourne Australia.  It is this great brewery that only locals really know about since it doesn’t even have a sign.

C: Cuisine (favorite): Without question I will say Pizza.  Majority of my diet is very healthy and light but I find it very important to balance so every now and then I allow myself an amazing piece of good NY style pizza.

D: Destinations, favorite, least favorite and why: Not incredibly exotic but one of my favorite places to go is Sedona, AZ.  There is such an incredible peacefulness in the landscape that I haven’t been able to find anywhere else.  I can immediately feed on the energy and life seems simple and serene.  Least favorite is L.A. (Sorry CA folks!).  I don’t really love cities in general; I am much more of a nature girl.  I also believe very much in keeping my life simple without too many things.  L.A. seems to be the very opposite of those two things, more so than anywhere else I have ever been.

A Taste of Sedona

E: Event you experienced abroad that made you say “wow”: In a rainforest in southern Australia.  Walking through it was so green, beautiful and untouched.  The age of the plants really put life in perspective.

F: Favorite mode of transportation: I don’t get to do it often enough but I love trains/lightrails/trams.  Watching the landscape and being able just enjoy is peaceful to me.

G: Greatest feeling while traveling: The excitement taking it all in.  Just standing around looking at things you have never seen before in awe is something I will never get tired of.

H: Hottest place you’ve traveled to: More like living in but the hottest is my current home- Phoenix, AZ.  A couple summers ago reaching that 117+ was hottest I have had.

I: Incredible service you’ve experienced and where: Nothing in particular stands out.  I will keep thinking on this one but as a general theme sometimes the smallest towns have the little hidden places that are so grateful to have you.  I always love that.

J: Journey that took the longest: Flying back to NY from Australia.  Going from Melbourne to LA is a long leg, then cross the country to NY felt like it would never end.  I did get to read a ton though which I always appreciate.

K: Keepsake from your travels: I usually buy a journal if I can find one when I go somewhere.  Keeps the memory and is something I can use.  I have some stunning ones; the best are handmade 🙂

L: Let-down sight, why and where:  Sorry if this is lame but I got nothing for this one.  I try really hard to look at everything with no expectations and finding beauty in everything, so there is never a let-down.

M: Moment where you fell in love with travel:  I can’t pinpoint the exact time but growing up we were always on a car ride somewhere.  My father was a dog handler so we were always in the car on the weekends going to some city for a dog show.  May be unusual travel to most kids but I got to see a lot.  I still love road trips the best.

N: Nicest hotel you’ve stayed in: Honestly I haven’t stayed in any really nice hotels.  I generally end up crashing wherever I can find within budget.  I do love staying in anything with a mountain view.

O: Obsession—what are you obsessed with taking pictures of while traveling? Sunrises and sunsets.  I don’t even have to be traveling.  I have my phone and camera filled with beautiful ones I have seen on my way to work or walking the dog.  I could stand for hours looking at the colors- it is even better if I can get a mountain or tree in it.

Here is a photo from my phone at an airport. Amazing Sunrise!

P: Passport stamps, how many and from where? Just got a new passport so starting at none…I will work on that though.

Q: Quirkiest attraction you’ve visited and where:  I don’t search for these things so it was on accident, but in a small town in Northern AZ on my way north there is a plaza with what claims to be the World’s Largest Kokopelli statue…It is a Native American deity that is very common here in the southwest.

R: Recommended sight, event or experience: Scuba diving…. anywhere really but if you can get on a shark feeding it is amazing!

S: Splurge; something you have no problem forking over money for while traveling: This would be really situational for me but if I think it is an experience I will never get a chance to do again I will happily pay for it.  Hot air balloon ride, skydiving, scuba diving, a show, etc.  If I think I will never get a chance to do that again in that location I will justify it.

T: Touristy thing you’ve done: Probably the typical Grand Canyon ride around to all the view spots.  I usually try to not just experience things as a typical tourist but I was limited on time.  I did go back and hike down it a couple times so I would get more out of the location.

A friend we ran into hiking down the Grand Canyon

U: Unforgettable travel memory: I was able to go to a Picasso exhibit while in Melbourne.  He has always been my favorite artist and I was lucky they were having his work displayed at the same time I was there.

V: Visas, how many and for where? I have only traveled to Australia long enough to need a visa, and I got two.  I really try to avoid them if I can.

W: Wine, best glass of wine while traveling and where? I don’t know enough about wine to really do this question justice.  I can say I never liked Red wine until I had an amazing glass of Merlot in Canada.

X: eXcellent view and from where? From a hot air balloon in Pagosa Springs, Colorado.  The sunrise was amazing and it looked like endless mountains with a touch of snow.  I have never seen anything so serene.

A View From A Balloon! 🙂

Y: Years spent traveling? This is really hard to answer.  It would be impossible to add up completely and I haven’t been able to spend a substantial amount of time traveling at once…yet. 🙂

Z: Zealous sports fans and where I was very fortunate to be in Melbourne downtown while they were playing in the World Cup.  It was an incredibly fun experience with the game playing through gigantic projectors on screens.  The amount of pride was amazing.

I’m supposed to pass this on to five other travel bloggers.  Since I am newer to this world, I don’t know five travel bloggers, or really know five total bloggers (especially if I take out the one that sent to me).  With that said I would like to pass on to any of the bloggers that follow me- but also to everyone that reads it.  As I said, it is a great exercise in recalling happy memories and that is critical in holistic wellness.