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Archive for the tag “vacation”

No New Clothes Challenge

There are reminders all over my house that I have a huge shopping addiction.

The “good” shopping bags, with sturdy handles, that I refuse to thow away.

The clothes hanging in the closet with tags still on them.

And the overflowing laundry baskets and “handwash” or “to the cleaners” piles are nothing more than monuments to my addiction.

So as a summer filled with traveling (the Bahamas next week, Caribana in Toronto and a family reunion in North Carolina in July), and some good concerts (D’Angelo anyone?) is rapidly, and I do mean rapidly approaching, it makes a girl like me get downright pavlovian when it’s time to decide I need a new outfit worthy of each individual event I attend. Let’s not even forget a wedding in September!!! The clothes, the shoes!!!!

I’ll admit a new clothing item makes me feel good. It’s like celebrating a moment. And why wouldn’t a person want to celebrate going on vacation? Who wouldn’t want to strut through the airport looking and feeling like their favorite celebrities and then being able to take great photos in said outfits to remind you of what a great time you had and how great you looked and felt?

But I’ve come to a serious revelation that my friends have been telling me for years.

I have a lot of clothes.

So I’ve been trying (emphasis on the word trying) to purge more regularly to get rid of older items I don’t wear anymore to continue to make room for the new items I’ve been bringing in. For any local friends, I’ve collected old handbags to give away!!!

As I’ve been starting to think about what I’m going to bring on my vacation next week, it occurred to me, I didn’t need to shop for anything. I already had plenty of items to overpack in my suitcase.

Breezy sundresses?

Check.

Fabulous dramatic sun hats?

Check.

Proper hand bags ranging from beach totes, to crossbodies, to backpacks for day excursions and clutches for partying at night.

Yup, yup, yup.

Sandals, sneakers, pumps and flats that will get me to my gate comfortably if I have to hustle?

Got it.

Swimsuits that I don’t mind strutting my stuff in? Oh yes. I have swimsuits for each day I’m there.

So after taking inventory, and trying on and selecting clothes that I felt my very best in, I realized, I really didn’t have any pre-vacation shopping to do. That the only thing I really needed was an awesome, sturdy, strapless bra.

In my room standing over piles of clothes I gave myself a challenge. Don’t buy any new clothes for this trip. Wear what you already have. Go to the bottom of your laundry piles and wash clothes you completely forgot about. You have no legitimate excuse to shop for anymore clothes. The perfect outfit for any vacation scenario you can think of is already in your closet.

Rather than going to pinterest to gain ideas of what to buy for your trip, go there to compare what you like to what you’ve already got and work the hell out of it.

After all, you bought it because you liked it, didn’t you?

Besides, the money I’ll save from not buying new clothes can be used towards having an unforgettable experience while I’m on vacation. And you can’t hang that in a closet!

Do you buy new clothes every time you travel?

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There Are Times You Just Gotta Jump

I’ve said it numerous times that as we get older, we really get comfortable with fear.

So much so, that we decide not to try things, not to get hurt, not to fail, not to endure some kind of loss that may or may not come with whatever it is we are deciding NOT to do.

It’s sad. It’s a terrible place to be and I’ve been there.

Fear can paralyze us.

It can prevent us from loving who we want to love, fighting for what we want.

It can keep us under the illusion that we are safe.

But while we are merely surviving in safety and sucking up air, eating from time to time and using the bathroom. It’s kind of like we are just waiting around to die.

Sometimes life forces us to action, whether we like it or not.

So there are some schools of thought that we should be active and proactive in our actions so we can at least have a real say in our decisions instead of life forcing us to do so at the last-minute.

There is a give and take of energy in this universe. And what we do put out there, it does come back.

I won’t lie.

I was scared of letting go of my relationship for real, but even though I was calling myself dating, I wasn’t fully open to the prospect of going all in for some other man who entered my life. I won’t say the men I’ve dated recently were the one anyway, but it wasn’t until after my last interaction with my ex, I coined the phrase, “He is unable, therefore I can’t.”

He was unable to truly love me in the way I needed most. And if he can’t do it, he can’t do it.

The realization was something that actually gave me comfort in letting go.

I opened myself up to the possibility of rebuilding our relationship, but because he was so consumed with life happening to him, and a recent job loss, he did not have room to give me what I needed, and I had decided I no longer had the time or energy to wait.

My vacation allowed me time to step away from my life that was suffocating.

I was just working everyday, but not living.
I was constantly online looking for men, secretly hoping one of them had the answers to my happiness.

I took a chance, and overspent some money, but I went to a different country. I tried new foods, I snorkeled for the first time, and jumping off of a boat into the ocean was probably one of the top things I was most scared of, despite having on a life vest and travel mates who were excellent nurses assuring me nothing would happen to me.

There was fear, the vest and the team of nurses weren’t going to be enough. If I jump off this boat, I may go all the way down. Would this be my last day because I was being reckless? I’m not the strongest swimmer.

But even with all of the coaxing, I knew deep down, I had just enough to keep me afloat. I was more comfortable with water than I had ever been in my life and that I’d regret it if I didn’t at least try.

When you do something like that and over come a fear like that, and you finally learn how to breathe through the snorkel and finally look down, the world opens up to you in a crazy way. I opened my eyes and I just looked down, I breathed easier and I found myself excited like a child seeing the circus for the first time or the ocean.

I saw fishes of all shapes and sizes and colors, I saw the coral and I was amazed that I could have such a moment.

After spending most of my mornings in deep prayer and journaling, I came home refreshed.

I ate new food and met new people. I was blessed.

So what was going to change when I got home?

Was I going to go back to the gym again after work? Was I going to go back to my tee shirts?

Was I going to really go ahead and go to school?

I found myself looking up online programs, and thanks to the pushy nature of the admissions offices and their knack for intense follow-up, I was meeting deadlines.

I was purchasing books to help me study for the GRE.

I was studying for the GRE.

And today, I paid for and scheduled my test. Nov. 17. EEEKKK Hitting the panic button.

Am I still scared, yes. But I have a renewed sense of purpose I haven’t had in a very long time.

I was telling a friend that it felt natural to make peace with the end of my career in journalism and that I was allowed to have a new calling and a new dream and it doesn’t diminish what the old career and old dream meant to me.

In fact, it is a foundation. It’s still a career that was originally rooted in service and informing the public and making a difference and improving people’s quality of life through education and knowledge. So the transition to public health isn’t a wild leap. It’s an extension of where I am in my life.

I’m not looking forward to the test, but I am looking forward to starting the study and the research and the new challenge.

An urgency for my life sprang up in me.

I was no longer a child. But I am of the age where most people get married and have children and buy houses and I’m not in that group either.

I could take two years to do this for me.

I can jump off of the boat and see my new life spread before me and I can be proud that I went ahead and tried.

On VACATION and Keeping It Simple

Simplicity. Simplicity.

I’ve been trying to apply this to my upcoming trip to Curacao TOMORROW!!! Yes, yes, yall.

Your girl is finally taking a relaxing 5-day getaway and I haven’t had a trip like this since 2008. So this is nuts.

Anyway, I was packing last night, determined to get everything into just one carry-on bag and one large tote.

I’ll admit it, when my friend said, “You’re only taking a carry-on? It’s an international flight we don’t get charged extra.”

I told her after being the long distance queen, I used to be able to pack a carry on like a pro and I don’t want to be bogged down with luggage. It felt cumbersome when I went to New Orleans with two bags and I was angry standing in long lines to have my bag checked and nearly missing my flight with the mass exodus leaving New Orleans after EssenceFest that Monday morning. Also, I hate standing around staring at bags circling the carousel that look just like mine and knowing it’s not mine yet and jockeying for position to grab it as quickly as possible.

Nope. I want to keep this trip simple. So much so, I added my own cornrow extensions last night. They don’t look professional, but they aren’t completely terrible. I can live with it. But I don’t have to do my hair or bring extra products to tame it.

Simple.

Simplicity. The first day of my trip I have no choice. I’m poor. My paycheck doesn’t arrive into my account until Friday so I got to make a little bit of money last.

I realized instead of lugging my awesome Coach tote that I love and live by, I would take a much larger, pink recyclable tote I got from the National Book Fair last year and carry a bunch of crap and not worry about it getting lost or stolen or sand in it.

Simple.

I’m still bringing five swimsuits. (In case I feel really fat and bloated) Oh well.

I picked up a cool pad of sheets that say “I tried It.” I think it’s a good idea to bring it along and just jot down new things I attempt to try during my trip and will encourage my travelmates to do the same. I think it will be fun. On the sheets of paper, it even has a space to check off and talk about how you felt after you tried that new thing and whether or not you’ll do it again.

I’m strongly considering trying snorkeling.

There’s this weird-looking local slimy dish, that I probably should try, but eh. I’m not so sure about that.

Either way, I’ve decided one bag. I’m keeping it simple. I should have everything I could possibly need in one bag and I’m not going to make myself nuts about shoes and bulky things like that. I don’t want to spend my time trying to decide what to wear. I want to spend time on the beach, in or by the pool, exploring the island and trying new things.

I’m beyond excited! It’s going to be an adventure!!! Can’t wait to tell you all about it upon my return. In fact, I picked up a small journal so I can jot down and share my thoughts. Super happy!!

 

 

 

 

 

The Power of an Encounter

As I was thinking about reconnecting with old friends,  mentors or relatives by just simply reaching out and saying hello and happy new year (not with a mass text) one person really stuck out in my mind.

I met this friend last summer, when I decided to vacation alone for a few days in Myrtle Beach.

The goal of my trip was to get away, spend some time by myself and be badass enough to go on vacation alone.

It was one of the best decisions I ever made. I slept in when I wanted to, I got up early and had breakfast when I wanted to, if I wanted breakfast at all. I laid on the beach in the late afternoons and then I went to the pool or hot tub whenever I liked.

One afternoon after my dolphin tour, I went for lunch at a new restaurant. I had a great conversation with the restaurant owner who was intrigued I was vacationing alone.  In walks an energetic food critic who is reviewing the restaurant and was chatting up the restaurant owner.

She asks for my opinion for her column and I share it. But I warn her I’m part of the media too. As more information is exchanged, we both found that we went to the same university and shared the same beloved professors. We exchanged information and she offered to take me out on the town during my trip and I looked forward to it.

I ended up seeing her sooner than I expected, but under not so great circumstances.

My car broke down at one of the tourist traps later that night, and alone and about 500 miles from home I needed someone else to call besides emergency roadside assistance.

I took the chance and called her. Do you know she came, she waited with me and followed the tow and dropped me off to my hotel? She also knew of a reliable mechanic who wouldn’t try to take advantage and we were set.

The next day, she picked me up to check on the car, and I was disappointed that I couldn’t visit a local museum to see a particular exhibit. She called the director, told her she’d be dropping me off and arranged for the director to drop me off at the hotel when I was done with my visit.

We hung out the entire trip (when she wasn’t at work) and we shared a lot of deep things– things I never would have thought I’d share with someone I’d just met the day before.

Maybe that was even better; she didn’t have a history of me to judge me by or be able to say, “I told you so.” We were two kindred spirits with a lot in common and we talked and talked and laughed and laughed.  It was refreshing and beautiful. We both often mentioned how wild and amazing and pleasant such an experience was and that it was truly meant to be for some reason.

It was what I like to call a “sisterfriend connection” and besides just laying out in the sun and listening to the crashing waves and having no schedule whatsoever, I needed to meet her. I was supposed to meet her and share all those things bottled up in me.

It was almost as magical as finding a romantic relationship on vacation, but way more fulfilling and way more honest.

I told her about part of the reason for my impromptu trip, all of the pain I was going through and how just physically and emotionally tired I was.

When we said good-bye, we hugged one another, crying for a good amount of time.

It was another moment that I knew for sure there was a God and he was listening.

To have the right people placed in your life when you need them most, even when they seem to be at first glance– just strangers passing along on this road, or in my case, a food critic asking me what I thought of the ox tails, is indeed a miracle.

Sometimes we have to hear from strangers what we can’t seem to grasp from the people in our everyday lives.  The kindness they show to you is even more powerful because there really is nothing in it for them– the recipient could be an ungrateful jerk or their next best ally for years to come, or they could just be the angel you needed right in the nick of time, never to be heard from or seen again.

Maybe the memory of what that stranger was to you was the point.

Maybe that memory will stop you from making a bad decision or compel you to make a good one. It will compel you to open up to someone new or help someone you really didn’t have to.

Those moments in Myrtle Beach reminded me that life is so unpredictable and full of good surprises, just as much as it is filled with inconvenient, ugly and difficult circumstances.

I sent my friend a text today, wishing her a happy new year and that I am still touched by the power of our encounter. She texted me back, full of joy and offering me the same well wishes and said that she was just as touched by our experience too.

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