Accomplishments and Goals Part 2

musings

In part one 1 I began the discussion on the importance of taking note of your accomplishments and note of your goals to compare the two. This keeps one grounded on the road through life and aware that even small things are meant to be celebrated. Small things can be profound, and even our mistakes can mean we earned something. At the end of the day, the morsels from our achievements are sustenance to carry on, to be better, to be stronger, to carry on. While the journey may be rough, the goals are worth it.

Here is my shortlist of accomplishments I have made based on my own goals.
  • I graduated High School
  • I graduated from my Undergraduate program with a double major
  • I graduated from my Master’s program
  • I moved out of my childhood home and have not gone back
  • I financially support myself and help with my family expenses
  • I am happily married with a great husband and step-child
  • I have a job moving into a real career
  • I have a roof over my head
  • I have a newer car
  • I have plenty to eat
  • I have a fantastic circle of friends that love and support me
  • I have hosted a radio show
  • I have been published in a newspaper
  • I have survived the loss of loved ones
  • I have been to Paris
  • I have been to London
  • I have been to Rome
  • I have been to Florence
  • I have been to Edinburgh
  • I have had champagne in Champagne
  • I have cried at the Isle of Skye’s beauty
  • I have cried at the rolling hills of Ireland and their beauty
  • I have recovered from illness
  • I have danced on a table
  • I have held management positions
  • I have made positive changes to companies and organizations I work for
  • I have over 130 subscribers to my blog
  • I have made friends at every stage of my life
  • I have hiked all day
  • I have traveled to 13 different countries in two continents
  • I had a beautiful wedding
  • I made my wedding dress
  • I have photographed beautiful weddings
  • I have been to a beer festival
  • I have worn crazy outfits in public
  • I have loved deeply
  • I have had my heart broken
  • I have eaten exotic food
  • I have danced at a Burn’s Night
  • I have been to countless concerts
  • I own my own business
  • I create art
  • I have sold art
  • I have tattoos
  • I have tried different piercings
  • I have made mistakes
  • I have left things that don’t serve me
  • I have abandoned abuse for instability
  • I have found peace in therapy and support
  • I have an innovative eye
  • I inspire others to see the world
  • I have started to write books
  • I have shared my stories with others
  • I have delivered a eulogy to a crowd of people
  • I have shared pitches with my bosses
  • I am learning not to fear authority
  • I am learning new skills at my job
  • I am challenging myself each new year
  • I am a Girl Scout Troop Leader
  • I make art for those I love
  • I have a growing blog
  • I can read and write
  • I have read more books than I remember
  • I have worked since I was 17
  • I have worked to pay for my travels
  • I have traveled three times by myself to Europe
  • I did a study abroad program in Italy
  • I have cried at the Mona Lisa
  • I have made countless costumes for myself and others
  • I exercise 2-4 times a week
  • I have shared a love of history with children
  • I have acted in pays
  • I have adopted a pet that was homeless
  • I have been on a cruise
  • I have been to an all-inclusive resort
  • I have taken an airplane multiple places
  • I have taken a train multiple places
  • I have taken ferries to cross oceans
  • I have taken children on daily and travel adventures
  • I have witnessed nature’s unparalleled beauty.
  • I have woken up to bagpipes playing in Scotland
  • I have had my makeup and hair done professionally
  • I have had my nails done professionally
  • I have helped build homes
  • I have laughed so hard I have cried
  • I have survived being very ill
  • I have sang and drank with friendly Germans
  • I have danced and celebrated with happy Scots
  • I have been soaking wet due to bad travel planning
  • I have carried too much luggage
  • I have had flight delays
  • I am paying off my student loans

Part 3

Share your story in the comments!

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Accomplishments and Goals – Part 1

musings

We all have that sinking feeling that we are some type of failure, that we are not moving in the right direction, that we should be doing something else or more to reach our goals and dreams. It’s easy to feel inadequate when you attempt to keep up with the Joneses, your family, your friends, and whatever Instagram star seems to have it all together. The truth is that success and accomplishments are not the same path for everyone. While one person finds just holding down a job a success, another person will crave more. While one person is thrilled to be a stay at home parent, their neighbor craves the thrill of the rat race. The truth is that for our own sanity, it’s important to acknowledge our own goals only to ourselves and to look at our accomplishments to their true value.

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I am one of those people that always wants to achieve more, for myself, and for those closest to me. I have a hard time taking no for an answer, but I also don’t take rejection or speed bumps easily. That being said, I have to remind myself that it’s important to count one’s accomplishment, along with where one wants to be. It levels ones anxiety to something of gratitude and optimism. Somewhere to go, and a path behind filled with goals already met. It’s a good feeling and a practice that all of you should try. See part II for my accomplishment list.

True Colors of the Colorado Rockies

colorado, Colorado Events, outdoors, Photography, Travel

It’s no doubt that the Rockies offer a lot of gold in their autumnal splendor. “Gold in them there hills” is a common refrain as aspens gild the mountain sides in mid to late September. I love the aspens, and their splendid colors are some of my earliest memories. Yet, when you go a little further afield you see a new landscape of colors, flora, and stunning colors that are often missed to “leafers” in Colorado.

Colorado offers a wide variety of plant life that glows in reds, oranges, and yellows during the autumn. While we lack the vivid diversity of the east coast for leaves, we make up for it in unique coloration and stunning mountains as a platter. It is hidden in back roads and dirt lanes that fall can be truly found.

Last week we took to the Old Fall River road in Rocky Mountain National Park. The journey winds from around 8,000 to about 12,000ft above sea level offering a feast for the eyes and senses. We drove before sunrise to beat everyone up there and it did not disappoint. Birds and animals ran freely without a care for tourists. The golden dawn provided a guiding light as it played joyfully on the mountain crevices. It was well worth leaving the house it 5:30 a.m.

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Of course RMNP is not the only place to find these wonders. In fact the state is full of hidden gems in the mountains. My advice, to feel truly amazed by the autumn beauties, is to go somewhere new, get up early, and ask locals what is the best view. I also suggest planning to explore things you may not otherwise such as Alpine valleys, and ridges that are home to some of the most delicate but intriguing plant-life on the planet. Many of these gold and red beauties have taken decades if not hundreds of years to make it to today.

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Happy Travels!

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Fern Lake

Camping RMNP

10 Must Try Foods of Scotland

musings, Scotland, Travel

Scotland is known for greasy and sometimes odd concoctions, often the result of crafty people that used every, and I mean EVERY part of their food sources. Once you get past the initial, “what the….[insert expletive]” you are likely to enjoy the treats.

10. Deep Fried Mars Bars

Scotland is known for its love of the deep fryer, almost as well as the American South is. One of their better, and disgustingly wonderful treats is a deep fried Mars Candy Bar. Step one – buy a Mars bar, step two – batter the bar, step three – deep fry until its crispy outside and a gooey mess on the inside. It’s sinfully good.

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9. Irn Bru

Scotland is one of the only nations in the world where Coca Cola is not the most popular soda. Instead, they have their neon orange amalgamation, IRN BRU (pronounced URN BREW). To Americans, you will notice it tastes like liquid penicillin we got as children (I know!) to the rest of the world it’s something resembling bottled cotton candy.

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8. Scotch Eggs

This treat sounds weird, but it’s really a tasty appetizer. It’s a boiled egg, wrapped in sausage, then breaded. Then it’s baked or deep fried. It’s an appealing savory delight with an umami sensation.

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7. Neeps and Tatties

This sounds almost mystical, but it’s really just mashed potatoes and equally mushy turnips. Both are excellent when made right and nutritious. (see number 2 for the proper serving)

6. Scottish Salmon

Scotland has some of the most amazing Atlantic Salmon in the world. Their sustainable farm raising prevents over fishing, and a premium product. Commonly, (when found stateside) it’s smoked and served as a fantastic protein in fine cuisine. Try with some capers or cream cheese.

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5. A Full Scottish [Breakfast]

Brace yourself for this one. Rather fast for this one. Scottish Breakfasts, like most of the British Isles, is a practical feast, and possibly the only meal you’ll eat for the day. It often has several types of sausage (including blood sausage), beans, toast, eggs, mushrooms, sometimes porridge…. and up to the chef’s discretion some other treats. It’s commonly served with tea and sometimes oatmeal. If you can eat it all, props. ALSO, vegetarian versions are equally delectable and satisfying.

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4. Flapjacks

In the United States this is another loosely used term for pancakes. In Scotland it’s a granola oat-bar kind of thing. Almost like a cookie, these buttery treats are ideal for a snack with a cup of tea, or just as a great treat. They are divine when freshly made and sold.

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3. Shortbread

As one of Scotland’s better known treats, it’s important to try this treat when in Alba. Walker’s may corner the U.S. market, but many fine bakeries create and sell their own versions of the treat for visitors and locals alike.

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2. Haggis

Haggis has a bad reputation. But the reality is that it’s a very tasty national dish and one that is logical for nutrition and practicality concerns. The dish uses every part of an animal in a way so as to maximize flavor and necessity. While traditional haggis is not legal in the United States, trying it fresh and hot in Scotland is an important initiation right (the vegetarian version is also very good and is made of nuts, oats, mushrooms etc).

Keep Reading if you want to know what’s in the dish….or skip to 1.

Haggis is made by using a butchered sheep’s (or calf’s) stomach. Inside the stomach goes left over organ meat such as lungs, heart, liver, fat (suet) etc. then the rest of the space is filled with oats and seasoning (this is all cooked before hand). The stomach gets tied shut and  then it is boiled and/or baked to perfection.

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1. Wee Dram of Scotch

No trip or palate journey through Scotland is complete without trying some of the national drink, SCOTCH. Most places cut the little bit of liquor with water, swish, and then allow the consumer to taste and play with it in the mouth before swallowing. Follow the professional’s recommendation and go slow. Scotch is for the flavor, not the buzz.

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The World Isn’t Disney for Americans

adventure of the week, Caribbean, colorado, geek, musings, Travel

One of the biggest issues with myself, and with travel, is that so much of the exploration that is glamorized is done without really experiencing much.

With a world of Instagram and celebrity travel photos it’s hard to understand that the world is more than the elegance dripping from the web. This isn’t to say that everything is a lie and parts are ugly, but to say that the sanitized version we see is the air brushed version of a model.

So many Americans (and Europeans and Australians etc) flock to other parts of the world with one set of ideals of that place. In Africa it’s the Big 5. In China it’s the Pandas and Great Wall. In Mexico it’s cheap vacations and tequila. Yet while there is an immense amount of fun and cultural significance in all of these things, there is also a disconnect.

While thousands stumble off of cruise ships in Italy or Jamaica, how many people stop to talk to a local? How many have a beer from a little old lady’s restaurant or squid ink pasta? How many people take time to get lost and see something different? How many people care about the locals that live there.

What concerns me is not that people visit in droves, or that their focus is on a romantic ideal. For I have also been that person. No, the concern is the disconnect from the reality of a place. Like Disney World the grit of the world has been cleaned away in many places. Like a fairy godmother, tours select only the pristine and sanitized, something with fairy dust. It’s even more concerning when the most vulnerable populations are used as tourism props or ignored. This can be ignoring their humanity, their human rights, their rights to land and water and standards of living. For say, a new hotel, or a pool. For a new form of imperialism and colonialism to cheaply pad the pockets of the powerful.

This is not anything new. The spread of Colonialism is as old as civilization, with Greek, Roman, Germanic, and British Faces. Yet, we seem to fail at learning that these horrors are disgusting no matter there new mask. Indigenous people lose their homes for Olympics and World Cups. Communities collapse for resorts and waves of tourists. Yet, the real question is who makes it out on top? While “new jobs” help locals, do they really ever achieve a life they should? It’s hard to say yes when the heads of large companies live in gilded towers, while they barely can send their kids to school.

This is not to say “don’t travel, it’s corrupt” but rather to encourage an analysis of what one does when they explore. Do you stay at chain hotels helping the Hiltons and Marriotts of the world? Or do you seek out a locally owned gem with homemade food and warm smiles? Do you see end time with locals? Or do you shy away to American bars and hotel lobbies? Do you view locals as friends or possible enemies? And if you said yes to the last one, why?

Travel can be the life blood of a community, of a country, of a town. Yet, when we choose who and how we support that area, we need to better examine our priorities.

Happy Travels!

 

More Reading:

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The Best Lessons Have Been My Mistakes

adventure of the week, Caribbean, colorado, Colorado Events, family, Ireland, italy, love, mexico, musings, outdoors, Scotland, Throwback Thursday, Travel, United Kingdom, United States

I have been traveling internationally for 8 1/2 years. Mostly by myself. Always on a budget. And with a few struggles along the way. Some have been all my fault. Others I can blame on fellow travelers. All of them are important.

Here are 10 of the best/worst lessons to learn on the road.

  1. Carry a phone-
    A part of me hates this but it has saved my butt more times than I can count. For instance, when you forget to learn out to read bus schedules, you can call a cab.

2. Buy good maps

    I don’t know how many tines having a bad or outdated or confusing map has messed up a day, turned me around, or got me lost. So, investing in a good map is an important way to preemptively save the day.
  • 3. self care!
    • I have become sick 2 out of 3 extended trips. If I had used more hand sanitizer, brought some vitamins, and got more sleep, I would have had an easier time with everything.

    4. Pack Light/Buy light

    • I have always made this mistake on longer trips. I pack too much, and immediately regret it. The other side is buying too much. When my aunt went with me to Europe in 2015 she bought so many souvenirs that we had to mail two large boxes home AND a suitcase. Because of the weight and international shipping fees, she spent almost $800 to mail home about $3,000 worth of merchandise. The moral of the story is that it’s better to buy the few things you REALLY want, leave room in your suitcase to bring it home, and consider purchasing some items when you get home. Pro tip- many companies get GREAT shipping discounts if you buy say $100 of merchandise.
  • 5. Eat Well
    • Don’t eat expensive, eat well. Eat your veggies like mamma told you. Don’t drink too much. Make sure you drink plenty of water, and enjoy delicacies in moderation.

    6. Say no

    • Say no to people that annoy you. Say no to drunk guys in bars. Say no to pushy “tour guides”. Say no to flirtatious Italians. Say no when it seems wrong, sketchy, scary, or if your gut tells you so.

    7. Ask Questions

    • So many mistakes and mishaps could have been prevented for myself and others if I had asked more questions, asked for directions, asked for a better map or bus schedule. See 1 and 2.

    8. Bring a Towel

    • It sounds silly, but if you have read Hitchhiker’s Guide (or seen the movie) you know towels are helpful. Truth is having a good towel on the road is also helpful.

    9. Bring a Sweater

    • Weather conditions can change in most places without warning. The times I have needed a sweater I have been so grateful to have one. When I have forgot one, boy did chattering teeth regret it.

    10. Make sure you are physically ready

    • Travel can be thoroughly miserable if you are not in shape. Being tired from long walks, or just carrying luggage can make the trip a miserable time. See 4 for extra help!

    What have you learned on the road?

    I’m Your Fall “Basic Witch”

    colorado, Colorado Events, love, musings, outdoors, Throwback Thursday, Travel

    No shame in being Basic you all! I love the little things that come with fall.

    Seriously, why do we mock the things that make the world a happier place? In a sea of crappy news and unsettling politics I am damn well delving into a sea of things I love, when I can.

    That means enjoying some pumpkin pie spice flavored coffee and fuzzy pajamas. I will take my Girl Scout troop to a corn maze and I will go buy some pumpkins and carve them into some awesome designs. I will wear my black boots with skinny jeans and cute socks and all my scarves. Because these are things that make me smile. These are things that make my little life joy.

    So this season I encourage you all to just love the things that bring you joy. If you love leaves, go roll in some. If you love pumpkin patches, frolic in one. Because, who cares? The reality is that your joy and helping small community farmers will bring happiness to someone else.

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    One of the reasons that I love this stuff so much is because I grew up in the mountains where fall was such a short amount of time we barely enjoyed it before it was all gone. At 9,500 feet above sea level, the leaves change in September and by October 10th they are gone. There are no pumpkin patches or corn mazes because nothing grows that high. And the journey to such a thing was at least two hours away, a trip my parents could not afford.

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    Yet, with all of these restrictions my mom made the most amazing treats in the fall and winter. Caramels and leaf cookies with brown sugar. Pumpkin pies you wanted to sink into and die because they were so divine. Roasts and potatoes and carrots that were perfectly savory and bone warming after cold days feeding horses and cows. There was always sweet and spicy hot chocolate and apple cider. All of it brings me a smile just thinking about it now.

    So while I dreamed of haunted carriage rides, I had the divine sweets to make up for it. So to honor the fun, and my earliest memories of golden aspens, I delve into the joys of autumn with a happy heart and a love of all things.

    I hope you do too.

    What are your favorite seasons? What do you love to do?

    My Favorite City

    History, Scotland, Throwback Thursday, Travel, United Kingdom

    A lot of people have favorites, and while I try not to discriminate, Edinburgh will always be my favorite.

    I fell in love with the city at first sight. Literally. I rolled myself out of Edinburgh Waverly Station and when I walked out I was facing Princes Street, totally unimpressed and then I turned around. And of my god I will never forget the chills I felt taking in the magnificent gothic spires and alleys that make up Old Town Edinburgh.

    I fell. Truly. Madly. Deeply. In love with the city.

    I loved waking up to the sound of tourist music and the earthy smell of centuries of rain, Moss, and people. What Victorian London loss in the Blitz, Edinburgh has retained.

    My first time in the city was one filled with new experiences, people, accents, food, art, culture, and hundreds of moments that propelled a small town girl (Pop. of Florissant, CO 100) into a completely new world.

    I tried clubs and hipster coffee shops (when hipster was hardly a thing). I shopped for woolen goods, and went clubbing. I met friends and another male love interest. I had my heart broken, and found new passions. I visited ancient relics, I drank scotch for the first time, I went to my first U.K. Castles, I even did tombstone rubbings at Greyfriar’s Kirkyard. I got my first tattoo. I absolutely absorbed every misty breathe I could of the city.

    In the last eight years I have been to more cities and have had more experiences. I added places to my scrap book like Rome, Venice and Florence, San Francisco, Orlando, and Frankfurt. Yet still, my heart craves the cobbles and Georgian basements of Edinburgh.

    I returned in January 2015 and found new treasures such as Dean’s Village, and Mary King’s Close, and my new favorite, Sandy Bells. I found more music and a local Edinburgh than early tourist season had revealed. I loved the city even more in winter’s chill, even when it cut me to the bone. This time, five years wiser (I hope), I found the city as charming and lovely as before, just with new layers. My friends now haunt real bars and appreciate some tunes, they work professional jobs, and they don’t live with their parents. We all moved on and upwards, creating some blend of lives in the cities we have landed.

    I know I’ll make it back to Edinburgh one of these days, a few more years wiser, a more aware version of myself. Yet my curious and naive mind will wander over dark closes and Scottish identity. I’ll learn new slang, and ghost stories, I’ll hear new tunes and make new friends, and once again I’ll be in love with the ancient walls around me.

    Playing Renaissance

    musings

    If you have gathered anything from my love and passions while reading this blog, it’s that I’m a bit of a history geek.

    My first passions started with medieval and renaissance Europe as a teen. Which lead me, almost annually, to the Colorado Renaissance Festival. Since then, I go every year or two with a group of friends and a wad of cash to enjoy a fun and silly adventure.

    Held every weekend in the summer, usually June to early August, the festival is all that a Renaissance festival can be expected to be.

    It’s the perfect chance to dress up in a cute, sexy, ridiculous, or just funny costume. Over the years I have made, worn, and even bought some fun get ups. There was a princess or three, movie costumes, a pirate a couple of time, and most recently a maiden costume.

    It’s not a historical trip I seek anymore, as I am fully aware of the inaccuracies and absurdity of the festival. Instead, I seek out the shows, frozen margaritas, and artisan goods. I enjoy a day of walking and talking with friends, and I love seeing the care and details taken with homemade costumes.

    If you find yourself along the front range of Colorado in the summer, stop by for a turkey leg or two.

    German Beer Fests and Go Carts

    europe, food, musings, Throwback Thursday, Travel

    Millions of beer lovers are headed to the annual Munich mayhem of Oktoberfest this month. Starting on the 22nd of September this year (not in October like many think) the celebration is a mass gathering of international beer snobs and party hunters. Yet, itis not the only festival worth visiting in Germany.

    While Oktoberfest has captured an international audience with its romantic imagery, Bavarian setting, and set up for the masses, it lacks some of the small-town or smaller festival charm. As the world’s largest beer festival, Oktoberfest is known the world over as the ultimate beer festival, what many tourists miss is the fun, intimacy, and excitement of other annual gems that dot the German landscape.

    In April many metropolitan areas hold a Fruhlingfest, a spring beer festival. This equally enjoyable festival offers the same fun as the September version with a fraction of the people, lines, and a more German experience.

    I found myself at a Fruhlingfest in April 2010 while visiting family friends in Stuttgart, Germany. Here it is where I made a dirndl and wore it to one of the best nights of my life. At Fruhlingfest I danced with US military kids, and local Germans. I rode go-karts on a 3-story track while buzzed and giggling insanely. I ate delicious and salty roasted almonds. I drank the best beer I’ve ever had in my life. I listened to 80s and 90s cover bands belt out radio classics. I laughed my ass off at versions of David Hasselhoff adorning rides and booths. I thought the CONDOM MAN was a gem that should be at every event involving narcotics.*

    Fruhlingfest was the iconic night out everyone dreams of in Germany at a beer fest. My point being, that exploring in the off season and with locals means you get a deeper experience in a country you visit. I avoided the chaos of 6 million people and had the time of my 19 y/o life. It meant pushing out of a comfort zone, dressing up and joining the crowd, and I will never forget the euphoria felt while driving drunk go-karts.**

    Happy Travels!

    *the condom man sold funny condoms, funny novelties, and hats that looked like the latex devices.

    **I even had a little romance with a Polizei named Mario… maybe named Mario… there was a lot of beer.