So many times I hear this classic “I didn’t know I needed a Visa”.
Here is the truth, you ALWAYS need a Visa.
“What?” You ask. Because in London they stamped your book and you were free to go as a US citizen. This is totally true, but that stamp, at customs and border, was your visa. No pre-registration and paperwork needed. Just the stamp.
Here is the thing though, sometimes the stamp doesn’t happen. And a big reason is that your passport may not have at least 6 months left on it for you to enter a specific country. Or more depending on where you are headed. In fact, many airlines won’t even let you board the plane if your passport is low on time. Meaning that week in Paris may be thrown away if you’re not prepared. This happens a lot.
Now for countries where you need advance permission, it’s vital to learn who needs what and what is needed. Meaning: countries like China may take longer and need you to buy plane tickets before you travel. Vietnam only takes a few days to process. Some countries only need a form when you land and a $50 fee. Just make sure you find out and find out at least a month or more in advance so you have time to plan.
Other needs? Check with a travel agent or specialist that can at least point you in the right direction. Read a travel guide on your preferred country and ask around to others that have been to such locations.
My title is self-explanatory. Trust. Those that love you, they love you for a reason.
Their love has power. Truth.
Love has power.
Because when someone says you are such a good…. writer, artist, singer…. phlebotomist…. you probably are. In essence they are seeing the magic you have in you, the talent and the work to make something happen. They see it. They are telling you that you should see it too.
This isn’t to say that just because you do one thing right and receive praise that you can’t keep trying. It’s to say, someone sees where this can take you, keep going.
The thing is that far too much of my life has been spent doubting what people tell me. How people encourage me. My insecurities meant that I always felt like a fraud or that others must have been just trying to be nice. I believed this so deeply, especially in college, I figured my good grades weren’t earned and my bad grades were so much more honest. Yet some light deep in me knew that hell yes I did deserve a good grade. Hell yes I did the best I could. So I’ve taken this light and I’ve let it shine, brighter and more fully year after year.
Sometimes I know that I could have, should have, would have done better. But I also know that the not so good stuff helps to eventually create the good. My failures move me into better. My mistakes shine light on the dust in the corners.
My team of friends and family… they help me get to the next stage. They see my potential. They’ll hold my hand while I get there. And I see theirs.
So, dear reader, trust what people praise you for. Trust in their love and support. Trust that they know a thing or two. And listen when they give advise. Life is hard enough, why choose to think everyone hates you or is lying to you?
These people that love you, they share their adoration because they see what you have to offer the world. They support you because you have something to offer. So believe them. Is it such a bad thing to have cheerleaders?
Besides, even if they lie a little, just to keep your feelings safe, maybe just maybe that little lie can light a fire to greatness. Maybe have of success is just believing and trying and trying again?
It is said that the life you want is at the end of your comfort zone.
In fact, I think a perfectly happy life is in the comfort zone. That’s the college and the job and the spouse and the 2.5 kids. You retire by 60, you snuggle grandkids, and you die around 75. So it goes. The average. Yet where does one truly grow from that?
Sure you support the standard existence demanded of your kin and ancestors. Nothing wrong with that. Sure you don’t have struggles and strife. Nothing wrong with that.
Yet something is missing.
For many of us we want some sense of fulfillment, maybe it’s to be a great painter or dancers. maybe it’s playing the tuba. Maybe it’s simply being an awesome Girl Scout leader. Whatever it is, so many of us don’t take that first step.
Comfort zones hold us in place. Comfort zones ya we’re safe and happy when we’re missing something to nurture our souls. They are liars, they are the lizard brain self preserving. They are not a voice of true joy.
Beyond comfort zones means fulfillment in other ways. It means risk. It means failure. It means being frightened.
Yet when you push past the fear and confines of what you think your existence should be, there lays so many new opportunities.
The thing is, you will always be scared. You were probably scared when you applied to your job, scared on your first day. You maybe still fear being fired or dialing at a project. All of these are possible. And maybe you are frightened if something else happening, but the truth is that all of it could be okay. All of it could be truly wonderful.
This brings me to exploring the world. I am frightened when I get on a plane, worried about “what if”. But guess what, every plane trip has brought me new and thrilling adventures. I’m frightened to go to a new country. But guess what, each one has offered me something magical.
I’ve been frightened to try new foods, to do new jobs, to go to school, to try different careers. At times I’ve been in tears because I’m so frightened. But once I work it out, I face the fears, I’m ok. Each of these frights has pushed me forward on what has been a pretty awesome journey. I’m scared a lot, I don’t let it stop me.
In fact, my comfort zone is small. It’s my bedroom. My desk at work. My car. That’s about it my “safe” places. Those are sacred places I need, but I also know the in between brings me growth, helps me grow.
So, dear friends, push onwards. For bravery doesn’t mean that you aren’t afraid, it means you do it anyway.
While England is well known as a hub for centuries of castles. And while it holds some of the finest examples of castle and manor architectural wonders, it lacks the density of castles that most visitors dream of, at least in modern visibility.
Since the pesky Normans invaded (1066, look it up) castle sprouted all over Britain and some 4,000 were in England at one point. However, time, and age, and people like Oliver Cromwell destroyed many of the finest castles Britain had. Today England has around 1,500 castles that are registered landmarks. Scotland has over 2,000 castle examples.
Scotland (30,090 sq mi), by comparison in land mass and distance to travel, is significantly smaller than England (50,301 sq mi). Scotland also has the benefit of some of the best castle examples being within a remarkably short drive or train from Edinburgh, Scotland. This reason alone is one of the many reasons why I have continued to return to Scotland for a taste of magic, history, and escapism.
Scotland is a major location to film historical and fictional movies due to its plethora of castles. Movies like Monty Python and the Holy Grail, the Harry Potter Franchise, those which don’t tell particularly Scottish stories, are prime examples of the beauty of the region providing a great backdrop.
Thus, dear fellow travelers, Scotland is a prime spot for pulling on your wellies and tromping through some highlands to see some great Castles! Here are some of my absolute favorites.
Edinburgh Castle – You can’t visit Scotland and not stop at one of its main historical attractions. Not only is it the heart of the city, the entirety of it is surrounding by the stunning features of the city’s old town and views of the new town. The museums at the castle complex offer an unparalleled starting point into Scotland’s history.
Stirling Castle – Stirling is a fantastic neighboring city of Edinburgh, and only around an hour away by train or car. The city also boasts its own castle, built over the end of the 15th and into the 17th century, and a shining example of early modern period tastes and designs. I love the layout of this castle as it has dedicated itself to being an example of 16th century life in Scotland.
Doune Castle – Just outside of Stirling is the city of Doune, and one of the better loved castles for movie locations. Doune Castle was originally known as the “Holy Grail Castle” where one could take a photo with coconuts and run around pretending they were horse hooves. In the last five years or so it has become best known for some lusty shots from Outlander. For history geeks, this castle also boasts some great restoration and it is set among some stellar hiking trails and views.
Eilean Donan – As the most photographed castle in Scotland this one has to make the list. However, to many peoples’ surprise, this castle was not built long long ago in a land far away. The castle isn’t even 100 years old and was built by some scenery and history loving architects and owners who chose to celebrate the locations heritage. The spot of Eilean Donan was a hot spot for groups until the 1700s when most of the 13th century castle was restored.
DirletonCastle – Just a short trek from Edinburgh this greatcastle offers a lot of exploration and fun on one small location. If you’re upfor a game of hide and seek, this castle is the perfect one to get lost in andrevel in some history at.
Tantallon Castle – If you love ocean backdrops then thesea swept cliffs by Tantallonmake a visit worthwhile. Important historically, this castle is one of thefinest examples of medieval design and castle living, providing not onlyamazing views, but rich educational opportunities.
There are so many more to explore in Scotland, and more I have had theluxury of seeing. Where are your favorites? What do you want to see?
True story, my engagement ring only cost $60. My wedding ring was inherited from my grandma. I made my own wedding dress, bridal bouquet, invitations, programs, and endless other details. True story, I wanted the honeymoon more than I wanted the wedding.
Not that I didn’t love the celebration of my marriage or being with my partner. I absolutely adored seeing my family and dancing the night away in one of my favorite places in the world. My wedding week and my memories of it are absolute treasures.
That being said, we cut expenses so that we would have the additional adventure of a honeymoon. That to me, to us, was worth so much more than a fancy ring or having a designer wedding gown. We wanted the fun, without the material costs. Which is why we chose the adventure.
We went to Mexico exactly a year ago from today, and it was one of the best trips I have taken. Mexico had the perfect blend of relaxation and luxury, with the adventure, history, and wilds that we both needed. Husband could sit on the beach with a book and cocktail, and I could go hiking around the resort to find monkeys and coati. Mexico was absolutely divine.
Even today I think of a “fancier” ring if we have money. And then I think of what I love more than all my jewelry and material goods, and that will always be a new adventure!