Film and the World

geek, History, musings, Travel

Everything about the magic and history of movies has tied it to opening portals into other lives, other times, other places, and completely fabricated lands. Photography opened these doors in the 1800s when the first photos were taken of places and distributed around the world. They not only captured a fleeting time, but they also shared new doorways to other places. In less than one hundred years the world would move into wanting more and more of these portals to better view ourselves and others.

From the earliest of movies we played with concepts and story lines that represented ourselves but also others. In the perspective of travel, men and women went around the world with their cameras and equipment and they documented what they witnessed. National Geographic became what it is and was because we could open more doorways than ever before.

A Young Kenyan Woman Holds Her Pet Deer In Mombassa, March 1909
A Young Kenyan Woman Holds Her Pet Deer In Mombassa, March 1909

These stories along with thousands of others, images, and film, have been an undeniable driving force for my own identity and desire to see the world. As I have said before, National Geographic has been a huge influence on my life and desire to travel. Yet, it has not been the only one.

Recently I have been rewatching movies I loved as a child and I have noticed a very important ache in my heart as I adventure with beloved childhood characters, an ache to experience and see what is being shown.

Today I watched Mulan probably for the 100th time since seeing it in the theater at seven and falling madly in love with Chinese culture. Through the scope of a child she was this amazing warrior that saved everyone but also beautiful and smart and inspiring. The perfect blend of everything I wanted to be as a girl. But she lacked fear, and had more determination than anything. She wanted to be a girl worth living for herself and to this day I know her persona has influenced me to live life even if I am scared.

Chinese woman – Tartar or Manchu – John Thomas 1869

This week I also watched The Mummy again, probably for the first time in at least a decade, and I also felt that familiar ache. I wanted to be Evelyn running around the desert reading ancient manuscripts and fighting baddies. Once again I admired her spunk and tenacity, her intellect and determination. Her ability to face fear and move forward.

No doubt neither movie is an ideal exploration of a culture or a time. Lord knows the Mummy has a white savior issue. However, they have a central theme that I think is vital for girls to know, that it’s important to be brave and it’s important to do what you know is right for you. I think of what my life would be like if I had not been exposed to these movies, or other not so great movies like Cutthroat Island, I would not be the same me.

See, when I could see through these portals into other worlds I realized that I too could be something of note. I too could get out there into a man’s world and be all I wanted to be. I did not have to set in the mold society, or my conservative family, or the patriarchy had decided to make for me. I could break that mold and make my own journey. That is huge for a child that is growing up in a rural area with limited means. It is huge for any child just trying to understand it is okay to be them.

While I think movies and media can be double-edged, where people travel based on myths and stereotypes and miss the real story, I also know that these stories have launched a thousand courageous people into the world. And I hope that these stories have also allowed people to open their hearts and minds to others in ways that other media has not.

I think a lot on the significance of representation in stories and how vital it is that we see a wide variety of people in media. If all else, there needs to be a statistically even representation of all peoples in the media. This is vital to the long term health of the world.

As we become more global we need to share the platform with more and more people to more fairly share our lives and times. Having more women play the heroine has benefited my confidence in living my life. Having women of color share their stories creates compassion and understanding no matter the distance in time, space, and cultures. Having queer characters allows for them to be understood, humanized, and loved. Having differently abled characters opens up the eyes to better reflection on our society and our compassion. Doorways open many routes for us to grow as a culture.

What I hope for the future is to continue to see these inspiring tales and stronger sharing of differing stories and cultures. I hope that more doors open so we can respect and love one another more whole and I hope that all of us will take the time to look and listen.

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Girl Scouts Celebrates the Sense of Adventure

musings

If I have learned anything in three and a half seasons of Girl Scouts, it is that Girl Scouts embodies the sense of adventure that I feel every woman should crave. Which is extremely important for the development and future of girls from any and all backgrounds.

Most people know Girl Scouts for the wild cookie season of spring, where girls go door to door or stand outside attempting to sell several hundred boxes of Thin Mints and Samoas. What most people don’t realize is that the cookies are a gateway to much more than earning money, they’re keys to a world of opportunity. In cookie sales the girls make marketing plans, they create sales strategies, they pull on past experience to improve year over year, they learn about overhead and profit margins, they vote on choices and budgeting. Ultimately, the girls vote on how to use the money, where to donate Hometown Hero cookies (donated money/cookies) and what is a fair way to work on their goals.

Do you know WHAT the girls choose to do with their money?

Year after year, my girls, along with thousands of other troops and girls, choose to travel. Sometimes far, sometimes near. They figure out the coast and set goals to TRAVEL. They want adventures and new activities, they want to see new things and learn something. They seek adventure!

Girl Scouts has always been the type of organization to foster adventure and challenges for girls. Whether it was to learn outdoor skills and camping, or to learn vital household skills, Girl Scouts has moved millions of women from generation to generation into becoming the best they can be. Girl Scouts has turned girls that limited means into CEOs, Politicians, Thought Leaders, and much more. Girl Scouts has encouraged girls to expand their horizons, educate themselves, learn about their world, advocate for positive change, and so much more!

By these standard and these longterm goals girls are able to truly fulfill more of their full potential, and be all they can. The truth is that these young and amazing girls learn so much just by their own exploration and goal setting that they make themselves into the adventurous and successful women they become.

Celebrating the sense of adventure that Girl Scouts does is a goal and lifestyle we can all celebrate.

Clothing Kerfuffle

Caribbean, Florida, mexico, musings, Travel

It’s next to impossible to always know what to pack on a trip. There is so much to consider such as temperatures, time traveling, wrinkles, weight, coordination, and sturdiness. Practicality is great, but one also doesn’t want to look like the sad American tourist stereotype that all the Italians gawk at.

The best part of all of this is that you think you have it covered, and then something goes terribly wrong. Of course this never happens when you are only 15 minutes from home, but rather when you’re on a small Caribbean island an hour boat ride from your spare swimsuit.

I have had my share of “clothing mishaps” but nothing quite as revealing as the infamous Janet Jackson mishap. Of course some of these do deal with the bra area, as about 80% of all women can also attest to.

There have been water slides that left me flashing teenage boys (D cups have a mind of their own folks!). Then there was my favorite story in Grand Cayman.

Patiently my now husband and I were waiting for a tour to the Sea Turtle Farm, of which a highlight was to swim with sea turtles. I had on an almost brand new bikini top, that unbeknownst to me was struggling to keep up with its job. Standing in line I hear this loud POP and felt a snap on my back. It was then that I realized the back clasp had broken. BROKEN. Dead, not functioning, BROKEN.

Luckily, I was wearing a t-shirt over myself or the day may have been very different. I didn’t get to swim with the turtles (giant sad face) but I got to hold babies and see the beauties up close and personal.

Most of my other stories are about sad bags and buying too many books. There are ripped jeans, and holy underwear. Because when you travel for two months or more straight things start to give up. There are the brand new toms I took into the jungle and ruined, but it was worth it to get covered in mud and have the 4-wheeling time of my life!

The moral of the story is to pack spares to your spares. Buy better quality swim suits, and always have a t-shirt for emergency boobs!

Happy Travels!

Don’t Be An Ugly American

Caribbean, Cruising, europe, History, italy, musings, Photography, Scotland, Travel, United Kingdom, United States

One of the things I hate most when I travel is seeing people be an “Ugly American”. Well really you could insert anything after “Ugly” (but for a magical reasons Canadians aren’t on this list). Regardless, my point is that the world was not designed and created to make Americans more comfortable in moving through it. AND if you want to move through it, then you owe the world some respect and humility.

On my travels I have seen numerous moments of “Ugly” in Scotland to Mexico and Haiti and in between.

On my first trip there was an American couple with a bus tour sitting at the cafe and museum at Urquhart Castle complaining that the castle was “too ruined to enjoy”. Mind you this castle is in one of the most picturesque places along Long Ness and that most people would give their right arm for such a trip. But no, because this castle was not up to their expectations, they were bitter about this excursion.

On the cruise my husband and I took in 2015, some of my favorite people truly ended up being the staff that were from all over the world. One server was from Poland, the head chef was from Trinidad, the housekeepers were from Venezuela. All of them were lovable and funny and smart and made the experience absolutely fabulous and luxurious. Guess who didn’t? A lot the “Ugly Americans”. Some people got so drunk that they attacked a vintage Aston Martin that was on board. I heard others berate the staff over petty things like not more dessert or sushi or whatever else. At stops people would complain that locals asked them about money or to take them on tours. Others complained when a location was not Americanized enough with sidewalks or marked roads etc. Mind you we stopped at places like Haiti, Jamaica, and Cozumel, Mexico. News flash, the world isn’t built for Americans.

This is not to say that all Americans are bad travelers or malicious in their journeys. It is to say that if you are lucky enough to travel outside of your hometown, be on your best behavior. Unless someone is seriously threatening you, or REALLY harming you, there is no need to be angry or bitter or cruel.

In fact, most of the people that work on cruises or at resorts or in industries along the tourist trail work six days a week or more and maybe have a break once every six months. Imagine if you had to work those many hours or did not get to see your family but once or twice a year.

Other stories are endless that you hear. When I did my study abroad in Italy students (some from my school) did things like urinate on the Duomo in Florence. In the years since, there are stories of students breaking a priceless statue trying to take a picture, and others till flipped a police car for shits and giggles.

Another point, especially if you are new at traveling, don’t hold onto insane expectations of how the world will be. Read some of the history of a place you are visiting, ask locals for stories, read signs in the museums you visit. See, if the Americans had taken some time in Scotland to understand why Urquhart Castle has seen better days they would know something on the English Civil War and Oliver Cromwell. They would know that most castles from that time were destroyed because of a Puritan regime, and then they might know how that connects to their own American history.

At the end of the day, be grateful. Be so very grateful that countries and people and ancient ruins open their doors each day to millions of foreign visitors. Be grateful that there is money put aside by governments to preserve these places and reduce entrance fees so you can see the Uffizi and the Colosseum. Be grateful that we live in an age when it’s cheaper than ever to travel between countries. Be grateful that you are well enough financially and physically to go to these places. Be grateful.

Another Year Older

musings

Oh hey, today is my birthday. Officially, based on the Gregorian calendar I have taken 28 trips around the sun on a little blue planet known as earth.

You would think with all my travel writing I would think more about this feat. Yet, like most humanoids I’m often distracted by TV and new X-files merch.

So today, let’s reflect on some of the awe of our existence. We humanoids inhabit a spectacular planet full of wonders and beauty. A planet that took billions of years of perfect settings to create and sustain life as we know it. And me, right now, I have enjoyed 28 journeys around a major source of our life, the sun.

It’s humbling just to think of the scale of this little globe in comparison to our solar system, let alone our universe. The conclusion: we’re fucking tiny. TINY.

As a kid it hit home the most while I would stand out in the woods at my childhood home. Rural as it was I could see the stars for what felt like forever. While holding a flashlight to feed animals or walk about I would hold up the flashlight and see that it just went on and on, no end. Of course there was an end because of light strength and atmosphere and science. BUT holding the flashlight felt infinite and I felt humbled and small. A grain of sand in the endlessly huge ocean.

So, as I reflect on the general insignificance of my personal existence, I encourage myself and others to think about what does matter in the world. It matters that we are kind and loving to each other. It matters that all people have basic needs met. It matters that we don’t destroy this planet so that future beings have a life of dignity. It matters that we are informed and educated so that we make positive decisions in the world. It matters that we treat all people with respect, no matter their station. It matters that we raise aware and giving children. It matters that we strive toward equality and equity. These things matter along with many others.

On my birthday I ask that we reflect. Reflect on making life better for others. Reflect on being more patient. Reflect on the bountiful things we have versus others and how to tighten that gap. Reflect on supporting those that advocate for all rights. Reflect on what you can do, no matter how small, to help others.

Even a grain is sand matters, and many grains make the beach and the floor and provide shelter and growth for infinite other beings.

Happy Travels!

Marie Kondo Your Life

family, food, musings

I struggle with trying to tow the line of writing and sharing, and putting away the laptop to enjoy my life. I think we all do.

I work 40+ hours a week at a desk job. Then I try to commit 5-10 hours a week to my blog. Add housework at 5 hours, errands and groceries at 5 hours, Girl Scouts at another 5, and friends and family and ….. I hit 90 hours pretty quickly. And I like 9 hours of sleep a night. And time to just watch tv and scroll through Facebook.

Oh and let us not forget that I need to workout. That I need to feed my body and soul. Basically things start to slide when I have more obligations.

The things that slide are my personal things, my blog, my workouts, my reading a book. So this website doesn’t get stories shared. My legs don’t get moved.

It’s a frustrating dance.

Oh but the worst culprit is when I go out to get blog content. when I go out to meet with people and friends and to have fun. Then my blog time is fun time that the blog doesn’t get done for a while.

So this is a plea and a statement that I’m spinning my wheels in chaos and that this year I am making a deeper commitment to myself.

I’m committing to my goals and my blog and the gym and to not doing anything when I damn well please.

I’m committing to pumping the brakes to watch Deadpool with my husband and to go to bed at 7 when I want to.

You should too.

Because when you don’t live an actual life. When you are so tied to and tired from commitments you can’t breath. You can’t share an honest or reflective piece. You can’t thrive.

Think of the Marie Kondo trend of getting rid of stuff and apply it to living. Decide what is fulfilling, choose what enhances your joy. Clean houses are great, less stuff is great, but loving your family and your existence is so much better. The truth is that simplifying and organizing needs to stretch beyond your closet and into your life.

Have your kids select only one or two extracurricular activities. No one needs five. Pick one book club and enjoy it. Choose days every week to see friends. Assign jobs to your kids and partner. Don’t try to be Superman/woman/Martha Stewart, because you can’t.

You Can’t. And it’s not fair to think you have to be.

Here’s the truth, the world won’t end if you don’t have a clean house. The world won’t end if your kid isn’t doing something every minute. The world won’t end if your husband has to wash his own socks. And it won’t end if you take an hour each day to do what you want in life. Or don’t, just watch a stupid sitcom. Just live.

Live your life. Live your life. Live your life.

Wish Me Luck!

musings, Travel

Working in the travel industry I have access to a variety of travel education and travel opportunities that the general public doesn’t have. This means I can help others create a lasting and meaningful vacation by putting my knowledge to work.

Today I entered a short video on why I should go with the Australia Tourism Board’s to be the Australia Specialist Ambassador in March and show others the magic of Australia!

The idea is to show others that I can take everyone along to show them the magic of the largest continent. And that there is Nothing Like Australia!

Wish me luck!

Pain and Perseverence

musings

I am in pain daily.

I know a lot of people say that, and never complain, but I am. I am because I want you to know if you are in pain, you deserve not to be, and you deserve to get treatment.

In May 2013 I started having weird pain in my right hip. Numerous tests and an ultrasound later I didn’t have an appendicitis or en ectopic pregnancy, or some other unexplained weirdness. Nothing looked wrong. I went to a massage therapist and it made the pain more manageable. I started doing stretches and got on a plane a week later for my study abroad in Italy.

Fast forward to 2015 and I am having more and more pain. I get massages, I stretch, I keep pushing forward. I partially ignore the pain because I think it’s a manifestation of depression and anxiety from my MA and losing my grandma all in the same year. BUT I had an x-ray done, and nothing looked abnormal. I went on thinking it was not a big deal.

In 2017 I started working out more, trying to recover from the said depression and lost weight and deal with the job that had me sedentary. The pain got worst and worst and worst. Another round of x-rays in 2018 and I have a diagnosis, hip impingement in both hips.

This means that the top part of my hip joint is over growing the joint causing pain and pinching when I move. This is especially true if I try to ride a bike, or with some swimming. AND to deal with the problem I have to have a surgery to shave down the bones on my hips to adjust them to the right size. No more pinching and no more pain, theoretically.

I have flat feet which exacerbated what was probably a genetic predisposition (women paternally reportedly have this issue). Of course this doesn’t address the knees that hurt as a result of the flat feet, and long term probably needing more surgeries to adjust my body to live normally.

I can’t say the pain is excruciating. Rarely do I find it debilitating. Instead it’s a constant ache that hurts most days, and worst on other days. It’s tiring. It’s tiring because it’s not the only “health issue” I have. My celiac disease means my stomach is less than accommodating to most foods, so strict dieting is the only way to deal. Even then I get days where that leaves me at home, and I shrug it off, and let it go. I also deal with endometriosis pain and depression with Post Traumatic Stress.

I think what wears down on me is that my entire life I have never had more than a week (probably only a few days) where I have felt totally healthy and happy.

When I was about eight the celiac disease started to cause me pain and anxiety, but it would take a decade for a proper diagnosis. The endometriosis problems started with puberty, and also took a decade to diagnose. The depression and post traumatic stress took about as long.

I don’t want sympathy in posting this, instead I want people to take children and women, and themselves seriously when it comes to pain and medical problems. I also want you to know you can persevere through these things to make a happy life that works. I know days will be hard, but through stubbornness and determination I have made it work. You can too. You won’t always be perfect, but you can find your way through.

My point is, be your own advocate, and fight for yourself. So often we swallow our pain or problems, when we NEED to get help and support. Today I am moving on treating everything. I plan on hip surgery this year. I plan on getting better and better about stomach things. I manage my depression better every year. It’s never an easy path but it is worth it, because a full life is truly worth living.

I Hate Monotony

family, food, musings

As the title says….I Hate

And I am trying to make a life that has the least amount of monotony as possible. I want jobs that are different every day. I love meeting new people and eating new food and seeing new places. I don’t like staying in one job or home or outfit in too long. I love change if it means doors for possibilities (which it almost always does). I am a glutton for experiences from goat yoga to snorkeling to cliff diving (one and done with that one).

Yet, the older I get the harder it is to shake the shackles of life and repetition and needs. See my home needs cleaned regularly for health and sanity and organization. My body needs food several times a day. My body needs exercise and bathing. Bad habits of not doing these things turn my smooth life into a tornado of mess. So monotony clings to the air like cellophane, necessary at times, but suffocating.

While I don’t love any of the chores of household needs, I realize that these are a part of survival. Without them life is less enjoyable or impossible. So I’ve started lying to myself…. sort of.

Instead of dreading cleaning I just acknowledge it’s what needs done. Instead of having to get “everything done” on the weekend I delegate to my family members and accept my limits when say not all the laundry makes it in the drawer. I just tell myself it won’t end, it’s part of life, it’s not a big deal. And it’s not.

I won’t ever love the same old same old. But I can make it better. I blare music so I dance and mop. I listen to audio books while I put away laundry. I de-clutter and get rid of things while I clean and put things away.

To push it further I am finding magic in the new Netflix series (Tidying Up) where principles of gratitude and new perspective guide people into a happier life. Monotony is a part of life, but it’s ok.

Perhaps most surprising is that I am coming to enjoy the cleaning process, not just the results. It’s nice to do mindless things sometimes. It’s nice to find new cleaners I like and to make old furniture look new. It’s nice to shine my shoes. Perhaps that’s the kicker, appreciate the simple things and what all we have. Embrace the stillness and calm of laundry and vacuuming. Take things as they come and don’t resist everything that’s “not fun”.

Just some thoughts….

365 NEW

musings, Travel

The new year is almost upon us, which is so hard to believe. 2018 has been a crazy year. One part too long and stressful and another part wizzing by in an instant.

2018 meant:

  • a promotion in my job.
  • A train journey in the United States. Increased blogging and hits.
  • My husband changing jobs.
  • Meeting financial goals.
  • Hiking more.
  • Staying at the stunning Brown Palace.
  • Planning trips for the next few years.
  • Learning new strengths…. and weaknesses
  • Meeting workout goals.
  • And countless other moments I can’t recall.

2019 goals are:

  • Continued workout success
  • More self care
  • Hip surgeries (I’ll explain in another post)
  • Hiking more
  • Saving more
  • Job promotions and raises
  • Job FAM trips
  • Better health

I know other things will come down the tracks, but I live to think of each new year as 365 new chances. 365 new opportunities for adventure, growth and joy. 365 NEW…. whatever you want.

So as we face the new year, what do you want to have done? What are your 365 NEW?

Happy Travels!