Choose Positive

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Choose positive...at Iguassu Falls, South America

Last night my husband and I flew to San Diego from New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport. Hoping (of course) for nothing out of the ordinary, our six-hour journey (which arrived safely and slightly ahead of schedule) was punctuated by an act of kindness that warmed our hearts and we could only repay with a ‘thank you’ and a smile.

Our seats were moved prior to the flight so that we could sit together. We had a choice of row 19 or 30 – we chose 30. Never knowing how any row-mate will be, we took our seats at the back of the plane. The stranger in the window seat made small talk with my husband and we soon realized that we had an American, and Aussie and a Sudanese-Egyptian in one row. Travel always makes me smile. Quickly chatting travel and geography, amidst a few moments of small talk, most of the flight was made in comfortable silence with sleep, movie watching, game playing and more sleep.

When the snack trolley came by, the gentleman surprised us both. Ordering three fruit and cheese plates and three glasses of juice, he didn’t bat an eye about his order. As he handed his credit card over to the flight attendant, he just smiled. We were stunned, overwhelmed and thrilled by this generous, yet, simple gesture. While smiling, we said thank you many times. Mat leaned over to me and said, ‘how do we repay him’ and all I could think to say was ‘pay it forward’….I can’t wait to do just that!

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been thinking a lot about choosing positive. I used to have a sign in my classroom about attitudes, choice and positivity. For years it was a regular conversation with students about choosing words and actions and trying to wake up ready to face the day with a smile. Try telling that to bleary eyed teenagers who have to start the day with a blaring alarm clock at a five or six o’clock hour. This is not the easiest task, to say the least.

More and more in life I’m learning that choosing positive is just that-a choice. In the last few weeks it seems those choices have smacked me in the face. A yoga instructor recently commented on having a whole mess of things go wrong on a holiday but choosing to be positive about the experience. My mother often tells me about a friend of hers who wakes up every morning and says, ‘I choose to be happy today’. And a recent visit to the school (in which I worked for well over a decade) reminded me of how such small and simple acts can change the course of a day, a semester and perhaps, a lifetime.

Each day we have the opportunity to ‘choose positive’. Whether it’s in our own lives, how we react to comments by others or events in our own surroundings, choosing positive is an act, a goal, an option. I have been privileged on more than one occasion to witness acts of kindness (both small and large), shifts in attitude, life changes, decisions and everyday actions in which one person makes that choice to smile, lift someone up, change the circumstances, dismiss negativity and shine more light rather than darkness. The same way that smile to a stranger can change the course of his or her day, these choices have an even greater reach.

One of my anti-gravity friends has dealt with tragedy and illness that directly effects her life everyday. Recently, she regaled me with details of the significance of the Super-moon, crystals that make her smile, discarding negativity and a ‘blessing circle’ where (although she didn’t quite understand all of what transpired) she left feeling lighter, more content and filled with love. Each day in that hammock as we flip ourselves upside down and literally defy gravity, she chooses positive. In the face of adversity and struggle, we giggle our way through class; leaving lifted, ready to face the day with a positive outlook. I’m sure she has no idea just how inspiring she is.

Sometimes, making that choice to be positive and happy is even more difficult than originally thought. If those in front of you are spouting negativity, if societal norms are in the way, if your happy is someone else’s fear or misery-the positive choice or decisions can be all the more difficult. It gets easier. Each time I choose positive I feel more ease rather than effort. Each time it feels more right than anything else. Each time it feels as if there are more good things in store. I’m choosing positive because it makes my heart smile.

Whether obvious actions or inward thoughts, split-second decisions or well-thought out deeds, affecting others or working on personal progress, choosing positive shows growth, determination, an upbeat attitude and the knowledge that your demeanor, words, perspective, thoughts and actions can make a difference in yours or someone else’s life. It may take awhile to get there, but, choosing positive will upturn the corners of your mouth, make your day better and spiral into wanting more.

Change the circumstances…CHOOSE POSITIVE!

Headed East for a visit!

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Long Beach, NY

Tonight we fly to New York for a visit. Weird. I’ve never before heard myself say ‘New York’ and ‘visit’ in the same sentence since for almost forever it’s been my home base. We know how to ‘visit’ Melbourne, Australia and of course ‘visit’ friends in other places, but never ‘visit’ New York.

According to Dictionary.com, ‘to VISIT is: to go to and stay with (a person or family) or at (a place) for a short-time for reasons of sociability, politeness, business, curiosity, etc.’

I guess ours is a bit different as we’re headed back to our apartment at Sunrise Point East in Long Beach, New York. This apartment has seen us come and go many times before now. There have been weekend getaways, week long trips, three month escapades and a one year departure, but we’ve always returned to this studio apartment on the Atlantic. It’s been our home, our haven from afar, our comfortable oasis on the sand, a space to make a lifetime of memories and a spot we hold very dear.

We’re looking forward to this visit. As we do in Melbourne, we’ve done our best to schedule in some of the most important while leaving room for those on-a-whim moments or to steal an hour for a yoga class, walk on the boardwalk or a stop at a few of our favourite establishments.

I remember the years after graduating university and heading north to Boston for a weekend trying to figure out how on earth to pack in four years of friends, restaurants, haunts, and flexible time into a short forty-eight hour period. I would have had to eat every hour on the hour to even make a dent. And what time would that leave for fluid motion of random encounters and ‘I just thought I’d pop by’ kind of moments? What if you just wanted to take an hour, sit in your favourite spot and enjoy the moment? How does that fit in?

Although not looking forward to the winter-weather advisory in effect for the first day of Spring, we’re excited to return. Marvel is open for the season and at the approach of spring our city comes alive knowing that it’s best season is just around the corner. Summer planning is already underway. The calendar of events starts to fill up and lifeguards and can see the sunlight in front of them for the two month away arrival of those bright orange lifeguard stands and the opening of ‘beach season’. Surf programs begin to reopen and the city readies itself for the summer rush.

We’re excited to head home to see family and friends, reconnect with colleagues past, eat at those oh so special places and hang by the Atlantic for a few. If you’re in town and want to pop by we’ll be bundled up on our favourite beach running our toes in whatever sand we can find. Come say hello!

Have you ever returned to ‘visit’ a place you’ve spent a large portion of life? How does your experience compare?

Weekend Wanderings-Part Two (Baseball in the Desert)

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This past weekend was our first ‘major’ road trip from San Diego. Joined by our friends for a weekend adventure involving all things baseball, we journeyed to Phoenix, Arizona-the land of the Cactus League for Major League Baseball Spring Training.

happy at spring training

Having never been to spring training, none of us knew what to expect. Deciding to make the most out of the adventure, we stopped just over the border in Yuma, Arizona. Reminding me of my dad’s favourite western movies, at 8am on a Saturday morning, Main Street in downtown Yuma is completely deserted. Cherishing remnants of its history, these storefronts are reminders of Yuma’s western roots and earlier times. Seems like a perfect place to have a snack before getting back on the road.

mat at goodyear ballpark

Aussie at heart and in most everything he does, my husband most definitely loves his baseball. Although still a diehard New York Yankees fan, as long as there’s a game, he’ll happily enjoy it. First stop, Goodyear Ballpark in Goodyear, Arizona. A five-dollar parking fee and you’re in the gates ready to enjoy baseball in March in perfect singlet and short wearing weather. Arizona’s desert sunshine didn’t disappoint. With over eight thousand fans in attendance, we watched, as the Cleveland Indians took on the Los Angeles Dodgers in a spring training match up complete with hecklers, vendors, famous coaches in the midst and a rousing rendition of Take Me Out to the Ballgame for the 7th inning stretch.

at home of the cubs

Sunday at Spring Training means more baseball. After a breakfast at a Diners, Drive Ins and Dives favourite, Over Easy (where one of the head chefs moved from Chicago because ‘you don’t have to shovel sunshine’), we made our way to Mesa’s Sloan Park, the Spring Training home of the Chicago Cubs. Our friends, who hail from Chicago are long time Cubs fans and couldn’t wait to see their team play. The stadium, designed with Chicago related everything, was awesome. We took in batting practice only feet away from major league ballplayers. We listened, as Wayne Messmer (a long time announcer and singer for the Cubs) took to home plate with his wife to belt out the national anthem. We awed as a sea of Cubs fan erupted with joy as their team took the field for the first time. This is baseball.

boys at the baseball

Amidst Windy City hotdogs (with their signature pickle), the Iowa’s own fried pork tenderloin food truck, beer, ice cream, nachos, pretzels and anything else you’d associate with baseball, we spent the day watching a pastime as so many have before us. We smiled as that magical smack of bat and ball resonated throughout the stadium. We took the time to wander the stadium checking out the lawn area, separate food truck spot, team shops and all things photo op. Thousands of people were everywhere enjoying a laid back day of sport. Whether it was their first time or twentieth, spring training brought joy. The license plates in the car parks said it best. Sprinkled with California and Arizona, there were heaps of Illinois, Iowa, Texas and others from New York, New Jersey, Florida and Minnesota and those are just some of the ones we saw. It seems baseball is always worth the road trip.

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Heading back west to San Diego after a weekend of baseball, we had time to chat as we rolled past freight trains, wind farms and border crossing checkpoints. Feeling blessed to have had this opportunity, we knew even more so that our search for adventures would continue. As we wondered about the contents of the containers on the freight trains beside us and awed at all those who try to make travel a focus in their life in whatever way they know how, we reminisced about journeys past and added even more to ‘the list’ for the future.

girls at the baseball

A final stop at a Love’s Travel Stop for a spot of tucker reminded us of the countless who journey by road everyday for work or pleasure. Monstrous trucks and RVs dwarfed our small SUV as they made their way from someplace to somewhere with miles of road in between. Spring training may have been our incentive to head to Arizona for the weekend, but the lure of the road lasts far longer than forty-eight hours. Here’s to the next adventure and of course…Opening Day!

a day of sunshine and baseball in Arizona

‘The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it’s a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good and it could be again. Oh…people will come Ray. People will most definitely come.” –Field of Dreams

Weekend Wanderings-Part One

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at Joshua Tree

While life in San Diego has proved pretty amazing for the both of us, we found ourselves venturing outside of the city these last two weekends. Seeking a journey of a few miles and a wander through a different portion of the west, we took our trusty CRV to the road to see where life would take us just a few hours away from the Pacific.

Joshua Tree National Palr

Our first weekend destination was Joshua Tree National Park. Just shy of three hours from San Diego, Joshua Tree National Park beckons hikers, climbers, campers and tree-huggers to a desert climate filled with Dr. Seuss-trufula tree look alikes, boulders of all shapes and sizes and cacti as far as the eyes can see. On our way, we stopped in Murietta at Pie Place Bagel and Bakery selling Australian pies for a well-deserved taste of home. Continuing north and west, we wound our way past twirling wind farms, giant boulders the likes of a scene from The Princess Bride and endless land to Joshua Tree. Open year-round, Joshua Tree National Park is a haven for climbers and hikers thrilled to know that trails are merely suggestions here-the entire park is fair game! Aside from the parks of southern Utah, this has been the best RV watching spot around so far. Caravans and campers of all sizes, shapes and cost litter the campsites peaking out from behind boulders tucked beside the trails. One of these days I’m going to have to go RV shopping to see the insides of these mobile marvels. Read the rest of this entry

Seuss and Ships in San Diego

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February is Museum Month in San Diego, California. Macy’s department stores sponsor this month long event offering fifty-percent off most museum entrance fees to any holder of its free museum month card. But, would they be interesting? Would they keep my interest? Or would I just wish in each moment that I was outside on an adventure somewhere or at the beach? Trust me, I am as surprised at the experience as you are!

We’ve been privy to a few museums in our stay so far in what I’m quickly understanding wins the token name of ‘America’s finest city’. We spent time at the San Diego Museum of Art watching as a man whose name is synonymous with philanthropy in this city donated to the art community; a brand new painting. We also met up with one of Mat’s friends from high school and his family to spend a day as pirates and submariners at the Maritime Museum. There we boarded vessels of all types, tried our hands at swabbing the deck and to my mother’s dismay, slithered our way through the tiny crawl spaces of both an American and Soviet submarine-now that was cool. Read the rest of this entry

A San Diego Weekend to Remember

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Embrace the sun – Soak up the Vitamin D – Live in the moment – Go outside and play

These phrases all bounced around my head this weekend. As photos of another Northeastern blizzard bombarded my Facebook pages, we jumped head first into San Diego’s outdoor lifestyle. Except for the time we lived in Melbourne, I can’t remember another February that I was this active. All of my other Februarys have been spent huddled under blankets, swaddled under layers and layers of thermals and sweats and drinking as much tea as my bladder could handle (amidst one week of fabulous sunshine). This one is different. This one we get to be outside. It may seem silly, but for me, the weather makes all the difference.

fun on Valentine's Day at the Melbourne Zoo Read the rest of this entry

Travel and adventure in downtown San Diego

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This weekend was the San Diego Travel and Adventure Show. Attending as press, I was allowed in Saturday morning for a one-hour session filled with a meet and greet, photo sessions, activities and an early look at the travel options available.

at the San Diego Travel and Adventure Show

I could actually walk to a travel show from my apartment-so that was already an exciting start to a lovely Valentine’s Day. Press time here had about fifteen people ready and willing to jump straight into a weekend of travel. We were greeted by the Founder and CEO of Travel and Adventures shows, Jon Golicz. After riding in on a Segway, he hopped off and shared the theory behind these shows that dare travelers to gather and learn about their travel dreams. He told his listeners that in all of their studies, they’ve found that many of today’s travelers ‘like to plan as much as take their trip”. Hopefully, by visiting this travel and adventure show, they’ll not only be able to create that next holiday, but without a doubt, remember it! Read the rest of this entry

Who’s Going to The San Diego Travel and Adventure Show?

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Known as ‘the finest city’ in the US, San Diego, California is winning me over with its sunny blue skies, waterfront surrounds, yoga everywhere, work/life balance and can do attitude. And then there’s the travel aspect. Within a week of being here we had connected with bloggers and travelers sharing tales of life both domestic and international. The ‘travel mindset’ is present here and we’ve been lucky to find a few kindred spirits. Many we’ve interacted with share our belief that travel changes you from the inside out. That same idea is showcased by the designers of this weekend’s Travel & Adventure Show in San Diego – the only major travel show in the area. Taking place at the Convention Center on both Saturday and Sunday, this multi-faceted event offers guests a ‘journey around the world’. Read the rest of this entry

It’s All About ‘The Happy’!

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“What’s happening, Will?” “It’s the wave of change, Bill! We’ve got to get on the ride.” “Fascinating-what is it? “I have no idea.” “What’s it for?” “Perhaps, it’s a momentary relief from the existential terrors of existence.” “Oh-what?” “It brings out my happy!” -Happy Feet 2 

Coronado Island-San Diego, California

So, it’s now been just about one month in sunny, San Diego. I can’t even believe it. The air is easy to breathe, the sun is out most every day, people are outside everywhere and shoes are a thing of the past. Recently, I made a friend, joined a yoga studio and got a freelance gig. The husband is happily consulting. Our social life has been more active in the past three weeks than it has in years (except for our time in Melbourne), and that’s including the Long Beach summer season. We’ve been hiking in state parks, had picnics on the sand, been to travel industry dinners, caught happy hour at a local bar and watched the Super Bowl outside. We’ve had a dinner date with new friends, visited the Maritime Museum with some old friends, took in an art opening with San Diego’s major players and have grabbed more than our fair share of southern California’s vitamin D. How is this my life? Read the rest of this entry

Traveling ‘Home’

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Home: Azores Beach, Long Beach, NY

Travel changes the meaning of home. For so much of my youth, home meant a house. One house, on one specific street filled with mementos of life lived. Everything led to and from that one abode, its special meanings and the lives growing inside. Rooms accumulated things, celebrations took place and memories were created, all in that ranch on Long Island. Growing up, no matter when you left, you could always go home. What happens when you age, leave that one place you used to call home and have to create one of your own? What happens when home starts to take on greater meaning than an apartment or house and you feel that you could live in more than one place for unspecified amounts of time? What happens when you feel at home in more than one spot, or if to you, a person or pieces of nature become home? Who says you can’t go home? Bon Jovi returns to New Jersey, Billy Joel revisits his Long Island roots-but now I’m finding that the meaning of home is constantly changing. Read the rest of this entry