Remembering Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’s Candy Man

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Thanks, Mr. Wonka - thegiftoftravel.wordpress.com

“We are the music makers, we are the dreamers of dreams” – Willy Wonka

Charlie Bucket, Violet Beaureguard, Augustus Gloop, Mike TV, Veruca Salt and Willy Wonka are a part of my childhood. When their names appear, story lines get quoted or a mysterious meme crosses my social media feed featuring any one of them, I smile. This week the world lost a giant, but nothing can stop the flood of memories. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory® wasn’t just a movie – it’s colourful depictions, quirky Candy Man and land of imagination taught us more about life than it did about chocolate. What did Willy Wonka teach you?

“If you want to view paradise, simply look around and view it. Anything you want to do, do it. Wanna change the world? There’s nothing to it” – Willy Wonka

My dad loves Mel Brooks movies and Westerns. I can remember seeing images of Gene Wilder appear on my television on more than one occasion. My mom often talks about Roseann Roseannadanna, one of Gilda Radner’s many characters on Saturday Night Live® and whenever ‘nevermind’ crosses my lips, I remember and smile. My mom also often reminds me that today’s world is actually one of Mike Teevee’s dreams where information flies through the airwaves at impeccable speeds. My siblings and I watched Charlie and the Chocolate Factory® often and even dreamt of having a river of chocolate run through our own house. For me (and millions of others), Gene Wilder will always be Willy Wonka. He will always be the dreamer, the giver, the man who provided pure imagination and rivers of chocolate to millions of children and families around the world. He believed in curiosity, journey, honesty, change, growth, dreams, trust, legacy, trial and error, comebacks, loyalty, kindness and that simple joys are priceless. He believed in giving people a chance, promoting good deeds, changing the situation, sharing the wealth, trying something that’s never before been done, that there’s learning in failure, that success is earned and that reaching for the stars and breaking through glass ceilings is worth everything.

“There is no life I know to compare with pure imagination. Living there, you’ll be free if you truly wish to be.” – Willy Wonka

The story may have been Roald Dahl’s, but the image engrained in my memory is of a top-hatted Gene Wilder hobbling, stumbling and somersaulting down a carpet offering a world of endless possibilities to a group of children and their parents. Without him there would be no snozberries or lickawallpaper, no everlasting gobstoppers or fizzy-lifting drinks. That golden ticket, like Dumbo’s magic feather, gave Grandpa Joe a reason to try to get out of bed. It gave the honest and humble Charlie Bucket a chance at a completely different life for a family who truly loved and believed in him and it created a generation of children who will forever remember the magic of a ticket, a chocolate bar, a story, a factory and a character who believed that imagination is priceless and that we can all make our own magic in the world.

“And Charlie, don’t forget whatever happened to the man who suddenly got everything he ever wanted. He lived happily ever after. ” – Willy Wonka

I will forever remember Gene Wilder’s love of Gilda and his entire family, ability to make us laugh and truly feel, his comedic timing and of course, his chocolate factory. The world may have lost its Candy Man, but his Pure Imagination is embedded so deeply within the fabric of each of us that there’s no question it’s here to stay. To honor him is to continue to look at the world through open eyes, with compassion, with a desire to do better, to give back, to leave a legacy, to stay honest and humble and kind, to dream and the knowledge that if you can change one life for the better, you’ve made a difference in this world. Believe in magic, be a dreamer, eat chocolate, love, laugh, truly see people and ‘change the world – there’s nothing to it’. Thanks, Mr. Wonka.

Mindfulness on the road

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Mindfulness on the road - thegiftoftravel.wordpress.com

Recently I’ve found myself in the library in the mindfulness section. Call it the yoga addiction or the easy access to meditation and mindfulness gurus, but the mindfulness connection has taken off with me. What about you?

“The goal of meditation isn’t to control your thought; it’s to stop letting them control you.” -Unknown

I can’t even tell you when the first time was that I heard the word, mindful. I imagine it’s been floated around for years, and perhaps, like so many other things, it begins to penetrate when you need it most. And as with everything in life – things change. When I began my yoga journey seven years ago, I was looking for something to feel good, not hurt my back and an exercise that my little asthmatic lungs could handle. I didn’t much enjoy the meditation portion or the yogic philosophy or listening to anyone talk about chakras, healing ways, aromatherapy or any sort of sutras. Today, I crave it. I miss my Wednesday yoga therapy classes with Kellie and Friday meditations with Sarah at the old studio. But, as with everything in life, I’m in search of something new – something more. Read the rest of this entry

If those yearbooks could talk…

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I wonder what they'd say...thegiftoftravel.wordpress.com

Remember them? Remember the agony of choosing the appropriate quote to go under your senior photo in that high school yearbook? I recall hours of searching movie lines, lyrics and quotes to find one that I thought worked best. And then there was that question that would accompany your photo…’where do you see yourself in ten years’? Seriously? How on earth could I know that answer at seventeen years old and would there be any possibility it would be true in a decade? I certainly couldn’t foresee a teaching career and full on career change, a love of travel, life on two coasts, freelancing or a spouse from the other side of the world. Read the rest of this entry

From all change…growth

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yoga studio - East Village, San Diego - thegiftoftravel.wordpress.com

We’ve now been in San Diego for 18 months. In all that time, I’ve been a member of a downtown yoga studio in the East Village. It’s changed names and ownership, but the community has remained constant, strong and vibrant. On Friday, my yoga studio is closing its doors. It’s a bit sad. Read the rest of this entry

Growth, travel and pizza

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I have a friend who is known in her circle of friends as the ‘Pizza Expert’. She leads tours of ‘the best pizza’ in Brooklyn, runs races where the prize is a slice, sports a pizza costume on Halloween and has now developed a ‘pizza crawl’ around New York City. I have a feeling she’d ditch me as a friend if I admitted to not absolutely loving traditional pizza – well, now it’s out there. I know, I know – how can I be from New York and not love pizza? For that, I don’t have an answer, but I can tell you I married a guy who feels the same. And yet, over our own homemade ‘pizza’ dinner the other night, somehow we wound up comparing pizza to travel. Some things rarely make sense.

Cheesy Flatbread from Food Network's® The Neeleys - thegiftoftravel.wordpress.com Read the rest of this entry

Where are you heading?

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Where are you headed? - Wyoming, USA - thegiftoftravel.wordpress.com

I’m a huge fan of The West Wing. With quick-witted banter, social implications of governing and a nod to smart people, Josiah Bartlett and his team kept me interested season after season. I often felt his mantra, ‘what’s next’, was similar to my life. When one holiday/vacation finished, I asked, ‘what’s next’? When one school event was planned with another on the back burner, I asked, ‘what’s next?’ And more often than not, in my analytical brain, I would ask myself the very same question, ‘what’s next’? For me, it was more, where am I heading, what’s to come, where do I want to go or be or even what is it I wish to accomplish. Although the question was a constant, the fluid thought process yielded a constantly changing answer. Where was I heading? Read the rest of this entry

Yes I can. Yes I will.

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Have you seen the new Under Armour® ads with the ‘I Will’ campaign? Have you heard of the ‘Say Yes More‘ events run by David Cornthwaite in England? Both approaches ignite positivity and encourage ‘doing’ through motivation and inspiration at every turn. These ideas can take even our own worlds by storm – that is, if we let them. Read the rest of this entry

No matter the age…live life!

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“(Warren Doyle) This 60-plus hiker has walked the Appalachian Trail 17 times since 1972. Nine of these have been thru-hikes. ‘Your pack weight will be directly proportional to the sum of your fears,’ the minimalist hiker [has] been known to say. Doyle founded the Appalachian Trail Institute to provide AT crash courses to prospective thru-hikers. ” (Backpacker.com)

The other day I read an article from Backpacker.com®. Titled ‘8 Badass Older Hikers’, the words leapt off the screen as they depicted stories of lives lived to the fullest and interesting people enjoying an ever active life. Exuding positivity and purpose, the enthusiasm showcased certainly perpetuates the focus of living life ‘their way’. Some even seem bigger than life. Read the rest of this entry

Adventure planning

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We’re full steam ahead in the planning stages for our next adventure. No name for the trip or anything yet, but accommodations are booked, national parks have been chosen and the route has officially taken shape. We’re open to suggestions and hoping you’ll come along with us for the ride. Read the rest of this entry

Pastimes and Fans

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A few weekends ago, we spent a lot of hours in the car. San Diego to Phoenix, Arizona for Spring Training baseball and then onto Las Vegas, Nevada for the International Rugby Sevens competition. It was a three states in a day type of weekend complete with dust storms, trips to Subway and accents the world over. There was time to play and time to think. There were hours of throng-filled crowds and others of shared silence between a couple in a car. No matter the moment, there was far more than sport.

Spring Training Baseball 2016 - thegiftoftravel.wordpress.com

Yes, there were hours of baseball and rugby, but the soft skills or colour commentary that played out amongst the spectators spoke far more than the chants for their home teams. It all told a story of something much bigger, much greater than a country’s pastime or a people’s favourite sport. Here, in these stadiums, life was being lived. Louder than chants or jeers, there was a spirit that filled the air. People, from all walks of life had driven, bussed, or flown to a spot to spend an afternoon or a few days to purposefully bring out their happy. There was so much unspoken wisdom in those stadium seats and bleachers, so many untold stories that played out on fields and screens – it was a pleasure to be a part of it all. Read the rest of this entry