Category Archives: Beach

February findings

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My first year teaching was nearly twenty years ago. That first February break, I went on a trip to Jamaica. I remember returning from that journey rested, rejuvenated and ready to get back to work. Perhaps it was the much needed February infusion of vitamin D into my sun deprived skin. Perhaps it was a week away with a girlfriend complete with waterfalls, giggles and afternoons on the sand. Perhaps it was the anticipation of travel that although coupled with sunburn and a funky reaction to some new fangled sunscreen those positive endorphins flowed and happy hormones increased. Whichever way you looked at it, that February trip was certainly something.

“You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough” – Mae West

That was 1998 and for the fifteen years that I taught, every February I looked forward to a tropical adventure. Each one was different than the next but there were constants I knew at the time and lessons I wouldn’t know till years later. It was only the other day that I chatted with a friend I met on one of those February escapes. As we tried to recount the decade long travel friendship and some of the myriad of adventures we’ve had together, something else popped up in conversation. It was more than the locations of the cruise ship and the names of those we traveled with on a Club Med excursion. It was more than ‘remember the time when’ and ‘which spot had the best guacamole’. And it was more than ‘do you believe it’s been this long’ and ‘which place did we go to in which year’.

In this fifteen plus year friendship, there were passport stamps and new discoveries, weekend adventures and vegetarian recipes, dating disasters and marriage insights, education discussions and new apartments, short excursions and a more travel driven lifestyle – but I realized in that time, those journeys, and the stories that there was more. The conversation ended with my friend’s words, ‘I smell a blog post coming’…how on earth did she know?

“Life is change. Growth is optional. Choose wisely.” – Karen Kaiser Clark

In those middle decades of life, we learned more than waterskiing and how to make salsa in Mexico. We experienced more than the details of remembering to reapply sunscreen and that there’s something special about the seaside air in Martinique. And we found more than life partners, careers and homes. The remember whens had tales of random crushes, negative and positive people, energy sucking relationships, family angst, yoga trials, travel escapades, career questions and life sagas. Through it all, the undercurrent of growth and shifts of perspective were ever present.

Although we didn’t know it then, all of our experiences led us to where we are today. Today, we both view the world through more positive, mindful, hopeful and relaxed eyes. We’ve learned that often the anticipation of ‘ripping off the bandaid’ is far worse than the action itself. We’ve learned that it’s not selfish to treat ourselves the same way we’d treat others. We’ve learned that wellness needs to be on our minds everyday – not only for a week in February. We’ve learned that choosing positive, finding lessons, reflecting and changing the way we act didn’t happen overnight. Time and experience are both necessary for change. Learning to feel comfortable in your own skin, proud of your choices and that you matter takes work…but when you get there, if only for a minute, the payoff is magnificent.

“It’s not about what it is. It’s about what it can become.” – Dr. Seuss, The Lorax

We both consider ourselves lucky to have had those February experiences and many fun adventures in between. In the miles traveled, bottles of sunscreen used, avocados eaten and phone conversations shared – something has shifted. Call it growing up, finding balance, shifting focus, feeling mindful, or whatever you want…the point is, it’s happened. Through reminiscing of life’s adventures, we realized more. We saw:

  • we all have the potential for change
  • we all have what we need to grow
  • choices matter, and they’re all choices
  • we can’t change other people
  • every relationship comes with its own struggles
  • learning to respond more than react is a worthwhile challenge
  • shifts in attitude and perspective are game changers
  • positive eclipses negative every damn time
  • perhaps things truly do happen for a reason
  • we had to be where we were to get to where we are

If you’re lucky enough to have those friendships that have lasted more than five minutes, the shared past and experiences provide more than great memories and giggle-filled stories. Journey through those memories and you get to take a look at where you were then and where you are now. Traverse those stories of the time you drove to another state for lunch, face-planted on your first water skiing attempt, or thought exploring Manhattan on a minus twenty degree (Fahrenheit) day was a good idea (or whatever your memories hold) and you’ll find much more beneath the surface. Take a walk down memory lane and look deeper to discover the unfolding of your own personal journey. Notice, observe, roll your eyes, guffaw, cry…whether you know the reason or not, it all happened. Remember it. Learn from it. Grow from it. Who knew that much change and reflection could happen over countless bowls of guacamole?

No matter the age…live life!

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Trail sign at Big Bear Lake - thegiftoftravel.wordpress.com

“(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

Beach cricket, sunshine and change

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I used to hate change! I had counselors at sleep away camp who felt the need to explain the benefits of changing cabins and counselors each camp session. I didn’t want camp to end, university to finish or any holiday I’ve ever been on to come to a close. Change was not my friend. Fast forward a few decades…..change is not only embraced, it’s craved. Life is weird.

the stanceCredit yoga, aging, travel, an unlimited supply of vitamin D…..credit whatever you like…..there’s been a switch and this weekend was a perfect example. With a crazy amount of rain (for southern California standards), beach erosion, school holidays, a long weekend, an unearthed shipwreck and rising temperatures, our usual beach spot became packed. No complaints….only a change of plans. We switched spots. Having no idea how we would feel in a new beach spot after so long, we took a risk (no, no not a huge one – I mean really, it’s a beach, right?) and shifted course to the other side of the island. Greater sand depth, far more people, a further walk and who knows what…and we were in a new spot. Needless to say, the end result was a perfect day. Read the rest of this entry

Bring on the adventure

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Sunset - Mission Beach, San Diego - thegiftoftravel.wordpress.com

We’ve gone and booked it! A two month journey in planes, trains, and automobiles. This (Northern Hemisphere) spring we’re heading off to spend a bit of time adventuring. We hope to catch up with friends and family and meet strangers who will soon become both! Whether on the other side of the world or this one…we’re ready for the adventure. Read the rest of this entry

And so it goes…

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Safari in East Africa - thegiftoftravel.wordpress.com

On safari in Tanzania, Africa

It’s happening again. Yup, the itch is back, but it’s different this time. Southern California living hasn’t deadened the urge, it’s shifted it, revamped it, rejiggered it yet it’s still very much alive. In speaking with those who are mildly enthused by travel, many reply ‘haven’t you gotten it out of your system, yet’? Seriously? Realistically, it only gets worse! The more lands on which I’ve set foot, the more cultural interactions I’ve had, the more spectacular I’ve been honoured to witness…the list keeps growing as the experiences available are unending. No, it’s not out of my system…it’s what makes my system tick! I want to see the world! Read the rest of this entry

When happiness happens!

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Big Bear retreat

The other day we were hiking somewhere and gazing at the beauty that is nature. Sometimes I have to pinch myself that this is real life. Real people, real work, real issues but still, this. These experiences constantly amaze me. People always said that your attitude is the only thing you can change and that gratitude is the best attitude. These are things I used to say to my students along with choose positive and make positive decisions. Life is interesting. Those same things I once said to my students and strongly believed have become a focal point. Experience truly is the best teacher. Read the rest of this entry

Not your ordinary sand art

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You’ve made sand art, right? Me too. You know, at a fair where you pour colored sand into a vase, seal the top with candle wax and take it home for all to see your creation. No? Maybe you made yours on the beach with a bucket and shovel. I did that too. My sister and I would create what we believed to be magical castles complete with moats and dragons and my little brother would proceed to pounce and pummel them to destruction. You too? Well, what I witnessed this weekend was not your ordinary sand art!

Labor Day Sand Sculpting Challenge - the gift of travel Read the rest of this entry

A west coast birthday

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Where have you celebrated your birthday? What makes it special to you?

For almost a decade I celebrated my birthday on the sand at Azores beach in Long Beach, New York. Salty sea air, beach-goers, silky south shore sand, a walk on the boardwalk, some frozen yogurt, and some semblance of chocolate were part of the day. I spent as many hours outside as possible and was always content in that beautifully, happy space! Last year, our adventures took us to the islands of the Maldives to celebrate my entrance to a new decade. Different sand, same outlook. There was yoga, sea air, sandy feet, an entire day spent outdoors in the sunshine and of course, a bit of chocolate. Who knew then that it would be one of the most perfect holidays and a spectacular place to celebrate any occasion! Read the rest of this entry

September…in San Diego

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Flips in Long Beach

It’s September. In my New York-raised brain that means so very many things to me. It means the influx of cinnamon and pumpkin spiced everything. It means back to school, last lifeguard whistles and nerves for the impending school year. It means nights begin to get shorter, evenings become crisp and Facebook® feeds fill with questions of the best apple picking, hayrides or other fall festival activities. It means pollen counts rise and allergies arrive as my itchy eyes notify me of ragweed’s arrival before any weather person can. It means dread appears in the impending winter and trying to figure out where to book a holiday to avoid the onslaught of snow, ice and cold that makes my face hurt. It starts the thought of a winter with layers for outside and the need to have the speed of a NASCAR driver to remove said layers inside before the overheating process begins. September means holidays, fall sports and a new year. September also means my birthday. Read the rest of this entry

It’s June

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the gift of travel...at the beach in Coronado, San Diego

As a former teacher, I can remember that feeling of knowing you made it to this month and how that was an accomplishment in itself. The calendar turns to the start of summer and the countdown of school days left reaches single digits. Seniors see graduation in the near future while the insanity that is June hits all parts of the school community. Finals and proms, retirement parties and banquets, inductions and picnics, yearbooks and report cards and everything in between make their way through the districts. Read the rest of this entry