Week in review 06.22.2014.

Today:

I’m feeling: okay. This past week was a little better than the last. I’ve made peace with one or two things, and I’m treading softly at work.

I’m listening to: the TV – Lockup: Raw. My uncle & aunt laughing.

I’m thinking: I need to go to the laundromat. I want to get my hair done. I want to go to a spa for at least half-day; how to fit it in is the challenge. I have to get ready for the upcoming work week. I hope that my friend visiting the United Kingdom remembers to bring back some tea for me (but I’ll understand if she forgets for obvious reasons). I’m not sure what’s gonna happen after my supervisor leaves in a few days, and that mightn’t be a good thing. I’m kinda surprised that I’m still getting calls to work back in England. I’d consider returning to England if the price is right and the opportunities to advance are on par with what I’d expect here. I don’t have much faith that England could offer me those things, though, so there that goes. I need to book a ticket to return because I have unfinished business to handle over there.

I’m reading: nothing. I may have to wait until July to get the Kindle; something unexpected came up this past week. My supervisor did, however, give me 2 books to read that have to do with my profession, so I may start reading one of them.

I’m looking forward to: seeing my stepmother & sister out-of-state; haven’t seen them since before moving to England. Getting behind the wheel of a car (just for a couple of days) for the first time in over a year and a half. Taking (what I think is a free trial) Krav Maga class, with the option to continue if it’s affordable. Working out at Planet Fitness.

I’m learning that: too many people pass the buck to avoid taking responsibility for their actions. Too many people (especially those in power) want to control others and cross others’ boundaries, but are adamant about anyone controlling them and crossing their boundaries. (These are observations from the workplace, but the observations can also apply outside of work.) Some people are in my life for a reason and a season. Sometimes, it’s not me, it’s you.

I’m enjoying: the Spurs beating the Heat.

I’m creating: a healthier body (hopefully). A new & improved life in the long run (hopefully).

I’m grateful for: my uncle reaching a milestone birthday this weekend. My sister reaching her birthday the other day. Getting through another kickboxing class without as much soreness as the first time, which hopefully means that my body is getting used to it.

Nickname.

Nickname.

Around the house are: uncle’s plants. Blowing fans. Laundry ready for the laundromat.

In the kitchen: some fruits & vegetables from the farmers’ market, ready for cooking and/or juicing. Uncle’s ice cream cake. Iced tea.

Local farmers' market.

Local farmers’ market.

I’m planning this week to: follow-up with the doctor’s office. Cook once or twice. Take Krav Maga class. Try fitting in a kickboxing class before going out-of-state at the end of the week. Go to Planet Fitness. Focus on eating healthy at my stepmother’s barbecue. :-|

My quote/verse for the upcoming week is: “Creating ways to be happy is your life’s work, a challenge that won’t end until you die.” –Martha Beck (Wikipedia)

Featured Image -- 2766

But Can I Get a Taxi?

Spinster:

Do you use any of these cab/taxi apps during your travels and/or daily life? If so, how would you rate ‘em and why? What do you think of the economic & travel points made by this blog post? And finally, if you don’t use any of these apps, would you consider doing so for your future travels and/or daily life?

Originally posted on The Uppity Negro:

black man taxi

This past Memorial Day weekend, I took a week vacation from work and took the Amtrak to Los Angeles (please believe I took a plane back to New Orleans), and per my normal habit when traveling, I had made plans to rent a car.  But since I wasn’t renting a car from an airport, that made returning the car a bit more cumbersome seeing as how I was flying out of LAX with an 8:55am morning flight.  There was no way I was going to be able to get from NoHo (North Hollywood) where I’d be able to drop the car off Tuesday morning (because they would be closed on both Sunday and Monday of the holiday weekend), and beat it through LA traffic back to LAX.  So my friend was more or like, don’t worry I don’t mind driving, but you can use Lift.

Yes, I really thought it…

View original 1,863 more words

Week (or 2) in review.

Today:

I’m feeling: physically better – allergies seem to have gone away for the most part.

I’m listening to: Ginuwine on my phone. The slight tapping of my fingers on this keyboard.

I’m thinking: June will be a busy month – a few birthdays, a graduation barbecue in Pennsylvania, other business to handle, work, etc. I need to look into filing paperwork for the next highest professional license and a new credential… I just need to make the time between work & commuting. I’m feeling a bit out of it.

I’m reading: nothing now. Hopefully by the end of this month, Kindle here I come.

I’m looking forward to: the free trial kickboxing class. If it’s good, I’ll take it once per week, which will help knock out a big chunk of the 180 minutes of exercise per week needed for weight loss & healthy lifestyle.

I’m learning: while I’m glad that people appreciate my overall work ethic, even I have limits on how much I can do, at work and otherwise. That I still have a long way to go in my personal & professional journeys. That lots of people are just winging it through life; in other words, most of us don’t know WTF we’re doing. That some people in power are doing a damn good job of winging it. :-| That either I’m winging it too, or I need to improve my self-confidence a bit.

I’m enjoying: the ability to help those who need it because now, I know exactly what it’s like to be in a seemingly bottomless pit. And I’ll never forget it.

I’m creating: what I hope is a healthier, more stable life overall. I’m paying down debts, and I’m trying to strengthen my boundaries even more than they already are.

I’m grateful for: losing 4 pounds since April 1st. SparkPeople – that website is a godsend for healthy living. Getting a pedicure. Having dinner with step-dad and giving him a present that he loved. Going with my intuition for step-dad’s present. Seeing my sister this past weekend for the first time since before moving overseas – while we’ve lived different lives, as we’ve gotten older, I think our relationship will strengthen. My sister’s weight loss – lost 50 pounds so far, looks even more amazing than she did before, and it inspired me even more to lose weight & live healthy as a result.

Yep... same hair.

Yep… same hair.

Around the house are: winter clothes that need putting away since we’ve clearly jumped from winter straight into summer. :-|

In the kitchen: not sure because for the first time since visiting my sister, I haven’t cooked for the house all week and plan to keep it that way until next week.

I’m planning this week to: attend a couple doctors’ appointments for the first time since returning to the U.S. (still have gripes about the U.S. healthcare system). Cook once or twice. Take kickboxing class again if I like it. Figure out what to get my uncle for his birthday. Figure out what to get my sister for her birthday (I think I already know). Attend the local NASW lecture/workshop. Visit my friend’s family and play with their 6-month-old baby & 3-month-old nephew.

My quote/verse for the upcoming week is:

Once in a while life simply takes a pause, stops to take a breath and re-consider its direction. Pause with it. Breathe into the new direction.

(I must try remembering this for the upcoming week and beyond.)

IMG_0604

What it’s Like Gorilla Trekking in Uganda

Spinster:

I volunteered in Uganda almost 10 years ago. It was a wonderful experience, and I wish I could go gorilla trekking during my volunteering, like this blogger just did. If this is something you’d consider doing or that’s already on your bucket list, check this out.

Originally posted on The Nomadic Beat:

image

In the jungle

Standing in the mess of twisted vines and jungle overgrowth in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, our little group of explorers — myself, my friend, a middle-aged Swedish couple, our guide, scouts, and trackers — stood in silence as we stared at a family of silverback gorillas in front of us. They stared back, equally curious. A loud, humming sound broke the silence, and one of the Swedes turned to our guide and asked, “what was that?” in a voice that suggested wonder and excitement.

Our guide, the only woman working as a guide in the park, smiled and began to giggle like the schoolgirl she must have been years ago. “Hehehe – they are farting,” she said and we all began to smile and laugh softly. Even the scouts and trackers, who never spoke enough for me to know just how much English they knew, began to…

View original 756 more words

Montenegro 06.29.2013.

Montenegro is a tiny country in southeastern Europe that’s bordered by Croatia to the west, Bosnia & Herzegovina to the northwest, Serbia to the northeast, Kosovo to the east and Albania to the southeast. With a little over 620,000 citizens, its population is one of the smallest in Europe. During my short trip to Croatia, I had the privilege of going on a day trip to Montenegro, and I had a nice day.

From our base in Dubrovnik, the Croatia-Montenegro border is about an hour away and, therefore, easy to reach by car or tour bus (we used a tour company).

Croatia-Montenegro border.

Croatia-Montenegro border.

Montenegro has a storied history, but those of us familiar with the country’s recent times may know about the turbulence it experienced during the 20th century, especially toward the end of the 20th century. I won’t go into it on this blog, but you can read about it on Wikipedia (more accurate than many Wikipedia links). Montenegro declared its independence from Serbia on 3rd June 2006 and reached European Union candidate status in 2010. Montenegro used German marks for currency at one point – it never had its own currency – but now uses the euro.

Montenegro borders the Adriatic Sea to the southwest, which affords it a nice coastline – 183 miles (295 kilometers) – with temperatures averaging over 80º Fahrenheit (27º Celsius) during summer months. It was hotter than average when I went. Our tour bus drove along the coast, and the photo below shows one of the first towns we stopped in to take photos. I can’t remember the exact name, but it was close to Herceg-Novi, near the Croatia-Montenegro border.

Lots of water.

Lots of water.

We took a short break on the way to a guided tour. Check out the view.

Our guided walking tour was in the old town centre of Kotor, Montenegro, situated on the Gulf of Kotor. It’s recognised as a World Heritage Site and chock full of history. It’s now popular with cruise ships; when we went, there were many ships, boats & yachts docked in port. Since Montenegro shares the Adriatic Sea with Italy (among other countries), visitors interested in history will notice the heavy Venetian influence embedded in Kotor’s architecture and overall atmosphere.

Sitting at the dock of the bay, wasting time.

Sitting at the dock of the bay, wasting time.

And check out the view from the top – an outside restaurant & bar.

After leaving Kotor, we drove along the coast to Budva, which is making a name for itself as a Riviera town. Before we got to Budva city proper, though, we made a quick rest stop to photograph the following beautiful sight on the Riviera – Sveti Stefan town-hotel.

The Budva Riviera is popular during the summer months; there’s plenty of sun, sand & sea mixed in with casinos & vibrant nightlife. Montenegro, in general, is popular with Russians, and this is more so with Budva. There are signs translated into Russian, and Russians finance a sizeable amount of house (and other) construction projects along the Budva Riviera.

I couldn’t get many photos of Budva because my main camera died :-| but at least I have memories. For you the readers, however, here’s a snapshot of my late lunch in Budva.

I know how to pronounce the name of this meat-based dish, but can't find it anywhere on the internet. Either way, it tastes as good as it looks, in my opinion.

I know how to pronounce the name of this meat-based dish, but can’t find it anywhere on the internet. Either way, it tastes as good as it looks, in my opinion.

We made our way back to Croatia soon after Budva.

I enjoyed myself, especially in Kotor since I like history and old structures. I’d consider returning to Montenegro on my own, staying for no more than 2-3 days to explore historical sites. If you’re more into sun, sand & sea vacations, consider staying anywhere along the Budva Riviera for longer than that.

How To Have The Most Kick-Ass Road Trip Of Your Life

Spinster:

Have you ever taken a road trip? If so, how was it? If not, would you consider taking one? Why or why not? Check out this post, and feel free to comment.

Originally posted on Thought Catalog:

People fuck up opportunities to have great experiences all the time. I want you not to do that.

I’m a road trip fiend and I think I finally cracked the code.

We have a romantic idea of road trips. The wide open road and all your worries behind and having those life experiences that you need to have before you’re old. We ruin these romantic ideas by acting unromantically (trying too hard).

These were my rules for my most recent cross-country road trip and they made it a life-changing experience. For the first time, I had a road trip that was everything it was cracked up to be.

1. Plan extra time

If you feel pressed for time then the whole thing won’t work. The wide-open road becomes another check on your to-do list. What could be a freeing experience becomes a practice in practicality.

Not having enough time by…

View original 1,294 more words

10 Beautifully Simple Things You Forget To Do In Your City

Spinster:

It usually amazes me when someone from here tells me that I’ve visited places here that they’ve never visited before… and they’ve lived here all or most of their lives (!!!). Here’s a short & simple guide for those of you who don’t explore your own hometowns. You may think your hometown is boring or worthless or useless, but maybe if you take on these simple suggestions, you’ll re-discover your city in a new light.

Originally posted on Thought Catalog:

1. See the classics, the trademarks, the shining emblems of what makes your city yours.

Don’t be afraid to be a tourist now and again. It’s funny how we get so caught up in wanting to prove that we are natives, that we belong, that many of us go our whole lives without ever seeing the statue of liberty when we live only a few minutes away.

2. If you don’t live in the crux of the city, in the middle of the hustle and bustle, pretend you do for a day, and do as the locals do.

Eat like a local. Shop like one too. Consumerism can get the best of us all, so you have to remember that there are always fantastic little spots tucked away in secret if only you take a little time to look. When I was growing up, I used to tell my parents…

View original 628 more words

3 years (part 1).

Time flies when you’re having fun.

3 years ago (06.28.2010), I landed in the United Kingdom as a new expatriate (after a few road bumps). I dreamt of living abroad ever since childhood, when I’d look at my atlas for hours at a time. I’d daydream about the places I wanted to see, envision where I’d live one day. (For many years as a kid, I wanted to live in Nauru or a remote place like it.) I had child-like fantasies of meeting my pen pals – one in France, one in Germany, one in Ghana, and one in Guyana. But at the end of the day, I always thought this was it – just daydreaming. I thought it was impossible never thought it’d come true, but sure enough, it did. Even now sometimes, I think to myself

I can’t believe I live in another country. WTF was I thinking? Will I ever do this again? Even after all this time, it’s still so surreal.

I blogged very briefly on the 1st anniversary of my move, but never made time to write anything for the 2nd anniversary. Now that I’ve been here long enough to feel a bit settled in, this post will be more “meat & potatoes”, than the 1st anniversary post. (Depending on how long it is, I may break it up into a couple of posts.)

So what have I learned so far?

1. No matter how many times they tell you, your relatives are not gonna visit you. In general they mean well, but for whatever reason(s) – no matter how many times they say it – they never make it. And with the current economic climate, it’s hard to be too angry at them about it. For example, one of my relatives wants to visit in September or October, but the cheapest ticket I found was U.S. $893.00. It’s actually cheaper for me to visit home than it is for them to visit here.

2. No matter how many times they tell you, your friends are not gonna visit you. And I don’t mean acquaintances or flaky friends either… I mean real we’ve-been-friends-for-years friends. Please see comment #1.

3. Did you have friends in your new country before moving there? Well, if you keep those friends after moving, count yourself lucky. You’ll be lucky if you see them once per year. I know someone who lives in the neighborhood next to mine. When was the last time I saw the person? 2011. I reached out countless times – phone calls, texts, e-mails – but no response, so I sadly gave up trying. I don’t stay where I’m not wanted. Unfortunately, this isn’t the only person to whom I reached out with no response. Hopefully you have good enough friends in your home country to sustain you (or be like me, join Meetup, and gain a few starter acquaintances).

4. You may not make real friends in your new country. Meetup has done a world of good for me overall; I’ve written about its positive aspects on this blog. In my experience though, it has been difficult to make real genuine friends despite trying. In the same vein…

5. You may not find romance in your new country either. I can count the number of men who’ve expressed even a bit of interest in me on 1 hand in 3 years. I’m not exaggerating, so please don’t reassure or chastise me. Goodness knows I tried putting myself out there (and those who know me well, know how difficult that is for me), but such is life. I’m used to it, and I’m over it. (I always wonder, though, how in the world people get coupled up here. Mind=boggling.)

Because I accidentally published this without finishing it, I’m gonna break this up into 2 or 3 posts. (Don’t worry… it’ll be a mix of positive & negative. I don’t wanna turn anyone off from becoming an expatriate.) Consider this part 1. To be continued…

Do yourself a favor and buy that damn plane ticket already.

Spinster:

As an introvert with a bit of social anxiety/shyness, I can personally say that when it comes to travel, there’s nothing to it but to do it. So go ahead… just do it.

Sincerely, a somewhat shy introvert writing this to you in lovely Croatia. ;-)

Originally posted on infinite satori:

“Travel is never a matter of money but of courage.  I spent a large part of my youth traveling the world as a hippie. And what money did I have then? None. I barely had enough to pay for my fare. But I still consider those to have been the best years of my youth.The great lessons I learned has been precisely those that my journeys had taught me.”

-Paulo Coelho

I know you. You look through countless of travel blogs, browse through the travel section of the bookstore, read Lonely Planet guidebooks, and National Geographic magazines. You’re in love with city maps, atlases, and globes. You get shivers down your spine when you run your fingers down the tiny blood veins on a map as if it was breathing and coming alive. And it says to you, “Buy a god damn ticket and explore me.” But you don’t, because you…

View original 1,700 more words

On the road again.

It has been a while since I’ve taken a proper trip anywhere. Don’t get me wrong… going home is always great, but it isn’t a vacation. The last time I went anywhere besides home was a little over a year ago, when I went up north to the Lake District for a short weekend. (I still need to write about that trip. *hanging head in shame*) Oh yeah, there was also that day trip to Bristol that didn’t turn out quite the right way.

Despite my current financial challenges, I knew that it was well past time for me to go somewhere. So just like with Portugal, I paid for this trip little by little, and I’m going with the same travel Meetup group. (For now, it’s easier that way because the group founder made the arrangements – flights, accommodation, side trips [included or optional], etc. – and due to being so busy, I didn’t feel like doing tons of research for deals like I normally do.) This is a trip I would’ve taken last year but unfortunately, finances held me back worse than they do now. I’m glad that I got a 2nd chance.

So by the time you read this, I’ll be heading to Dubrovnik, Croatia (Wikipedia link) for a few days, with a side (day) trip to Montenegro. Since I don’t have the best track record with writing up my trips (*hanging head in shame again*), I’m considering blogging about this trip with photos – a few words about each photo, while hopefully the photos will speak for themselves. Photo-blogging isn’t necessarily easy, but it’s easier, if you understand what I mean.

I’ll see you on the other side.

Take off.

Take off.