A Brief Pause

making time to experience everything life offers

A Brief Pause - making time to experience everything life offers

What’s on Your Kindle or E-Reader?

Ereader
I was one of those people who held back purchasing a Kindle. There was something about caressing a brand new book, turning each page eagerly (in most cases) to see what came next. I finally broke down a few years ago, buying one of the early models that you only read on and it’s opened up my world.

  • I now read anywhere. My library fits in my purse. Every time I have a few unexpected minutes, I can pull it out and easily find my place.
  • When a friend recommends a new book, I can have it downloaded in just a couple of minutes and store it until I’m ready to dig in.
  • I no longer have hundreds of books in piles on my bookshelves. I only save my very favorites. Just imagine how relieved I’m going to be next time I don’t have to move 20-30 heavy boxes of books.
  • My Kindle saves money. Not only to I save money when I buy books cheaper, I also don’t accidentally duplicate purchases like I used to.
  • I can fit more usable stuff in my luggage when I travel since I save so much weight and room by not packing so many books.

I still buy books that are resource or self help kinds of publications because I like writing in the margins. But the rest are all downloaded. Finally, a glimpse into the library on my Kindle reveals that I have 106 items including the following:

There it is, a brief look into what I’ve been reading. Now that I’ve shown you mine, what’s on yours?

Our Firsts Are Never Done

happy beautiful baby stands in a diaper isolated
Yesterday I posted a link to a video about An and Ria’s First Flight. An and Ria are in their 70′s and had never flown on a plane before. Their reactions are priceless.

There are so many firsts in life:

First steps
First words
First day at school
First dance
First kiss
First job
First love

The list goes on and on and then…sometimes the firsts stop. When was the last time I did something I’ve never done before? Did something new? Took a risk? Was brave?

There are studies that show that people who keep learning, stay engaged and exercise may not experience so much confusion as they get older. My plan is stay healthy as I age and, just as importantly, keep regular doses of excitement in my life.

My next first is traveling to a foreign country without anyone I know. It’s a small group trip with others. My ultimate goal is to enjoy travel whenever I’d like, even when my favorite travel buddies are unavailable. This ultimately means trips by myself.

Then, who knows? Maybe I’ll learn a new language or try scuba diving. There are so many things I’ve never experienced before just waiting for my attention. Life is going to continue to be interesting and entertaining.

What firsts do you have planned?

Dear Me – A Message to My Younger Self

Business woman reading letter
If I could go back in time, I’d tell my much younger self, as I began my journey through single parenthood, that it’s going to be okay.

Dear Me,

I know you are frightened about all the the responsibilities laid on your shoulders. It’s okay. You’ll be fine. You care about getting every detail right, including the small ones that really don’t matter so much. Take a breath and know that you are good enough, strong enough and committed enough to make it through the tough times.

Show your love to the people that matter most and be willing to accept love. Make sure your son knows how much you love him. And, ask for help. People are willing to share the load. You don’t have to do everything yourself. It’s not a sign of weakness, but one of strength, allowing you to focus on the most important things.

Take care of yourself. Keep exercising. Your fitness will help you stay strong and confident. 

You are a good person and all of your efforts will pay off. So, relax and enjoy the ride. It’s going to be exciting, challenging and lots of fun.

Love,

Your Future Self

Knowing what you know now, it there any message you’d love to send to your younger self?

Walk With Me Challenge #walkwithme

dog with leather leashIt’s always good to have someone to join me when I get out to exercise. So I’m asking you to be my walking buddy or rolling buddy, if that applies. Please walk with me.

I know you are busy. No excuses this time, okay? You can bring the kids, your significant other and even invite your friends. The more the merrier.

Add it to your calendar.
Saturday, May 3rd, 2014 at 7:15
Morning or evening, you ask? Whichever one works for you.

I’m going to try to do both. This way, if one time is during the night for some of you in other places of the world or you have to work, you can still join me.

THE CHALLENGE

It doesn’t matter where you walk or jog, just take your first step at 7:15 am or pm. If you are in a wheelchair, make your first push at the same time. If moving a longer distance is too much for you right now, walk once around the block. We’ll do it together.

Please help me spread the word. Write a blog post and link up in the comment section here. If you aren’t a blogger, share it on Facebook or Twitter or, just the old fashioned way, with a phone call. The hashtag is #walkwithme.

How many people will be joining us? I’m hoping it will be a crowd.

On May 3rd, I’ll put up a post very early so we can share our thoughts on how it went.

Thanks for being my walking buddy. You are helping me on my journey to health!

Leaving and Bequeathing – My Living Will Be Done

Notary documents
Yesterday, I signed and initialed in all the appropriate places and it was done. I’m now the proud owner of a will, trust, medical and financial powers of attorney and a living will.

I walked out of the attorney’s office with a weight off my shoulders I didn’t even know I was carrying. Whenever the day comes, when it’s my time to go, I know that everything will be okay for the people I leave behind. It is such a relief.

My gift to my family members is a clear roadmap and understanding of my wishes. I prefer cremation, but don’t want them to waste money on an expensive funeral. Go cheap! After all, I’ll be up partying, God willing, and I want them to party too. 

Having an attorney prepare my documents was a bit expensive, but well worth it for me because of the complexity of what I wanted set up. If you want to get your affairs in order, there are less expensive ways. Search online and you’ll find websites that will help you work through the right paperwork for your situation or…ask your friends to provide you with the name of an attorney that helped them with their documents.

Are you ready when your time comes? It can never hurt to be prepared and it feels really great.

Technology Relationships

Relationships Through Technology
While we may curse technology for making us available 24/7 in a world that is already so busy that some days it’s hard to take a breath, it is still amazing.

For example…

  • Yesterday, while I was driving, I answered a phone call from a friend. I didn’t have to struggle to grab my phone or wait until I got home to check messages. The phone rang on my car’s system and I answered it by pushing a button on my steering wheel.
  • Friday night I chatted with some new friends on Google+. These were bloggers who I first met in a group on Facebook. There was one friend from England and several others from different places around the US. We laughed together and shared stories. My English friend and I also arranged for her meet me at Heathrow Airport in London when I have a stopover on my way to Namibia. In contrast, I remember when long distance calling was so expensive, we’d watch the clock so we could end the call before going over budget.
  • Photographers that I’ve met through forums on iStockphoto or Facebook, are now new friends who I meet in person on trips to wonderful locations.
  • Several of my family members have met their husbands on Match.com.
  • My phone can take a photo or video and I can share it with hundreds of friends in just a few clicks.
  • Ordering almost anything online and having it delivered just a few days later on my Amazon Prime account, is still an incredible surprise.
  • I can watch movies on my computer screen at home or on one of my other devices in a waiting room or at a park.

I tried to think of the ways I’ve used technology over the last week. It has become so ingrained in the way I live that I forget it’s even there. When I bought my first computer more than twenty five years ago with 20MB of memory, I had no idea where technology would lead. While it frustrates me at times, I can’t imagine living without it.

My favorite result is that I can easily keep in touch with family members and friends, both old and new. Technology has enhanced my relationships and that’s a wonderful gift. Now I’m off to Twitter and Facebook for a short visit with friends before I head in to work.

See you in London, Lizzi!

 

Why Are We Not Considered Smart Enough To Choose Our Child’s School?

School Choice
I never understood what the big deal was about being able to choose in so many areas of our life, but not the future of our children?

I can choose whether or not to continue my pregnancy. The country is finally moving toward allowing me to decide who I will marry. I can choose to work a minimum wage job until my knowledge, skills and abilities prepare me for a higher paying one.  I can choose who to vote for or what faith fills the aching in my soul. There are certain limitations on some of these choices, but people have fought for our ability to choose.

Why is it then, unless I have a lot of money, I don’t have a choice in where to send my children to school? We all pay for public education and it has been a system that served us well over the years, but it’s time to reconsider the options. We are  falling behind other countries in the education of our children.

I’ve heard the concerns about private schools being unwilling or unable to accommodate children with special needs or those coming from families with severe economic challenges. Separation of church and state has always been part of the argument since “the government” should not financially support religious organizations.

However, what we are doing, in many cases, is not working. As a parent, I should be able to choose where I send my child to school and have a voucher to make that happen. Schools that are part of the voucher program should be required to have programs available for students with special challenges. Wouldn’t parents of special needs children like options, too? If I, as a parent, want my child to attend a faith based school, I should have that choice. Not all children learn the same way and we need to have the ability to select the school that best fits the individual needs of our child, not only those that meet the needs of the majority, leaving others behind.

We can make this option work for ourselves, our children and our dedicated educational professionals. It’s not about preserving the status quo, it’s about giving our children a solid foundation for their future. It’s a BIG DEAL and we should get over the politics and put the needs of our children first.

Sisters’ Trip Update – Planning our Trip to New England

Camden, Maine
Planning for our trip to New England is moving along at a fast pace. 
Once you helped us select the amazing destination two weeks ago, Wendy and I began our research. Our excitement level is high and we’ve discovered that there is simply too much to see in such a short time. It’s been difficult to narrow our choices. I anticipate this is the first of many trips to the area. All of you have great taste!!

The budget for our five day trip is $500 each, not including airfare. I’ve run the numbers for either three or four travelers since we may have one additional family friend (adopted sister) traveling with us. The travel dates have been modified to better fit our collective schedules, so we will be traveling in late September, a perfect time for the area.

Airfare:

We are flying from Denver to Boston on Southwest Airlines at $314 each roundtrip, including the early check-in fee.

Car Rental:

The rental car (full size) from Advantage is $275, including taxes.

Lodging:

After spending an hour or two on HomeAway, we were delighted to find a mother-in-law style apartment near Camden, Maine. It sleeps four people and is a real bargain at $425 for four nights. The ratings are exceptional and the owners are very friendly. We debated staying in two different places during our travel, but after reviewing the options, decided to find one location more central to all the places we are planning to visit. We’ve never used Homeaway before or stayed in a home style rental, so this will be a new experience.

Attractions:

So far, it looks like we will be seeing parts of Acadia National Park, the White Mountains in New Hampshire and the coastline between Bar Harbor, Maine and Boston, Massachusetts. Unfortunately, there isn’t enough time for the Ben and Jerry’s tour in Vermont, so I’ll just be buying a pint or three of Chocolate Fudge Brownie Ice Cream and eating along the way.

Preparing our own breakfast and packing lunches and other snacks will help us stay within budget. However, dinner will be out on the town at fabulous restaurants. We plan to take advantage of all the amazing seafood options. I’m not sure how we are going to decide where to eat. Any suggestions?

At this point, it looks like we’re on track and have a little extra money to spare for park entrance fees and unexpected costs.  It has really helped to split the expenses between more than two people. Here is our budget so far.

DRAFT BUDGET

  Three Travelers Four Travelers
Airfare $942 $1,256
Budget $1,500 $2,000
Rental Car $275 $275
Lodging $425 $425
Gas $150 $150
Meals Out $300 $400
Meals In $150 $200
Balance $200 $550

It’s amazing that we can visit so many states in five days. I love planning a trip, don’t you?

Can We Be Truly Objective – Travel Writing

Travel WritingWe had an interesting discussion in my new writing class yesterday. The instructor is a travel writer, previously working for Outside Magazine and then as an independent with articles appearing in the New York Times and National Geographic, among other major publications. So, he’s a pro.

“What is the future of travel writing?”

The question he asked hung in the air for a moment before he began talking about how the internet has changed writing. In the past, writers proposed stories to editors and, if interested, they would be sent out to complete the piece. Travel costs were covered and the writer would be paid for his/her time. Articles may have paid a writer up to $10,000. At that time, writers could get by with 6-8 published articles a year, depending upon their lifestyle.

With the advent of the internet, magazines and newspapers have shrunk in size, some even going out of business. Online reporting is at an all time high. Frankly, that’s where I get my news. Where writers were paid for content before, many bloggers submit articles or posts for free for the “exposure”. The Huffington Post comes to mind, but I’m sure there are others.

Then the discussion moved specifically to travel blogging. There are successful travel bloggers who earn a good living, not many, but there are some. Our instructor believes that blogging may be the future of travel writing, with bloggers earning money from ads on their sites. That brought up another questions to ponder.

“Can you truly be objective if you receive free accommodations, access to activities, meals, flights or other subsidies for your travel?”

In order to be “objective”, magazine publishers would not allow writers to accept “gifts” from businesses they were going to be reporting on. In comparison, travel bloggers may receive free “gifts” that essentially discount their travel in exchange for those businesses being included in the final review.

Most bloggers disclose receiving discounts and free products or services to their readers and mention that their opinions are their own. What happens, however, if the accommodations are horrible and that information is reported in a post? Would other businesses still want that same blogger to write about their product knowing that the writer is brutally honest? And, if you enjoyed your time, could it be because you were treated differently than a regular traveler because the business knew they were being evaluated?

I certainly don’t have the answers to these tough questions. If you are a travel blogger, how else do you get “paid” for your work? It’s definitely a dilemma. As someone who wants to include travel reporting in my blog, I’d love to be as objective as possible, but does that mean I can never be paid for my time?

What do you think?