Tuesday, September 20, 2016

What happened when I gave up Facebook

Like many people today, I use my phone as my alarm clock.
I would start every day just the same, I'd shut off my alarm first, and then immediately check my Facebook page.
That would take at least 15 minutes, if not more.
And then, throughout my day, I would check my Facebook page roughly ... well, I don't know, If I had to guess? I would say about 40 times a day... with my day ending on Facebook. Glued to the screen, for more than an hour, more than 2 sometimes... reading, posting... stalking profiles. As you do, don't say you don't... it's Facebook!!

Though I knew I spent too much time on Facebook, it wasn't until the political year really started to kick off, that I woke up.

I actually found myself judging and getting mad at my friends and family for their political views! I mean seriously. 
My dad says there are 3 things you should never talk about... Politics, Sex and Religion. Dad is right. 

Chances are the people that we choose as friends, will most likely have the same interest and views as us, but not always. And family? Well, We all know what the opinions of family are like.. They all have one, and no one wants any one else's, then a war will usually break out when family decide to compare and debate their "always right" political views! 

I just had enough of it. I was tired of all of the political fighting, and especially all of the bashing. When I find myself not freely accepting others for their views and opinions, it's time to take a step back. So originally, yes... it was politics that made me leave facebook.

The thing is, the longer I was away, the happier I felt. I didn't feel guilty about too much "screen time"

I suddenly I had time. 
Time is a beautiful gift

What did I notice was different about my life?

**In just 2 months, I have noticed I feel more relaxed.**
**I listen to my children, I don't just "half" listen while I'm scrolling on my phone. I intently listen and make eye contact**
**I started crocheting again, I crochet and create my little heart away**
**When I miss my friends, I'm actually forced to make contact with them, by phone or email. Reading a post now and again, doesn't count as making contact with your friends, I have written more letters and emails the last 2 months than I have in a few years**
**I have been organizing like a crazy person!**
**I've fallen in love again**
**I've actually tried cooking some new dishes**
**I've opened a store on Etsy**
**I've sold loads of things on Ebay, I have been downsizing more and more every year, it's completely freeing"
**I tackle household chores right away**
**I have done a lot of research, learning new things about the environment and health issues, very interesting things, that I can't wait to share**

I know there are many more things that I'm not even thinking of at this moment, but the above list are the areas in my life that I have seen a true impact.

I am still on twitter, but I've never been drawn to twitter like I have Facebook, it's a whole different platform. I'm not saying I'll never peek in again, but the truth is. I just don't miss Facebook. I really like the time I have found to do more in my life.
The saying is true you know.

"We find time for the things that are truly important to us"
What's important to you?

I hope you're having a great week!

Monday, August 1, 2016

Lessons Learned ... My Expensive Travel Mistakes

We all make mistakes right?

Well why do mine have to be of ridiculously, monumental, amounts? All I have to say is, it's a good thing my head is attached, as I would probably leave it somewhere.

I'm linking up with some travel bloggers, all of which are sharing their lessons on travel. I seem to learn the most by making really big mistakes!! (One of them, only a few weeks ago). Please, allow me to share with you, what you should NOT be doing!
Monumental Mistake/Lesson One:

My first big travel error was last year, when we spent the summer in the UK. One of our adventures took us to Ireland. (Ooooo how I love it there; I can't think of Ireland without thinking of miles of pristine emerald green fields). We were to be in Limerick for a week, we were staying in a lovely flat that over looked the River Shannon and spending a lot of time with my friend Hazel and her family. We had a lot of mini tours around Ireland. It was magnificent... there is just no other word. Apparently it was all just too enchanting for me, because upon returning one night, to check our reservations for the next day, I realized that I had missed our flight that morning. WHAT. THE. ACTUAL. FECK. Who does that? Who actually misses their flight by a whole day? I went into panic mode and I called the airline, which happened to be Ryanair (Have I mentioned they are a &*#*^ airline?) Ryanair of course did nothing, (as I expected) and gave me prices over 700 Euro for 3 tickets to London--One Way. It's a very good thing that I found flights on skyscanner for half the price. I have no idea what I was thinking. It's very, very apparent that I wasn't.
Now when I fly? I keep my itinerary printed out and on me... I look at it several times, I singe it on my brain.
Monumental Mistake/Lesson Two:

I booked a trip to NYC, the Big Apple, the city that never sleeps... I then later decided that I wanted to take my daughter with me. I booked her flight going one way, (ensuring carefully that we got on the same plane) and then a couple of days later, I booked the other part of the ticket (I waited hoping to get a better deal, but I didn't want to push my luck too much, so that we got on the same plane, I went ahead and booked the return ticke a couple of days later)... Well. The ticket back from NYC, for my daughter, I accidently booked in my name. Let me tell you what happens when you book a ticket in the wrong name. American Airlines will do absolutely nothing to help you. It will be so sad and too bad. I was so obsessed with getting my daughter on my flight that I booked her in my own name. It seems to me it would be so easy to go onto the AA website and change the name, but I'm afraid that now days, with all of the security that's about, that can't be done. I'm not complaining about security. Just the opposite. But you must book your tickets carefully these days. If caught early enough, I'm sure the airlines will help. I however, had to book a whole new ticket. Double the price (I think they prey on our stupidity... ok ok just kidding... they have their rules, I get it). As if NYC isn't expensive enough, messing up my daughters ticket, NYC turned out to be as expensive as a trip to London.
My advice?

When you book your tickets, seriously pay attention to what you're doing. Never rush. THINK.. Book undistracted! I'm a seasoned traveler, I grew up traveling with my family in the military, I lived in England for 4 years and I've traveled many many places... I should not be making these kinds of travel mistakes. But that's why they are called "Mistakes". We don't mean to make them.
However, I'd like to think that I learn from my mistakes and only make them once... (Men and Dieting are excluded!)
Happy travels!!

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The Statue of Liberty

The Statue of Liberty...

I've seen her so many times from my airplane window, drifting past her as I headed into NYC, bound for a further destination, always thinking "oh cool, look ... it's her". I also thought "I'll go see her one day"...

Well, the day came.
We saw her, the lady that offered freedom and hope to many weary travelers, years ago. First generation americans saw her as a new beginning, when they sailed over in ships, full of hope from foreign lands.

The Immigrant monument shares diversity and welcome. A historical depiction in Battery Park, a preparation of the journey ahead.
Today, Lady Liberty is a tourist attraction. If you visit her in the summer you will stand in hours of lines, even with tickets purchased in advance. But trust me, she's worth it. She's still represents liberty, justice and democracy.
We had previously purchased tickets, but still waited in a line for the ferry, for about 45 minutes. The Statue of Liberty is a National Monument and treasure, so you will have to go through strict security. No drinks except water. And absolutely no food. (They took our banana!!)... think of it as Airport security, because it isn't far off, but Ms. Liberty is so worth it!

The ferry will first take you to Liberty Island, you will meet her royal highness and be in complete awe. There are stunning veiws of Manhattan, a large park, places to eat and of course, the opportunity to get to know Lady Liberty.
My personal perception before seeing her, was that she was this massive building, stretching to the sky. However, though she's quite a tall statue, a good portion of her sits on a pedestal.
Your stair climb will be inside of liberty's pedestal, unless of course you're lucky enough to score crown tickets. 
We cheated
We took the elevator to the top of the pedestal, it gets crowded up there, but again... worth it! There is no elevator from the pedestal to the crown.
Lady Liberty's Shadow...
After you've explored Liberty Island you'll wait another 45-60 minutes in line for the return ferry. If you book your tickets early enough you'll also be able to explore Ellis Island and "The Immigration Museum" as well. We had afternoon tickets, so we didn't get off at Ellis Island, the ferry stops there before returning to Battery Park. I completely regret that now, as Ellis Island is rich in American history. Seriously,  what was I thinking (an excuse to return? Perhaps?) Ellis Island is where the vast majority of immigrants stopped before being allowed into the United States. There were families living in quarantine and many obstacles to encounter for the past hopeful settlers. 
Read about the history of Ellis Island here 

Visiting "The Gateway to America" is one of the cheaper tourist destinations in NYC. Manhattan and it's surrounding areas are VERY expensive, so $25 for a Ferry ride to and from two islands, plus entrance into Ms. Liberty, is a bargain!

She's breath taking to sail past...
If you want to book your tickets in advance, watch for scams, many ferry's just sail by and do not stop at Liberty Island. Also, if you want to book a ticket to go into the crown of the statue, you have to book months before you plan to visit. I'd say 4-6 months in advance.
The Official Statue of Liberty site
If you want to know more about why the country of France was so generous with their gift to the US... Read about it here...

A visit to Liberty & Ellis Island will take up the majority of your day, so plan accordingly and enjoy.

The Statue of Liberty does not disappoint!

50 fun Statue of Liberty facts!

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Dairy Free Rice Krispy Squares

I'm seriously excited about these!
Why you you ask?
Ever since April of 2015 when we found out my son Andy was allergic to dairy, our lives came to a screeching halt... we consumed so much dairy, we probably should have owned a cow.

These treats are so easy to make, I can't believe I haven't made them before now. When my daughter asked me to make rice krispy squares, I thought "well, ok, I guess I'll just use vegan margerine"... seriously though... have you SEEN the chemicals in some of that stuff?

Then, I had an epiphany :)
I only needed a little something to melt the marshmallows. OLIVE OIL it is then!

You'll need (trust me you need these in your life)

10.5 ounce bag of mini marshmallows
1/4 cup olive oil
5-6 (I used 6) cups of rice krispies

Combine the marshmallows and olive oil in a large sauce pan. Warm on medium heat until melted completely. Stirring often.
Suddenly, everyone was a marshmallow melting expert :)
Once the marshmallows are smooth and melted, add in your rice krispies quickly. Stir and coat your the cereal well before putting them in a baking dish of your choice. Press the gooey-sticky mixture down into the dish. Have your teeanger place rice krispy treat in the fridge for an hour (after all, he has nothing better to do :)
We made a double batch which he carefully managed a balancing act of.

After an hour, cut into squares.

They are a sugary delicious vegan treat!
Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Just be nice...

Do you ever feel like life needs a "do-over" button?
What about a "that didn't really happen and I'm going to wake up" button?
How about a...
"That really did happen, I feel broken, but I'm alive and I got this"
"It's time to re-group and re-think and re-evaluate what's important to me and my life journey?

Since my mom has passed away, I have felt all 4 of the above. I have learned so much about life, about myself and about what's important.

People... people are important.
Nothing matters more than people. My (everyone's) number one priority should be other people. How we treat them, how we view them, how we love them, how we talk to them, and how we look at them.

When you lose someone close to you, you learn that no one should ever be taken for granted, because life is quick. Life is too quick and life is unfair. It is completely unfair.
But you know what? That's okay, because I have also learned that the saying "What doesn't kill us makes us stronger", Is completely and without doubt... true.
I have stopped in my tracks. I have re-evaluated my life. I have discovered what brings me peace and I know what adds to my stress.
I have a clear vision of what I want from life and I have a plan to conquer my hearts true passions.
I love so many people, and though I will always take into consideration their advice to me, only I know my true hearts desire.
My heart is full. SO full of much curiosity, and much aspiration . I'm blessed that my needs are met. So I'm on to those desires.

My life has taken a slightly new route...

Life Change #1. I've dropped my Degree program. I'm extremely passionate about the environment and I'll be on my soapbox often, but I don't like to work all of the time, like alllllll of the time. I want to travel, a lot, but dang it.. I also need to work. So what's a close 2nd? Teaching. I love teaching. I have enough College/University credits to get me pretty close to a Math Teaching Degree, and guess what? There is a need for Math teachers all over the world, they are on the job shortage list in England! (If I decide to go that route). With teaching I woud get all major holidays off... AND THE WHOLE SUMMER!!!! I have worked for 2 different school districts in Texas, it is so sweet having the summer off! And 2 weeks at Christmas? SHWAAAWING! I start classes the end of August.
Life Change #2. I have opened a slightly higher interest rate savings account, to save for a property in the UK. I won't be able to purchase a property until I have my teaching degree, because my current position of working for the State of Texas, does not afford me the luxury of paying for a mortgage in the UK. However, I hope to pay most of a property off with cash, this girl is saving her buns off... I've also put the money where it's hard to access. I opted for an online saving account. Withdrawals take time, I'm not tempted at all to touch that money.
Life Change #3. I've started investing. More on that as I learn and invest. I've been working with many elderly people lately that are on such a low fixed income... my heart breaks for them. I have taken control of my retirement. I have a 401k with my job, but I just don't feel that's enough. I do have a world to explore, after all!
Life Change #4. I've decided that I am going to be single. For a long time. This is a first for me. I've always had a man in my life, whether married, dating or super serious, there has always been someone. And you know what? Because of that, I have never put my own dreams first. I can continue to be a good mother and do what I want in life (travel, travel, travel). But on the relationship front, I seem to attract men that want to control me, I need to be single for awhile, to also figure out what's up with that mental choice of mine. Oh and just so you know, I LOVE being single. I do not answer to anyone, I go where I please, I never get accused of anything because of jealousy, I can have male friends without question, I spend my money on what I want, I don't have to put up with any BS whatsoever. I feel independent and strong.
I'm not saying there is no such thing as a great relationship, I'm saying it's just not something I want right now, it's not something I need and I like this new peace I have found. I've never had it before and I really like it. I am focusing on me, my children, my career... Life is just where I want it to be, for now.
I hope that life finds you questioning where you are and how you are. By searching, by questioning and by stretching ourselves... by experiencing both pain and joy, we grow.
In closing I'd like to share the number one thing I've learned that will make you a better person, as well as content those around you... "Just be nice". That's it. That's all. Try it, you'll see.

Monday, April 25, 2016

I love you Mom

My mom left the world on September 23, 2015.

Isn't that just complete crap?
I mean... Seriously?

We plod around through life, thinking "Well maybe things aren't perfect, but they aren't so bad"...
And then.
It's as if, you're hit by a freight train. 
That's the best way to describe it. 

When you lose someone you love, every part of your being hurts. 
You hurt physically and you hurt emotionally.
You hurt deeply.
You hurt in a way that you have never felt.
You feel very alive, because of the excruciating pain that is ripping through your soul.

When you lose someone to death.
Someone that was part of your heart.
You begin to understand just how trivial most things in life are, you know that the very things that upset you, meant nothing. 

You learn that it's just not worth it to sweat the small stuff. 
And just about everything is small stuff. 

What matters...
The feelings of others.
Well.. There are many things that matter, but what matters to me... Are the people I love in my life. I want to hold on to them tighter than I ever have, and I want to never take them for granted. 

As crazy as it sounds, losing my mother made me feel as if I have lost my way. 
My whole life seemed to be centered around her, not in a bad way, but in an "I really love my mom and care about what happens to her way". I always worried about hurting her feelings when I talked about moving to England. And I would get so upset at her when she would say "You can't leave until I'm not around anymore"... I'd get so angry when my mom told me that she wouldn't be around for very much longer. Of course, she thought it would be her heart, mom had a sick heart, but it turns out... it was quite strong through it all.

Though I never lived life thinking I had to please my mother, I always did have her in the back of my mind and on my heart. Sometimes we would annoy the heck out of each other... She always had to be right... She was always so feisty! My mother was the strength of our family and was what held us all together. It was her that we all wanted to be with during the holidays and for our birthdays. It was mom that was the strongest.

It was just so unexpected. It started with a kidney infection. Then she fell and hurt her back. Then she was put in the hospital for pain in her back and complications in her kidneys... then pneumonia... when the pneumonia didn't leave her body, the doctors dug deeper and a cat scan discovered that she had cancer... she was covered in it. Her lungs, her abdomen, her skin... She died 2 days after we found out. She never knew. Which was a blessing, as it was her biggest fear in life. Cancer.

I held her hand as she left this world. 

So where does this leave me? 
For awhile, I felt bad if I even smiled.
For months I didn't have too many happy moments, but they are breaking through more and more.
Hannah and Andy have been my focus... I dreaded Christmas, in fact I was absolutely pissed off most of the holiday season. I did my very best to keep it together, I made it as special as I could muster up for my children. This year there were no cards, or baking... Or much else... But I know that next year will be different. I still won't like having Christmas without my mom, but I will have learned a little better how to live life with her living in heaven.

It has now been 7 months since I lost my mom. At first, I buried myself in work. Then, I would latch on and look to others to filll my void. You see, being the ex-wife to a military man, meant I moved a lot. And when we moved, I would find comfort in making friends all over the world. But once I was back in Texas, well... I spent all of my extra time with my mom. She was my best friend, she was the person that I called about serious things and silly things... Like what brand butter to buy. After all, mom always seemed to have all of the answers. She was my best friend. When I lost her. I was left with my feet kicked from under me. I have painfully learned that I can't look to anyone else to fill the void that's inside of me. It's no one's responsibility and there is no one that can.

Instead of focusing on the void in my life. I will now only focus on the good. There is always good. I haven't traveled since I lost my mom, I haven't done anything. I have felt sorry for myself mostly. But you know ... As I learn to live life without my mother, I will also learn, that it's okay to enjoy life again. I will slowly return to the things that I hold passion for. Like traveling, helping those in need, blogging, reading and continuing to study about the latest environmental issues... The things that make me, me. The things that make me tick.

For the last 7 months, In my own self pity, I have not focused on my 2 children as much as I would normally. I've taken care of their needs physically, of course. But they are used to me taking them on "mom/daughter dates" and "mom/son dates". Or just the 3 of us would go out and explore Austin. (Or London... Or Ireland... Or Florida... You get the picture). It's time for me to stop spending my extra time laying in bed. It's time that I stop feeling sorry for myself. I can still mourn. But no more self-pity.

I may not be ready to take on the World again, but I'm making plans to. :)

Before I close, I want to add, that before my mom died, and while she was still coherent. I was able to thank her for being an amazing mother. I was also able to thank her for the greatest lesson that she ever taught me, I'd like to share with you what that was.

I told my mom "Thank you for teaching me unconditional love, thank you for always making me feel loved no matter what I did, or didn't do. Because of you, I am able to show that same unconditional love to my own children and people in my life".

I love you mom, thank you for teaching me to be a strong woman.
I'm going to be okay.

                                                   Florence Louise Chrzan 
                                August 22, 1952 - September 23, 2015

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

The Thames Clipper and The London Eye

In the last 7 years, I have been to London 16 times.

Guess how many times I have been on the London Eye?

Zero. Until now.

In the past I would always look at it and think "I wonder if that thing could fall into the Thames" or "It honestly doesn't look like much is holding those pods on" I'd also admire  the fireworks on New Years Eve, they truly are phenomenal. But In all of my trips, I couldn't bring myself to actually buy a ticket and get on that big ole Ferris wheel.

This year though, when I took my children to England for the summer, I knew that this was going to be the year of the London Eye. 

We traveled from Tower Bridge to South Bank, where the London Eye is located. Instead of taking the underground, we decided to take a River bus, also known as "The Clipper". It's a huge boat with seating like any airplane, complete with pull down trays. It also has a small canteen that sells simple drinks and snacks. 

The Clipper is roughly £7 per person, one way. It's not the cheapest form of travel in London, but the experience is wonderful, London is a whole new city when viewed from the Thames.

When we arrived my 13 year old teen took one look at it and said "I'm not going up there"... 

He had me telling him "Oh don't be silly, you'll be fine!"

I booked our tickets online. It's a much better deal and I also got tickets to Madame Tussaud's at the same time, The more places and tickets you book, the better the deal!
In fact, you can save up to 40% if you book 3 different site seeing tours. 

It's a pretty fascinating experience, as the London Eye NEVER stops... you have to hop on it while it's moving. As a huge pod approaches the bottom of the wheel (see photo above) everyone exits, next a security crew quickly goes aboard and uses mirrors to check under seats and after clearing the pod, the next group of people board. Kinda Quickly.

Once you're on board, you have a feeling of "Phew!"... Made it!
And as you begin to turn, you realize that you can't even feel the wheel turning, and the mechanics of the whole machine is very cool, then... you see central London. You stand in awe and begin to soak in all of the majestic views.

I counted how many people were in the pod that we were in, but in all of the excitement I forgot (Some blogger I am :), however I know it was close to 25, there were a lot of people in there! But rest assured, it's a huge pod!

 There is even a big bench in the middle

To my surprise, I did get to see,
(And it took me a second to work out what it was)
An upside down Cow!

 (After our trip I looked this up and found out it was part of the Udderbelly Festival)
Ahhh the things you see in London eh?

Everything was going so wonderfully
And then
I felt ill, the pod we were in made it to the top and here I am freaking out. Only on the inside of course, and my son? He was just fine and walking around, But I did say to him "Stay away from the door!!!"... People must have thought I was a complete idiot. But at the top, 443 Feet UP...I felt panicky! Surely the door can unlock from the inside??
Luckily, I only lost my mind for about 3.2 seconds.
I had a quick word with myself
"Come on Tammy, this thing is made really well!"

I was amazed by the London Eye's construction

We were so high,
443 Feet Up!

I had to do some serious self calming talk at the top, but as we came back around, and down, I reminded myself I was higher when I went to the Sky Garden, on top of the Walkie Talkie Sky Scraper.

After about 30 minutes, we were back on the ground again.
And I ask myself (like I do after every plane ride), "So what was the big deal?" That was easy!
(Heights aren't my thing... have you noticed?)
However, I'm not one to let a little fear stop me from travel, and experiencing such magnificent experiences.

The London Eye is worth the ride and the pennies, we rode it during July and only had to stand in line about 30 minutes. Besides, you can buy Ice Cream while waiting, so no complaints from me or the children!

The London Eye Website for discounted advanced purchases is HERE
And HERE you can book tickets or get information regarding the Thames Clipper

Thank you for stopping by, I love writing and talking about London and I'd love it if you said hello!
Have a great week,

Thursday, September 3, 2015

The Citymapper App

When I was in London this past summer, I went equipped with what I just knew would be the best apps for a summer in London, ready and installed on my phone. I knew I'd have no problem whizzing around the city and finding cool things to do.

Then, (there is always a "then" when traveling) my son decided he didn't want to get on the underground. He didn't like it. Not one bit.
How do people travel in London without the underground trains?

I quickly learned.

We got so lost on the buses, trying to get from King's Cross to The Natural History Museum, that we gave up and went back to our flat. I turned to facebook to vent my frustrations.

That's when a friend told me that I couldn't live without the citymapper app.

She was right.

It boasts about being "The Ultimate Transport app", and, after 2 months of traveling in and out of London, I'm a firm believer, it IS the Ultimate transport app.

If you are going to be in London, download the Citymapper App, it's free! 

I think the hardest part about taking buses in London is actually FINDING your bus stop, they are all labeled, A, B, C... so on and so on, but London is a huge city. Just around King's Cross there is an endless sea of bus stops. However, if you're like me, and you get turned around easily, it's okay. Wherever you end up, just let citymapper tell you the best way to your destination, no matter where you are. Bus stops in London have wonderful maps and are good at letting you know where they go and where they stop (mostly), but if you're a stranger in any city, you want specifics!! After getting citymapper, I felt at ease. 

Not only will this app tell you the quickest way to go, it will give you the option of walking, using the tube, the train, a car, a bus or a bike. It even tells you how many calories you will burn walking and how much a taxi will cost.

Upon returning to Austin, I investigated to see if Citymapper had an App for Austin, no such luck. But I did make a suggestion, and hopefully they will soon be in my home city!

Here are the other lucky cities to have this great app.
Mexico City DF, Chicago, Los Angeles, Washington DC, Toronto, Philadelphia, San Francisco Bay Area, New York, Montreal, Boston, Vancouver, Manchester, Birmingham, Lisboa, Sao Paulo, Randstad, Paris, Madrid, Brussels, Hamburg, Lyon, Barcelona, Berlin, Milan, Rome, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Singapore.

If you want to be able to use this app where you are, you can go to the Citymapper website and vote for your city to be added!

There are a lot of great London apps, but of all that I used, this is the only one that I used almost daily. It made navigating around London (children in tow), so easy!

If you have other travel app suggestions, please let me know, I'm always up for a good app!
Have a great Labor Day Weekend!

100 (73) Things by 2019

This original posting was from 2013. Though it wasn't easy, I actually came up with 100 things I wanted to do. However, it turned into just... a meaningless, Froot Loop list, floating around cyberspace. I couldn't even remember what I had put on my 100! A lot of good that did me, forgetting what I wanted. But that's just it, the list was full of mostly un-thoughtful "wants". So after a small blogging sabbatical, I have returned with goals. REAL goals, things I have thought about, researched about and mulled over in my mind.

Setting goals is a healthy way to grow and discover, (with some hard work, of course). I have learned that goals aren't a destination. They are a constant journey, because in setting and achieving our goals, we set ourselves up for further accomplishments and a much richer life.

By posting my goals on my blog, It's a way of holding myself accountable. I live to seek knowledge and to understand, setting goals opens up many portals for personal insight.

Here are my 100 73 goals Some easy, Some frivolous, Some serious.
I will seek to accomplish them by 2019.

Why 2019?
That's 5 years. Every 5 years is a good time to re-evaluate and goal plan.
Why 73? Because these are the things that are important and meaningful to me, in my life, right now.

Besides, I CAN change my list. It's after all, MY list!!

Goals to be completed by December 31st, 2015 
  1. Lose 10lbs.
  2. (Then) Make is to losing 25lbs.
  3. Climb 1300 stairs in 30 minutes.
  4. Walk a mile in 15 minutes.
  5. Eat 3 Vegetarian dinners every week.
  6. Go One whole week without refined sugar.
  7. Work out 4 days a week EVERY WEEK for at least 30 minutes.
  8. Eat fresh vegetables every day (Not frozen or canned)
  1. (Begin the lessons) To re-learn french
  2. Make an honest effort (to learn how to and try) to publish one of my children's books.
  3. Hand write one personal letter a week to a friend or family member (Everyone loves happy mail) (In Progress)
  4. Bake or cook a new dairy free meal each week. (In Progress)
  5. Crochet a blanket (Though I have taken it apart twice now, It's In Progress!!)
  6. Crochet Wash Clothes
  7. Crochet Dish Clothes
  8. Volunteer at the Recycling Center in Austin, Texas
  9. Educate myself on Environmental Laws
  10. Volunteer at a Food Kitchen
  11. Make gift bags (blessing bags) for the homeless at Christmas (Currently collecting Items)
(Blog Goals)
  1. Find a new blog to read every week. (Very muchly so enjoying this "In Progress")
  2. Participate in Travel Link up on Emma's Blog for Sept, Oct, Nov and Dec. (In Progress)
  3. Write (at least) one Environmental Blog Topic every week
  4. Research, Research Research!! AND Contact major airline companies and blog about the most environmentally friendly airlines.
  1. Set up an Etsy store and sell recycled and up-cycled products
  2. Donate to a different charity or organization every month.
  3. Set up a separate savings account JUST for travel.
  1. Visit 2 new places in Austin, Texas every month

  1. Continue to get fit with a goal loss of losing 50lbs.
  2. Then 75lbs.
  3. Rounding up to 100lbs lost 
  4. Work out at least 4 days a week EVERY Week for at least 30 minutes.
  5. (Will add another goal after completing workout goals for 2015)
  6. Make an effort to eat clean.
(Personal and Environmental)
  1. Upcycle a piece of furniture.
  2. Continue to take classes to earn my Environmental Science Degree
  3. Make pierogies from scratch!
  4. Volunteer in a classroom to teach an Environmental or Recycling lesson
  5. Start a Compost at home
  6. Stop using ANY stretchable plastic, including plastic sandwich bags
  7. Start to build a plastic free kitchen (We all know that appliances have plastic, but I'm talking about needless plastic use)
  8. Contact major companies and ask them how they plan to cut down on packaging to help the environment
  9. Switch to all cloth napkins at home
  10. Send letters to local school encouraging them to start a campaign to recycle their markers, pens and crayons.
  11. Write an article for an Environmental Magazine.
  12. Donate coats and blankets in the winter, to those in need.
  13. Plant a garden, even if it's in containers
  14. Learn to can food.
(Blog Goals)
  1. Share blog love by reading and sharing other great blogs on social media
  2. Continue to blog about Environmental issues at least once a week
  3. Find and read other Environmental blogs
(Travel Goals)
  1. Travel to Boston and check out Bean Town (Summer)
  2. Travel to Maine (Summer)
  3. Travel to the Florida Keys (Christmas)
  4. Travel to the Bahamas and swim with  pigs (Exuma, Bahamas) (Christmas)
  5. Watch Sea Turtles Hatch (Spring, Texas shoreline)
  6. Enjoy snow in Colorado (January or February)
  7. Travel to Paris for Spring Break (March)
  8. Travel to London in the Summer
  1. Donate to a new charity or organization every month.
  2. Set aside one day a month to actively look for scholarships and apply for them
  3. Enter a contest at least once a week (Read this on a blog... Hey, I might win!)
  4. Actively pay off student loan even though I'm still in school.
  5. Every month go one week without spending any money on "wants"... Remind self that I love to travel!
  6. Set up a special savings account to save for a flat purchase in England. 

  1. Pay off my student loan (Or at least put a huge dent into it)
  2. Purchase a flat in England
  1. Travel by car along the Wild Atlantic Way, in Ireland, and take at least 2 or 3 weeks to truly enjoy the journey! Taking as many of my children as will go!
  2. Visit St. Michael's Mount in Cornwall
  3. Visit Tintagel Castle in Cornwall
  4. Visit Holland in the Spring to see the flowers
  5. Travel to a Greek Island
  6. Travel to Venice, Italy
  7. In May of 2019 Travel to Bora Bora! (A dream I've had for years)
As I seek my goals, I will date them on my blog. 
Where do you see yourself in 5 years? What are your goals?

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Limestone, Maine... Always on my Mind.

I am taking part in a travel link up this month, the theme is to blog about a "Place you can't get out of your head".

If you know me, you know that London is a big part of my life...And Always on my mind... Heck, I have a whole blog dedicated to it and I can't seem to stay away for more than 4 months at a time.

But there is another place, that my mind wonders to. It holds a huge place in my heart and is where years of memories linger.

Growing up my dad was in the US Air Force, we lived on the Island of Guam for 5 years, and though I remember bits and pieces, the biggest impact of my life was when we left Guam and headed to Maine.

We had no idea what we were in for. We were leaving a tropical island and headed for a place, where winter temps hit 60 below zero, with the wind chill!!

Limestone, Maine is about as far up as you can go in the United States. In my back yard, there was literally a marker that read "United States" on one side and "Canada" on the other.

There were no high fences, no border patrol marching up and down with machine guns. Honestly, then... in the 80's, we were worried about war with Russia, the big scare was the nuclear bombs on Loring AFB and WW3. In the 80's we came and went across the Canadian border without thought. In Canada it was legal to drink at 18, in the States it was 21, so going across the border to Canada made you feel all grown up! When I was 18, my boyfriend and I would go dancing at the night clubs.

But back up, Back up. I'm getting ahead of myself.
Let me paint you a picture.
If my memory serves me correctly, there were 69 people in my graduating class. 
Here is the town center of Limestone, where I grew up.

The nearest mall was a 3 hour drive, there were a couple of clothing stores in the near by towns of Caribou and Presque Isle, but all in all, fashion didn't come to these parts like it did the cities. If we were really lucky, some of us would travel to other parts of the States in the summer, and buy really "cool" clothes. Bands like Duran Duran were popular and we would buy teen magazines to show us what the rest of the world was wearing... Imagine when we saw pictures of Boy George for the first time! If he would have walked down Main Street (this very street pictured above), I'm quite sure there would have been a seizure of shock from a person or two. 

But this beautiful town... this tiny Northern town...

It's where I grew up.

My parents never had to lock their doors at night, and there wasn't a whole lot of trouble to get into. I remember wanting to leave, because it was just so boring! Now, that I raise kids of my own, I realize that my mom had it pretty easy raising teens in Limestone, Maine!

My first job was working on a potato farm.
Now THAT is work folks, I have great respect for farmers.
The season started with "rock picking", we literally walked the fields and picked up big rocks and threw them in the back of a cart, being pulled by a tractor. 

The pay was great for a 16 year old, and I picked rocks with my best friend, she's one of the funniest people that I knew and still know!

Then came the REAL work.
Picking the potatoes at harvest time, I stood on the back of one of these with my friend, picking out bad potatoes and more rocks, making sure the good potatoes survived the journey.

Potato picking in Maine, happens in the Autumn, it was so cold and we were up at 4am. 
Did I mention the respect I have for farmers?
Every year during harvest, school let out in Limestone for 3 weeks. I went to school with so many farming families,that the students would have missed school to work on the farms, so it was a given holiday every school year.

In my 7 years of living in Limestone, Maine
I saw plenty of snow. In March I would think "please no more snow, please please please NO more snow", but it lurked, and some of it could still be seen in clumps, left behind by snow plowing, until May. Flowers grew alongside piles of snow and when it hit 70 degrees my girlfriends and I would think it was summer, we would lay out in our chairs, snow beside us and lather up with baby oil... Sometimes, I'd like to slap my younger self!!! SKIN DAMAGE ALERT!!

There was so so so much of this...

Very high snow drifts were not uncommon...
I have shoveled more snow than I care to remember... 
I grew up with frost bite warnings.
And wind chill factors.

I learned to drive in snow, with a stick shift!

I remember the first time I saw the Norther Lights.
Seeing Aurora Borealis frightened me, I didn't know what it was, I had never heard of it, and all I remember was bright streaks of light quickly whipping across the sky. My mom told me what was happening, I was young, I thought the world was ending!
It was, however, Breathtaking

When driving in Maine, you see many of these, just sauntering across the road. Every time you see a Moose, your heart does an extra little pitter patter, they are massive creatures.

I also met and married my husband in Limestone. He was a soldier at the time, working on Loring AFB. We married on the base and had our reception in my parents home, that looked similar to this.

Sadly it burned down a year later, and the barn that stood behind it. It was the largest barn in Aroostook County. Arson was suspected, which makes it a hard pill to swallow. But I do have my pictures, and my memories.

Coming from a small town means that people are close, and that everyone knows everyone else. I have kept in contact with 90% of the people that were in my graduating class. From what I understand, since the base closed, the town has more or less disappeared and there are only 1,075 people living in Limestone now. It wasn't a big town to start with, now it's nearly obsolete.

 My plan is to return in the summer of 2016. I want to show my children that I grew up in a place where, for miles and miles, you see this...

Sure, we do have big open spaces in Texas, but we don't have the four seasons of Maine. And we rarely leave the city. Unless of course, we are traveling to another city. 
Thinking of Maine reminds me of peace.
Of quiet.
Of a pristine wilderness.

27 years of memories.

At 18, I left Maine and moved to England with my husband.
Can you imagine the culture shock? 
I soon adjusted from being a small town girl, to a world traveler.

Sadly, for this blog posting, my photos are all in storage, so these are photos I found using google.
However, they perfectly sum up, my every memory.
See you soon Maine!

If you would like to take join in on the travel link up, please check out the blogs  by EmmaKelly Rebecca Or Liz.
They have amazing travel blogs, and you can find the link to join in!