When I ask for a picture


Aura Photograph

While in New York last summer I wondered into China town and found myself in the Magic Jewelry Shop to have my aura photographed.  I had read a lot about these photographs with one blog in particular that made me curious.  And who can resist the colors?  The door was locked when I arrived and I had to wait to be buzzed in even though it was midday.  The tiny shop had two display cases filled with, of course, jewelry.

Right away I asked for the picture and a lady had me sit and place my hands to the sides of me on small black metal boxes.  She asked me to hold very still.  The photo was taken and I followed her to a display case where she did the reading.

Much to my surprise I was overwhelmed with the accuracy of the reading.  My aura colors that afternoon were bright yellows and oranges and reds.  There was darkness over my tummy, cloudiness over my heart and my body was tinted green.  The first thing she told me was that I needed to be mindful of eating breakfast every day and that not eating was the cause of the darkness in my photo.  Immediately I was impressed that she would know that I skipped breakfast the past three days.  She then told me that the orange meant I was a friendly, outgoing person.  The yellow represented that I had a major life change about two years ago and that it all was for the best, that I was growing into the person I was much more comfortable with and that it was making me truly happy.  The red was informing me that I needed to reach out to my creative side.  And the green tint picked up on my need to be compassionate.  Not surprising since I’m comfortable doing Hospice Care.  And the heart thing, cloudy, well, no surprise there.  I was given a few more details and it concluded with her telling me that the intensity moving from the bottom right to the left meant that the future was bright and I’d see amazing things in the next year.

She finished the reading while taping the photo to a card and suggesting a few pieces of jewelry to enhance the good and protect me from the bad.  I politely declined and was invited to come back again at a different time of day or the following day because our aura changes as often as our feelings.  While I didn’t get a chance during that trip, I plan to go again next time I get into the city again.

Road Trip *aka I ran away.

This past week I had a few crucial decisions to make and instead of hanging around to face the problem, I ran away from them.  This is a direct contradiction to my only 13 day old resolution to Face My Fears.  But I don’t want to call it a failure because ….running away was exactly what I needed.   My problems aren’t solved but my head is clearer and my stomach is untangled from the tight knots that were collecting there.

It was a last minute decision to go.  The thought occurred to me on Thursday morning knowing it was an unlikely scenario though.  Who leaves with no where to go?   I decided late Thursday after having dinner with friends that I’d just do it.  Friday came, work was done, it was getting dark outside and I hadn’t even packed.  I didn’t have a place to stay or a true destination for the night but I had to get away. The gnawing in my gut from decision making was cutting through me.  I knew I’d end up Saturday in the Pheonix area, it’s somewhere I’d been wanting to do for a while and cancelled going twice last year, I just didn’t have any plans to get there.  Usually I’d have mapped out a route and decided all the plans ahead of time.  Planning is one of my favorite things but this trip I found myself on the road at 7pm and nothing ahead of me.  When I got tired of driving, I got on Priceline and booked the closest hotel.  It wasn’t until Saturday afternoon when the rain was pouring and my hiking goals were squashed that my heart slowed down a bit and I just enjoyed the scenery.

I ended up Friday night in Kingman, Arizona.  Saturday morning I woke up to rain so I had to cancel my Grand Canyon viewing and instead drove up highway 66 for awhile and then turned south on the Joshua Tree National Forest Highway to go to Scottsdale.  When I got there in the mid-afternoon I explored Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesan West.  The view was stunning from there and the rain was refreshing.  Then I found a room nearby and also enjoyed a boba.  That night a good friend noticed where I was from my Instagram post and told me she was in Pheonix too.  She was running the Rock and Roll Marathon and the finish line was 6 miles from where I was staying.  I got up in the morning and met her there.  We enjoyed the finish line festivities, had lunch and I headed home feeling a 1000 times better than when I left.

My problems were not resolved.  My life still has issues I’m currently trying to figure out.  But I was reminded why the best place for me work out any troubles are outside.  And what I discovered was the fear of the unknown was much more healing than I could’ve imagined.

Oh New York. You were perfect. 

My favorite thing I did for myself in 2016 was take a spontaneous (secret) trip to New York. *when you find round trip tickets for barely $100, and have a free place to stay, it’s hard to not go.)

I stayed in SoHo. My room had views of the Freedom Tower and sunsets on The Hudson. I looked at the concrete city in all it’s wonder from the One World Observation Deck. I strolled across Brooklyn Bridge. I had my aura photographed. I ate cupcakes at Magnolia Bakery. I people watched in Times Square. I found a few tiny graveyards. I listened to jazz at The Roxy. I laid in the sun in Central Park. I had a 99 ice cream. Watched street performers. Met up with one of my favourite people. And when I came home 65 hours later, my face hurt from smiling.

My favorite travel sites.

Here is a list of my top favorite travel sites for alerts and searching.  I mostly use them as a guide for prices I should be able to find and then go to the airline or hotel or company website to book.  I’ve called hotels directly and told them about the price I saw online and got them to book me for a lower price.  This was done without any pressure from me except asking kindly once,  “Can you do any better?”  Even if it was only $5, that’s the $5 that buys me a water at the airport after I pour mine out at security.  I figure every dollar counts.  I’ve called airlines in the middle of the night (during my insomnia phase) and asked when the next sale/special will be posted.  More often than not, employees are willing to share this information.  I search hashtags for the places I’m thinking of traveling to on social media.  I’m also a little crazy when it comes to expectation of prices.  I give myself an absurd challenge and then don’t go until I find it at that price….or I don’t go.  Who would’ve thought you could fly to Europe cheaper than to Florida?  Me.

  1. Travelzoo
  2. Airfarewatchdog
  3. Spirit Deals
  4. About Travel
  5. T&L
  6. AirBnb
  7. Private accounts on Instagram/Snapchat
  8. TravelPirates
  9. Expedia, Travelocity, Priceline… etc.
  10. BookingBuddy
  11. HipMunk
  12. Skyscanner

I know there are tons more out there. I’m still exploring.  These are what I have on my phone or signed up for alerts through e-mail.  If you have a favorite, let me know.

How can you afford to travel?

You may be thinking it too.  I’ve been asked that question a dozen or so times in the past month.  I took a dream solo holiday for 12 days to Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and the United Kingdom for less than $1000.00.  It only took a little patience, flexibility, and resourcefulness.

Here’s what I did to get on that plane:

    I don’t spend $5 bills.  They all go into my “holiday” jar.  Once I save $500 I allow myself to start planning.  I already have a few places in mind. Planning takes a few months. I stated saving in October of 2015 and was ready to book something by March 2016.  By the time I actually leave I usually have a few hundred more for spending. 
    I set alerts on no less than 10 travel sites for where I wanted to go.
    I searched AirBNB and HostelWorld. I love AirBNB but traveling solo made me think differently.  I wanted to meet people and Hostels provide a lot of socialization.  I also felt safer staying in a room of strangers than staying by myself.
    I had an open schedule.  Weekdays are cheaper than weekends to travel.  45 days out can also be as cheap as 14.  My daughter had an unexpected event and I had to cancel my original dates with a $75 change fee.  I couldn’t believe that the new travel dates two weeks out were actually cheaper than the original price booked six weeks in advance.
    I wanted to see the world and discover new places.  I didn’t need to stay in the most expensive places or cities.  Clearly, there are exotic or popular spots that cost more due to tourist inflation. I also don’t need 5 star anymore. I want a clean space but plan on spending as little time in the room as possible. I’m traveling to see the world.

I found a flight to Norway for $138 and my ticket home from Stockholm was $98. I flew roundtrip for less than it would cost me to go visit my sister in Ohio. I stayed in Hostels or with friends for between $24-65 a night. I took flights between countries for $39, $24, and $9. 

Once I arrived, I went to a market to buy food for breakfast and snacks. I ate early in my room or lobby while hanging out, ate out for brunch nearly every day, ate a snack or two and then only had 2 sit down dinners when I wasn’t picnicing with the food I bought at the store in a park or on the go. I saw nearly everything the city had to offer for free. I paid for two admissions, chose them wisely and was very happy with my choices.

    *It’s not always easy to scour through websites for months but it’s worth it. For Christmas I promised my girls we’d go to Florida this year. I also told them I wouldn’t fly there for more than $250 per person. I was beginning to think I wouldn’t be able to find anything even near that price. But I finally found a deal for $126 there and $98 home on different airlines. I’ve been looking since December. Last week I found an amazing AirBnb home 2 miles from Universal Studios for $50 a night with full access to a kitchen, minutes from a bus stop, and a pool and hot tub.  We can’t wait.

    My 3 Favourite places in London


    I don’t make daily intineraries when I travel and luckily my girlfriend was open to anything I wanted to do.  This opened up opportunities for us.  We were invited to amazing places and got to do things locals never even get to do.

    My favourite places were not local tourists traps.  We got lucky and stumbled upon some fabulous spots that only would’ve been found because we were not on a schedule and when something looked interesting we went out of our way to seek it out.  But I had read a little about a few hidden gems in the city that called out to me.

    It’s been a few months since I’ve been home and these three places are the ones that have been on my mind the most and will be the places I will revisit when I return.

    1st on my list is Regents Canal in Shoreditch
    I had read about the canal walk online.  It was one of the main reasons I was drawn to stay in Shoreditch.  This place is secluded and gorgeous and put me in my happy place.  Besides the scenery it had a perfect little outdoor eatery, The Towpath Cafe, on the water where they served Grilled Cheese sandwiches with jam.  Oh.  We walked along the water for a few miles.  The leaves were changing colors and it even smelled good.  Minus the ginormous spiders along the brick walls, this place is amazing.  I want to live there even though it’s cold and cloudy and not by a beach.

    2nd was St Dunstan in the East.
    I almost don’t want to share this one because I loved the solitude of it so much.  I’ve been there in my dreams and it has been calling to me.  For such a small space we stayed there for a long time.  At least until it started to rain.  It’s better in real life than any pictures.  I had seen this online too and knew right away that I needed to go there.  It really was the ONLY thing in London I felt that I HAD to go see.  Built in 1100.  It was damaged in the Great Fire of London in 1666.  Rebuilt in the early 1800’s and then bombed in 1941.  Now it’s used as a public garden.

    3rd was Lovet Lane.
    This is where you want to go to feel like you are in old London.  A real cobblestone street.  I loved the narrowness and uneven bricks.  It was quaint and cute.  I admire how Londoners take care of old things.  And how easy it is to step back in time.  West Coast America barely has anything a hundred years old.  I was amazed.  We stumbled upon it while walking to the next tube station because the one we planned on using was closed.  Lucky us.