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Posts Tagged ‘London’

I caught the travel bug when I was a kid. Not during family vacations, those were always filled with tension and fighting and I could never wait to get home. The first time I realized how beautiful travel could be was during my 7th grade trip to Washington D.C. As part of the National Junior Honor Society, we were given small freedoms and allowed to reasonably explore things on our own. The next year, it was Disney World and my first trip to Florida and my first time on an airplane. I was hooked.

When I was sixteen, I earned a place on the Michigan Lions All-State Band’s trip to the international conference in Brisbane, Australia. I convinced my mother to let me go and spent months fundraising. Enduring the world’s longest plane ride, we visited not only Brisbane, but also Sydney, and spent a lovely three days in Hawaii, all the while performing in parades and concerts over a two-and-a-half week period. Even after dealing with a vicious stomach bug shortly after arrival, staying in a dorm with mice and giant cockroaches, a haunted hotel room in the red-light district section of Sydney (complete with gunshots in the walls), and getting lost in the not-so-great section of Honolulu, I was in love with travel and learning about the world outside my own country. This is also when I learned that I don’t like Vegemite, but that’s an different story.

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In the years since, I’ve been fortunate enough to visit Ireland, England, Scotland, Wales, and Italy. (My layovers in New Zealand and Amsterdam technically do not count, but they did stamp my passport, so there’s that.) I don’t count Canada because it is literally (and I’m using that correctly) about twenty minutes away and I’ve been there frequently throughout my life, especially after I turned nineteen, which is the legal drinking age there. Don’t judge.

All of these places taught me lovely, wonderful things, not only about the places and people, but also about myself. I learned how to make myself understood in another language, not perfectly, not even remotely close, but enough to order at restaurants, find the restroom, and ask for towels at the hotel. I learned that I am perfectly capable of navigating through unfamiliar places and can sort out the London Tube map on my own. I’ve made amazing, life-long friends in other places, even though we keep in touch only online. (Sabrina, I SWEAR I will get back to Italy, no worries!)

One of the most important things I’ve learned, though, is the importance of other perspectives. The American viewpoint is not the only one, people see things differently in other places. There are different norms, different customs. Travel has made me much less arrogant and more tolerant of others, more open to listening and understanding, even if I don’t agree. Granted, the places I’ve visited aren’t as far removed from me as a remote village in Kenya might be, (another place I’d like to visit), but they’re definitely not the same as where I’m from. Different cultures, different histories, different mindsets. I find it all fascinating, learning that will never end.

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The point of all of this is to motivate. Don’t have a passport? Get one! Plan, save, do whatever you can to enable to you to get out and see the world, not just your own backyard. While there are many universal truths, seeing the world through someone else’s eyes will open your own. My own list keeps getting longer, to the point of I’m considering becoming a flight attendant when I’m done teaching just so I can travel the world over. Of course, if my Mega Millions ticket ever hits, I’ll be able to do it a lot sooner.

Even with all of its problems, our world is a beautiful place. Go see it.

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I haven’t written in a while, I’ve had a lot going on. It’s been all I could do to post a meme. May is always crazy busy, especially if I’m in a show. Any parent with school-age children can tell you that there is at least one activity per week in May and having a high-schooler is no exception. Concerts, advanced-placement testing, driver’s training… oy. Add to that my own end of the year teaching craziness (data, testing, data, testing, data…why???), a college graduation, and that leaves little time to write.

But now I see a light at the end of the tunnel (20 teaching days left) and I’m making myself sit down to write. It’s important, like exercise.The more you do it, the better you get.

Here are some of the random things that have either happened or that I have thought about during the past couple of weeks.

  • Anyone who is wondering what to name a baby (or a pet) should go sit in on a college graduation. Seriously. We listened to 1,200 name combinations read in about an hour and a half. The odds are that you’ll find something you like.
  • One of my favorite authors, Rachel Held Evans, tragically died at the young age of 37. She is responsible for shaking up the Christian world in amazing, progressive ways and was a voice of reason in these crazy times. I feel she was a true modern-day prophet.
  • I believe now, more than ever, in supernatural things.
  • There is a new royal baby. I make no apologies for being happy for them because new babies are wonderful and I like them. Fight me.
  • You meet some incredible people in theatre. No joke. The level of bonding can be intense.
  • If you really love someone and they really love you back, you feel safe and valued. I feel safe and valued.
  • One way or another, I need to stop wishing my life away. Changes must be made. Do something that you love, or at least find fulfilling.
  • My faith has taken a beating lately.
  • Having adult children can be wonderful.
  • Eating the first asparagus of the season right from the garden is fabulous.
  • I feel much younger than I am. I’m not comfortable with my number and I don’t know that I ever will be.
  • Do you have a pen-pal who lives in a different country? You should. Mine started out as a pen-pal, but is now a dear friend.
  • I’ve never been more disillusioned about the state of our country than I am right now. O. M. G. It feels like we’re living in a dystopian novel.
  • It’s spring, time to get my hands dirty, literally.
  • Teachers compiling data is a stupid thing. Really, really stupid. Hire someone to do that; there’s more than enough on my plate.
  • I am still planning on moving to London.

And lastly:

  • It’s been a bad year for suicides. Suicidal people are not weak or looking for attention, they’re desperate and genuinely feel that ending their lives is the only way to end their pain. Don’t judge them, listen and love. Get them help. You could save a life.

I promise I’ll be more organized next time.

The End

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I need a place.

I need to walk down worn cobblestone streets and sidewalks, molded with ruts and grooves over time, no intent for repairs.

I need wooden walls and tables that have seen at least three centuries.

I need to put my hands on limestone walls and feel the thousand years of memories they hold.

I need to fill my soul with the connections of those who have gone before, who have shaped our now with their words, their deeds, or their silence.

I need a busy high street, crowds from the world over, chattering in languages I don’t understand, but love.

I need the history of place that has been through generations too many to count.

I need the old without the museum, the present that doesn’t overstep its bounds, but melds with the past into one beautiful now.

It’s been too long.

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I’m becoming jaded by the news and I don’t like it. I detest the ugliness, racism, misogyny, lies, and disregard for the environment in our country today and it makes me feel hopeless. I don’t understand why people intentionally ignore facts, excuse blatant wrongs, hurt each other, and don’t take responsibility for their actions. I don’t understand why adults ridicule traumatized children. This country needs a big dose of Dr. Phil and/or God right now, but I have to focus on something else for a minute. I have to, or else the anxiety becomes my whole world. I have to focus on good, beautiful things that I love. Here are some of them.

  • My husband, for so many things, but his hand on my hip as we sleep is something that makes me love him all the more. I’m a light sleeper and I have a lot of bad dreams. Most of the time, when I wake up, Marty is there, a reassuring presence who makes everything alright. (Even if he is snoring loudly.)
  • My boys, individually and all together. They’re so unique, I love talking with each of them alone. And then, when they’re together, it’s like having a heap of puppies romping through the house, except the puppies shoot dart guns, play baseball, and creatively insult each other.
  • Fuzzy kittens. Enough said.
  • My neighborhood party store. Brothers Steve and Randy know me and sell me my weekly MegaMillions ticket on my runs. It’s like Cheers, but not a bar.
  • My theatre. Well, not my theatre. My niece thought I owned it, but no, lol. It’s a place where I’m accepted and I can be myself. I can express myself. A nice place to be.
  • My penpal/dear friend, Sabrina. She lives an ocean away, but is such a kindred spirit. And she puts up with my crappy Italian.
  • Music. It gives so much meaning to life. Hamilton, Pentatonix, and Lindsey Stirling are my current obsessions.
  • Writing. I have an outlet. I’m sort of good at it, but still have a lot to learn. This week, I completed a novel on Bessie Blount, the real one, not the sleazy HBO version. Accomplishment.
  • Babies. Babies are my heart, my joy. Incredible innocence. They’re a promise that life goes on.
  • My church. My church is progressive, including people of all races and sexual identities. I love that.
  • London. London is my dream, my hope, my destiny. I’ve never felt more at home anywhere in the world. Six years now… it’s been too long.
  • Italy. Italy is life to the tenth power. I can’t wait to get back.
  • Cadbury Mini-Eggs. Can’t help it, I adore them.
  • History
  • My therapist, Renee. She’s listened to me for seven years now and I adore her. Most of the time. Not when she’s telling me something that I don’t want to hear, but I know it’s for my own good, but, yeah, she’s awesome.
  • Ireland. Such fond memories of an impossibly beautiful place where I went with some amazing people.
  • Genealogy. I’m a sucker for historic records and long-ago grandparents.
  • Easter candy. Right now, this is an essential part of my diet.
  • God. I saved the best for last. Prayer is essential in these times of confusion/craziness and God remains my rock, every day. My spirituality keeps me centered, grounded, and keeps me sane.

Take some some time and reflect on what makes you happy. Leave it as a comment if you like. I’d love to hear what you love.

Until next time, a presto.

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I love airplanes and airports. I mean, I really, really, love them. My head spins around like Linda Blair’s when we pass Detroit Metro. We live under a flight path and when planes fly over our house, I wonder where they’re coming from. Who is on them? What are their stories? Are they on holiday? Business? Have they just been, or are they going, to somewhere they’ve always wanted to go? The possibilities are endless.

It’s no secret that I love to travel, and I think that’s a big part of my crush. Airports are exciting places! There’s so much to look at, so much to see. Overpriced restaurants, designer shops, tacky souvenirs, and cool fountains abound. The first time I saw a Burberry store or a Jimmy Choo shop was in an airport. Of course, I could never in a million years afford to buy anything, but it was fun to pretend that I could.

The thing is, if you’re in the airport far enough to see all of these wonders, YOU’RE ACTUALLY GOING SOMEWHERE. ON AN AIRPLANE. That’s so cool. I always want to ask everyone where they’re going, since everyone past security is a passenger. It used to not be that way. On my trip to Ireland back in 2001, Mr. Marty Man, Oldest Child, and Middle Child walked me to the gate. We all simply walked through the metal detector and went, no questions asked. A few short months later, our world was turned upside down with 9/11 and, well, now my brother gets pulled out for the “special screening” machine and we have to take off our shoes. I don’t mind, though. There are bad guys out there and safe is good.

I love the airplanes, themselves, too. Not in a mechanic sense, but airplanes get you places fast, unlike cars. Now, there are some good things to be said about road trips, especially if they’re with the right people, but I am not one of those who enjoys the journey. Mechanical problems that can strand you, other stupid drivers, stopping for gas, stinky feet, staying in crappy hotels on the way, no, thank you. I want to get to where I’m going, as quickly as possible and an airplane is the quickest means to an end. I know, they’re no picnic to ride on for long flights. They’re cramped (it’s a dream of mine to get bumped up to first class with leg room) and crowded, and the bathrooms leave much to be desired, but I can make it across the Atlantic Ocean to my favorite place in the world (that would be London, in case you’re wondering) in less than seven hours. If I were to get in a car and drive for seven hours, I can end up in some nice places, like Springfield, Illinois, but if I really wanted to get to Springfield quickly, an airplane would get me there in about an hour and a half. Convenience.

After I went to Australia many years ago, I thought I had my fill of airports. Trying to sleep on the floor of the Auckland, New Zealand airport for seven hours waiting for our flight to Sydney was almost unbearable due to the fact that we had been traveling for almost twenty-four hours and it was the middle of the night in the airport, so nothing was open. Those were some looooong flights and layovers, for sure. When we got back, I thought I would be happy if I never saw an airport again, but it was only a couple of weeks before I felt the yen to travel again. I wouldn’t get on a plane again until my honeymoon, five and a half years later, but I felt that itch every time I passed the airport. Just for reference, Detroit Metro is visible from the freeway, I94, that I travel on a lot.

When Mr. Marty Man and I flew to Miami on that honeymoon, the magic happened all over again. Somewhere in those years, I decided that travel was going to be a crucial part of my life and, luckily, it has been. I’ve been fortunate to be able to travel to many places in my life and I would love to make it more. When a plane flies over, I feel that pull, that tug to wherever that plane is heading, off on another adventure. It’s led me to Florida a few times, Australia/Hawaii, Iowa, Illinois, Ireland, the UK, and Italy. I also have a stamp in my passport for Amsterdam, although I was only in the airport for a layover, but it look cool.

My primary target is Europe. Marty Man would like to see more of the US, where we live, and that would be okay, but I absolutely adore Europe. The history alone is enough to make me cry, and it has. It humbles me to say that I stood in the Sistine Chapel, a masterpiece of art, with tears pouring down my cheeks (which, incidentally, does not help with the humidity issue) at the sheer beauty of the place. I have been floored at the majesty of Westminster Abbey. I know there are people who are similarly affected by spots in the U.S. or Asia, or lots of other places but for me, Europe was always the place I dreamed about since I was a little girl. It has not yet disappointed. (Well, maybe the toilets in Rome. They were pretty gross.) There’s something about walking down a street that has been a street for over 2,000 years that does something to me. There’s something about being in the exact place that my ancestors came from that connects me on a spiritual level. There’s something eye-opening about having the realization hit you that there are other perspectives in this world besides the one from your own country and wondering how that fits into the international dance of give and take. Travel is education.

Why am I postulating on this? Oldest Child is in the UK right now for a study-abroad session through his college. As I write this, though, he’s actually in very good hands with my friend Sabrina, close to Venice, for  his off weekend. He is learning things there, gaining experience that he could not get at home and for that I am grateful. And just a teeny bit jealous. Well, maybe more than a teeny bit, but I’ll get over it. Anyway, his being there is why I’m thinking about this right now and I’m so happy that one of my kids has caught the travel bug like his mama.

I’m always looking for my next chance to fly. If you ever get the chance, take it. Don’t be scared off by the unknown or different, for things that may or may not ever happen to you. Take the chance, take the risk because chances are it will be just fine and you’ll learn something new while having a blast. In the meantime, I’m going to continue gazing at the sky and dreaming of my next adventure.

A presto.

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A dear friend of mine from my teenage/young adult years shared that he is going to be a grandfather later this year. It’s a wonderful thing, of course, but the thought of grandchildren provokes a sense of disbelief. Eeks! A grandfather??? Already? Then I began to think. Both my grandmother and mother were only two years older than I am now when they became grandmothers. (My mother still hasn’t forgiven me for that.)

I can’t imagine it, though, being a grandparent right now. In my mind, I’m still some awkward youngster who has her whole life ahead of her, but the years say otherwise. Forty is the new thirty, true, but time is gradually slipping away. There is only a matter of time before some cute little thing is calling me Nonna. (Not Grandma, not Granny, Nonna. I’m going all-Italian on this one.)

In the meantime, this passage of time makes me aware of things in my life that I want to accomplish but haven’t yet, otherwise known as a “Bucket List”. I don’t know if the movie starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman came up with the name or if it had previously existed, but I first became aware of it when the movie came out in 2007. The movie is about two terminally ill men who set out to do everything they want before, well, kicking the bucket. The idea of a bucket list took flight and now it’s a fairly common term. I’ve thought about it a lot, but haven’t really ever sat down to write one out. Part of the hesitation is that I don’t really want to think about dying just yet, but really, we don’t know how much time we have left. I could be lucky enough to live well into my nineties, or God forbid, I could meet with an accident tomorrow. However it turns out, I have been very fortunate to have done many things in my life that were incredible and that I’m so glad I got to experience: marrying the love of my life and becoming a mother tops the list. Traveling to other countries, graduating from college, performing on stage, and being a published author are all on that “Done” list, but there are many more things I want to do before I’m finished here.

1. Live in London at some point before I’m too old to enjoy it. I fell in love with that city even before I actually visited three yeas ago. Ancient Roman ruins, rich history, never having to drive, it lived up to and exceeded my expectations and I want to experience it more and more.

2. Learn to play the violin well. I have a violin, my brother gave it to me and during each summer, I make an effort to learn to play on my own, but life just keeps getting in the way. Baseball, running kids places, not wanting to subject my family to the squawkings of a beginner, these are all stumbling blocks. I adore the violin, though, and someday I’ll actually make it a priority.

3. Become a full-time writer. It’s no secret that writing is my passion and I would love to be able to do it for a living. This is one item that I am actively working on, with a children’s novel written and a historical fiction novel halfway complete. Now, all I need is an agent to take a chance on me. Getting there…

4. Travel to places that I’ve never been. I’ve been very lucky in my life. I’ve been to Australia, Hawaii, Ireland, England, Scotland, and Wales, with Italy to be joining the list in couple more months. Canada doesn’t count, since I can be in Windsor in about 15-20 minutes and they don’t stamp my passport. When my children are grown, I hope to be able to travel even more, specifically Europe, to do more family research and to soak in history. Learning the stories and seeing the artifacts and legacies that people in the past have left behind is something that thrills me beyond belief.

5. Learn more languages. I am working very hard on Italian right now, with the help of a dear friend in Italy, and I can decipher some French and Spanish, but I would like to be fluent in some other languages, preferably by immersion, which leads to travel… I’m sensing a theme in my list.

6. Make a good change in the world. I don’t care if my name is remembered for anything in particular or not, but this world is so messed up in a lot of places that if I can just do something to make it better for others, than I will be happy.

This isn’t a complete list, by any means, but these six things remain constants in my mind. Will I complete them all? I don’t know. It would be satisfying, of course, but as those items are checked off, I have the feeling that more would take their place and I don’t think that’s a bad thing. Staying active and curious is a great thing in life. I see people who take the attitude that life just sucks and there’s nothing they can do to fix it. They stay in a job that they hate and don’t try for something better. They don’t go anywhere, they don’t have hobbies that challenge them, and seem content to be miserable and let everyone else know that they are miserable. I don’t want to be that person. I think a Bucket List gives me something to strive for, something to challenge me in every way, something that will keep me contributing to society for a long time.

Now, it’s your turn. What’s something on your Bucket List and why is it there? Challenge yourself, set a goal, and try your best to get there. I’ll let you know how mine turns out.

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