Travel Tips: Family Getaway

For a recent family getaway, we went to Las Vegas for two nights.  We enjoyed a wonderful time, and I will detail our activities in a future post.  But today, I wish to share with you some of my travel tips.  This is not a sponsored post- no one is paying me to talk up their products.  Just a couple of tips and tricks I have picked up along my journey.  I am a strong believer in “paying it forward-” and I hope my experience may help you plan your own fabulous vacations!

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Eiffel Tower, Paris, Las Vegas

 

We packed for all four of us for two nights.  Happily everything fit in one big suitcase. (Always pack your medications in your carry on.) Basically we packed two day outfits for each person, plus pajamas, underwear and bathing suits.  Everyone wears tennis shoes on the plane, and we pack flip flops for swimming. For myself, I packed an extra dress and flats, because I like to dress up if we are going to see a show.  My daughter wore cute skorts that were comfortable in the day and pretty for evening.  My husband and son wore khaki shorts and a polo shirt or t shirt.  We were in Las Vegas, after all!  Where is was no less than 105* F.

When I am in a hot, humid location, I prefer to use liquid makeup.  I find this keeps my skin moisturized and not itchy. I use liquid foundation and concealer, as well as liquid lipstick.  A tube of lipstick can melt.  A liquid lipstick tube with applicator fits the bill.  I also bring along these Almay Q-tip eye make-up removers for touch ups.  When traveling, I bring eye shadow crayons, like these double sided ones I found on Avon (similar here).  They are super convenient! Six colors on 3 sticks and I can do “Sunset Eyes.” sunset eyes Read more about my travel make-up case (and other tips!) here in my post “Cruisin’ 101”

The best tip I have for you is to bring along these microfiber towels.  You can find them in Target, or on Amazon. I hold them one at time under the faucet to fill it with water.  Then you must really wring it out.  A quick “snap” and you are ready to go.  Wear around the neck for instant cooling sensation.  So important when we are traveling in the hot summer.  If you can keep cool, you can keep your wits about you- am I right?

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Cool Kids

Here is an awesome bag I found on the internet last year. It is called Not-a-bag and it folds into itself for easy storage, then opens up to a regular tote bag, or you can pull the straps through to turn it into a back pack. 25 Euro and worth it.  I pack it in my airplane carry-on, just in case. It is perfect for when you are walking down the Strip.  Sometimes places do not allow backpacks for security reasons (sport arenas), and so this is convenient alternative.

One more thing- I love to read but I did NOT bring a book this time. I had finished my “vacation” book the week prior, because it was so good!  And the next book I wanted to read was a big and heavy paperback.  So I downloaded the free sample from Amazon Kindle (usually 1-3 chapters) and brought a magazine.  #PackLight

I will detail our travels in a separate post, but for now, let me share with you that in Vegas, I prefer taxiing versus using Uber.  Uber is only very slightly lower in price, but the designated pickup spots are NOT at the front of the hotels.  They are in weird locations such as the parking garage, 3rd floor. If you are in Vegas without a car, you don’t want to even enter a parking garage.  For that reason it’s so much easier and more convenient to just take the cab.

Finally I want to underline the importance of planning.  Do your research before.  Think about what you want to see and do, and mock up an itinerary. I used minitime.com for this trip. I am so glad I did, because I found out that a couple restaurants we wanted to revisit had since closed.  Understand that you may need to be flexible.  Things happen.  And in a taxi town, everything takes longer to get to than you think.

Tune in next time to see what we did!

What are your favorite travel tips?

 

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Gold

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Who wants to attract abundance? (Who doesn’t?) I have started my own manifesting abundance practice, combining elements from various teachings, and let me tell you, it’s working.  In more ways than I could have imagined.

As my friends and readers know, I have been working on wellness.  I read a ton of personal growth- type articles, books, my own faith community and am developing my own wellness toolkit. What works for me mat not work for you, I’m just sharing because starting the conversation can start somebody else’s journey.

So my kinesiologist suggested to me the crystal Pyrite.  I was intrigued because it’s a bit muted in hue, and it appealed to me. I find 24 karat gold a bit much, and I had even dipped my yellow gold engagement and wedding rings into white gold a few years ago.  But the muted tones I quite like.  I am an introvert, after all.

Admittedly, I have had a block when it comes to wealth and abundance.  I’ve observed persons who became “wealthy” and affluent who cease to function like nice, normal human beings.  So I’ve resisted it. Is it any wonder the universe hasn’t shown me abundance, then?

So to honor this new practice, I placed my pyrite bracelet on my nightstand beside my other crystals, bracelets and Himalayan salt lamp.  Some days I placed it in my clear glass Coventina dedication, with coins. It looks really pretty when I circle the top of the glass with the bracelet.

During this time I started practicing mindfulness- particularly with drinking.  I started drinking lemonade, honey tea, ginger ale, and the like, thinking “Liquid Gold” as I drank. I bought a scarf with sparkling threads, and I started bringing out my yellow gold jewelry again.  Wearing my pyrite bracelet every day and night. Applying my favorite True Gold eyeshadow highlighter. All with the intention of attracting abundance. (A couple years back, I wore orange for a month and sparked my creativity- publishing a book of poetry and recording a CD.)

I had lost my citrine crystal earlier in the year, and every time I passed my crystals I would think fervently, “Doh!  I wish I had my citrine!”  I honestly believe that just having that thought in my head seems to have activated her benefits.  Surprise checks, rebates, and royalties started coming in.   My new book sold more than a few copies each month.  My blog tour and book release party were quite successful, and my one of my guest posts received my most retweets ever!

Recognizing the power of thought and mindfulness, I amped up my prayers and gratitude. I added the dynamic of fierce, fervent thought.  It is the focus and for lack of a better word- loudness of the thought which seems to give it power.

Some days I awake and fervently thank God, Jesus, Mary, or Jesus-Mary-and-Joseph.  Some days I thank the Goddesses for their energy.  Does it really matter what religion one practices?  Not really.  So long as one is humble and kind to others.

Some days I fall asleep remembering the 80’s power ballad “Gold” by Spandau Ballet.

Nothing left to make me feel small
Luck has left me standing so tall

Gold!
(Gold)
Always believe in your soul
You’ve got the power to know
You’re indestructible, always believe in, ‘cos you are

Gold!
(Gold)
I’m glad that you’re bound to return
There’s something I could have learned
You’re indestructible, always believe in

I admit it’s not much, and I’m certainly not affluent.  I still struggle with rewarding myself with too many little desserts and not enough big major important things like good tennis shoes or a really good bra. But I am aware in a new way.  And one of the things that has turned me off from wealth in the past has been lack of community. So I selected another charity which I have wanted to support, and made a donation.  Felt really good.

It’s not magic. It’s work.  I have to remember to focus. I have to remember to do the work.  I have to sign up for these app companies that give you rebates. I have to connect with readers. All these lucky charms talismans are just things-  it’s the power of your thoughts/faith/belief and ACTIVITY that makes them “work.”

I’m now working on adding to my fervent thoughts of liquid gold- my health and my art-making. What if I applied this gold manifesting to health?  Can you imagine? I’m also working on my new book. I AM READY.

If I were to suddenly found myself extremely wealthy, I’d build two resorts on a tropical island- one for commercial use and one reserved just for my family and friends, and sponsor wellness retreats on site. That, and start a music education cable TV channel.

What would you do?

What’s stopping you?

You are Gold.

  Gold by Spandau Ballet

 

 

Wednesday Wellness: Prepare Ye

Happy #WellnessWednesday! (Or is it Wednesday Wellness? I can never remember.) I started writing about wellness topics on Wednesdays, as I notice many of my friends who are creative types struggle with balance, as do I. Join me on my humble journey to wellness.
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Having just survived that family ordeal which we call Thanksgiving, we are now entering my birth month, otherwise known as that month which always has me running around like a chicken with my head cut off, run over by a train. (Writing run-on sentences and mixing metaphors, apparently, too.)

Let’s just all take a moment to acknowledge the winter holiday struggle and invisible illnesses, shall we?  Here’s “Unwell” by Matchbox 20.

Sing it, Rob

Here are a few things I am doing this year to help me find the light and keep the darkness at bay.

Honor Advent.
Many world religions celebrate the winter solstice. Read this. http://www.religioustolerance.org/xmas_conflict1.htm I have a book of meditations that I like to read at this time of year- part Christian, part Zen. I am also singing at church on the second and fourth Sundays.

Practice Self-Care.
I listen to guided visualizations on my phone before bed. After some basic yoga and maybe the plank challenge.
https://www.amazon.com/Basic-Yoga-Workout-Dummies-Ivanhoe/dp/B00005LQ08/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1480533014&sr=8-1&keywords=basic+yoga+for+dummies
http://gettinmyhealthyon.com/2013/09/20/30-day-plank-challenge/
Organize.
I am near done purchasing my holiday gifts, and just have to wrap them. Thanks to my handy dandy historical gift-giving spreadsheet, which I have kept up since 2004. I also search online for lists of books containing characters with my children’s and nieces’ and nephew’s names.

Give.
Tis the Season of giving. Many social justice organizations need your help now more than ever. Feels good to donate even just a little. If you are a homeowner, your charitable donation may have tax benefits, as well. There are many ways to give, starting with collecting unneeded clothes, books and toys in your home to donate to a local charity, many which swing by your neighborhood on a regular basis. Your old glasses could give someone the gift of sight. You can also donate your time. Sign up to volunteer with a local food bank or charity organization to sort or distribute donations. Sign up with a friend or family member and share the experience.

Write.
I do want to journal and blog more. Right now I am working on self-editing my new book, so hopefully I can return to regular writing in just a bit.

Calendar.
Maintaining the family calendar of all our events. We have orthodontist appointments, church, religious instruction, pageants, school, band practices, band performance, the Nutcracker, recitals, and three family birthdays. Still it’s all manageable with clever calendaring. I’m so excited that my 2017 Diary Planner has already arrived! https://shiningacademy.com/2017-workbooks/

Say No.
Even though singing with a volunteer choir sounds fun, I don’t have time for all the rehearsals. So, Ive learned to say “No, Thank you. Maybe next year.” Try it.

Read my other posts on Advent here.

Advent Calendar

Peace,
Denise

Wellness Wednesday: Music

Happy Wednesday Wellness, Friends!  I have been away from the blog, as I wasn’t feeling too well, myself  But I’m back- sharing my perspective on wellness for my creative friends, readers, writers, and art-makers…

music

Recently Sirius XM Radio announced the Billy Joel Channel.  I was delighted, as I have a free trial for another little bit here, and I can enjoy Billy Joel music 24/7 while I decide if I will subscribe.  Billy’s music has been so special to me and my family, and I had even seen him perform in concert several times.  I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me to listen to his music more often.  He has an expansive catalog, covering decades of music in many styles and voices.  So much of his 80s and 90s music is central to my individuation, and I kinda love the 70s throwbacks, too.

My new car doesn’t have a CD player in it.  Yeah, it was kind of surprising to me, too.   There is a wonderful USB auxiliary port which connects to my phone quite nicely.  But it is not the same as popping in a CD.  (Don’t even get me started on my mix tapes.)

I have been enjoying the Sirius satellite radio free preview and have my 80s music channels pre-sets all dialed in.  Yes I know people don’t say dial in anymore.  My kids correct me whenever I talk about “taping” TV shows. “We record, now, Mom.” Yeah, whatever. Tape.

I was not prepared for how wonderful the Billy Joel channel would be, and how it has helped my wellness journey.  I dig the music and it is a treat to listen to it in live versions.  But I also love the callers’ testimonials and Billy’s recorded words about certain songs and phases of his life.  I love how he plays piano as he’s talking and plays his own music in the style of Mozart.  Brilliant.

His music is so melodic and his lyrics so poignant.  They can take me back to a time or take me to a higher place.  I do also enjoy the rougher rock side of his music, that may be as black as my shadow gets, LOL.  I love rediscovering the reflective gems that are typically the last slow songs on his albums.  Souvenir. The Night is Still Young. I could go on and on…

I’ve recounted some wonderful concert memories for my kids, including the best triangle solo ever!  I’m teaching my young daughter the echo vocals on River of Dreams.  My son now drums along.

If you ever need to release some Pressure, try teaching your kids to yell “Pressure!”  in the car whenever Billy Joel sings it.  Great way to relieve pressure.  I promise.  Try it!

What’s your go-to music?

 

Wednesday Wellness: Giving

Happy Wednesday Wellness, Friends!  I started writing about wellness topics on Wednesdays, as I no9ted many of my creative friends struggle with balance, as do I.  I hope maybe some of my experiences may help you in your own quest.  Join me on my journey today!

Today I decided to complete and post reviews for another indie author.  I had thought about writing them for some time, I don’t know what took me so long.  I had thought about it so long, I thought I had already done it.  But I did it today, posting on both Amazon.com and on Goodreads. I let the author know I had done so, and she was thrilled.  It made me so happy to know that I had done something.  She had bared her soul in a book of poetry.  And I affirmed her.  Reviews are like gold.

I also completed and shared a testimonial.  Something else that I had been ruminating but not writing.  So I did it today, let the entrepreneur know, and we had a nice friendly little chat.  She provided exemplary service, and I let the world know! Hopefully she can use my testimonial in her marketing materials.

There’s a lot going on in my life right now:  kids’ schedules and chaos.  But you  know what, I gave testimony today.  And the recipients were so thrilled.  There’s something so satisfying about giving.

All is well.

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Have you experienced the joy of giving? 

 

 

Wellness Wednesday: Eczema, Cream, and Kindness

Happy Wellness Wednesday! Okay, I know it is already Thursday. Sometimes I just need a little more time- and that’s my wellness practice for the day- practicing flexibility.  Do you know what I mean?

I was going to write about my eczema. Then I observed something today.  And it all tied together.  You’ll see.

In times of stress and too much gluten, I have this handy dandy recurring eczema on the back of my right hand. It is like an indicator button. Seriously.  It is round and red.  And it itches- screaming: Do Something!  Slow Down!  Lay off the gluten!

One time I tried eating Paleo for like a week. But it made me cranky.  And so I decided I had nothing against rice and grains, for one.  But I noticed that my eczema had disappeared.  Wait, what? So I read Wheat Belly and tried eating Gluten Free, for several months.  But then I’d go on vacation and the Sourdough bread at my favorite restaurant was calling me.  Or, hello, in Italy- how can one NOT eat pasta and pizza?  When in Rome…  I’d also tried alternate flours and alternate “breads,” but there’s nothing like flour.

So this past week or so had been a big eczema flare-up. I was just coming off a cold.  None of my lotions, oils, or serums were working their magic.  So I had resorted to using antibiotic-treated bandages, and covered the areas on my hand, finger, and wrist with them at night.  That seemed to help until the next day, at least.

I mentioned this to another soccer mom, and she listened, responding that she buys this special lotion for her daughter. She sent a tube along to school with her daughter for me, and Oh My Goodness!  This stuff really is magic!  It doesn’t itch anymore, and the big boo-boo is shrinking in size, slowly returning to my normal skin color.

I offered to pay her, and she said, not gonna happen. I said I wanted to do something nice for her.  She said, “Your relief is my gift.”

I am so touched by her kindness.

Then, this morning I witnessed a woman bring a homeless woman to McDonald’s, to dine together. She asked about her life.  I was close enough to hear them behind me, and I observed my young daughter looking intently.  Perhaps it was at the woman’s makeshift maxi skirt, made from regular t-shirts, one worn around her knees.  On this first day of Fall, we’d noticed evidence of precipitation on the roses in our yard this morning.  I can only imagine what a difference it makes to those sleeping out in the cold.  As I listened to their conversation, I was impressed with amazing warmth shown by the giver.  Treating this woman like a friend.  Asking her about her life, her feelings.  Providing food and companionship.

And I felt stupid and useless, because I wasn’t doing anything to help.

But I was providing witness. I was also providing an opportunity to show my daughter that kindness matters.

I am now inspired to gather our unused blankets at home. Lord knows, I have a ton of old purses and totes that I can fill with supplies and donate.  I may not find this woman in the pink t-shirt skirt, but somebody somewhere needs it.

Kindness and warmth.

 

How is your wellness practice this week?

 

Wednesday Wellness: Back to School

My friends, I started writing on wellness topics on Wednesdays, as I noted many of my artist and creative type friends struggled with wellness, as do I. 

I have never been a morning person.  In fact, I am a known night owl.  But my firstborn started high school two weeks ago, and he has Zero Period beginning at 7:05am.  So now we wake up at 6:00am.

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Sunrise (c) Alexander Briel Perez via Dreamstime

 

Waking early with a focus is changing me.  Somehow it is easier to do more extra curricular activities at night, now, too.  I think it is because I am getting to work earlier, so I am also leaving work earlier.  I go to sleep earlier.

But I am also happier.  I am no longer so obsessed with some of those dark, unhappy thoughts.  I am not finding a lot of time to write, read, or watch TV. But I am considering volunteering- both at church and with marching band.

My daughter and I watched her brother’s marching band practice for an hour yesterday.  They’ve got great music and remarkable skill.    I remember my own days in marching band quite fondly. Some of the deepest friendships I have had were born in marching band.    Even today, there is not a day that goes by that I am not in contact with one of my marching band friends, usually in social media and online games.  I just know that my dear son is forming some life-long friendships right now!

As I lay down to sleep last night, I reflected on all that is going on in our lives, and how content I was.  I did some deep breathing and practiced gratitude.  I was so ready to sleep, I was astonished that I didn’t even have any of my anxiety remedies deployed!  (Lavender sleep mask, crystals, hematite worry stone, collagen under-eye treatments…)  I didn’t need them!  I said a prayer for the missing girl from my small town, that she is found and returned safely.

God is great.  Life is good.