Monday’s Mantra: Live

It has been a while since I posted a mantra for the week, but hopefully you’re following my blog and have seen some of my recent posts on my Inspire page.  No days off here. 🙂  This week my encouragement is simple:

  1. Live – let your thoughts and actions be productive and good. It’s very easy to become budsdiscouraged or feel depleted when there’s so much going on around us every day.  But, like I’ve said on several occasions before, life is really short.  Get busy doing what brings you joy, shines some light on the somber places of your soul (and maybe that of others’ too), and what makes you feel like a kid again.  Adulthood is taxing and routine.  We forget that life is meant to be enjoyed.  And although I may not know what “living” means for you, I would guess that it’s something you haven’t been doing.  Don’t let the complexities of this life keep you from drawing near to the simplicity and priceless treasure of taking in all there is to your humanness.
  2. Lead – by now, you’ve probably realized that sometimes people will disappoint you.  If it hasn’t happened yet, just keep living!  Even if it takes everything you’ve got to respond in a way that doesn’t defame them or show your disdain, take the high road.  It might not make any sense now, but I promise in the long run it pays to be the compassionate and sensible example.  You’re probably the water needed to refresh, renew, and repurpose someone who has never fully seen what leading with love looks like.  Be the fountain.  Be the spring.  Be the reason new and better buds finally blossom.

Make it a great week, friends!

 

 

Desert Dreams

Have you ever dreamed you would ride a camel?  I didn’t either.  In fact, that thought had never crossed my mind until I found myself sinking in the sand of the Dubai desert!  I ventured to the United Arab Emirates in 2012 to visit my mom who spent a year overseas for work.  Of course when she first proposed the idea of coming to Dubai I was elated!  Then, after the plane ticket was purchased and I realized how many hours I’d be in flight, I was slightly anxious about how I would entertain myself for that long 30,000+ feet in the air.  But, somehow you have a way of figuring things out when an opportunity arises that you just can’t let pass you by.

I still rave about my trip to Dubai.  It was one of the most best experiences of my life!  My mom did everything she could to ensure that trip was amazing.  You remember in Home Alone 2: Lost in New York when Kevin first walks into the Plaza Hotel and stands there in awe.  That was me at the front door of the hotel we were staying at for the week.  I honestly had never encountered splendor of that magnitude.  Meanwhile it was almost midnight, and I’m wide awake and jet lagged trying to wrap my mind around the fact that I’m actually in the Middle East.  The next week I found myself cruising the Dubai river, perusing gold souks, admiring the beauty of mosques, dune bashing, shopping, and even meeting a few new friends.  That was also my first exposure to desert temperatures, so I learned a new meaning of hot!  The funny thing about life is that sometimes you get opportunities you don’t even dream of.  God is just that good.  I’m a small town girl from a single-parent home.  While I had my share of field trips to museums and local beaches, traveling internationally was not always in the family budget.  So, I’m grateful to my mom for all the sacrifices that would ultimately place us across the world for this journey.  The best part about this trip was not all the glamor and opulence, because just like any other city, there is a certain level of disenfranchisement.  Traveling to Dubai helped me learn how to dream bigger and expect greatness in all things, because no matter where I’ve been, there’s always something more to blow my mind.

Cousins in Catalonia

When I was in grade school, I fell in love with the Spanish language.  I’m still trying to determine if my admiration was a result of my ability to conjugate verbs quickly or if my teachers just brought in way too many Spanish dishes for the class to try.  By the time I graduated, I had spent five years learning a foreign language and made it my goal to one day travel to Spain to see one of the cathedrals from the books and indulge myself with authentic paella.  Well, in 2012, I finally made it!  By then, my Spanish skills were quite rusty, but I remembered enough to read signs, order food, and get directions.  When I look back on that trip, I still can’t believe how much we were able to see and experience in such a short period of time.  In fact, I was just laughing with my cousin the other day about how she had to buy another pair of shoes to save her feet from misery, lol.  We stayed in Barcelona, but also took a day trip to two surrounding cities, including the birthplace of Salvador Dalí.  As a lover of architectural design and eclectic style, I was truly amazed by the depth and detail of so many of the sites in these cities, particularly La Sagrada Familia (Just beautiful, and to this day, not finished!).  And at some point, I lost count of the cups of gelato and café sandwiches I consumed.  This was my first trip to Europe, and I’m grateful for all the fun and crazy memories with my cousin.  We make good travel partners!

 

Tropical Diversion

This year I celebrated a milestone birthday! I think it’s still sinking in!  God is good!  I vowed to myself that I would spend some time commemorating the occasion somewhere I’ve never been before with people who I can’t imagine my life without. Since I knew it needed to be a short vacation, I hopped on a plane and eventually set foot on the sandy shores of the Dominican Republic!  Everyone we met at our resort was kind and personable. I think our resort agent (pictured below) was secretly hoping that Niecy would make the D.R. her new home, lol.  We sunbathed (with sunblock of course…this post just reminded me to replenish the SPF 100), went horseback riding through slightly rugged terrain, and went swimming in the ‘Hoyo Azul’ at Scape Park at Cap Cana (gorgeous, but freezing!).  While I must admit that I wasn’t particularly impressed with the food after several days, I’m grateful I had the opportunity to venture into a land full of unknowns for me and spend countless moments reflecting on the ups and downs of the last three decades with two of my favorite people.  Each time I travel internationally, I fall more in love with the vastness of the world and the myriad of cultures that constitute humanity.  Thankfully, as winter draws near, I’ll have plenty of beach photos with my girls to laugh and reminisce about.  I think we even managed to perfect a few must do beach poses!

A Local Luxury

I am fortunate to have the opportunity to spend some of my weekends scouting venues and attractions in my local area. Over the summer, I had a chance to tour Meadowlark Gardens in Vienna, VA. This site has always been on my list of places to visit simply due to my affinity for flowers and landscapes, but my interest was further heightened after receiving my first DSLR camera a while back.  And due to my work in event planning, I also know that it’s a popular venue for weddings and other events, so I basically needed to get there!  I can confidently say this was a well spent afternoon marveling at nature, learning about the architecture for some of the exhibits, sharpening my photography skills, and simply taking some time to slow down and reflect. I even caught a glimpse of a photography session with an Indian couple that must have been for their engagement or wedding.  They looked amazing!  Don’t ever think you have to go far to find beauty.  It’s literally all around you!  Here are some of the photos I snapped.