I write this blog post from a coffee shop just down the hill from my apartment in Jerusalem. A beautiful day is unfolding outside of the crystal clear, high-ceiling window panes. There is a sort of urgent calm in the air as locals and foreigners gather to enjoy early afternoon coffee and company.
To my left a table of friends orders their meal in Hebrew. Behind me a charming young couple catches up on life, telling stories in rapid-fire Hebrew and broken English, dropping F’bombs intermittently throughout their conversation in a cadence that seems oddly American. A few tables down a woman and her husband pick at their meal, complaining about the surprisingly poor service. While the service isn’t 5-star by any means, I have found a certain magic in this present moment, and am content to overlook these minor offenses.
I sit perched in my corner of the coffee shop feeling the gentle hum of energy among the busy bustle of the day. I am happy. Overcome with the feeling you get when your heart desperately wants to freeze a moment, but your mind knows full-well that you can’t, so instead you do your best to memorize sounds, search for the strongest scents, and savor the taste and texture of each bite.
It can be difficult uprooting your life and moving to a different country, surrounded by new languages and cultures. This is often referred to as "culture shock" and boy-oh-boy is it real, but in the midst of your new surroundings I encourage you to find the magical moments in the ordinary. Moments that ground you in the present, even if for only a moment.
1. BE WHERE YOU ARE.
Go to a local coffee shop. Sit on a bench overlooking the park. No matter where you find yourself, be there. Take a few breathes. Settle in and expect to see.
2. FIND THE MAGIC.
This is one of my favorite steps. There is no right or wrong way to do this, simply look around you and see how others are living in their present moment. Do you see a couple smiling? Do you hear children playing? Are the leaves blowing in a certain pattern? Are there ants building a hill or carrying a meal. No matter what you find...see it and consider it.
3. REFLECT AND RECORD.
Now that you've observed your surroundings, reflect on the ordinary events that are similar to your day-to-day life at home. Then, reflect on the things that are different. The most shocking thing is that the similarities typically outnumber the differences. If you can, write these things down.
Living abroad is teaching me more about the beauty of life, the depth of love, and the reality of how similar we all really are.
As I write this piece, a tall Israeli soldier with an AK47 strapped to his side kindly volunteers to take a picture of an older couple to my left. Just moments before the same couple had been struggling to take a selfie on their cell phone, but with a gentle smile (and enough ammo in that gun to blow us all to bits) this kind Israeli solider generously helped them capture a beautiful moment in time.
No matter where in the world we travel to, finding the magic in the ordinary moments of life can give us a new perspective, and help us feel a little bit more at home.
[90 second read]
To return from an adventure is an adventure all it’s own.
We live our lives from adventure to adventure.
Each one requiring a greater measure of grace. Each one offering deeper lessons to learn.
I recently returned home from the trip of a lifetime.
Through a crazy sequence of events, I was given the opportunity to live and work in Jerusalem for the summer. I enthusiastically accepted a 3-month social media project with an Israel based nonprofit doing meainingful work in the Holy Land!
My role not only allowed me the opportunity to live abroad (something I had always dreamt of doing), it also granted me the space to cultivate my skills as a writer, content creator and photographer in a whole new way.
There is a freedom found the further we venture outside of our comfort zone. Our perspective begins to shift. We begin to see failure as opportunity, and discomfort as growth. And then, as if overnight, we become stronger, wiser and more resilient.
When we feel the end of a season approaching, we can subconsciously convince ourselves that the next season won’t ever measure up....how could it? The fear of returning to the mundane routine of day-to-day life is as tangible as the 100lb luggage we check at the ticket counter.
Thankfully, many of us board our flight home with an extra carry-on that contains all of the beautiful memories, difficult lessons and deep discoveries we experienced while away. This baggage quickly becomes the most valuable item we possess, and it's the process of unpacking it that will take us on our next exciting adventure.
Listen, the adventure doesn’t stop the moment you leave a place. On the contrary. The moment your plane lifts off is the moment a new adventure begins.
When we were children, we were wildly content to live in the moment. We were little wide-eyed warriors, ready to take risks and allow the wonder of life to unfold in its time.
We had no idea what to expect from our futures, but we had faith to believe that the possibilities were as limitless as we were.
We took on each day as it came. We happily walked home in the rain, without a jacket, stepping in puddles that soaked our socks and filled our joy meters. We intricately constructed sandcastles and promptly tore them down with equal levels of excitement.
We let our imaginations run wild! We warmly invited the shy kids along as we roamed the neighborhoods multi-colored metal kingdoms, collecting “magical stones” that would one day save the world.
We believed everything would be okay. We were faithful and fearless. That was the magic of innocence and youth
Sure, we anticipated dessert after dinner. Sure, we wanted another birthday party the moment we blew out our birthday candles…but in terms of the future, we were generally steady, adaptable, trusting and warmly inviting of the future and all it held for us.
I have officially been living in Israel for one week. Just one second…I had to re-read that sentence a few times because it still seems so surreal.
I have been welcomed into a community of faith-filled believers and sincerely beautiful human beings. I have reconnected with old friends (Lynzi and Vanessa), and I have made new friends as well (you know who you are)! I have been overwhelmed with kindness and mercy since the moment I set foot in this country, and I am thankful for all of the above.
I am learning that the further away from our comfort zones we choose to place ourselves, the more childlike our faith becomes.
Okay, I know the word childlike can often have a negative connotation...but in regards to faith, I think being childlike is actually a good thing!
In Mark 10:13-16 it reads
“And they were bringing children to him that he might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them.”
I believe that our ability to pursue a childlike faith in every season of our lives can allow God to do the greatest works in and through us. It can also allow us to see the world a little bit brighter, and a little bit more beautiful. It encourages us to see ourselves the way God sees us, and recognize the Lord’s glorious light shining within us.
This whole experience of leaving everything familiar, and moving to the Holy Land for three months has pushed me to depend on the Lord in a whole new way. To lean on his promises. To be still and listen to His voice day and night.
Every road I discover is new and exciting. Every friend that I meet will be forever treasured.
With every conversation, I am learning, growing and discovering something new about Him and His people. I’ve found myself even more interested in Jewish culture, and the intricate relationship between Jew and Gentile in the Bible.
I am in awe of this season.
I am, once again, a little wide-eyed warrior, ready to take more risks and allow the wonder of life to unfold in its time.
Recently, a close friend and I took a spontaneous 4-day trip to Los Angeles. We "hopped off the plane in LAX" around 10PM without a single itinerary, schedule or checklist.
I hear the collective gasps of all of you planners out there. You all are probably breaking into an open sweat just reading about the fact that we had no carefully laid out plan. We knew we had lodging and a car rental covered, and that was enough for us.
We did have ideas of things we wanted to do, and each morning we would spend about 20 minutes talking through where we wanted to go. We looked up addresses, and mapped out a rough order for the day. This strategy really worked well for us, and we were able to do and see so much in such a short period of time - all without being exhausted by the end of the vacation. Winning!
Shortly after our trip, another friend of mine reach out to me for travel recommendations. She was gifting her teenage daughter with a visit to L.A. for the first time and wanted to get a feel for some fun, must-see places they could check out around the city.
I ended up spending over an hour creating two different detailed itineraries, each consisting of things to do with only 1-day in L.A. and 1-day in Southern California. I was sure to add addresses and some miscellaneous notes to make it even more personal.
I absolutely love curating these itineraries after visiting different cities around the world! This one includes some of my all-time favorite places in L.A. Enjoy!
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Los Angeles 1-Day Itinerary
If you only had one day in LA, here’s what I would suggest...
Eggslut in Grand Central Market
317 S Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90013
or 1611 Pacific Ave, Venice, CA 90291 (this one is closer to the following locations)
Abbott Kinney Blvd
1661 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Venice, CA 90291
Tocaya Organic Venice
1611 Pacific Ave, Venice, CA 90291
Tom's Flagship Store
1344 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Venice, CA 90291
Hollywood Sign, Los Angeles, CA 90068
The Griffith Observatory
2800 E Observatory Rd, Los Angeles, CA 90027
Best Fish Taco in Ensenada
1650 Hillhurst Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90027
If you're wanting to substitute a couple of hours in your day, these two spots are both great places to check out!
Los Angeles Theatre
615 S Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90014
Santa Monica Pier
1602 Ocean Avenue, Santa Monica, CA 90401
So there you have it! Another 1-day itinerary for your adventure seeking and exploring self! I hope you have the time of your life making memories and meeting new people along the way!
Your fellow wanderer,
Have you ever traveled to a place that made you want to go back over and over again? The kind of place that you simply cannot fathom visiting just once?
Well the older I get, and the more I wander, the more I find myself adding places to my running list of repeat travel destinations. Whether it's the cities rich history, breathtaking scenery, or the positive memories and experiences associated - for one reason or another, these places have been forever placed in the forefront of my mental rolodex of travel locations. Boston, Atlanta, D.C., Lake Winnepesake and Savannah are prime examples of this wanderers' phenomenon.
In my travels to Savannah over the last few years, I have continued to uncover more and more aspects of the city that have kept me so intrigued and wanting more.
I had been to Savannah, GA once before with my friend Mel Monster. We were on our way back to Florida after celebrating our friend Amy's wedding in Maryland. On the drive back, we took a spontaneous and much needed deviation from I-95. This deviation came after countless hours spent chasing pavement and watching as over time the sun moved slowly and succinctly from east to west. My first impression of Savannah was brief, but I cannot deny enjoying the social undertones of the city as Mel and I took a quick look around and spoke to friendly strangers. I was just a bystander watching the pulse of this city beat under the light of the moon. We stayed for only a couple of hours, and then we left - which only left me wanting to know more about this Savannah.
My second visit to Savannah was under somewhat similar conditions. My friend Stephen heroically agreed to caravan with me from Maryland to Florida, this time for my own personal relocation. Now that's a friend! During the road trip from Maryland to Florida, Stephen and I made yet another deviation from I-95 during a 900+ mile journey. This time, the deviation was entirely intentional, and took place under the approving and onlooking sun. We spent the majority of our time exploring, taking pictures, reading signs explaining historical locations within the city and talking to locals about the best places to brunch. Once again, the pulse of Savannah had me intrigued and we drifted through the streets taking pleasure in the smallest and seemingly insignificant observations and discoveries.
The images below are unfiltered bits of memory that I was able to capture with my Canon T5i. I have also included brief explanations with some of these pictures! I truly cherish finding places with layers and layers of history and culture. I had such a pleasant experience in Savannah and I hope that after reading this post you too will want to add Savannah to your list of "must see" and "repeat" destinations.
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Stasia | Rose
The older I get, the more I learn that an important part of living is simply learning how to enjoy life despite the inevitable and unpredictable blows and disappointments that occur.
Life happens. Different people choose to manage these events in different ways. Learning how to snap back from tough times by using these challenges to make you stronger is of the utmost importance.
A little bit about me...
I would strongly consider myself an introvert with extroverted tendencies. I would say I am a solid 65% introverted and 35% extroverted. "Ambivert" is another term for someone with this temperamental combination. It is hard to define the term "ambivert" in a scientific way, but I can certainly share my personal thoughts, behaviors and tendencies in the hope that it will give you a better idea of the term.
Sign #1 - Quality Time
According to Gary Chapman (author of the book The 5 Love Languages) there are five love languages that illustrate how people express and experience love. My primary love language is quality time. I consider it one of the highest compliments if you just want to spent time with me. It is also one of the ways that I love and appreciate others. The need for and love of quality time is both outward and inward focused. In order to truly relax and rejuvenate - I must spend quality time with myself. This is what prompted my retreat to Tilghman Island in the first place, and this is why this trip was so beneficial to my soul.
Sign #2 - Together in Solitude
Last week I left my new home in Florida and took a much needed trek north in search of foliage and family. Roughly two planes and a Dodge Ram 4x4 later, I found myself cruising the coast of Rhode Island in a bright red Ford Fiesta, taking pictures and capturing moments with my awesome brother-in-law!
The mission for the day: To travel around Rhode Island, eating good food and brushing up on our photography!
If you have never been to Rhode Island, you should try your best to make it there. The smallest state in America has some of the richest culture, robust history, and some of the country's best eats!
Begin Side Rant: I always have a hard time taking pictures of food. Not because I am against it in any way! I just love food so much that by the time it is placed in front of me, all hope of remembering to take a picture of it is completely lost. I usually remember that I meant to take a picture roughly halfway through the meal, and the thought of repositioning the remaining food with my fork just mentally exhausts me. So this is my dilemma. End Side Rant.
So, if you too are up for a quick adventure, I would love to share my moments on the Rhode Island coast with you!
First Stop: Brenton State Park: Newport, RI
Last weekend, Baltimore hosted roughly 400,000 or more people during a three day outdoor art exhibit event called Artscape. Attracting hundreds of eclectic artists, Artscape is the modern day artist's Mecca.
During the second day of the festival, I was able to venture out with a few friends to enjoy the sites and tastes Artscape had to offer. It was an extremely humid day, and the city of Baltimore took great measures to provide festival goers with plenty of water and cool air. There was even a city bus parked in the street strictly for providing guests with a place to sit down and cool off in the A/C. As hot as it was, we didn't let the temperature stop us from exploring everything Artscape had to offer.
Our first stop was a seat on this colorful ferris wheel. It gave us a fantastic view of the festival, and showed us just how HUGE the festival was - spanning along large sections of Charles St. and Mt. Royal Avenue. After my ride, I snagged a shot of my friends Olivia and Mike taking the ferris wheel for a spin!
I love to travel. Exploring old places with a new and fresh perspective is more than exhilarating, it's life changing!
I remember my trip to Italy like it was yesterday. I miss the cobblestone streets, the sea filled air, and coffee chats with my bestie. We found a great deal on Groupon, which included round trip airfare, car rental, hotel stays and quite a few complimentary breakfasts for one low price. Gotta love Groupon!
After landing in Rome, we hopped into our little Fiat rental, and headed for the Amalfi Coast. It was an amazing journey, and here are some tips that I learned along the way:
1. Save $$$ and learn to drive a manual car.
In Europe, stick shifts are the most common cars on the road. Our Groupon deal included a manual automobile, which posed some initial difficulty. We did have an option for selecting an automatic car rental; however, that change would have cost us an additional $1,000 USD. Not happening. So, I learned how to drive a manual instead (easier said than done.)
2. If you travel in March, bring an umbrella...and a jacket.
My friend and I chose to visit Italy just before tourist season. We wanted to get to know the beautiful country void of its large number of seasonal tourists. While there were virtually no tourists in Sorrento during that time, there was a lot of rain. In fact, it rained everyday. Neither of us were prepared for the rain, and the chilly temperatures that followed in the evenings also took us a bit by surprise.
3. Plan your schedule around the locals' - riposo
The riposo is the Italian version of "siesta." Each day, anywhere from 1:00 - 5:00 p.m., local businesses close down for a midday break. If you are the kind of traveler that loves a packed schedule, keep the riposo in mind and plan your meals and activities accordingly.
4. Bus tickets - buy them early.
When visiting Italy, I recommend buying bus or ferry tickets early. None of the buses or ferries have assigned seating. If there are multiple people in your party, purchasing tickets and boarding early can give you a better chance of staying in a group. It can also give you a better view!
5. Ferry tickets - buy them one way at a time.
This advice may seem as a contridiction to #4, but hear me out! Buying round trip ferry tickets is more expensive than purchasing one way tickets at each port. For example, buying a round trip ticket in Sorrento costs more than buying a one way ticket in Sorrento and then a one-way ticket in Capri. Secondly, you do not know how much time you will want to explore the island. Trips between ports are pretty well staggered (keep in mind tip #3) so you shouldn't have a problem finding an adequate return time.
So there you have it, 5 useful tips for visiting the Amalfi Coast. All based on my personal experiences. If you have any more useful tips, definitely mention them in the comments below!
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Let's face it, deciding what clothes to pack for vacation is not easy. On one hand, no one likes overpacking and toting a bunch of heavy luggage through the airport. On the other hand, no one likes limiting their wardrobe and leaving out items they love to wear.
What if I told you that you don't have to choose? That there is a way to pack lightly AND pack clothes that you absolutely love?!
WELL IT'S TRUE! For a full two week stay in Trinidad and Tobago, I packed one carry-on item and one personal item. Keep reading and I will teach you exactly how I did it!
I have more of a classic style. I love wearing neutral tones (black, white, beige, denim and grey) with gold accent jewelry. Before my trip to Trinidad & Tobago, I was convinced that packing lightly meant compromising my personal style - but it doesn't mean that at all!
Before my trip, I decided to be very intentional about packing lightly and bringing outfits that were both comfortable and true to my personal style. I tried not to overcomplicate the situation by sifting through every piece of clothing I owned. Instead, I broke the process down into four simple steps!