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A Traveler’s Perspective of Home

The desire to travel and to explore the world is strong but time and finances can be prohibitive. Dreams of touring through far away lands or cities closer to home  may not always be something that can become reality. There is,however, a way to make your time off feel as though you’re on a wondrous journey. All around you are little treasures you can uncover if you explore your own community from a traveler’s perspective.

Turning a local destination into a vacation destination is a way to learn about your community and to experience things that you might not otherwise. Out- of -town guests are often taken to landmarks or whisked off to see historical or cultural sites. They are introduced to the most iconic restaurants featuring local food or traditional hotspots filled with local charm. Why not treat yourself like an out-of-town guest and view your city from a traveler’s perspective?  It’s likely you haven’t been to many of the places travelers might visit during their time in your town.

Wait, I Live Here!

I have friends living in New York City who have never been to the Empire State Building and family in California that has yet to set foot in Yosemite – it all seems unlikely, but it’s true. I know that I live in a city that is home to some well known attractions. I have seen a few, but in all of the years I have been here, some of them remain a mystery.

It’s time to venture to those places in my community that will connect me to where I live. How can I call myself a true Atlantan if I haven’t explored its sites at a leisurely pace? School field trips as a child provided an introduction to some iconic spots, but the memory has faded, and at the time I don’t think I had a true appreciation for many of the things I saw. Since then, free weekends have often been spent doing necessary things. It’s easy to get distracted by chores or to take the easy road and repeatedly dine on local food at the same restaurants and to engage in the same activities. So to truly delve into becoming more familiar with what makes this town so appealing, I will have to pretend I am visiting.

Making it Feel Like a Getaway

To gain a traveler’s perspective of my community, I will need to treat myself as a visitor- perhaps stay in a hotel to avoid the temptation to do laundry, clean out that closet, or work in the yard. Remaining at home can still feel like a vacation. Some new sheets and towels, a bottle of water left by the bed at night, or stocking up on special breakfast foods will create the impression of staying at a local Bed and Breakfast. Pledge to steer clear of any chores and write down your intentions so you stay on track!

Whatever needs to be done to encourage the adventure, make a pact with yourself and your family to treat the time off as though you are on vacation. Create an itinerary and see as much as possible, or take a leisurely pace- as happens on some vacations – and go where the day takes you. Whatever you do, find those out of the way places, see those tourist-y sites, immerse yourself in your city and gain a traveler’s perspective on where you live. You may achieve a whole new appreciation for your surroundings. At the very least, you’ll be able to make recommendations to others!

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Enjoy something new this spring

A Season to Embrace Something New

Flowers begin to bloom and the color green returns to the earth. Spring is a season of renewal where the world seems fresh and bright. It’s at this time I feel most alive. Clear blue skies and the promise of a new season inspires many things. For some it’s spring cleaning or a time to emerge from inside and enjoy the outdoors. For others it’s determining which fresh experiences to pursue. Enjoying new places, new flavors, new people – it is all compelled by the arrival of spring!

Why Now

As resolutions for the new year may have fallen by the wayside, spring is a time when you can commit once again to something that benefits you and perhaps those around you. Born less out of guilt and overindulgence from the holidays, new commitments that come in the spring are generated from the rebirth that’s all around us. It inspires us to be healthy and to enjoy new, fresh experiences.

The Plan

The goal may be to become more active – to get out and exercise or take up a new sport, or it may be to take a more common sense approach to food – to get healthy without falling prey to the latest diet trends. Setting goals takes planning, and accomplishing them takes commitment. As we muster up the energy to dive into our new plan, keep in mind one thing – if it’s going to be a lasting change then it should be a well thought out common sense approach to food and exercise. It’s not about how rapidly you lose weight as many diet trends emphasize, but it’s about truly changing your approach to health.

I plan to eat clean and to walk as much as possible. Not a huge commitment but one that is achievable. I say this now as I am just getting started. When I am wanting to gnaw on my right foot, slather cheese sauce on everything I eat, and park my rear on the couch for a movie marathon, then I will know I have more work to do. But for now my plan is solid and I am energized by the thought of enjoying a new way of life. Let’s hope those dreams aren’t dashed and that I can stick to my goal to be healthy. I have no real reason to believe otherwise.

Know What You’re Getting Into

Before you decide to embrace the renewal of spring and take on a fresh experience, ask yourself a few questions. What does healthy mean to you? What can you reasonably expect to accomplish for yourself? Will you take the time to actually enjoy new foods and activities, or will you simply be trudging through a regimen? Any fresh experience comes with a touch of risk – but the rewards far outweigh it.

Perhaps you are already healthy and active and your fresh experience will be to take up a new hobby, visit new places, or work on a talent that you’ve let fall dormant. Whatever your renewal plan this spring remember that sometimes we aren’t perfect. Allow for a little bit of struggle without giving up. Soon you will achieve your dream and feel as fresh and vibrant as those flowers that will soon be cropping up.

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Ireland

The Allure of the Irish – Local Treasures Beyond the Pot of Gold

In a world where individuality and the desire to stand out is often expressed through unusual attire and outrageous behavior, sometimes it still feels good to belong. Being a part of a group can create a sense of camaraderie that elevates any experience. No time is that desire to be a part of a particular group more apparent than on St. Patrick’s Day. It’s not a complete experience if you don’t adapt the best of the culture and become Irish, even if just for one day.

What’s With All The Green

So why is it people like to walk around in “Kiss Me, I’m Irish” shirts no matter their true heritage? Does it have anything to do with the supposed “luck” that belongs to the Irish? More likely it’s just an excuse to celebrate with good local food and drink, hear festive music, and wear green. Why not make it more of a complete experience and really get acquainted with the Irish? Explore the best of their culture, taste the foods, learn the history, and actually feel Irish when St. Patty’s Day rolls around.

Let’s Learn

To get you started – St. Patrick’s Day began as a religious feast for the patron saint of Ireland but has evolved into a day for the authentic Irish as well as all the wannabes to join in a celebration of the Emerald Isle. The name “Emerald Isle” refers to the lovely rolling green hills and vales of Ireland and was first used in a poem by William Drennan – a poet, physician, and political activist from the mid 17th century.

Learning about other countries and cultures is like taking a trip to another land. The more you absorb, the more it feels as though you’re a traveler to that place – tasting the local food and drink, wandering the streets, and interacting with people of that land. I have Ireland on my list of the many places I’d like to see one day. I can imagine being transported through time as I walk cobblestone streets and climb winding castle stairs. The Blarney Stone, Cliffs of Moher, a taste of Colcannon, and some Irish Stew – it all calls to me.

Join In

But until that day I will have to be satisfied with experiencing the best of the culture here. On March 17th, I will seek out a spot at a local Irish pub where I will eat corned beef and cabbage, bands will play outdoors, and people will dance. Adults will get, pardon the Irish slang, “fluthered” on Guinness. For the complete experience I will wear my green and pretend, just for the day, that I know well the land of the leprechauns.

So even if you haven’t visited the land of Oscar Wilde, Michael Collins, and C.S. Lewis, walked through St. Patrick’s Cathedral, or driven the Ring of Kerry, there’s at least one day of the year you may be lucky enough to feel Celtic. Discover the Irish cultural spots in your town – who knows, you may even find a pot of gold that will help you treasure your world on St. Patty’s Day and beyond!

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Prague, Czech Republic

Our World is Here. Where is here? Everywhere!

Living in Prague for a month opened my senses in a way that street performers performing Bach brought me to tears. What are the chances that two violinists would be playing one of my father’s favorite pieces on the streets of Prague? Life is a continuous series of endless synchronicity if we open ourselves up to the possibility that there is more in this universe than we understand. I believe in that moment that my Father was with me in spirit. After seeing the John Lennon Wall in Prague with messages of peace, music, and happiness, I was filled with hope that a peaceful planet isn’t only possible, but that it’s already here and there are glimpses of it all around us. The ability to live following your heart, making your own rules along the way, and living in peace is all about the power of intention. Peace and happiness is here right now. Our self worth has nothing to do with what we do or how much we make. Tomorrow, I am getting on a train to Venice just because I CAN. I don’t need a reason to follow my heart. It is an inspiring way to live when you fully savor each moment and experience life’s little nuances as minor inconveniences.

The Lennon Wall in Prague

People have told me I must be very brave to travel alone. Courage isn’t the absence of fear, it’s an ability to transcend it and realize that the earth has got your back. As I type this, I can’t believe that tomorrow is the day that I experience Italy for the first time. It is a moment that I have imagined forever and it’s coming true. I will eat pizza and pasta with the locals and perhaps finish off hours later with gelato by the Piazza San Marco. I left my apartment by the water and a six figure income in the USA to travel the world and live off of simple pleasures like a fresh cup of gourmet coffee freshly brewed by the local barista and the local cake recommended by my international brothers and sisters. Suddenly, I’m no longer living off of paychecks and false promises by employers that don’t appreciate me. I am no longer buying clothes with the latest name brands known by everyone as a form of self-validation. I am living each second like a child noticing the world for the first time. Our world is rich in colors, music, flavors, and endless love between us if we only align ourselves with the belief that we have everything we need to be happy right now.

ab-oktoberfest

I don’t know where I am going after Venice but I know that I’m here. I am alive and I am no longer just surviving. I am at peace with life and I want others to experience life as I am. Let’s take care of this beautiful planet and remember we are all in this world together. For example, just yesterday I was in the Hacker tent at Oktoberfest in Germany and I realized this peaceful world is here, right around me. I saw thousands of people drinking, singing, and eating at this festival filled with hope, peace, equality, and love. If an international festival can be created once a year that attracts people worldwide, this camaraderie can be permanent all over the world.

We may speak different languages, eat different foods, and have different customs, but we can all sit down together at a table and drink and eat together. I am blessed to experience different countries, but we can all bring this spirit of togetherness to our own table and in our own town. Next time you sit around a meal with your friends and family, for a moment in time, take a second to appreciate the fact that people are doing this same exact thing all over the world. We may have many countries, languages, religions, and cultural differences but it’s all a part of “Our World.”

Let’s celebrate together. Salud! Prost! Nastravi! Cheers!


Elaine Mercedes Mendoza is a writer, speaker, traveler and foodie who uplifts our world one word at a time. She is passionate about travel and shares her experiences on www.finallyelaine.com. You can also follow her along on Facebook.

 

All images taken by Elaine.

Elaine Mercedes Mendoza