Posted by: AmbleAlong | June 12, 2013

Insider Travel Tip: Savvy Travelers Don’t Wear Khaki!

Most of us have heard fellow travelers warn against wearing tennis shoes on vacation because you will “look like an American.” Let me expand the tennis shoes argument, however, to specifically include what I consider to be a more egregious travel foul: wearing khaki.

629px-Avoid-Looking-Like-an-American-Tourist-Intro

For those of us who travel a fair amount, we always want to pack what is easy, washable, and matches other things in our suitcase. Those khaki pants may work well for us as a “uniform” for our weekly 9-to-5, but there is no place on a vacation for khakis to truly be the right choice. Let me elaborate:

     Point 1 – Khakis – all colors, all styles – just don’t look polished. If your pants are two days old or two years old, all khakis wrinkle and show wear.  If you sit, stand, or breathe, you are guaranteed to look unkempt.

     Point 2 – If there is something in the area that can leave a mark during vacation – ketchup, grass, dirty water from a puddle – you can be sure that it will find your khakis and make a statement. They are literally the “white pants” of travel.

     Point 3 – Like it or not, you can’t truly dress them up or down. Khakis just “are”. A pair of khakis is like a bandaid; it will buy you some time, but it is not a statement on its own.

There are many good reasons that khakis are not a “go to” item of clothing in other places around the world. Black – absolutely! Brown – why not? Even navy has its place. All are dark neutral colors that wear well, can be casual or dressy, and always look appropriate. There are many great fabrics and styles available, and you just can’t go wrong with a pair of solid dark pants for any destination or activity.

I, myself, have been guilty of taking khaki pants on vacation, but never again… My rule of thumb going forward is to decide if the item is something I would wear out to to a client dinner.  If yes, it can fly with me. If not, that item does not go anywhere near my suitcase. Though this approach will require a little more planning (and shopping!) to enact, I think the end result will be well worth the time and effort!

Happy traveling!

;O)

Let me start by saying that I am a Rick Steves’ fan.  He does a great job of giving you jam packed 30-minute TV episodes focused primarily on travel to Europe. Anytime I travel in Europe I see plenty of Americans traveling with their Rick Steves’ guidebooks, so I can tell you that I am not alone in thinking he is pretty darned good at his job. Instead of personally carrying a guidebook, though, I prefer to do trip research in advance, plan a few keys things scattered throughout the trip, and then let the vacation take me where it will once I hit the first airport.

About a year ago, I saw one of Rick’s travel shows that shined a spotlight on Madurodam. Try as I might after that segment, I could not stop thinking about how much fun this playground of sorts (built at 1/25 scale) would be to see and explore. Madurodam is actually a miniature of the Netherlands in entirety, and each section of the country – every major city, main tourist attractions, important buildings, and the primary industries – are displayed through normal day-to-day activities.  It all just looked so darned cool… Needless to say, as soon as we put Amsterdam on the calendar for vacation this year, a trip to Madurodam was imminent. We were actually going to see it up close!

Once we arrived into Amsterdam, we decided to check out the Gray Line office to see if there were any tours to highlights that we wanted to see during our week in the Netherlands.  The Gray Line office is located in the same building as the Visitors Center directly across from Amsterdam Centraal train station. There was one bus tour, called the Grand Holland Tour, that included Rotterdam, Delft, The Hague, and Madurodam. That seemed like a good one to take, so we snapped up two tickets for the Monday tour.

On Monday we took our tickets to the Gray Line office for our 9:30 am departure.  They told us to go around the canal to a bus parked at one of the docks.  Here we found several buses, but none marked Gray Line. Luckily one of the tour company folks asked what tour we were looking for so we told him the “Grand Holland Tour”. Turns out this tour was run by a company other than Gray Line…  (Just something to be on the lookout for as we were really confused.)  The overall tour itself was a real letdown. Overcast skies, frequent downpours, and re-routes plagued our path and reduced what we could see throughout the day. Thankfully for us, however, Madurodam was at the very end!

Once we reached Madurodam there were still cloudy skies and light rain, but we were not going to allow the ugly weather to deter our plan for some fun! Starting at the cheery entryway, we could tell we were in for a real treat AND we going to have a good time!

Entryway - Madurodam

Entryway – Madurodam

The most difficult thing to decide once we reached the map in the park was where to go first.

Map of Madurodam

Map of Madurodam

While the rest of our tour decided to start on the left, we – and our umbrellas – went directly toward the things that caught our eye: planes, boats, and automobiles.  I think you will see from these photos that we weren’t disappointed with our choice!

Schipol Airport - Madurodam

Schipol Airport

Freeway - Madurodam

Freeway

Boat and Lighthouse - Madurodam

Boat and Lighthouse

We finally did make it around to some of the cities and the flower market at Madurodam, too, but the interactive exhibits is where we spent our time.  You could even participate as a bidder at the flower market auctions!

Windmills - Madurodam

Windmills – Madurodam

Tulip Gardens - Madurodam

Tulip Gardens – Madurodam

We wrapped up our whirlwind tour of Madurodam with one last look at a panorama of the entire city!

Panorama - Madurodam

Panorama – Madurodam

This was a small “world” we are glad we did not miss and we will never forget!  There is no question we will be keeping our eyes open for future gems we run across in our research, and trusting our instincts that when something truly looks cool it very well may be cool!

Posted by: AmbleAlong | May 1, 2013

Happy May Day! (Or is it mayday, as in SOS…)

Spring is a time for new beginnings. You get to wake up, shake off the blahs from winter, and forge a new path. I know that according to the calendar, Spring 2013 has been with us for a while, but personally I have still been in a rut…

My college friends and I would always buy daisies for May Day just to celebrate and cheer up our dorm rooms. There was just something magical about letting in a little of the outside beauty that turned the frowns of finals week upside down!

daisies

Even now, years removed from my college days, I still like to see those little glimpses of a new start or a completed project that I can tie up with a bow. Perhaps its just my own experience, but sadly I find that far fewer things ever get completed than get started…

At work, for instance, we can all feel overwhelmed at times by deadlines, requirements, measurable results, and evaluations. Our bosses, clients (internal and external), vendors, and even strategic partners always seem to rate higher than our own needs. It’s enough to make you want to hide your head in the sand…

Each of us has just 24 hours every day, and we need to realize how important it is in the midst of chaos to make room for our own thoughts and wellness.  I hope that each of you truly carves out a few minutes for yourself today (and hopefully going forward, too!) where you can sit back to enjoy a little sunshine, appreciate a wildflower, read the paper, or do whatever constitutes “me” time for you.   As for me, I am going to enjoy my newly mounted vacation photos that whisk me away to Europe…

;O)

Posted by: AmbleAlong | April 10, 2013

Best Moment Award

Best Moment Award

best-moment-award

Awarding the people who live in the moment,
The noble who write and capture the best in life,
The bold who reminded us what really mattered -
Savoring the experience of quality time.

RULES:

Winners re-post this completely with their acceptance speech. This could be written or video recorded.

Winners have the privilege of awarding the next awardees! The re-post should include a NEW set of people/blogs worthy of the award; and winners notify them the great news.

RESOURCES:
◾What makes a good acceptance speech?

◾Gratitude. Thank the people who helped you along the way

◾Humor. Keep us entertained and smiling

◾Inspiration. Make your story touch our lives

◾Get an idea from the great acceptance speeches, compiled in MomentMatters.com/Speech

◾Display the award’s badge on your blog/website, downloadable in MomentMatters.com/Award

ACCEPTANCE SPEECH

Thanks to Globe Runner for this unexpected award! I love writing about travel and can’t wait to “pass it on” with my own list of Best Moment Award winners (below).  My husband first encouraged me to create this blog, and the comments from my friends and fellow bloggers keep me enthusiastic about sharing on it.  Though I admit to spending plenty of time worried that my writing is not good enough, I have coined a new motto that I am now embracing: “You could fly, you could fail, but you need to do something“.  

I have found that what you learn while traveling can be funny, disheartening, unexpected, costly, and frustrating, but regardless, the story you return home with is YOURS.  Why not share it?

THE WINNERS OF THE BEST MOMENT AWARD ARE:

1. http://simpletravelourway.wordpress.com/about/

2. http://everywhereonce.com/about/

3. http://lesleycarter.wordpress.com/about-me/

4. http://leannecolephotography.wordpress.com/about/

5. http://retireediary.wordpress.com/about/

6. http://wilhelminaupton.wordpress.com/about/

7. http://sillymonkeyphoto.com/about/

8. http://janemcmaster.wordpress.com/about/

9. http://babyboomersmusings.com/about/

10. http://faraway2112.wordpress.com/about-me/

11. http://dailypost.wordpress.com/about-the-daily-post/

12. http://jdombstravels.com/about-me/

Congratulations, winners!

Though I may constantly be evolving, one thing I always have been (and always will be) is a baseball enthusiast!  I am a life-long St. Louis Cardinals fan, and darned proud of it!

From times long ago, when I hid a transistor radio under my pillow to hear the finish of a game on a school night, to swiping the Sports Section of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch from a guy in the college dorm cafeteria to look at the box scores, those Boys of Summer have consistently beckoned to me through the nearly nine fantastic months of each baseball season. I can honestly think of few things better than enjoying Opening Day with all of its festivities or crowding in along the World Series Champions parade route to Busch Stadium to welcome our Redbirds home from another successful campaign! Now that you know these things about me, I suspect it will be no surprise that I have always had an interest in going to Cardinals Spring Training…

When starting to plan a Florida vacation for March 2004, someone who knows my penchant for the Cardinals suggested that I check into getting some tickets for a spring training game. Instantly I thought it was a great idea, but I also felt that it would be near impossible to work out the details (or that it would be really expensive). It turns out that neither of those things were true…

After a quick trip to http://www.stlcardinals.com, I located the Spring Training Schedule for the Cardinals. Home games were at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, FL; away games were at the other MLB training complexes for franchises hosting their spring training in Florida – aka, the Grapefruit League. I compared my business travel schedule to the “Home” game schedule, and located a few dates that would work.

St. Patrick’s Day was a home game, and the date seemed like a winner from the moment I saw it. Tickets for the spring training games were literally “dirt cheap”. There is no way you could get a ticket between the $5 and $21 price range at Busch Stadium unless it was a special promotion.  This idea was only gaining steam, and I was going to make my trip happen!!!  I quickly booked tickets for a few games on back-to-back days and set out to plan the flight, hotel, and rental car.  Pesky “travel” items could wait; getting Cardinals spring training tickets: Priceless!

The trip to Florida started out terrific!  Not only was the flight smooth, but it was a sunny day to drive my rented Mustang convertible from the Ft. Lauderdale Airport to my hotel on Singer Island.  (I even drove on Route ‘A1A’, made oddly famous by Vanilla Ice…)

The drive to my first game at Roger Dean Stadium was an even bigger piece of cake.  There were several good routes from the hotel to the ballpark in Jupiter, and there was really great signage to the park from I-95 and Donald Ross Road.  The area containing the ballpark is technically referred to as Abacoa, which itself is a very small town with Central Boulevard as the main thoroughfare.

Several of the major streets you will need are University Boulevard and Main Street.  Parking at the ballpark was a snap.  There is some street parking and also one large parking garage directly across from Roger Dean Stadium, which is located at 4751 Main Street.  Better still – all parking is free!

Roger Dean Stadium is clearly the “diamond” (on several levels) for this small town, and you can’t miss it!  Just mere moments from turning off of I-95, I found myself at this spring baseball mecca…

Roger Dean Stadium

Roger Dean Stadium

Turns out that seeing a spring training game with 6,000+ fans who actually know baseball, love the Cardinals, and enjoy watching the game in the warm Florida sun is pretty darned cool.  The people that will invest vacation time to see the Birds on the Bat mean business and genuinely love the game!  You just never know who you will see in the stands or on the fields…

I’ve now had the pleasure to attend Cardinals spring training games at Jupiter in three different years, and it is fun to feel a bit like a local when I go back.  Since the Cardinals record for getting to the World Series in years that I attend spring training is .667 (and .333 for winning it all!), I keep thinking the Cardinals will call me up and offer some gratis tickets to make the trip each year.  So far that has not been the case, but I’m definitely game to make a trip to Cardinals Spring Training a tradition!

Happy traveling!

;O)

From as far back as I can remember, I have always loved words. It is probably my mom’s fault (or perhaps her gift to me) since she always told us to “look it up” when we did not know how to spell something or were not sure of the meaning of a word. There are a couple of dictionary sets in my parents’ house that still bear the brunt of our frequent review and investigation.  (No Dictionary.com for us back then!)

As I continue to translate that love for words into my writing in emails, letters, and even on this blog, I find this a fascinating area for discussion. While two of us may visit the same place at the exact same date and time, there is virtually no chance that our write-ups of those trips will be the same. I propose this happens for several reasons, not the least of which is that we are different people!

Perspective

Since I grew up in a rural area of Missouri, moving to St. Louis felt like a big change – and a big city – to live in…  Now that I have visited places like London, New York City, and Rome, St. Louis seems pretty darned small.  In truth, those cities didn’t “change”, but my perspective (and I) did. What now feels like a jaunt for me to the grocery store in St. Louis, would be an adventure to shop in San Francisco, or even an event to go to the open air market in Florence. It all depends what you have to compare the experience with!

Small Town USA

Small Town USA

Experience

Travel, in general, can have its own ups and downs. What it takes to get you to your destination will most definitely influence your impressions. If you have had the opportunity to be rerouted by an airline, you know what I am talking about. For instance, a plan which anticipated one flight from Chicago to Rome, but instead became two flights (Chicago to London, then London to Rome) would not likely make anyone’s list of positives. Such changes can delay your arrival, cause you to lose a hotel room, or possibly make you miss bags that were pre-checked on your original flight. Travel that had once been deemed a piece of cake could now be referred to as a challenging experience or a frustrating change of circumstances.

London Skyline

London Skyline

Expectations

Long ago, I thought that all travel could be nothing short of glamorous. Now, after some real world experience of my own, I definitely have a much more colorful range of descriptors to use. The first business trip I took to New York was anticipated with glee and exuberance. Sure, I was going to The Big Apple for work, but there would be so many things for me to see and do. Heaven knows why I thought I would see everything – I just set the bar high and knew it would happen. Though I did manage to fit in a cab ride to Times Square and a quick skate on the ice at Rockefeller Center, what I really learned is that business travel involves seeing a lot of the hotel and the airport. This trip was a success and an accomplishment, but not a vacation.

Times Square, New York

Times Square, New York

I don’t know about you, but I really tire from repetition. One can only read a book where everything is “he said” or “she said” for so long. Isn’t it more interesting to read “he whispered” or “Sally exclaimed with great aplomb”?  It is so important that we all call things like we see them, and I say the more variety the better! We are all unique, so we might as well spice up our discussions and descriptions with words that say what we mean and paint a great picture for those with whom we are speaking.

Just like there is no way our perspectives, experiences, or expectations could be the same, there is no reason our descriptions should mirror one another. What may be a treat for me (a shoe museum!), may be torture for my husband… Ah, such is life!

Happy traveling!

;O)

Posted by: AmbleAlong | February 13, 2013

Insider Travel Tip: Striking a Balance on Vacation

I have written items related to this before, but I truly feel it is important that not every vacation be a mirror image of one that you took previously.  Even if you go to the same city or country, why would you not get out to explore it in a different way rather than the same old, same old? Now I am not saying that going to one destination multiple times is a bad idea, just that branching out truly has its own allure…

Take for instance my various jaunts to Italy.  I have one boss that just says “Italy, again?” anytime I put in a vacation request.  A couple of things here to note:  (a) I have not just gone to Italy for vacations during my decade plus with the firm, (b) I happen to really like Italy, (c) I have managed to enjoy very different types of trips each time; and (d) since he is not paying for my vacation, it is well within my rights to ignore his eye roll…

Italy has been a travel destination of mine a total of five times, though none has been in the same vein:

  • Trip 1: My first trip to Italy was in 1998 with college friends. To say that we were on a tight budget for a three week trip is a grand understatement.  But what we lost in grandeur, we more than made up for in practicality and local flavor.  We learned to pick up sandwiches and snacks (no coperto, or cover charge, for being served at seats in a restaurant), and found that it was actually a lot of fun to dine out with the crowd near a fountain in the piazza or on the stairs of a museum.  An important key we agreed upon was that for every activity we spent money on, we had to schedule one with no cost at all. For instance, we took a tour of the Vatican Museums, then spent some quality time just walking around the Spanish steps.
  • Trip 2: The second trip I took to Italy was in 2006.  This time there was a boyfriend in tow.  We rented a villa in a small town in Umbria, and used Spoleto as our base to go wherever our interests took us.  As the trip neared, we learned that the Eurochocolate Festival (Italy’s largest!) would be held in Perugia, so we decided to add it to our itinerary (Perugia is a short train trip from Spoleto).  Though we were surprised that a chocolate festival in Europe does not include “free samples” like it does here in the U.S., we found the dancing, chocolate, and general merriment surrounding this big event to be perfect for providing some great photos and a very memorable day trip!  The downside to this trip: lost luggage that was never found.  The upside: we got engaged at the Trevi Fountain!
  • Trip 3: Our honeymoon, in 2007, was the next Italian vacation.  Though we rented another villa, we planned for the Amalfi Coast this time around.  Mild weather and the crystal blue waters of the Mediterranean were a perfect combination!  Our villa was on a hillside in Positano, and there was an amazing view from the patio of both the Mediterranean Sea and the narrow roads winding around the mountains near Positano.  Despite the host supplying us with lemoncello as a gift for our honeymoon, we learned that we are not fans of this local and overpowering drink.  Past that, we found quickly that it worked well to make the steep hike down and back up the steps to the beach in Positano just once each day, and also to use the ferries and hydrofoils (anything but the Circumvesuviana, a local train we took en route to Positano that makes frequenty stops around Mount Vesuvius) whenever possible!  A side trip to the Isle of Capri and the Blue Grotto was amazing; working together to save furniture and our belongings from water leaking down the walls during a rainstorm was less than stellar…
  • Trip 4: Since we met, I had been angling my now-husband to get his passport so we could travel the world, not to mention go back and visit some “favorites”.  (Turns out it took him all of four months to make that happen!) The Year 2008 found us back in Italy, but retracing many similar steps that I took in 1998. The itinerary included Florence, Spoleto, and Rome. We stayed at a few of the family-owned hotels I stayed in 10 years prior and enjoyed plenty of gelato. For our itinerary, however, we branched out from the big museums and included walks through some formal gardens, visits to local art galleries, and a winery tour near Spoleto. We learned on this trip not to try and pack so much in – there will always be something (like the winery tour!) that comes along to fill the time.
  • Trip 5: Last year, in 2012, we decided we needed to put Italy back on the calendar. We missed the food, we missed the language. This time northern Italy took center stage. The trip was split evenly between Venice and Lake Como.  Our expectation is that Venice would be the old world, beautiful city in ruins where we would be busy all of the time. It was a nice surprise that the proprietors of our hotel shared suggestions for restaurants, churches, and watering holes where the locals went but the tourists did not.  Though we loved our visits to Harry’s Bar, we fell in love with Al Timon – a local wine bar with cicchetti a plenty! There many architectural marvels in Venice, but being stuck on the vaporettos with constant crowds in mid-August was not a lot of fun. Lake Como is actually a group of cities dotting an area around the Lake, and Varenna was where we stayed for the second half of the trip. Though the lake was stunning and we had a terrific view, our hotel was located in front of ferry stop.  The ferry stop allowed for great access to tour the lake, but brought with it plenty of activity morning, noon, and night.  On the final day of our stay in Varenna, we went for one last ferry ride and stopped at Lenno. We found the quiet of Lenno was actually what we had long expected from the entire lake district.

Lazy Day in Venice

All in all, you will never fail to learn something about yourself – and likely others – while on any vacation adventure. If you want to spend your vacation camping in the same lot at the same park on the same weekend each year, that’s cool. Should you have a time-share in Aruba that you go to with annual frequency, more power to you! For my money, though, I am going to venture to do something just a little different each year (especially any time I return to a city). I will never know what other fun might be just around the bend until I travel off the path I took last time around..

Happy traveling!

;O)

Posted by: AmbleAlong | January 10, 2013

Do You Ever Want to Skip the WhoWhatWhenWhereWhyHow of Things?

Here we are ten days into a new year, and I find myself still in a bit of an abyss…

  • I want to write (or complete!) a blog post, but I forgot the right picture, can’t find my quote, etc.
  • It would be great to start a new project at work, but I keep getting pulled back into the day-to-day operations and have no time.
  • Do I assert myself and give people a piece of my mind, or should I sit back and remember to listen more than I talk?

Dichotomies like these seem to find me no matter where I am, and I suspect that I am not alone in this.

In order to jump start my ability to make some decisions and progress, I sought out a quote to inspire me.  I am not sure this one “inspired” me so much as spoke to me, but what the heck – whatever it takes, right?

The worst thing one can do is not to try.  ~Jim Rohn

I don’t know Mr. Rohn, I am not going to look him up, but I can appreciate what he is saying (to me at least) here…

You could fly, you could fail, but you need to do something. ~AmbleAlong

There is no question that we should all learn to master a few key tasks, like providing good directions, being a great friend, and balancing our checkbooks.  But there are other times when it just doesn’t pay to always be the nice gal/guy. Going forward I am not going to give myself a free pass to be rude, but I am going to be smarter about what I take on.

Often I find myself pitching in to help out more than I should – or really want – to, especially at the office. For instance, when I changed jobs here I left a complete binder up-to-date with vendor information, phone numbers, and special “helps” for the position. Though I left the binder to be helpful, that individual continues to stop by my office for information rather than looking it up. I had to look things up when I first started, so now that time is nigh for someone else…

On a personal note, when friends want to get the group together I am sometimes asked (or I volunteer) to help coordinate things. I love the planning, but sometimes get bogged down with the details.  My goal will be to try and streamline dinner club emails, for instance, to provide what is needed (the where and when), but drop extras (restaurant reviews) that might take up my time and not add anything important to the mix.

As for the blog, which suffers greatly from my lack of organization and time, I am going to remind myself that this is my outlet.  I can write, review, share, plan, encourage, show, inspire, or even illuminate myself and others.  It doesn’t have to be perfect, there doesn’t need to always be a point, and there are no rules that a new post must be released every Tuesday at 4 pm.  This is a forum where my interests, creativity, knowledge and imagination can flow into one big sea and I should feel free to just be me!

Hope you have a great day being you!

;O)

Posted by: AmbleAlong | December 21, 2012

Insider Travel Tip: Getting lost – on purpose!

Hi fellow travelers!  In the midst of this crazy season lead-up to Christmas, I am trying to stay true to my goal to post more frequently.  Hopefully you will find today’s post short but sweet!

I know that many of us live our lives by feeding information into and consulting calendars and day planners (paper or electronic) on where we need to be and when. We often take this sense of up-to-the-minute control through to even our vacations and the planning of them.

I would like to propose that we loosen our hold on at least some of the details and just go with the flow when we unplug from our daily life for a vacation.  This quote from Ray Bradbury struck me as a good companion for the idea I am proposing:

Half the fun of travel is the aesthetic of lostness.   ~Ray Bradbury

Some of the most fun we have had in recent vacations is “in the margins”.  In Paris a few years back we decided to go to a museum in the morning, then tour a church in late afternoon.  This gave us plenty of free time in Paris to just see where the winding road would take us.  This chance to wander around between those two places provided us with the following lazy afternoon views on a stop at the Jardin des Tuileries between the Musée d’Orsay and Notre Dame:

The Tuilleries Gardens were a beautiful place to relax and just enjoy a great day!

The Tuileries Gardens were a beautiful place to relax and just enjoy a lazy afternoon!

Surrounding the Tuilleries Gardens reflecting pool were comfortable chairs.  We watched excited kids and adults alike pay to send their rented toy boats around the pool on a great day!

Surrounding the Tuileries Gardens reflecting pool were Adirondack chairs. We watched excited kids and adults alike send their rented toy boats around the pool!

Our down time spent at the Tuileries Gardens is one of the highlights from our trip to Paris, and we reference it often!  Since that vacation, we have made a conscious effort to plan less and enjoy more.  In any case, I hope you will at least consider letting a city talk to you on a future trip and take you where it may…

Happy traveling and enjoy the holidays!!!

;O)

Posted by: AmbleAlong | December 12, 2012

Happy 12/12/12!

Hi all!  I have been away from Wordpress for a bit as the job I am paid for won out in the battle for my time over the job I love (blogging about travel, though today’s post is more of a general comment).  Hopefully I will now be back on a more consistent basis, and I hope you like what you read!

Today is 12/12/12!  As many of you know, twelve is my favorite number in the world. I like that it is balanced. I like that it is an even number. I like that you can signal someone the number using just one hand…  There is no hard and fast reason for my appreciation of the number 12 (though I was born in December), I just plain like it and always have!

In recent discussions I have discovered some familiar themes popping up: the standards (preparing for the holidays, a weight-loss plan for the new year) but also some new stars on the rise (happiness, improving for yourself not others, doing what you feel is important).  Without a doubt I will continue to enjoy the holiday season, but I am starting to really like the direction these new topics are taking me toward… A better me on all fronts!

One big thing I need to incorporate into my actions is to not try to do everything myself. For this reason alone, I love this quote:

Be selective in your battles, don’t make every problem a war.   ~ Unknown

This quote is something I will be keeping in mind as I work with customers and disagree with co-workers.  It is every bit as important when I tackle a workout at the gym or see family for Christmas.  When the issues and problems are big, approach them head-on.  If the little frustrations are so small that they should just be dusted under the rug, then do that and forget them.  Life can get so caught up in personality clashes and the little irksome tendencies that we forget the big picture entirely. (As my grandmother would often tell me, don’t make mountains out of molehills.)

The one thing I will always have free rein over changing is me, so I might as well get going…  After all, there will only be one 12/12/12 in my lifetime, and I might as well make my “perfect” day count!

Happy traveling, and happy holidays!

;o)

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