My Top 5 Places I wish to Visit

Traveling is one thing that pretty much anyone you ask either loves to do or longs to do. It is the means by which we take a temporary reprieve and escape form the mundane normalities of our lives and explore other worlds. I have had the good fortune to be able to travel to quite a few areas that I have loved to visit, and many that I now regard as “other” homes of my heart. While my travels pale in comparison to many, as I have never traveled out of the country or more than two states away from my own, I am still blessed to see much of what I have. With an open mind and open eye, one can find many treasures that dwell within reach of them: at most, within a day’s drive. I have compiled a list of the top five places I would like to visit, and here is my list:

Random Chicken in Key West

Topping the list is Key West, Florida. While I have had an all too brief visit to Key West already, I still want to go back and have a chance to actually visit the place. My daughter and I took a nice little weeklong vacation last summer while I was still living down in Southwest Florida. For the week, we visited a different beach every day. On our final day, we made the five-hour drive down to the Keys. We stopped in Islamorada, a place in which we had both longed to visit for many years, and we fed the Tarpon at Robbie’s. We then drove down to Bahia Honda State Park on Big Pine Key, where we spend most of the day soaking up the glorious sun and enjoying the water that was as clear as glass with no waves to obscure the view of the coral reef growing along the ocean floor or the various marine life that swam about us. Finally, we had made our way to Key West. It was nothing short of incredible to view. It was everything one would imagine that Key West would be. The island vibe was so enticing. We walked around to find the Hemingway house and see some of his world famous six-toed cats. We had an incredibly delicious cheesesteak sandwich from Fogarty’s on Duvall Street. However, for all the fun we had on our little trip to the keys, we did not have enough time in a day trip to do all of the traditional tourist things. We did not get to enjoy authentic Key Lime Pie from Key West. We were unable to enjoy an incredible sunset at the sunset celebration on Mallory Square. We did not get to take cheesy pictures at the Southernmost Point. In fact, once we arrived on the island, we did not even see water again until we left. Therefore, we missed out on the incredible beaches that are so captivating to see in pictures. We both decided whole-heartedly that we will be making definite plans to return to the keys, in particular, Key West with our husbands and take a nice long few days to take in the whole island and all that it has to offer.

Fogerty’s of Key West

My son and daughter in law recently decided that their dream was to move to Utah. Until that point, I had never really given much thought to Utah. I did not know anything about it and had really never considered visiting that region of the states. However, after they had brought it up, I had begun to look into the things that Utah has to offer. I have been fairly blown away with how beautiful the state is. They have some incredible parks and some even more incredible scenery. They have since decided not to move there, as it would be farther away from family than what they really wanted to be with their three small children, but they still definitely plan to visit there. I have now also added Utah to my list of places that I would like to visit. Specifically, I would like to visit Moab and the Arches National Park.

 For most of my life, I have had a fascination with the Golden Gate Bridge, and it has been my life-long dream to go to San Francisco, California and see the bridge. I cannot even explain how or why I became obsessed with the bridge. But I do remember, even from a very young age, always having this desire to see the bridge. I also think it would be pretty amazing to see Alcatraz, while in the area. I would not only like to view it from the bay, but actually take a tour of the island itself. I have watched documentaries on Alcatraz, and there are some very interesting and fascinating stories about things that transpired there, and it would be really incredible to walk the halls and stand in the place that is at the heart of so much controversy.

Another place that I would love to visit is Ground Zero in New York. I know that it has been several years since the terrorist attacks on the twin towers, however, I have always had the yearning to go there. Perhaps in some way to pay respect. I, alongside the rest of the nation, grieved and mourned that event. It could be the Empath in me, but I have since had a longing to be there; to stand on the sacred place and allow my grief to fully unfold. Beyond that, I have never really had any desire to visit the Big Apple. I am a bit of an introvert and trying to picture myself immersed in the New York crowds is something that I cannot really wrap my head around. But now, I think that if I could ever have the opportunity to visit Ground Zero, the chance to visit New York would not be lost on me. I would like to take a small time out and at least visit Times Square and Madison Square Garden.

Lastly, yet, certainly not least one place I would like to visit is Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Much like the Golden Gate Bridge, there is really no rhyme or reason for my obsession with Cabo. Although, it has not quite been so life long as with the bridge, I still long to see Cabo San Lucas. My love for Cabo actually began in my adult years of life. My daughter was around twelve years of age and we watched a video on YouTube, in which the boys on the video talked of Cabo. So, I decided to look it up. I am a Pisces, and very curious by nature. Following my search for all things Cabo San Lucas, I was blown away with how incredibly breathtaking it was. I decided at that very moment that I would make it my life’s mission to visit there one day. As of this writing, she is currently fixing to turn twenty-three years of age, and I am still just as obsessed with and determined to visit Cabo as I have ever been.

The Psychology of Being One Hundred Pounds Overweight

For the majority of my adult life I have found myself refraining from participating in many activities. I avoid most social events. I even manage to avoid family gatherings. It seems quite senseless; however, I am unable to make myself convinced of that.

When at the gym, I would avoid eye contact with other people at all costs. Going to places, like the fair or a theme park, can become an absolute nightmare. There is this continual fear of being “too big” to fit in the rides. Once, several years ago, I actually had a situation where the restraints on a ride did not fit me properly because of my size. I was horrified during the entire ride that was I was going to slip out of the ride. I could literally feel my own body siding back and forth due to the fact that the ill placed restraints did not have me secured as they should have. I was actually even small then than I am now, and at this point, I make any excuse I can think of to refrain from attending any such park. I absolutely cannot endure something like that again.

At work, I had friends. My fellow coworkers would invite me out to lunch with them. Also, often times, they would all make plans to go out after work and have dinner or go out for drinks. I was never blind to the fact that I was the largest person that worked in out department, and I would therefore, be “the fat one” at the table or out in the clubs. So, it just made more sense that I would politely decline their offers to join the gang for a fun outing. Luckily, I did live farther away from work than anyone else did and I had a substantially longer commute home, so that always made for an easy out, and provided me an unquestionable excuse when I constantly declined the invites.

Being in a relationship seems to be the worse. My husband truly loves me, of that I do not question or doubt. My problem is, I can never convince myself of why he does. I am older than him and feel most days like I weigh twice as much as him. He always has an uncanny knack for getting romantic and wanting to try out various things. You know, to “keep the spark alive.” However, I am so incredibly insecure about myself and have little to no confidence it is damn near impossible for me to be comfortable exposing much of myself to him. No matter how much I know that man loves me, my damn insecurities about myself keep this wall up between us that only causes more turbulence than I can describe. When I feel insecure and reserved with him that way, it, in turn, causes him to feel insecure in our relationship. He begins to question the validity of my attraction to him and begins to convince himself that I am not comfortable around him intimately, because I am not attracted to him. It really is a vicious cycle and hurts everyone.

Going clothes shopping can be one of the greatest nightmares imaginable. I tend to avoid going shopping if at all possible. When I do go, I generally refuse to use the dressing rooms. I cannot really explain it, but I have the crazy idea that if I try on clothes in the store and they do not fit, I will become depressed and leave with nothing. I cannot say that it entirely an idea. I have in the past taken my stash of carefully picked out items to a dressing room, only to try on the items before me in absolute horror, as not a single thing in the pile would fit. Or if they did, it would be a mere one or two pieces. It is devastating. Therefore, I tend to prefer facing that fear and wallowing in my self disgust alone at home. I have also, so many times, picked out clothing in a store in the sizes that I was convinced I would need, only to get home and realize that I was too generous in my thinking. Nothing will damage your pride more than allowing yourself a size, or even two, bigger than the last time you bought clothing, only to realize even the larger sizes are not large enough.

Fun family outings can turn into a nightmare when faced with being that size. There is a constant fear of having to be squeezed into a carnival ride, or worse, that the security bar/belts will not fit around you and you are shamefully escorted off of the ride. Even while eating a salad, the very idea of eating in a public place will send you into a near-panic attack. I once was eating a granola bar as I drove from work to school, knowing that I did not have time between the two to stop for any type of semblance of a meal. While stopped at a red light, a man in the car in the lane next to me looked over. I was overcome with shame. It was a simple granola bar, it is not like it was a foot-long hot dog or anything, and it had been the only thing I had eaten in well over six hours. Yet, the very idea of someone seeing me eat, when I was already so overweight was nothing short of mortifying.

Society’s tendency to “fat-shame” can place an unnecessary amount of stress on someone who is already battling internal demons of mammoth proportion. There are times when those fears may be legitimate, as in, there may be situations whereby you are unable to ride certain rides at the fair. But, more often than not, the majority of those fears are irrational, and bear no legitimacy. The person in the car next to you at the stop light, may in fact look over at you as you are eating your granola bar. However, that in no way means that he finds the whole idea of you eating as disgusting. He could simply be looking around to try and find a pretty lady to smile at. Or perhaps, he is searching the faces of other drivers to see if anyone looks as miserable about commuting in traffic as he does. Perhaps, even, he has had a very bad day, and is just hoping to find one person to smile at him and make his day seem just a little bit better. When you go out to eat with your family and friends, most of the people inside the restaurant are too busy with their own friends and family to be worrying about watching you eat.

Yes, fat-shaming is real. And, there are instances in which someone will gawk at a heavier person and make fun of them or make cynical comments toward their eating habits. And most definitely, being one hundred pounds overweight at the gym can be an incredibly awkward and embarrassing experience. Yet, those are not always the norm, but as the heavier person, we tend to let out minds always draw from the worst case scenario and whether people look at us condescendingly, with disgust, or simply just glance up at a fellow person walking by them, we draw from those fears of what others think and in our own minds, we assume what we believe they are thinking about us. It is a dirty trick that our minds play on us.

Why We Love Fall in Georgia

Fall in Georgia!

Ah, fall in North Georgia. It is an almost magical time of year when the season beings to come alive. People love the south, particularly for the fall season. The landscape becomes awash with vibrant hues of red, orange, and yellow as the leaves on the trees begin to change colors. By mid-November, just about any establishment you enter seduces you with Christmas music and nostalgia. And the smells. Oh, the smells of fall. There are few places on can go to escape the tantalizing scents of pumpkin, pecan, maple, and apple. Not to mention the scent of fire burning. A most comforting scent that drums up imagery of sipping hot cocoa in front of a roaring fireplace, whilst nestled under a cozy blanket and watching our cherished family favorite classics on the television set.

Mountain runs and car shows are a few favorite fall events for the car enthusiast. With the turning of the leaves, the scenery is beautiful, and many car groups gather up their members to take a stroll over the curvy mountainous roads of north Georgia. The scenery provides a most picturesque backdrop for both group and individual photos of their treasured cars. Generally, the rides will include lunch at some newly discovered local mom and pop eatery that is tucked away in the mountains and, often, only the locals know about. In addition to mountain drives, fall is also a popular time for car shows. While car shows can, and do, take place year-round, the cooler temperatures of fall tend to bring out more people, both participating with their own vehicles as well as more spectators out enjoying browsing the collection of classic beauties on a crisp cool day.

The highlight of fall can be the kickoff to sweater weather, scarfs, flannels, and boots. Fall fashion is one thing that most people in the fall, particularly females, look forward to all year long. Shopping is a favored hobby for all people in the fall, between the holidays and trendy fall fashion, building up to  Black Friday shopping will remain a top shopping day of the fall season.

Another particularly revered and time-honored tradition in the fall for Georgia natives is to enjoy a taste of warm liquor for those chilly nights. Whether it be a shot of spiced rum in your coca cola, warm apple brandy in your coffee, or just a plain old shot of Fireball straight out of the bottle, there is not doubt the warm liquor will heat you up a few degrees. For those daring enough to try it, there is also the occasional opportunity in the south to partake in a “swig” of good old-fashioned moonshine. Generally taken right out of the mason jar it was stored in. Most old-timers around north Georgia, live and die by the healing properties of pure moonshine and will forbid you to leave the house without a good  hefty swallow if you have any sign of a cough or sniffles in their presence.

Hot drinks to warm the soul.

You cannot say fall in north Georgia without talking about football! From the NFL to college rivalries, to high school playoffs, on thing about it, Georgia loves its football. One would be hard pressed to get out and about on a Saturday afternoon without seeing team colors abound and hearing an endless array of fist pumping dog barking sounds, or Roll Tide or even a War Eagle or two, or ten. Sundays are reserved for NFL team gear and an appropriate display of “game day’ snacks. However, no matter how much the people love their college or NFL teams, there is one thing you can bet your bottom dollar on. When it comes to Fridays, there is something that transpires once those Friday night lights turn on that will transform even the most apathetic football fan into a screaming, standing in the bleachers, excited fanatic. The energy that takes place during a high school football game is unlike anything else. Of course, it also is an unwritten rule that you cannot attend a high school football game without enjoying the display of treats offered up at the concession stand. Nothing like a concession stand hot dog or tray of nachos at the football game to get you in the spirit for a good old time on a Friday night.

Hot cocoa is a must, and most often, a staple in homes across north Georgia in the fall. Sipping hot cocoa while curled up on the couch under a fuzzy blanket and binge-watching Hallmark movies is a time-honored tradition. Not only is hot cocoa enjoyed in the comfort of homes all across north Georgia in the fall, but a must in most of the fall outing festivities enjoyed throughout the state. Football games, hayrides, and holiday shopping are all valid excuses to grab a hot cocoa to sip on and warm up one’s insides, not that any excuse is necessary to indulge.  In addition to hot cocoa, no home in north Georgia is absent the fall favorites chili, and a vast array of hearty soups to suit every taste bud one my possibly have.

Pumpkin farms and hayrides are the literal epitome of fall in north Georgia.  It is almost considered a shameful tragedy, almost a sacrilege of sorts, for anyone to make it through an entire fall season and not make a single visit to a pumpkin farm, or apple house to enjoy a nice family hayride. North Georgia fall is pumpkin farms and hayrides, and you will be blessed with an abundance of them on any given weekend day. In addition to all the local farms, local churches also get into the fall spirit by hosting a variety of fall festivals, that almost always include a fun filled hayride.

OH, Halloween. Haunted houses, haunted hayrides, and haunted hikes are abundant in north Georgia. While north Georgia loves all things fall, Halloween is the first official holiday of the fall season, and, well, they go all out. From makeshift graveyards out on the front lawn, to skeletons hanging from their trees, to dancing ghosts swirling across the front of their homes, Georgia folk love a holiday and they love to celebrate. Halloween parties and trunk or treats begin as soon as the first weekend in October. They start buying up Halloween candy for their expected array of trick or treaters, but not too soon. It can be a much too difficult task for many to hold all those delicious candy treats in the house without breaking into them and eating half of the stash before Halloween night.

Some people are known for starting to ramp up for the Christmas season as early as October. But generally, as soon as Halloween has passed, you can begin to find the happy Christmas décor out in abundance. While there are a few who linger in the fall vibe a little longer, at least until Thanksgiving Day, many get all excited and start on their Christmas season early. For everyone else, they will revel in the fall season as long as possible. Sunflowers, Mums, and pumpkin spice everything is the season they have longed for all year, and they are not willing to cut it short. Even so, fall does provide the Segway into the Christmas season, and beginning in November, there marks the kickoff to the season in various towns. Many north Georgia towns will have their Christmas parades, and official lighting of the town tree during mid to late November. Stores will begin playing the festive Christmas music and putting the holiday décor out to get the local patrons in the holiday shopping season mood.

So, no matter what your passion, your hobby, or your taste is, you are sure to find something in North Georgia during the fall to satisfy each. It is an almost guarantee that you can enjoy a most pleasurable and memorable time in North Georgia, and take back with you, laughs and fond recollections of a time well spent in a place well loved.

School’s In! Tips for Getting Organized for the New School Year.

It is with a degree of difficulty that we think about giving up that last little slice of the summer pie we have been afforded year after year. But, alas, as summer draws to a close and fall is upon the horizon, it is time to prepare for that ever daunting task of getting back to school The time doesn’t have to be stressful, however. And, I have created some tips to help get you organized and all set for the new school year with a degree of optimism and enthusiasm like never before.

Morning Routine– No matter if you are a busy mom with children heading back off to school, you are a college student, or you are a more non-traditional adult with no small children, but have a full time job and are working on college courses, either online or in a brick and mortar university, having a solid morning routine can substantially set you up for a more successful school year. Morning routines are as varied as the individual that is executing them. Perhaps, you are a stay at home mom who only needs to be mindful of the time in which the children need to be ready for the school bus or time to leave for the school drop off line; or maybe you work outside the home and have a specific time that you have to have everyone ready to leave the house in order to arrive to work on time. It is simply a matter of taking into account any times that have to be allotted for non-negotiable things, such as school times, work times, and commute times. My current morning routine consists of two components- house chores and self care. My morning house routine is to being my day with unloading the dishwasher, swish and swipe the bathrooms, make the bed, and begin a load of laundry. Likewise, my morning self care routine is brushing my teeth, applying my morning power serum, day cream with sunscreen, make up and hair. I’m both cursed and lucky in the regard that my hair is short and thin, so I do not have to allow for extra time for hair straighteners or curlers. My whole morning routine takes me less than thirty minutes to complete. I currently work from home, so I do not have to stick to a rigid time frame for completing my morning routine. However, that was not always the case. I used to work outside of the home and I knew what time I needed to leave to arrive to work on time, taking into account that I was in the heart of the rush hour commute in Atlanta traffic. I made allowances by getting up thirty to forty minutes earlier to provide the time needed to complete my morning chores and maintain my morning routine.

Make a Plan– I cannot stress enough the value of a functional planner. I put emphasis on the word functional, because it is all too common and all too easy to start preparing for a new school year by purchasing a crisp, clean, and gorgeous new planner to keep track of all of your important dates and reminders, yet after a few weeks or so, the planner seems to fall by the way side and gets written in less and less as you find yourself forgetting more important things. The planner system that I currently use is the Happy Planner brand. I chose it for its functionality as well as customization. I have played around with a variety of planners from the generic Walmart planners to Franklin Covey and I have a set up ready for 2020 from the Agenda 52 line to go back to a binder style planner. Regardless of what brand or style of planner you choose, it should be one that is functional for all of your needs and user friendly enough to inspire you to refer to it and write in it daily. The idea is that keeping a planner is essential to tracking appointments and assignment due dates.

Prep for the Evenings– As important as a morning routine is, having an evening routine can be just as vital. Evening routines include tasks such as dinner, cleaning the kitchen, baths, and laying out clothes for the next day. A good way to prepare for the evenings, and alleviate a lot of undue stress is menu planning. By planning out your menus in advance, you can adjust day by day, according to any after work or after school appointments or errands and prep easy to fix meals on the days that you have commitments that would otherwise take away time needed to prepare a complicated recipe dish. For instance, ball practice after school? Toss an easy roast in the crock pot, set on low, and when you arrive home dinner will be ready with only a quick side dish or two. Side note, steam vegetables make a wonderful quick side dish on those busy nights! In an effort to try and have an easy and stress free evening, try to implement planning for the evening and night routines as much as you can early on in the day or on a Sunday evening, to alleviate a lot of the juggling and panic to try and decide on a dinner choice or locate the baseball mitt on the fly.

Delegate- As mothers, we tend to want to do everything for everyone. It is, in essence, in our nature to be nurturers. But, being a nurturer and being a martyr are two completely different things. While we love our families and love taking care of them, we do not have to do it all. It is possible, and essential to delegate our work to the other members of our family. Even small children can benefit from being assigned to pick up their own toys or put their clothes in the hamper for washing. Taking on everything can be stressful and limiting in the amount of quality time we spend with our families. So, take a few items off your to-do list, and graciously gift them to family members who can handle those tasks. The work will get completed much quicker, and you can enjoy a few moments of blissful silence relaxing in the bubble bath with a glass of chilled wine at the end of the evening. Oh yeah, and enjoy time spend with the family as well. Now, the important, and I do me the most important thing to remember when delegating tasks to the other members of your family is – do not expect perfection! Perfection is an illusion best saved for fools. Be grateful to them for the help they provide you. Do not go behind your children and re-make their beds or re-fold their clothes in the drawer. Just enjoy that you had the time freed up and enjoy sitting with them on the couch enjoying a movie before bed time.

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Boost Your SUMMER, BUCKET LIST With These Tips

Ah, summer, it’s that magical time when we all get to revert back to our childhood and enjoy the things that make us feel free and young. Whether you are hitting the road to take on those great summer adventures, or having a fun-filled summer staycation right in your own town, there are endless possibilities to create your own perfect summer bucket list. I am going to break down the top favorite activities to add to any summer bucket list and make the most memorable summer ever!

If, however, you are having trouble coming up with specific ideas to try out this summer, aside from many online websites, there are books that are targeted toward providing many great summer bucket list ideas, whether you are looking for ideas to keep the kids occupied or looking for some special ideas for a date night or weekend getaway for two.

Among the more famed summer fun things to do, going to the beach is a must for many. To plan for a fun and event free day at the beach, some necessities that you should pack for the day, in addition to snacks and plenty of water to stay hydrated, include, a good cooler, some trendy beach towels, sand toys for the kiddos, and even consider a beach tent for when you need to take a break from the sun, or take a nice shaded afternoon nap to the sound of the waves crashing.

Find shelter from the sun with a pop-up Beach Tent

Campout! No matter if you are gearing up to hit up the local state park for a weekend adventure full of fishing and hiking, or throwing up the tent in the back yard for a night of marshmallow roasting and ghost stories, good camping gear is an essential. From the tent to the backpack, to proper hiking shoes, things can go awry when you have worn out or poor quality camping gear that leaks or breaks apart on you during your camping trip. And, don’t forget to take the Kindle with you to enjoy some leisurely reading while you are catching those rays!

Great camping adventures start with a great tent!

What would summer be without ice cream? While is may be convenient to pile the family in the car and drive down to your local ice cream shop, or grab that coveted ice cream out on the beach, you may find it a more fun family event to churn your own ice cream with a personal ice cream maker. Imagine the anticipation as the motor churns away and the end result is your very own creation of frozen summer goodness? Another benefit of making your own ice cream is the ability to mix and match ingredients and create a bowl of ice cream that suits everyone’s tastes, and will likely last beyond one single serving!

Make your own summer treats with an Ice Cream Maker!

Swimming is the ultimate go-to sport of summer. So, whether you are heading off for a day at the beach or lounging at the local pool, you need to make sure you have the essential products on hand. First, and foremost, is a good quality sunscreen– the SPF factor will be dependent on the individual. If you are looking to get a little tanned for the day, then you would obviously go a little lighter on the SPF that what you would want to lather on your delicate skinned toddler. Pool toys and goggles are also necessities when it comes to taking children to the water. Additionally, don’t forger to pack plenty of snack and waters to beat the heat and replenish all those calories burned up making a splash.

Don’t forget to pack all your swimming necessities for the pool!

Have a BBQ and eat outside. One of the things that people enjoy most about the summer months is the chance to get to enjoy their meals outdoors. Be it, dining on your own back deck with the family and a lovely meal you prepared in your own kitchen, a nice little spot at the park starring a blanket and a basket, grilling a burger and hot dog at the campsite, or perhaps setting up a portable grill for a little tailgating before the ball game. Any time is a good time to enjoy a nice meal outdoors during the summer, just don’t forget the bug guard, especially if you live in the south!

For dinner on the go, a portable grill is a no-brainer!

Go on an epic date! No matter if you are enjoying a nice meal outdoors while gazing up at the stars, or being entertained by a concert in the park, having a good blanket that the two of you can snuggle up on and enjoy the fresh air and atmosphere is a must. Or, if you are feeling more adventurous, jump in the car and venture off on a road trip. Summer is a great time for taking road trips, being that you don’t likely have to worry about snow or iced over roads, and there is a great opportunity to get out and really sight see. Roll the window down, turn up the radio, and just let your sense of adventure lead you off into uncharted territory. Of course, epic dates do not always have to be just the two of you. You can have a great family date night by enjoying the fun and laughter of family game nights or even plan a couples’ date night and play games with your couple friends.

Enjoy those concerts in t he park with an outdoor blanket!

There really is no end to the amount of fun you and your family can have this summer. So, take these ideas, expand on them, and create your very own summer bucket list. You are only limited by your imagination! Okay, perhaps, your budget as well. But you can find many a great adventure awaits you within your own budget and available time. Now, get creative, and get out and start enjoying this summer!

Affiliate Disclosure Statement- This blog post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I may receive a commission (at no additional cost to you.) Thank you for your support in this way.

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