During my morning commute I saw a bumper sticker that said “What You Do Matters”. It resonated with me for a variety of reasons, and it was a good reminder as I work towards my personal and professional goals. As I think about why I started Travel and Write Today, and the direction it is taking, I start to question why I started it in the first place, and if I want to continue with it. What is the purpose? What is the goal? I am still not quite sure where this will lead, but one thing that I do know is that what I do matters – what we all do matters. Whether you’re inspiring hundreds or just a few, whether you’re teaching others, providing travel options, or offering words of wisdom and beautiful photographs – it all matters. Keep doing what you’re doing.
In thinking about the New Year ahead I am starting to focus on the content for this blog, and on my various writing projects – both fiction and nonfiction. I am always continuing to work on my Instagram and Twitter content, but I plan to write more often on this page, as well. I want this blog to be a few different things – a space to write about my journey – as a writer, traveler, and just as a human being, and a place to share our favorite travel spots – where to go for the best coffee and made-to-order donuts, which restaurants are the best for kids or date nights, and which hotels are the best for families or romantic getaways. I think this blog can be all of this, and that is my goal over the next year. I would love for you all to learn a little more about me through my writing, and through our travels. Please continue to follow along as I work to make this blog into what I’d like it to be.
Along with wanting to be a writer, I had always wanted to be a teacher. I could visualize myself standing in front of the classroom, and I dreamed of one day having my name on the students’ schedules that they received over the summer. I worked hard to achieve that goal, and taught for years, but it never felt right. It is difficult to be on a path, and then make a drastic change mid-course. What will people say? How will I explain? Sometimes we need to do what feels right regardless of the comments, judgments, and criticisms of others. Sometimes we are led down a path because it will bring us elsewhere. What we thought was the destination is merely a pit-stop. Life takes us down different paths for a reason. I’ve always wanted to work in a profession/field where I believed my skills were being utilized, where I felt passionate about the mission and values of the organization, where I felt fulfilled, and most importantly, where I felt like I was respected and making a difference. Work is such a large part of our lives – it should not just be a place where you do not dread coming in, but where you feel rewarded, respected, and valued – where you actually enjoy being there. My goal has been to maybe not love work (all the time), but to really, really like it. To feel like I am doing great work, while taking the time to pursue my passions through side projects. Since I left teaching, years ago, I’ve made many changes in my professional life – I’ve taken many leaps of faith, trusted my instincts, and went into uncharted waters. I felt calm each time I made a decision, which I believe means I made the right choices at the time. I walked away from something I worked hard to attain, and decided to start again.
The same goes for starting Travel and Write Today — I don’t know where this path will lead, but it felt like the right decision to get started.
In thinking about goals and dreams, I start to think about my reasons for starting my Instagram page and this blog. What am I hoping for…? I have many reasons for starting, but often get overwhelmed with how long it can take to reach a goal. I am not even sure where this will lead, and I am not even sure it matters – what truly matters is that I am doing something every day that brings me closer to my goals, focusing on one step at a time. There are many different paths I can see this taking, but for me in this moment, it is about sharing my experiences, recommendations, a few inspiring words, and photographs from places near and far. What’s important is that I am sharing the message that you need to stop putting things off, and you need to start doing the things you want to do today. Maybe that’s more important than the outcome, maybe this should be the goal.
It’s important to me to do something I love every single day — whether it’s as simple as researching new spots in New England, reading a few chapters (or even pages) of a book, time with close friends, watching a few minutes of a favorite show, or writing my next blog post. There are things that I easily find time for — morning coffee, family time, work related to my day job, thinking about our next getaway, finding beauty in my own backyard, and my Instagram page. The question is: How do you find time to fit in your passions and your hobbies? Do you wake up early before the sun rises? Do you stay up late into the night? I always want to make sure that I am listening to my own words about doing something today.
I like to get up early in the morning — hours before I need to be anywhere. I will have a cup of coffee with a book or journal — I’ll also have my computer, to research and plan, and my blog page is always open and ready for the next post. This is when I spend the most time writing. I feel like my head is clear and the words flow; it’s before I need to look at the to-do list. I’m making the effort to write every single day — whenever I find the time, even if it is during my lunch break or just before going to bed. Like I’ve said in my previous post, if you want to be a writer you write. You make the time. The things that I am most passionate about, are also tied to my own personal and professional goals. I know that I need to always make the time to do the things I love — it’s that important.
When do you find the time to do the things you love today, whatever your something is…(doesn’t have to be traveling or writing)?
How do you decide where to go on your next vacation? What are the questions you ask and check-boxes you mark off while making your decision?
- Does the hotel/city need to be family-friendly?
- Are you looking for a romantic getaway?
- Do you want to return to a favorite spot or would you prefer to explore a new destination?
- Do you want to travel by car, plane, train, etc.?
- Are you deciding based on activities/events or around restaurants and shopping? Or both?
- Are you looking for a budget-friendly trip or an extravagant getaway?
- Are you going with friends or family?
- Are you scheduling your vacation around certain hotels or beaches?
One of the biggest factors for me when deciding where to go is if I want to return to a place I love, or explore a new town or city. There is something to be said about returning to a familiar location — you know your favorite coffee shops, the closest bookstores, and the best beaches, you know the restaurants serving the best brunch in town, and the ones that are delicious, but fly under the radar. There is a sense of home, peace, and comfort when you arrive, and you feel like you and this place are old friends.
There is also something exciting about driving into a new town, landing at an airport, or pulling into a train station in a place you’ve never been. You’re about to find your favorite spots, as you pore over travel books, and read and re-read restaurant reviews. You’re about to become acquainted with new baristas and bartenders, and you’re steps away from falling in love with sunrises while visiting new beaches and parks. There are shops you haven’t stepped into yet, and restaurants cooking your soon-to-be favorite dinner and pouring a glass of red. Everything is new and exciting, and will eventually become old and familiar, and possibly another go-to spot when you’re planning your next vacation.
We like to alternate between visiting favorite spots, and going somewhere new, but eventually you find so many you love that it makes it hard to decide. Visiting new towns in the same state helps to bring something new and exciting to the comfortable and familiar — this can help make deciding a little easier. How do you decide between a place you love, and someplace you’ve never been?
While at work today, IT needed remote access to my laptop. The first thing he said when he saw my screen was “Wow, what a beautiful place – where is that located?”. My desktop wallpaper is a picture of the Don Cesar Resort in St. Pete Beach, Florida. We started talking about the hotel, and about this beautiful stretch of beach in St. Pete. The tech had never heard of it before, but I am sure he will start doing some research. He started quietly working on my computer, and then he said “We were just in New York City over the weekend visiting a friend”. We started talking about some of the restaurants and rooftop bars he visited, and how great of a place NYC is — all it took was me asking “What did you do while you were in NYC?”, and his voice instantly sounded happier. It seemed like for just a few moments he wasn’t focused on his work day, but rather on the adventure he had over the weekend. This was my way of traveling today.
Strangely, my computer was stuck on airplane mode, and we both had the same thought – that the universe was trying to tell me it was time to start planning the next getaway.
“We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.” – Ernest Hemingway
For as long as I can remember I’ve considered myself a writer. I’ve had one poem in a collection, and other than that the only people allowed to read my work were my family members, close friends, educators, and students. Until now. I’ve always believed that if you want to be a writer, you write. This makes you a writer. If you sit down and put pen to paper, you are a writer. If you open your journal to reflect on the day, the years, your concerns, your to-do lists, your goals — you are a writer. You don’t need to be published, but you do need to write. Putting myself out there has been scary for me, but I feel like it is time. Writing, traveling, books, music, poetry, and even favorite movies and shows, have been a topic of conversation on a nearly constant basis since I was a a child. I’ve always loved the written word, and I’ve kept most of what I’ve written hidden away, out of fear. I am starting to realize that what I put out there doesn’t have to be perfect, it just needs to be authentic.
I have notebooks filled with poetry, personal thoughts, observations from train rides and the airport, experiences during road trips, thoughts on concerts and music festivals, and all things travel — favorite spots, hotel recommendations, and favorite memories — it’s time to stop putting all my writing in boxes and bins, and it’s time to start sharing my experiences with others. My hope is that it will inspire others to put themselves out there, as well — and that it will inspire others to start planning their next adventure.
Like I said, my writing doesn’t need to be perfect, it just needs to be real…
“Traveling — it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” — Ibn Battuta
From a young age I’ve always loved traveling and staying in hotels — whether it was extravagant or just a small inn — I just liked feeling the comforts of home while traveling. I loved taking our yearly road trip to visit my family, and our annual trip to Lancaster, Pennsylvania – I still feel peace when I think back to the sound of the horse-drawn carriages. My parents and I were driving home from one of these road trips, and I was noticing all of the hotels in the area. I looked over at my parents and said, “One day I’d like to write a book called A Home Away from Home”, my parents smiled, and I pushed that thought aside after that car ride. I have no intention of writing that particular book, but writing about my travels, and experiences, whether it’s thousands of miles away or somewhere local, makes me happy.
We would often go to Florida — we went to Disney World because we loved it, and a little further south to visit my great-grandparents. The best parts of Disney were not only the rides, but the fact that we walked around the parks until we were exhausted, and then we’d come back to the hotel to go in the pool — we never turned on the TV. Everything revolved around joy and magic. I always felt like I was in the moment, which for me is generally difficult, and it has been even from childhood. I cried whenever we were on the shuttle back to the airport, and I still feel this way now when leaving Disney World. I feel that way when leaving most trips. Looking at all the photographs, and writing about our adventures gives me the chance to travel to these places all over again.
I’ve been trying to bring the feelings I have, while on vacation, into my every day life. There is opportunity for joy and living in the moment even if you’re visiting a farm in a nearby town, having breakfast at your favorite local spot, or just sitting on your back patio having coffee. For me, travel now has become less about just the hotel, but more about the experience of being somewhere new — the sunrises, the local bookstores, the small coffeeshops, the water views, the breakfast place recommended by a local, the dinners (even if it is just room service), and the sunsets. Now, when traveling we unintentionally end up with a daily routine, and by the time the trip is over we are ready to pick-up and move there. This has brought new meaning to that original book title I mentioned, to my parents, many years ago. It truly becomes a home away from home.
Travel today is about being in the moment today — planning your next adventure — near or far — and just enjoying what’s in front of you. It is not focusing on work, emails, the to-do list, the bills — it’s feeling joy in the moment. Of course you cannot control your feelings, and I know regardless of how much I am enjoying my time, the every day stresses have a way of creeping in. When this happens I just try to bring myself back to the present moment, focusing on the taste of my red wine, the laughter of my family, and the views around me.
Writing this post was the first thing I did this morning — I am sitting here with my coffee, and I am truly in the present moment. That is what Travel and Write today is about — it’s writing, planning, traveling, working towards your goals, and putting yourself out there, regardless of the outcome (and even when it’s scary). I am reminding myself of this every single day.
My dad had a fascination with water towers. He loved seeing them in the distance as we drove into small towns, he loved taking photographs of water towers, and he hoped to publish a book or calendar with his photos. He felt like they were symbolic of something, but I don’t remember what that was, I just know he found them to be comforting, and he often would drive to towns just to see them. Me and my mom would always point them out on our drives, and then we would pull over so he could take his photos. The best one is probably the Mickey Ears from Walt Disney World. My dad passed away 7 years ago and he didn’t get to publish his book of water towers, and at this moment I do not know where most of these photographs are, but I think of my dad whenever I see a tall tower in the distance.
During a road trip, when I was a child, we were talking about our passion for writing, travel, and small towns. I mentioned wanting to write a travel book one day… the term “one day” and “someday” have always been a big part of my vocabulary:
“I will do it one day.”
“I want to go there someday.”
“I will write a book one day.”
Even though I can’t snap my fingers and be anywhere, and I can’t always find the time to write, my mindset has shifted. Travel and write today doesn’t mean you will do everything or be everywhere today, it just means that you’re working towards it today. If you want to write, you write, if you want to travel, you plan. Like my motto says: If you’re deciding on the right time to work towards your goals or change careers, the right time to take that next trip, the best time to write that book — the answer is today. Don’t wait. I know others have published water tower books, and anyone can go out there and see them standing beautifully in the distance against the sky, but the photographs you see won’t be my dad’s – and that’s why I’ve changed my way of thinking – don’t do it one day or someday. Do it today.