Saturday, December 31, 2011

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”
~ Plato

Thursday, December 29, 2011

"Youth is not a time of life; it is a state of mind;
it is not a matter of rosy cheeks, red lips and supple knees;
it is a matter of the will, a quality of the imagination, a vigor of the emotions;
it is the freshness of the deep springs of life.
Youth means a temperamental predominance of courage over timidity of the appetite,
for adventure over the love of ease. "
~Samuel Ullman

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

"I'd rather regret the things I've done than regret the things I haven't done."
~Lucille Ball

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

35 before 35

Everything I know I learned after I was thirty. - Georges Clemenceau
The secret of staying young is to live honestly, eat slowly, and lie about your age. - Lucile Ball

In two months, I am turning 30. The big 3-0. Dirty thirty. Flirty thirty. I'm going to make and wear a birthday crown. It's not my 'scary' birthday My 'scary' birthday was 28. Ten year high school reunion. Back when I was 18, 28 seemed so far away. So adult-ish. Twenty- eight has come and gone plus 2 years. And I still do not feel adult-ish. I have never made a list of things to do before a certain age. I am going to give it a try. 35 things to do before my 35th birthday in February 2017.
1. Decrease my possessions
2. Take a sociology class
3. Take a religion class
4. Take a photography class
5. Get a better camera
6. Frame and hang four of my pictures
7. Detox once a year
8. Move to two different states
9. Take a train ride in the US
10. Volunteer on a Board of Directors for a Park & Recreation
11. Volunteer at an animal shelter
12. Write a mission statement
Write a manifesto
14. Learn to drive a stickshift
15. Paint a picture
16. Learn to drive/ride a motorcycle
17. Take a road trip with my siblings
18. See the cherry blossoms in Washington DC
19. Read the bible
20. Read the quran
21. Read the torah
22. Pick peaches in South Carolina
23. Learn spanish
24. Re-learn french (I took 4 years of french classes in high school)
25. Get my TESL certificate
26. Run races in 10 different states. My ending goal is to run in all 50 states. So far: Texas, Oklahoma & Minnesota.
27. Complete a marathon
28. Bike 4 times a year in organized runs (one 100 mile ride every year)
29. Weekend trip to my birthplace in Virginia
30. Take a week long road trip in Canada
31. See the Northern Lights (aurora borealis)
and visit
32. India
33. Central America
34. South America
35. Egypt

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

New Year Resolution

It seems like the older I get, the faster time flies. Where did 2011 go? Seriously. Hello 2012! After getting laid off in July, I have been doing a lot of thinking about my past and my future. One life to live, I want to make it amazing. I have been thinking a lot about fulfillment lately. Adventure, challenge, athleticism, positivity, family, financial security, friendship, courage, emotions, risk-taking, flexibility and growth can all be rolled into fulfillment. When I am fulfilled, I am happier. That doesn't mean I am just going to let life happens. It means to be constantly growing and learning. To stretch myself, try new things. So, this year's resolution is based off of one word - fulfillment.

Ideas for fulfillment:

mind - read one book a week (52 books in 2012); take a class at a community school; learn spanish; visit Virginia; write my manifesto; try a new recipe once a week

body - run 15 miles a week (780 miles in 2012); run a 5k in North Carolina plus 2 other states; bike 100 miles in 8 hours; camp 4 times in 4 different parks; detox

soul - volunteer at an animal shelter; volunteer on a board of directors for a park & recreation; decrease my possessions

spirit - read the bible; learn more about buddhism

Saturday, December 17, 2011

"Life is meant to be lived and curiosity must be kept alive.
One must never, for whatever reason, turn his back on life."
~Eleandor Roosevelt

Friday, December 16, 2011

"Action is the foundational key to all success."
~Pablo Picasso

Thursday, December 15, 2011

“To be alive is to totally and openly participate
in the simplicity and elegance of here and now.”
~Donald Altman

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Middle Class

"It's no longer an exaggeration to say that middle-class Americans are an endangered species."
~Arianna Huffington

According to wikipedia, middle class persons commonly have a comfortable standard of living, significant economic security, considerable work autonomy and rely on their expertise to sustain themselves. If middle-class is becoming an endangered species, does this means the majority of people are going to fall into lower class? This quote makes me nervous/worried/sad. I am middle class. I have a sister in high school, what does this mean for her? For her future? I have 30 years of working before retirement, what does this mean for the next 30 years? What does this mean for my retirement savings? What does this mean during my retirement?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Mission Statement

I went to amazing session about creating a Mission Statement. This session really 'hit home' because after getting laid-off I have really been trying to figure me out. What do I want from life? I think having a mission statement and reviewing it every 6 months is a great idea. It will help me keep on track of my goal and change it if need to.

One of my values is adventure. Every day, every road trip, trying a new restaurant - all adventures. One of the suggestions I received was to also use risk-taker and courageous to describe myself. I thought those words felt so big and powerful. The more we talked and the more I thought about it, those words do fit. I've moved to Dallas, travel to Asia for a month, moved to North Carolina without a job and living in a hotel. According to wikipedia, courage means boldness; fearlessness; the ability to confront uncertainty and risk means probability of uncertain future events. Those words fit.

Leaving this session I feel like I have a lot more confidence in myself. I am an independent agent/consultant selling a product (me). Which is really hard for me but the tools I am getting from this session and others is helping. Reading blogs like Nerd Fitness and The Impossible HQ has also been helpful because the posts are making me think about what I want from/in life.

For the last week, I have been thinking about writing a manifesto. I am hoping these sessions and blogs are the tools I need to help me understand myself, get my thoughts a little more organized and articulate what is going on in my head. Like the mission statement, having a manifesto and reviewing/re-evaluate it every 6 months to a year will help me stay on track with my goals.

Monday, December 12, 2011

"You have to do what you dream of doing even while you're afraid."
~Arianna Huffington

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Life is uncertain. Eat dessert first."
~ Ernestine Ulmer

Saturday, December 10, 2011

thoughts of today

Today I have been thinking about pho, visiting Central America and tattoos.

Friday, December 9, 2011

"The unexamined life is not worth living."
~ Socrates

Thursday, December 8, 2011

(when I get a) new apartment projects

I cannot wait until I move into a new apartment.
Some projects I've been looking at:

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

How to: Exploring a new city

It's been a week and half since I moved to North Carolina.
Below are 8 ways I have been exploring my new city:
1. Going to a local museum.
2. Going on walks at little city parks and hiking around state parks.
3. Meeting new people.
4. Exploring a new restaurants.
5. Doing something new.
6. Reading guidebooks.
7. Reading books about the history of the area/state.
8. Sending postcards to your friends

Monday, December 5, 2011

"If you really want something,
and really work hard, and take advantage of opportunities,
and never give up,
you will find a way."
~Jane Goodall~

Sunday, December 4, 2011


This weekend I decided to explore a little bit of Charlotte, North Carolina. I need to start thinking and researching which area of Charlotte I want to get an apartment in. Thankfully the weather was warm and sunny!!

Saturday morning:
9am Alison and I went for a 3 mile run with a running group I found on meetup. There was probably about 15 runners. After the run through the neighbor, I got a chai latte at Smelly Cat Coffee House and chatted with some of the other runners. The conversation was great but the chai was a little watery and not very favorfully. Then we walked over to Jack Beagles for breakfast. Delicious!!

Sunday morning:
At noon, Alison and I got our picture taken with Santa at Pet Essential. They were so patient with Alison. She did not like Santa's white beard. I had 5 shots to choice from, two different poses. The proceeds go towards the CMPD (Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department) Animal Care & Control spay/neuter clinic. Then we headed over to a dog park. Alison had some nervous energy to let go of. By that time it's 2pm, time for lunch. I decided to check out Viet-Thai Noodle House on our way back to the hotel. Delicious!!! I had vegetable pho with tofu and Vietnamese coffee. The food was so good is Vietnam, I miss it. I definitely recommend this place!!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

where I am (and where I am not)

Lately I have been thinking a lot about life and where I am (& where I am not). Three months until I am thirty. Right now I am unemployed and living in a hotel. Sometime I get 'on' myself, why am I not married with kids and a house, loving husband and a job? But then I do a reality check, in the years I have been alive I have done amazing things. I have traveled to Europe twice, Asia for a month, volunteered - built homes and served food (soup kitchens and Feed My Starving Children), lived in 3 states, finished college, have an amazing dog and so much more. I am on a path I want to be on. As of right now, I am not a type of person who wants a house (or kids for that matter). I want to freedom to move and travel. Because I don't fit the 'tradional' lifestyle, I think, for me, discovering myself will take longer. I have to remind myself that life is an ongoing process, that I all keep growing and learning. Not to compare myself to my high school friend. I am unemployed right now because I got laid off and I have moved to a new state to find a job. And living out of a hotel is a like rock star-ish!!

  • similarities between romantic rejection and cocaine craving
  • After seeing the trailer for the Tintin movie, I really want to read old The Adventures of Tintin books.
  • the only thing I want for Christmas - a laptop cover that look like a book!!!
  • someone else who is also unemployed

Friday, December 2, 2011

"Each time we face our fear,
we gain strength, courage and confidence in the doing"

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Day of 30 Indie Travel Project: 2012 Ticket

The last prompt/question from BootsAll: Where are you going in 2012? Why is that place great for indie travelers?

I just moved to North Carolina so right now I am planning on just taking little trips around the east coast states; Washington DC, Virginia and maybe South Carolina and/or Georgia. Today I just got my Rosetta Stone for learning spanish, a trip to Central America is in my near future!! Hoping to also go to India and Egypt by 2015 (fingers crossed).

new chapter

I did it!! I moved to Charlotte, North Carolina on Monday November 28. All by myself, living in a hotel and no job. Scary? yes. Nervous? yes. Excited? Hell YES!!!

The one thing I have to remember to do is to stay 'active'. The first day I arrived in Charlotte, I started joining groups on My first meetup meeting is this Saturday, 3 mile run then breakfast at a coffee shop. Today I had a interview/meeting with a temp agency. Every day I look on for jobs. I am so grateful I have Alison, our walks help me get away from the computer and breathe. I think with a positive attitude anything is possible!!

Getting little ahead of myself but I am really excited about moving into a new apartment and decorating! My dad gave me six pictures (3 sketches of Paris that his dad bought back from WWII, 2 maps of Philmount, & family crest). Been looking around for some DIY projects. Found some fun ones on Mr. Kate, and Design*Sponge. I going to go hunting for globes, trunks and suitcases at thrift stores; get a world map to mark where I have been; frame and display some of my photos (Texas, Asia..).

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Day 29 of Indie Travel Project: One Word

Today's prompt/question from Bootsnall - What does travel mean to you in one word?


Saturday, November 26, 2011

Day 26 of Indie Travel Project: Photo

Today's prompt/question from Bootsnall - Post a photo of your favorite place and tell us what you love about it.

This picture was taken in 2007, my first night in London during my first trip overseas. The tour (London - Paris - Rome) started the next day. I took the train to the hotel and went out to dinner at Shakespeare's Head by myself. I was so nervous, I have a hard time understanding the waitress. After a couple breathes and thinking "it will be ok", I ordered my dinner and beer. It was a great trip and I've been traveling ever since.

Friday, November 25, 2011

"One way to get the most out of life is to look upon it as an adventure."
William Feather

Thursday, November 24, 2011

"It's time to start living life you've imagined."
Henry James

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

"The journey is the reward."
Chinese Proverbs

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

"Life isn't about finding yourself, it's about creating yourself."

Monday, November 21, 2011

“You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.”
Mae West

Sunday, November 20, 2011

“Lead me not into temptation, I can find the way myself."
Rita Mae Brown

Saturday, November 19, 2011

"If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion & avoid the people,
you might better stay at home."
~James Michener~

Monday, November 14, 2011

Day 14 of the Indie Travel Project: Quote

Today's prompt/question from Bootsnall - What's your favorite quote about travel? Why does it stand out to you?

Not all who wander are lost
by J.R.R. Tolkien

Right now, when I daydream, I see myself moving around. Live in a state (North Carolina) 3-5 years then move to another state (west coast) for 3-5 years and so on (Alaska, New York City). Hopefully take a long overseas trip every other year (India, Nepal, Tibet in 2013 and Egypt in 2015) I like my plan. When I thinking about kids and owning a house, I get a bad feeling/it does not feel right. This quote 'speaks' to me because I am wandering but I'm not lost.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Day 13 of Indie Travel Project: Home

Bootsnall prompt/question of the day: For some people, no matter how much they love traveling, there’s always no place like home. Other travelers make their homes wherever they happen to be. Tell us about your home – where is it and why do you consider it your home?

I am actually struggling with the definition of home and where it is. Been thinking about the saying is 'Home is where the Heart is'. For me, I think 'heart' means where do I feel fulfilled. Home is also where I feel comfortable.

Friday, November 11, 2011


'Maybe life's purpose is not strive to obtain constant happiness, but to find fulfillment in our lives, in whatever way is meaningful to us.' Learning to Breathe by Alison Wright (p. 227)

For years, through every candle/shooting star/full moon lantern/wish bone I get, I wish for the same thing: happiness. I never truly liked the wish, too open ended, too broad. I was I suppose to act on the wish to make it happen if I did not even know what the wish was (I truly believe one must act on a wish, not just sit back and wait). I have also been feeling like I am boring, like there is nothing to me. After reading Learning to Breathe, I realized it's fulfillment. What is fulfillment to me? A work that I don't dread going to every day, volunteering, socializing with like-minded individuals, living adventure to adventure, eating delicious good-for-me foods? I have explore/think/ponder fulfillment and what it means to me but I feel like I am going to 'right way'. And that makes me happy!

Day 11 of Indie Travel Project: Feast

Trying new foods is my favorite part about traveling! Today's prompt/question from BootsnAll: For some of us, food isn’t just a part of our travels, it’s the reason why we travel. Whether you travel the globe to try new foods and use food to form a deeper connection with the culture or just eat to live, food plays a big part in the travel experience. Share a food-related story from your travels or describe your best meal.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Day 1 of 30 Days of Indie Travel

BootsnAll has started a travel blogging project. Starting November 1st, they will post a new prompts/questions everyday for 30 days. If you want to participate, check out the daily prompt on BootsnAll’s 30 Days of Indie Travel project.

What were your travel goals last year? Did you accomplish them? What travel goals do you hope to accomplish this year?

I have two travel goals:
1. take a BIG overseas trip every other year (2007, 2009, 2011)
2. if all possible, say yes to trips

2010 was the odd every other year, no 'big' trip planned but I did go to Puerto Rico for 5 days, went on roads trips to Austin, TX and Oklahoma, and spent a long weekend in Portland, OR. This year I went to Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, and Cambodia for 26 days; 5 days later I went sailing on Lake Superior for a week; then mid October I went down to Big Bend National Park to bike and hike. I am hoping for 2012 to go the Nepal and maybe, 50% chance, go to India (crossing my fingers).

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Thursday, October 13, 2011

playing with the moon

I have a Canon Powershot. It's has more options than a 'point and shot' camera but a step under a 'big, fancy' camera. Usually I treat my camera as a 'point and shot' but after some of my pictures from Asia didn't turn out as well as I hoped I decided it's time to get to know my camera. Tonight I am in Davis Mtn State Park, it has a wonderful outlook on top of a hill to watch the sunset and sunrise. Perfect time and place to play with the shutter speed.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Marathon, Texas

I am on a southwestern Texas adventure!
More pictures next week.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Baker Park Reserve

September 16th-18th went camping at Baker Park Reserve with my friend Julie and her family (her mom & dad, 2 kids and husband). She likes 'easy' camping so we rented cabins. They were very nice. I still prefer tent camping. There was tons a walking trails, Alison loved it. Definitely recommend this park.

Thursday, September 8, 2011


I am back staying/living in my grandma's attic. Last time was three years ago, it was temporary with a known end date. The company I worked for was moving down to Dallas, Texas and I was following. My lease ended 3 months before the move date and my grandma, thankfully, took me in. This time I am unemployed. The company is now closing it's doors. I got laid off July 1st. We were told back in December. The news was not a huge surprise. It's not the living with grandma or being unemployed that's bothering me, it's that in 6 months I'll be 30 and I thought I would be in a different place; maybe more settled and have a understanding of who I am by now. Instead I feel like I have more questions.

What am I passionate about? Why am I here (earth, not in my grandma's attic)? What's my purpose? I love to travel, love it but I look around and see people with stuff (house accessorises, clothes, dinners out, going out on Fridays) that I choice not to buy so I can save money, I wonder. Should I ride my bike for a week around Big Bend State Park in Texas ($900) or stay up in Minnesota? I want to move around and live in different states but there is a little tiny part of me that says 'let's stay in Minnesota'. Am I a runner? Am I a biker? Am I a traveler? Am I a cook? Will I be single my whole life? I want to do good, where do I volunteer? Where do I want my energy to go? I wish I could keep a journal. I have started so many but never kept it going/finished one. Recently I stumbled across The Journal Junkie Workshop, will it be helpful or wasteful? Why do I have so much mental anguish about my weight? How do I just let go?I have been told that before, just let go because I am/will be always changing. I don't even feel like I have a starting point. Is the 'future' me I 'dream' about really me? How come I cannot just be content? What is my 'brand'? Do I really want to get a similar job in the same industry? I have been thinking about getting two tattoos for the last three years ("I ask for so little. Just fear me, love me, do as I say and I will be your slave" down one side and a peacock feather down the other), why am I stopping myself? So many questions. Am I going through a quarter life crisis?

Monday, September 5, 2011

vegetables from the garden

My grandma has a small garden is her background. I love it!! What's for dinner? Well, what do we have in the garden? It's been finding new recipes. Luck for me, grandma likes trying new recipes too! One night we had two big tomato and made stuffed tomatoes. We used both basil and spinach. It was ok, too much cottage cheese for me. I never thought of stuffing tomatoes before. After dinner I searched for more recipes. Next time I'm going to use couscous instead of cottage cheese. Another night there was an abundant of green beans. So many greens beans!

Adapted from
1 pound green beans
1/2 onion, cut up however you like
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil +1 1/2 teaspoon for the dressing
1 tablespoon honey dijon mustard
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 cup walnuts

1. Boil the beans for 7 minus, drain and cool is large bowl
2. In a frying pan, brown the onions and garlic
3. For the dressing, combine mustard, maple syrup, olive oil and vinegar is a little bowl
4. Add onions, garlic, dressing and walnuts to the green beans. Mix well!

Also is the garden is Japanese eggplants, red peppers, ground cherries, rhubarb, beets, carrots and lots of squash! MMM...squash!! I am excited to making squash soup and pizza!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Duluth Trail Fest

A old co-worker once asked why I ran and biked. Jokingly I told him I am trying to kill myself slowly. He said it actually sounds like you are trying to kill yourself quickly. An example, this weekend my aunt and I did 3 runs in two days. Two on the 27th, Park Point Beach 5k run in the morning and Chester Tester Hill Challenge 5k run at night. Then the following morning, Superior Hiking Trail 15k. The runs were part of the Duluth Trail Fest. It was a challenge!! Ran on sand during the first race, a very nasty hill that I practically had to climb up on the second one and the third race was my favorite, it was a trail. I totally recommend the runs!

My times:
30:54 - Park Point Beach Run
38:48 - Chester Tester Hill Challenge
2:15:42 - Superior Hiking Trail

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Laos - July 20th

July 19th was the last night for 11 people on the tour. We said our 'good-byes'. Only 3 people plus tour guide left. Before heading to Laos, I took the morning to explore Hanoi a little more.

Ho Chi Minh's wished to be cremated when he passed in 1969 but instead a mausoleum was constructed to house his body, his frozen body. It does not cost anything to go in. They will give you an informational paper, it costs money and does not have many information. Do not take it. They do take your camera before you enter and give it back to you at the end. You have to walk on a red plastic rug and there is a guard every foot. You cannot talk, have to keep your hands at your side and keep walking. The mausoleum was built to look like a lotus flower.

Hanoi Hilton

On our way to Laos!!

Vietnam - Hanoi

After a short bus ride to Hanoi, we dropped our bags off at the hotel and headed off for lunch. Walked around afterward for a bit, I came to the conclusion that Hanoi was definitely more crowded than Saigon, the building were more compacted and people seem more indifferent. In Saigon, the ladies are willing to haggle and if you walk away they yell a lower price at you. Not in Hanoi, no haggling and if you walk out you walk off. While eating lunch our tour guide was telling us things to do, he kind of blow off the water puppet show, he said it was corny. Well, I had read Adventurous Kate's posting about it and decided to go. I thought is was cute and not something you would see in the states.

More morning glory for dinner and I tried Biere Larue

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Vietnam - Halong Bay

Halong Bay was beautiful!! It was just like the pictures in National Geographic magazine!! We took a boat cruise around the bay. Stopped at a house boat that was also a fish hatchery. interesting.... The best part of the day was kayaking for 45 minutes around the bay, the guide took us into two cove areas. I kayaked in Halong Bay!! Then we stopped on an island and explored some caves. They are not worried about safety like in the states.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Vietnam - Hue

We were in Hue for just a little over a day. Everyone but me went out drinking last night after the motor scooter ride. I'll have one drink at night but I prefer waking up refreshed and early. My roommate for all of Vietnam was a 29 years old female from German. We were the oldest ones in the group. Everyone else was 25 years old or younger. Luckily for me she was not a all-hours-of-the-night drinker either and liked getting up early. Saturday July 16th, we were the only ones who got up early and explored the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long.

While walking around the grounds, I tried to imagine was it was like back when. The earliest construction started back in 1010. In all it's glory, it would have been amazing. The dynasties, servants, armies. The gardens.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Vietnam - Hue

There was a time when Vietnam was split into north and south, this use to be the border crossing between them.

After we got into Hue, we took motor scooters through the city and visited two main sites. We were a biker gang, fifteen of us! This is the Thien Mu Pagoda.

My driver!

Biker gang!

At the Emperor's Tomb

Driving around rice paddy field

Trying Huda Beer for the first time. It's a local, very cheap, beer!


Saturday, August 6, 2011