American Drifter

American Drifter. I found this book after looking up Chad Michael Murray one day. I’ve been re-watching a few episodes of One Tree Hill to reminisce and I wondered whatever happened to the beloved actor that played Lucas Scott. Of course I went to the web and discovered he had a book out.

Chad Michael Murray is the co-author of American Drifter with Heather Graham. I had to read this!!

American Drifter is about a veteran who served in the Middle East. He’s a bit war torn struggling with nightmares and emotional stressors. River finds solace in Rio de Janiero and travels around with only a backpack.

One Tree Hill fans will remember the way Lucas Scott was so eloquent with his words and book quotes. Reading American Drifter you can almost hear that same tone of colorful descriptions and romantic imagery. Best yet, the audio version is narrated by Chad Michael Murray himself. Fans can enjoy the same rustic voice they fawned over during the show as they listen to the story.

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The writing draws you in capturing the beauty that is Brazil. The traveler in me swoons. It’s majestic and romantic. It’s harsh with dangerous edges. Rio is home to wonderful natives and travelers alike. With this book, Rio de Janiero and the Christ the Redeemer statue becomes an absolute MUST on the travel bucket list.

The story takes off a bit slow as it creates the scene allowing the reader to become attached to River’s character, and develop a picture of his surroundings. For me, it worked. I loved hearing more about Brazil. For others, it may take a minute to get hooked but this is one of those you want to stick with to the end. Don’t put it down just yet.

American Drifter will take you for a ride. There are memories of bombs, romance and love, carefree adventures, drug dealers, and high speed chases. It’s fresh and different from anything I’ve read recently.

I read a lot so generally I can guess endings to most stories. They always follow the same themes. This time, I thought I had the ending pinged. But then American Drifter took quite a plot twist. It was intriguing and jaw dropping. It’s one of those where you finally put the book down in shock. I loved it! However, after reading I read a few other reviews for this and discovered quite a few people didn’t like the ending. It was too much of a curve-ball for them. I can understand that. I liked it because it was so different and unexpected. It’s all a matter of opinion and what you are expecting to read.

All in all I really enjoyed this book. With that said, I had a biases from the get go.

First, knowing it was Chad Michael Murray I knew I was going to at least somewhat like it. I’ve never read any of Heather Graham’s other books, but I may need to do so in order to see how Murray’s involvement impacted the writing. It was obviously a smart marketing move for whoever decided to put the authors together – to get those like me to pick it up for Murray’s name.

Also, Rio de Janiero has been on my dream travel list for a long time now. So of course I swooned. The book tells a lot about the history of Brazil describes the culture and mentions a few tourist attractions. It all sounds gorgeous. However, I haven’t taken the trip yet, so I can’t acclaim to how truthful the writing is. If you’ve traveled to Rio or are from Brazil, read the book and let me know.

Either way read it and let me know what you think. American Drifter is currently only available in hard copy or audio book. I found mine at my local library, but it’s one I’ll most likely purchase a copy to keep.

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My Point Break Adventure Part 1

I did it!! I went surfing. That’s one check on the bucket list and the first part of my Point Break adventure.

I’ve mentioned the Point Break movie a few times here. Yes, I’m referring to the older 1991 Point Break with Keanu Reeves and Patrick Swayze. It was one of my favorites as a kid. In short, Reeves plays an FBI agent who searches for bank robbers / surfers. Swayze’s character is known as the Buddha surfer who describes riding the big breaks akin to being close to the gods. Yes, I know it sounds hokey, but it was the 90s. As a kid I watched this movie mesmerized by the exhilarating surf and skydiving scenes. I wanted to go surfing and skydiving, later my fear of heights grew, but surfing remained forever a wondrous dream.

The Johnny Tsunami Disney movies were my favorites growing up too. And when I would travel to San Diego I would just watch the surfers thinking one of these days I will go try it out. It was always “one of these days.” Really I was scared. It seemed like such a crazy obscure thing to do, left only for the truly wild at hard.

Surfing ended up on my Vision Board that I created a couple of months ago. Each time I look that surfing image pulls at me. But I still needed some sort of a push.

So when I heard Women on Adventures was planning a surf trip I jumped! That was all I needed. This opportunity knocked right at my door at the perfect time when I was ready to unlock my adventurous side. I was the first one to sign up. I didn’t care about the rest of the details. I was in, no question.

The weeks leading up to it, I was nervous. I was worried about my neck issues stirring up. I was silly worried about sharks. I scared of drowning. You name it. All sorts of fears came up to try to talk me out of it. But nope my heart wasn’t having it. Instead, I practiced swimming so I wouldn’t drown. I physically conditioned myself a bit more and brought pain medication and ice packs on the trip for my neck. And I googled shark swim patterns to know for sure how slim the chances were of seeing a shark in August on La Jolla Beach.

Then finally came the day to surf with Surf Diva instructors.

It wasn’t as scary as I thought it would be. The instructors were great taking us through all the steps. The showed us how to pop up on the board and taught us a bit about how to read the ocean. Then we got into the water.

Boy were those boards heavy. The hardest part truly is walking those big 9 foot boards through the waves, and repeating every time you get knocked off.

Otherwise, it’s just a blast!

Once you’re going, paddling with the waves at your back you pop up (or try your best at standing up in my case) and it’s seconds of mindless bliss. And I mean a second because, if you’re me, then you fall.

I never got completely up on the board. I was able to pop up in a low crouch, but not completely up. After the first couple of times I kept overthinking things about where to put my feet “ok next time make sure your front foot is forward more and don’t lean so much to the right.” The more I thought about it the worse I did. Then my body got tired. For my last wave, I just got up to my knees and rode the wave in that way (see photo above). That’s all I had for this time and that’s totally okay. At least now I know what to expect for next time, how it feels, how to prepare or rather how not to prepare and just do.

As I write out my thoughts for the day I’m sitting on the beach watching surfers. Some of them get up every time, some get up on one wave then fall the next. Other are falling every time. And there are others just floating on their boards and hanging out. I was never trying to be Patrick Swayze’s stunt double anyway. And by the way, that movie – NO WAY Keanu Reeves learns how to surf those big waves that quickly. Yes, I knew it was only a movie, but still.

I definitely intend to try it again. I’m already looking up surf camps in California, Costa Rica or wherever.

It’s funny. I was so worked up about this, but really it’s like testing out my sister’s skate board or learning how to ice skate. You won’t be amazing the very first time. But once you’ve tried it, it’s no longer this foreign scary obscure concept. It’s just a cool activity I can do from now on if I want.

Moving past the fear just opened me up to more of life. Surfing is now another thing I can say I do. 

And my neck – it was a bit sore that day. I was proactive though with medication, stretching and ice wraps. I’ve already seen my doctor and he says I wasn’t really banged up at all. He was expecting a lot worse. So I can keep going and surf more?! He said “Absolutely!” Well doctor’s order! 🙂

Now on to my next adventure! I won’t exactly be jumping out of a plane quite yet, I still have this whole terrifying fear of heights, but I am going to try Indoor Skydiving at iFly for the 2nd part in my Point Break adventure.

Daring to Be Confident

It’s day 10 of my birthday month! Even though I haven’t blogged everyday, I’ve still been celebrating.

This week had a theme for me: confidence!

I’ve taken the time to remember all of my accomplishments. See, I love mementos. I savor ticket stubs, thank you notes and other things to remind me of some of my favorite experiences in a keepsake box. The other day I opened this box and pulled everything out.

I’ll be honest, the emotions ran rampant as I spread everything out in my front room. I relived lessons from South Africa with Ubuntu (I am because we are) paintings. I re-felt the feelings of triumph as I stared at my medals from half marathons and 5ks. I remembered the confidence I had as I traveled alone through Washington DC and joined a group of then “strangers” exploring Italy. And, I cherished all the love and support I have in my life as I looked at a family photo collage I created a few years back.

I stood over my keepsakes in my living room looking down. This is me! All of this, this is who I am and the person I have become. I love it!

This confidence has carried on. I’ve dared to be bold and sure of myself through a few vulnerable conversations.

Today, I’m grasping on to this confidence with two full fists as I prepare to cross off a huge life goal: SURFING! It’s exciting and a bit frightening, but I’m jumping in ready to conquer with style.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

Loving the Journey

Recently, I was asked the meaning behind my blog title. The word journey means different things to different people. For me, it’s continuing story of my trip to Cape Town, South Africa.

This trip was the most life-changing experience for me, in every definition of the cliche.

A group of us traveled through home-stays understanding and appreciating the beautiful country of South. Our guide directors instilled a few theme lessons during the trip: one being “Trust the Journey.” We learned and were constantly reminded that every step of the trip was part of the journey. From the selection interview to participate in the trip, to the pre-homework, the 18 hours of flying to finally reach Cape Town, all the emotions and experiences of the 7 week trip, and even the departure. It was all part of the journey. Each emotional, frightening, exciting or aggravating step was part of the journey – accept it as such and keep going.

This lesson was ingrained in us during our scavenger hunt our first full day in a foreign city. Yeah, I wrote a post about that one, you can read it later (here).

We brought it up ourselves in laughs and irritations.

Finally after the most incredible 7 weeks, we began our departure. We fly from Cape Town to Johannesburg, and then had to catch a connecting flight to New York. It was a long 7 weeks. We were exhausted. But we still had another flight or two to actually get home. As we rushed to catch our connection, security slowed us down. The large bags and other items had to be scanned. Ugh!

But then we looked up, and laughed. On the wall at the Johannesburg airport was the sign “Love the Journey.” It was way too perfect. Yes, this airport crazy was part of the journey too!

For me, the journey wasn’t just the trip. It didn’t ended when I arrived home. My experience on this trip impacted me in more ways than I probably grasp now. I opened up a bit more as person. I understood more about myself and the world. And I gained a thirst for travel.

This blog connects all of those lessons I learned, and more. It’s my way of inspiring myself and hopefully to inspire you a bit.

Read my previous Trust the Journey post for a bit more about the trip.

Welcome to Someday

What does it take to truly start living the way you want? How do you start ticking off those life goals and travel destinations from your bucket list?

I admire those people who have that natural let’s go attitude. You see them bouncing around doing one crazy thing after the next. For me, I need a bit more self-talk. I think things over, consider all the “what ifs”, and then after letting it stew in my head for a while I’ll go do it. Or if I wait too long I just never do it. It’s okay I’ll do it “someday” – I tell myself.

But when does someday happen? How do we know when it’s here?

Honestly sometimes, I annoy myself. I can picture myself with a fun lifestyle. But what lock do I need to open to set myself free? What will it take to have the life I want? 

Recently I’ve begun to ponder these questions even more. I’ve sat in frustration over my monotonous day to day life. It was unfulfilling. Something was missing. I could picture my dreams, but I can’t quite get there. I’m at that sort of pause in my life where I’ve taken a step back to think about my goals. I may be in mid-twenties, but I still have to re-evaluate what I want to do when I grow up.

Meditation 

Photo Credit: Huffington Post

It was time for self-exploration, which for me meant journaling and meditation. I started Deepak Chopra’s 22-part meditation for “Getting UnStuck: Creating a Limitless Life.” Through it, I’ve allowed myself to face what was holding me back. We all have scars and phrases we’ve internalized throughout our lives. It’s easy to hide behind them. Believe me, I have. I’ve closed myself into a box, at times I even climbed into a smaller box inside that other box. Taking it a step further, I began to accept the past as past and let it go. Then the next step: opening yourself up to the creativity around you.

A few funny things happened during this process. Others around me opened up too further supporting my lessons for healing and acceptance.

Vision Board 

Then I read an article about creating a vision board. I had thought about it before, and it was finally time to do it. The article advised readers to grab all the magazines and a pair of scissors, and then just cut out any images or words that speak out to you. Cut out those pretty things that make you smile, or words that motivate you to make things happen. Clear your mind of inhibitions and just cut. So I did just that.

After I scoured through every magazine I had, I spread out my clippings on a poster board. It was quite impressive.

I had clipped out images and words of strength. Those words are my personal promise to dedicate time for my 
physical therapy. I have an injury that at times has gotten in the way of me moving forward. I can heal, but this too has been a “one of these days” or “someday” thing. The time is now to focus on it.  This way my  “someday” can carry me into greater adventures, like traveling.

In my quiet concentration, I had also clipped out the Northern Lights in Alaska, a night city view of Rio de Janiero, a rainbow in a rain forest in Costa Rica, and the ocean by Hawaii.

I added words to appreciate my inner beauty. There’s love and family. There’s nature and the wild.

For me, this vision board isn’t a timeline. It’s not even just goals. It the beautiful thoughts and ideas I want in my life. It’s a way to call out to the universe. The things is these have always been my goals and dreams. I’ve always known them. But bringing them to life is empowering. It’s me accepting that this is what I want … and more importantly says YES to it.

Women on Adventures 

Incredible things happen when you open yourself up. During this process of meditating, and creating a vision board I also got to know a friend. She started a pretty cool group called Women on Adventures. It’s a network that encourages women to “Get Out, Get Connected.” How perfect! I’ll definitely be sharing fun adventures from my trip with this group!

 

Welcome to Someday

This brings me back to the title of this post. I’m ready for that “someday” I was always waiting for. Today is someday. It’s time for some crazy adventures. Maybe like surfing with Women on Adventures in San Diego ….

“Unsafe” perceptions and real statistics

Travel to foreign lands really freaks some people out. People  look at news stories, which will always be skewed by the negative. They watch television shows, which purposefully give more attention to the drama.

But reality is, you are safer than you probably think you are in those unknown foreign lands.

Last month, I said “Go anyway” despite the fears and anxieties of travel.

A few days ago, I saw this article on Matador Network.  It displays research by a travel company called Stratojets. They surveyed thousands of people and investigating different city’s and country’s crime rates.

 

It wouldn’t be a surprise to you I’m sure to hear that many people perceive Tijuana, Mexico to be very dangerous. However, according to Stratojets, New Orleans, Louisiana has a higher murder rate than Tijuana. New Orleans also has a higher murder rate than Sao Paulo, Brazil. (Please excuse the lack of accent marks, I can’t seem to add it).

But then there’s also the flip side, like the places we perceive to be safe but actually aren’t. For example, Kingston, Jamaica had a perceived danger threat lower than Johannesburg, South Africa, but in reality Kingston has a higher murder rate.

See the full study with info graphics here. 

What does all of this mean to me? 

It’s simple. We can’t judge places, communities, and people based solely on our preconceived notions. If are truly worried, do research. Crime statistics are easy to find. Don’t let what you heard through the grapevine or the flood of drama TV be the reason you don’t go.

*All images were originally published at Matador Network and created by Stratojets. 

Travel Scares: I say ‘Go Anyway’

I hear it all the time. ‘It’s dangerous over there.’ ‘Don’t go by yourself.’ ‘You don’t want to go to that area right now.’ ‘You’ll get robbed.’

Yes, we live in a dangerous world. There are psychotic people. There are gangs. There are terrorists. But these exist EVERYWHERE you go. That’s the one thing people seem to forget.

After the terrorist attacks in Paris in 2015, even I said maybe traveling is not the best thing to do while ISIS is still active. But there will always be a terrorist threat somewhere in the world.

During the last Olympics in  Rio de Janiero, I kept commenting on how much I would love to go to Rio. It’s one at the top my list. People looked at me like I was crazy. It’s too dangerous they would say. Or there’s Zika. Well yes, but again there will always be viruses in the world.

A few weeks ago, my co-worker and I discussed her upcoming trip to India. People cautioned her about getting robbed. Grab a purse that crosses over you so it’s harder for people to take it, they advised her. People told me the same on my way into the townships of Cape Town, South Africa. I was informed countless times to be prepared to come back without a coat, purse or shoes.

Here’s my thing. Yes, it is a good idea to be cautious and aware of your surrounding. But do realize one very important thing: these safety precautions are safety precautions EVERYWHERE.

You may be traveling to a country foreign to you, but the more you travel the more you realize how the same we all are. At least I realize this more and more. People, in any country – in every country, are the same. There is a world of wonderful loving kind people out there. There are thousands of curious children who like to stare at the foreign travelers and get to know them.

And yes, there are those who seek to harm. I am not ignorantly ignoring that. I’m not saying we should be naïve.

I am saying however, we should travel anyway. We shouldn’t let fear take that experience away from us. The more we travel, the more we allow ourselves to connect to the world around us – to connect to each other.

So travel my friends. Dare to explore. Dare to learn. And dare to connect with humanity.