Exploring Edinburgh in Winter

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My three previous visits to Edinburgh, Scotland all took place during summer or fall months. However, for many years, I’ve dreamed of traveling to Edinburgh in December, to experience the city’s Christmas Market.

COVID closed down the event in 2020 and 2021, postponing my plans. When I learned the city intended to open the Christmas Market in November 2022, I booked my trip…in August.

What an incredible experience, exploring Edinburgh in winter. Not only did I enjoy the Christmas Market, I discovered many other fun things to do during the colder months.

Exploring Edinburgh in Winter title

Edinburgh in Winter

Edinburgh, Scotland’s capital city, offers so many exciting experiences year around. During the month of August the city hosts the Fringe Festival, which draws a huge number of tourists from around the world. I’ve experienced Fringe, and everyone who enjoys art and media should. Lasting the whole month, Fringe features more than 60,000 performances of 3800 shows in 320+ venues, including along the Royal Mile.

The other eleven months of the year, the streets are still busy with throngs of people, but less crowded. I found that while the Christmas Market area was packed during the weekend, weekdays were less crowded and the rest of the city very easy to navigate.

Normal temperatures during December average 45 degrees Fahrenheit by day and drop to mid 30s at night. I began watching the weather in Edinburgh two weeks before my trip, using the Weather App. Rain is a daily occurrence in Scotland throughout the year. So snow was a possibility in December. And, watching the predicted weather pattern I saw that temps were expected to be lower than normal, in the 20s and 30s. This knowledge helped me to prepare for outdoor adventures in cold weather. Watch for an upcoming post about what I purchased, for adventuring in the cold.

I planned out what activities I wanted to do during my week in Edinburgh, leaving some free time for spontaneous adventures. Here’s where my explorations took me.

Exploring Edinburgh in Winter wheel
Exploring Edinburgh in Winter – The Wheel at the Christmas Market. I rode it and loved the views from the top.

The Christmas Market

This event is what drew me to Edinburgh in winter and I was not disappointed! The Christmas Market opened November 25 and closed January 3. Stretching along Princes Street, in New Town, the market includes stalls with vendors selling crafts, gifts, Christmas items and clothing. Everything imaginable, really, is available there. There are also lots of stalls selling all kinds of food including German food, fair food, nachos, crepes, burgers, fish and chips, Scottish food and even vegan fare plus drinks such as beer, wine, hot tea and hot chocolate, soda and water.

The Wheel offers riders the chance to see Edinburgh from above while a few other rides appeal to people of all ages. Music plays throughout the market, from fiddles to bag pipes, lights decorate stalls and trees and there is a festive atmosphere that permeates the area along with the tantalizing aroma of food.

The Christmas Market is free while The Wheel and other rides have a small fee. Restrooms are available on site. As noted, the market was extremely busy Friday night through Sunday evening. I visited during weekdays and only walked by over the weekend. My last day in Edinburgh, which also happened to be the coldest, I enjoyed vegan nachos with haggis for lunch and a hot chocolate.

Exploring Edinburgh in Winter stalls
Stalls with goods and food for sale, at the Christmas Market. This is a small section of the market. It covered a large area.

Santa Land

At the other end of Princes Street, down in the gardens, is Santa Land. This event is geared toward younger children. A variety of rides, fun booths and food stalls invite families to stay and play. The event is free to walk through with the rides requiring a ticket.

I enjoyed walking through the area and capturing photos of Santa Land with Edinburgh Castle perched high above. The Ross Fountain is in that area as well and worth taking a photo of.

Santa Land in Edinburgh
Exploring Edinburgh in Winter – Santa Land

Christmas Decor

Edinburgh certainly decorates for the holidays! I enjoyed walking around, camera ready on my iPhone, looking at the decorated store fronts, restaurants and townhouses. New Town seems to decorate more than Old Town, however it’s worth walking the streets in both areas. Lights strung across the cobblestone streets lend holiday cheer and some of the storefronts are astounding!

Walk around St Andrew Square and along George Street, both in New Town, for some of the best Christmas decor.

Exploring Edinburgh in Winter Christmas decor
This storefront was one of my favorites!

Christmas at the Botanics

The Edinburgh Botanic Garden hosts a lighted trail walk every year during the holidays. I visited the garden for the first time on my last visit, in July 2019. What a magical experience to visit again for a nighttime walk through enchanting gardenscapes.

While the botanic garden is free during the rest of the year, there is a fee for the Christmas tour. It is worth the price! There are timed entries, every half hour. Once in the garden, you can stay as long as you like. It took me about an hour to slowly wander the trail.

The themed displays all feature light and music. You can’t get lost. The trail is well marked and personnel are posted throughout the garden. Restrooms are available, in the heated main building, and there are stalls in several places selling food and hot drinks.

Beautiful display at the Edinburgh Botanic Garden
Beautiful lighted display on water at the Edinburgh Botanic Garden.

Ice Skating Rink

The ice skating rink opens when the Christmas Market does and closes on the same date. This year the rink set up at the end of George Street, in an enclosed rectangular structure. There is a fee to rent the skates and enter the rink however there is space at one end with tables and chairs for spectators. Food and drink stalls are in this area as well.

I have never ice skated and didn’t attempt it…this time! Rather I enjoyed watching the skaters glide by. A large carousel is available outside, for those who would rather ride in circles instead of skate.

Exploring Edinburgh in Winter ice skating
Exploring Edinburgh in Winter – ice skating

St Andrew Square

At the other end of George Street is St Andrew Square. It’s decorated with lights and trees. And this green space partnered this year with Social Bite’s Festival of Kindness, spreading goodwill and helping others.

People could donate meals, gifts and accommodations for those in need. Social Bite, with the help of Essential Edinburgh, set a goal of providing 250,000 meals and essential items during the winter months, for the city’s most vulnerable, the homeless. The charity installed huge lighted Christmas Trees in the square and asked people to purchase one extra gift during the holidays, to donate to those in need. St Andrew Square served as the collection site for those gifts.

I was very impressed and moved by the work of Social Bite. Hopefully this is an event that continues year after year.

St Andrew Square
St Andrew Square focuses on helping others.

Exploring Edinburgh in Winter

Exploring the city is a fun activity on any visit to Edinburgh. Add in frosty temps and a dusting of snow and familiar landmarks and locations take on a fairytale quality.

While exploring Edinburgh, I visited two new to me areas, The Vennel in the Grassmarket area and Circus Lane, in Stockbridge. I also revisited one of my favorite Edinburgh gems, Dean Village, and explored many of the closes off of the Royal Mile.

The Vennel

This scenic location, with an excellent view of the castle, requires a bit of hunting to locate. An old, steep stone staircase, separating two buildings in Grassmarket, leads to a platform where you can turn and see the castle in all its glory.

While this spot isn’t well known, more and more people are finding it, thanks to photos on social media. When I climbed the stairs, coated with a thin layer of ice and snow, a handful of people stood on the platform. We all took turns capturing the shot of the castle. I needed to catch my breath anyway, after all those stairs!

Exploring Edinburgh in Winter the vennel
The Vennel offers a spectacular view of the castle.

Circus Lane

I saw photos of this pretty lane on social media as well, which is what inspired me to walk there to see it myself.

Circus Lane in the Stockbridge area is a favorite for photographers, with its narrow curved street and cute mews houses. It’s not far from Dean Village and only required a 10 minute walk from my accommodations on Rose Street.

Circus Lane is, indeed, extremely picturesque, even in winter. I loved walking along the lane and taking photos. And afterward, I ate lunch at an amazing vegan restaurant in the area. Check out vegan eats in Edinburgh HERE.

Exploring Edinburgh in Winter circus lane
Circus Lane is a wonderful street to take photos on.

Dean Village in Winter

This hidden gem in Edinburgh is one of my favorite locations in the city. If I could live in Edinburgh, I’d want to have a flat in Dean Village. Tucked in a valley, and lying along the Water of Leith, this area once housed mills and the people who worked in them. Today it is a quaint village that still retains the charm of the past.

I walked to Dean Village on the coldest day during my visit. Temperatures never rose above the low 20s. And when I first descended into the valley, fog hung over the water. It looked so magical though, with the wispy fog and the snow. I enjoyed walking around the village and standing on the bridges. And I gratefully bought a large hot chocolate from a vendor with a small cart.

Beautiful Dean Village
Beautiful Dean Village in winter.

Royal Mile Closes

Closes are narrow alleys that connect the Royal Mile with other streets and areas in Edinburgh. Originally there were about 250 closes. As medieval Edinburgh grew, tall tenements sprang up along the closes. Some of these lanes were eventually filled in, or sealed off, as is the case with the most famous one, Mary King’s Close.

It’s fun to wander down these closes and see where they lead. I had time to explore many of them, seeing new sights. And I took the Mary King’s Close tour for the first time, an experience one pays for. I discovered the Writer’s Museum, in the Lady Stairs Close. And found the Bakehouse Close, where they filmed scenes for the Scottish series Outlander.

On a couple of different days, in all kinds of weather, I wandered the length of the Royal Mile, exploring the closes and stepping back in time, it often seemed.

A gorgeous capture in Advocate's Close.
A gorgeous view through Advocate’s Close.

Walking and Taking Photos

My favorite activity, exploring Edinburgh in winter, was simply walking the city, Old Town and New Town, and taking photos. I’ll never tire of this city. Every visit I see something new and discover different areas to explore.

In Scotland, the days are very short in December. The sun rose about 8:40 am and by 3:40 pm, it set. The golden hour, the best time for taking photos, occurred between 2:30 and 3:30 each day! That meant I got up early and headed out so I could see as much as possible in daylight.

It’s magical to walk at night in Edinburgh as well, although being a solo traveler, I never stayed out too late. I loved seeing familiar streets dressed for the holidays and watching the lights come on, late afternoon.

Cockburn Street in Old Town
Cockburn Street in Old Town.

Have You Visited Edinburgh?

What an incredible trip, exploring Edinburgh in winter. This first international solo trip taught me things about myself. (I can handle navigating HUGE airports and make it to my gate on time.) And I learned more about this marvelous city. I feel a deep connection to Edinburgh and it will continue to haunt me and draw me back.

I can check Edinburgh Christmas Market off my bucket list. I think I’ll add Edinburgh Hogmanay though! I’d love to experience the city’s new year celebration.

Have you visited Edinburgh? Or have you experienced a European Christmas market?

Edinburgh in LIghts

 

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Year of Alignment

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A new year brings with it so much anticipation! Fresh year, fresh start, new experiences and new opportunities make every January exciting for me.

Each new January also brings a fresh theme for the year along with a symbol to guide me and a song to inspire.

This is the Year of Alignment.  Learn more about how that word will shape the next 12 months.

Year of Alignment title

Year of Alignment Theme

My word for 2023 is alignment. By definition, alignment happens when thoughts, choices, actions and beliefs all honor higher purpose and core values. Alignment is the resulting state of agreement or alliance.

The word originates from the Old French alignier meaning “set, lay in a line”. I like that it also refers to a direction or course, such as in life.

Alignment for me is when my inner world…my thoughts and beliefs…line up with my purpose in life. And how do I know that I am in alignment? I observe what is going on in my outer world. When my outer world and the way I am living my life are in agreement with my thoughts and beliefs then alignment occurs, bringing joy, peace and a high level of vibration.

Year of Alignment word for the year
Year of Alignment – word for 2023

Year of Alignment Symbol

Each year also brings a new symbol to guide me. It represents the theme and when I see the symbol, it is a reminder of what’s important to me this year.

The word “alignment” doesn’t automatically bring to mind symbols associated with the word, beyond perhaps a straight line. However, as I considered what alignment means to me, I realized the importance of recognizing that the world I create and live in is a reflection of who I am, what I think and what I believe.

Reflection.

A mirror seems the perfect symbol.

When I look in a mirror, what I see reflected back is the reality of who I am, in that moment. When I look at the world around me, and whatever is going on in that moment, that is a reflection of my thoughts and beliefs. It doesn’t mean that bad things don’t happen in the world or that I cause them. However, my response to those things, good and bad, and how they impact me, is on me. I can shape my own responses. And I can choose to shift my thoughts and beliefs about what’s happening.

For example, if I believe it is a beautiful day, then my reality shows me that it is, no matter the circumstances. If I’m experiencing a challenging day, my reality is showing me a reflection of what’s going on in my heart, mind and spirit. I need to pay attention to that reflection so that I can shift my thoughts and beliefs back to a higher vibrational frequency.

So not only is a mirror a symbol for 2023, the reality I experience, when seen as a reflection, is symbolic as well for what’s going on in my inner life.

Year of Alignment mirror
Year of Alignment symbol – mirror

Year of Alignment Song

Finally, I chose the song for 2023. The song, like the symbol, serves as a reminder of the year’s theme and what’s true for me.

I knew immediately which song represents alignment for me.

A Million Dreams, from The Greatest Showman movie and soundtrack, captured my keen interest back when I watched the film for the first time.

In the movie, PT Barnum (portrayed by Hugh Jackman) grows up with a vivid imagination that guides and inspires him to take risks and create the reality he wants to live in. I love that. It’s a wonderful song to feed my inspiration and creativity as well.

“Every night I lie in bed, the brightest colors fill my head. A million dreams are keeping me awake. I think of what the world could be, a vision of the one I see. A million dreams is all it’s going to take, a million dreams for the world I’m going to make.”

My Year of Alignment

I’m always excited as a new year begins. This year is no exception.

I feel like my theme for 2023 is an expansive one, a deep one. And yet, each year is a progression for me. The words/themes, symbols and songs aren’t random. No, they are a progressive map of my life and each new year provides a hint of what’s ahead on the journey.

This year promises to be life changing, with an intense focus on my inner life and manifesting a reality that matches…that aligns…with who I am at my core.

I’m already amazed, a week into the new year, with all that is showing up as I focus on alignment.

Do you have a word or theme for 2023? A symbol? A song? Please share them in the comments!

Year of Alignment 2023
2023 Year of Alignment

Need help choosing a word or symbol for the year? Check out this post.

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CoDE Boutique Hostel

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When I’m planning a trip, the first thing I focus on, even before checking flights, is accommodations. Where I stay is important, especially since I’m on foot during most of my stay.

My ideal accommodation is located near the area I most want to explore, has a kitchen or mini kitchen and is unique.

As I searched in Old and New Towns, in Edinburgh, I browsed through many hotels. I found several that met my criteria, however the price per night was high for all of them. I hoped to spend 5 – 7 days in Edinburgh so I kept searching.

I’m not sure how I ended up on the CoDE Boutique Hostel sites. I apparently clicked a link or a photo and rather than click away, I kept scrolling through their info. CoDE features sleek, comfy pods in dormitory style rooms, similar to Japanese hostels. Intrigued, I considered booking a pod in a female only room.

And then it happened. CoDE operates two hostels in Edinburgh, one off of the Royal Mile and the other on Rose Street. Rose Street felt perfect, location wise. As I looked at the dormitory rooms I discovered that the Rose Street location offered a top floor “penthouse” with a full kitchen, private bathroom, incredible floor to ceiling windows AND a balcony.

My heart beat faster, a sure sign that I’d found my accommodations. And, the price was incredible. I could stay a full week at CoDE for less than the cost of 3 nights at the hotels I’d been perusing. My trip to Edinburgh came together quickly after that remarkable find.

CoDE Boutique Hostel title

CoDE Boutique Hostel

With their private pods, ear plugs and sleeping masks, this luxury hostel offers a great night’s sleep with an emphasis on privacy and security.

They provide cozy common rooms to encourage social interaction among the guests and the CoDE Court Hostel off of the Royal Mile offers waffles for breakfast every morning. Amenities include free wi-fi, storage lockers, toiletries and a place to stash luggage if you arrive before check in time.

The Court in Old Town is so named because the building formerly served as a courthouse and jail. The cells are now individual rooms and the courtroom a sleeping studio with pods.

The pod beds feel private with curtains that close at the foot of the pod. The pods contain a shelf, LED lighting, hooks and USB ports. Each pod has a corresponding locker with a digital lock that securely holds luggage and personal items. Female only and coed dorms are available.

The CoDE name comes from the fact that each guest receives his or her own unique personal code for access to the building and dorm room or apartment.

CoDE Boutique Hostel Loft

The hostel I chose, located at 50 Rose Street North Lane, provides long term living options in a beautiful old building in the heart of New Town. This hostel offers discounts for stays from a week to several months, making it ideal for my trip.

There’s also a family room at this site, with a double pod and two single pods, perfect for parents with kids who want to share the same space. Each of the floors contain two pod rooms with shared bathrooms. The penthouse, a cozy and cute studio style apartment, sits at the top of the building. My guess is that this is a recent add on.

On the ground floor is a full kitchen for guests to prepare meals and a common room for social interaction, watching tv or working on laptops.

The spotless apartment contains a spacious bathroom with walk in shower, a kitchen with mini fridge, full size electric range, microwave, plates, glasses, mugs and silverware and cooking essentials, dining area/workspace and a double bed. The large windows look out over charming buildings in the area and at the end of the apartment, a sliding glass door opens onto a large private balcony.

Take a tour of the penthouse apartment with me as I point out some of the amazing features!

CoDE Boutique Hostel exterior
The exterior of the CoDE Boutique Hostel.

Common Room and Shared Kitchen

Using the personalized code, I entered a hallway that leads to storage lockers and stairs going up to four floors of rooms. There isn’t an elevator.

Immediately inside the entrance and to the right is the common room with a shared kitchen, tables, sofas and a television mounted on the wall. I don’t believe the pod rooms contain a tv although the apartment does.

The kitchen is stocked with cooking essentials and free coffees and teas.

There isn’t a check in desk. Arrangements are made online and my card was charged right before I arrived. There are helpful staff onsite. The young man working the day I arrived graciously carried my luggage to the top floor!

I met several of the other guests although I never used the shared kitchen or hung out in the common room. Everyone seemed kind and thoughtful.

CoDE Boutique Hostel common room and kitchen
CoDE Boutique Hostel common room and kitchen

CoDE Boutique Hostel Apartment Hallway

The industrial style door opens onto a hallway with storage, hangers and cubbies for clothing. At the end of the hallway is the bathroom. The living area/bedroom opens off of the hallway as well.

A perfectly placed full length mirror made the clothing storage area a wonderful spot to get dressed and don coat, hat, gloves and scarf before heading out to explore. I really appreciated this handy area.

Apartment hallway with clothing storage area.
Hallway with clothing storage area.
Bathroom at the end of the hallway.
Bathroom at the end of the hallway.

CoDE Boutique Hostel Apartment Bathroom

I loved the large bathroom! Subway tiles, an awesome shower, dual mirrors, the ledge near the sink for toiletries and the cheerful orange rug all enchanted me. Plus, it absolutely gleamed!

CoDE provides two hand towels and two bath towels, shower gel and a hair dryer, which meant I didn’t have to pack one or use electrical adapters.

A small wall radiator kept the bathroom cozy. Also, blue mood lighting installed along the baseboards served well as a nightlight.

CoDE Boutique Hostel bathroom
CoDE Boutique Hostel bathroom
Awesome shower
Awesome shower

CoDE Boutique Hostel Apartment Sleeping Area

A double bed, two bedside tables and lamps and a wall mounted television occupy one end of the studio style apartment. The thick, comfy mattress provided the BEST night’s sleep after a day of exploring.

Above the bed, the words “Wake up and be awesome” inspired me every morning.

Charging ports built into the walls made it easy to plug my phone in for charging and again, I didn’t have to use the electrical adapters that I brought.

The two exterior walls contained large windows and a sliding glass door opening onto the balcony. I loved the light and the views.

Wake up and be awesome
Wake up and be awesome!
What amazing views
What amazing views!

CoDE Boutique Hostel Apartment Kitchen and Dining Area

At the other end of the apartment an island with four stools provided dining and work space near the windows.

And the kitchen offered a full sized stove/oven, a microwave, mini fridge, toaster and my favorite, an instant water kettle for making hot tea. The kitchen contained everything I needed to create meals. Because I’m plant based, it’s easier for me to make my own breakfasts and dinners and eat lunches out at various vegan restaurants. Cooking saves me money and I know I’m eating healthy. A corner grocery store a few blocks away made shopping convenient.

 

CoDE Boutique Hostel kitchen
CoDE Boutique Hostel kitchen
Dining/work area
Dining/workspace area with a peek at the private balcony beyond.

My Experience in the CoDE Boutique Hostel

I immediately fell in love with this apartment!

Yes, at least twice a day I climbed four floors to reach my apartment. By the third day, I made that climb easily without feeling out of breath. And oh, that climb was worth it!

I raised the shades first thing every morning, ate my oatmeal and berries sitting in front of those windows, watched the sun rise, the snow swirl, the clouds gather, darkness fall. The views from that top floor apartment melted my heart.

In fact, my first evening in the apartment, after exploring for a few hours, I stood at those windows and said aloud, “I’m in Edinburgh!” And I promptly burst into tears. It was such an emotional experience.

I loved everything about the apartment: location, beauty, kitchen, balcony, dressing area, bed. By nature I’m a tidy person, so I kept the apartment clean… picked up, bed made, dishes washed, clothes put away tidy.

One thing the apartment does not have is an indoor chair. There are the stools at the island and the bed but no chair. So I brought in one of the eight outdoor chairs on the balcony and set it up in front of the window. It became “my place” to greet the day, eat meals, plan for the next day and meditate.

And on the day of heavy rain and snow, that comfy chair served as a drying rack near the radiator for my coat, hat, gloves and scarf!

A snowy day in Edinburgh
A snowy day in Edinburgh.

Who Might Not Like This Luxury Hostel

CoDE Boutique Hostel perfectly fit my needs and exceeded my expectations.

I’m aware, however, that not everyone would appreciate this type of accommodation.

Why you might not like this hostel:

  • you can’t climb stairs
  • there’s zero parking for a rental car…the location is ideal however for walking
  • while staff are onsite, there’s no check in/check out desk
  • instead of a room key, you receive a unique to you code to punch in on a keypad
  • there’s no daily room cleaning service in the apartment…it’s cleaned between guests
  • pod rooms share bathrooms
  • Rose Street is a busy pedestrian street, which means you might hear some noise late at night as people walk down the street (this didn’t bother me or keep me awake)
  • guests come and go at all hours of the day and night (again, this didn’t bother me or keep me awake, since I was at the top of the building)
  • there’s no gym, pool, business center or complimentary breakfast at the Rose Street site
This is Edinburgh
My apartment was the Edinburgh Suite. I loved that.

Would I Stay at CoDE Boutique Hostel Again?

So…would I stay here again?

Yes! I absolutely would. The apartment became my home base as I explored Edinburgh. Its convenient location made it easy to stop by after lunch to drop off any purchases and refresh before heading back out.

The staff answered all my questions and when the heat didn’t kick on the first night, a quick email resulted in an even quicker fix. They were able to turn on the radiator remotely.

I so enjoyed my stay at CoDE that I felt genuinely sad when I left for the last time, to catch a flight home. For a glorious week, that little apartment WAS home and it served me well.

I can’t really say I experienced a traditional hostel stay, since I had my own private space, but I loved this new to me type of accommodation, nonetheless. My stay at CoDE contributed to my Edinburgh trip in very positive ways. I’d definitely stay here again or even consider a stay in the females only pod room.

Would you stay at CoDE Boutique Hostel? Why or why not?

CoDE Boutique Hostel balcony
Enjoying a light snowfall on the balcony at CoDE Boutique Hostel.

Other Unique Places I’ve Stayed:

citizenM Hotel Washington DC

Sailor’s Rest Airbnb

Culture Boutique Hotel

 

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Fun Things to Do in Washington DC

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What an amazing experience, exploring Washington DC for the first time. The city surprised me in so many ways, and I wondered why I waited so long to visit. My grandson Dayan moved to DC last summer, for post graduate studies, and for work. Dayan living there prompted me to travel to DC so I could not only see my grandson but see the city through his eyes.

There are SO many fun things to do in Washington DC, and most of those activities are free.

Haven’t been to DC yet either? Use my experiences as a guide. Been to DC already? Share your favorite things to do in the city, in the comments.
Fun Things to Do in Washington DC pinnable title

List of Fun Things to Do in Washington DC

For reference, I spent four days and three nights in DC, at the fabulous citizenM Hotel located a couple of blocks from the National Mall. A nearby Metro station made getting around the city easy. And, DC is very walkable if you don’t mind walking a LOT. I’d suggest comfortable, sturdy walking shoes.

I experienced rain every day of my visit. That didn’t stop Dayan and me from exploring all day long with the help of rain jackets and an umbrella.

Here’s a list of fun things to do, while visiting the nation’s capital.

Tour The Capitol Building

The United States Capitol, typically called The Capitol or The Capitol Building, is the seat of the legislative branch of the United States federal government. It is located on Capitol Hill at the eastern end of the National Mall, on a plateau 88 feet above the level of the Potomac River. From The Capitol you can look west and see the Washington Memorial 1.4 miles away and the Lincoln Memorial, 2.2 miles away. These three structures line up on the National Mall.

The Capitol is home to the House of Representatives and the Senate. As the country and city grew, so did The Capitol. Building began in 1793 and the first congress met there in 1800. Currently the building contains over 1.5 million square feet, 600+ rooms and miles of corridors. The structure is crowned by the magnificent white dome and is an iconic symbol of the US and her people.

You can participate in a paid tour of The Capitol. Only visitors with advance tour reservations may enter the building. Check out tour info HERE.

Dayan and I toured The Capitol Building shortly after my arrival in DC. The 1 1/2 hour tour begins with a 30 minute film about the construction of The Capitol and its purpose. I felt SO moved during the film. It brought home to me the importance of this historic building and also of the city itself. It’s one place…for many people…for ALL people. Inscribed in the rotunda is the Latin phrase, “E Pluribus Unum”, from the many, one. One government, representing all.

We loved this fascinating tour and learned so much.

Fun Things to Do in Washington DC dayan
I not only enjoyed the tour of The Capitol, I enjoyed watching my grandson’s delight.

Explore The National Mall

Nicknamed “America’s Front Yard”, the National Mall is where the country’s most iconic memorials, museums and statues are found. You can participate in guided tours of the Mall, or walk the area yourself. The space stretches from The Capitol Building to the Tidal Basin area beyond the Lincoln Memorial to the White House on the north side. It is flanked by the Smithsonian Museums.

A 5 mile loop around the Mall takes approximately an hour and a half to walk. You can easily spend days exploring in just this area, visiting memorials and museums.

Dayan and I wandered around this area on all four days, popping into museums and art galleries, to escape the rain, and visiting monuments and memorials. Seeing the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial, after reading about them and seeing photos of them my whole life, was an emotional experience for me.

Fun Things to Do in Washington DC national mall
Fun Things to Do in Washington DC – National Mall

Discover Monuments and Memorials

While exploring the National Mall, stop at the many, many monuments and memorials.

The Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial are the most well known however there are more than 100 structures in the area. These monuments and memorials honor America’s forefathers and heroes and tell stories about our history.

Places to visit include Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Korean War Veterans Memorial, National World War I and World War II Memorials, Jefferson Memorial, Martin Luther King Memorial, Albert Einstein Memorial, Vietnam Women’s Memorial, African American Civil War Memorial and DC War Memorial.

There are many other sites set up in memory of a person or group. Part of the fun is finding them.

The Lincoln Memorial
Fun Things to Do in Washington DC – Lincoln Memorial

Visit the Smithsonian Museums

DC can boast that it has the world’s largest museum complex!

Around and near the National Mall, 16 Smithsonian Museums offer exhibits that range from art to science to history. The National Zoo is included as a Smithsonian site as well. All Smithsonian Museums are, amazingly, free to enter. Some do require a timed entry. You can reserve your pass online.

Smithsonian Museums include:

  • Anacostia Community Museum
  • Arts & Industries Building
  • Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden
  • National Air & Space Museum
  • National Museum of African American History and Culture
  • Renwick Gallery of Smithsonian American Art
  • National Museum of African Art
  • National Museum of American History
  • Smithsonian Institute Castle
  • National Museum of the American Indian
  • National Museum of Asian Art
  • Smithsonian National Zoo
  • National Museum of Natural History
  • National Portrait Gallery & Smithsonian American Art
  • Smithsonian Gardens
  • National Postal Museum

Among the museums, the National Museum of Natural History, with its dinosaur bones, sea life exhibits and rock and mineral section, is the most popular. It ranked first, with almost a million visits in 2021, with the National Zoo a close second.

Dayan and I enjoyed visiting several of these museums, including Natural History, the Portrait Gallery, American Art and American History. We also visited the National Gallery of Art, which is not a Smithsonian Museum. However, it is worth a visit as well, for its amazing works of classic art.

Smithsonian Museum of Natural History
Fun Things to Do in Washington DC – Smithsonian Museums

Walk Through the United States Botanic Garden

In the middle of the city lies a beautiful garden. This is the United States Botanic Garden, established 200 years ago. It too is free to enter.

The US Botanic Garden offers uniquely beautiful exhibits that not only delight but inspire us to become better stewards of the plants on the earth.

You can wander through outdoor exhibits that include vegetable gardens, flower gardens, sculptures, fountains and seasonal displays.

Indoors, in the conservatories, stroll through world regions that include desert, tropical, subtropical and Jurassic. There’s a medicinal garden, orchids and endangered plants.

I love to visit botanical gardens in every city and country that I visit. This one was magical!

United States Botanic Garden
Fun Things to Do in Washington DC – US Botanic Garden

Take a Photo of the White House

At the northern edge of the National Mall, on Pennsylvania Avenue, sits the beautiful White House. This magnificent structure has housed every US president, since John Adams in 1800.

Did you know that the White House is modeled on Leinster House in Dublin? Irish born architect James Hoban intentionally created the neoclassical structure based on the Irish Legislature building.

The West Wing was added in 1901, by President Theodore Roosevelt. Eight years later President William Taft added the Oval Office. And the East Wing was completed in 1946. The executive residence includes six stories, 132 rooms, 35 bathrooms, 28 fireplaces, 8 staircases and 3 elevators.

Tours of the White House are free, however, you must contact your representative to make a request. Submit requests at least 21 days in advance or up to 3 months before your visit. There are a limited number of visitors allowed.

I didn’t discover the 21 days in advance rule in time to request a tour. However, Dayan and I explored nearby Lafayette Square and took photos of the White House.

The White House
Fun Things to Do in Washington DC – take a photo of the White House

Enjoy the Views from the Old Post Office Clock Tower

What a wonderful way to get a different perspective of the city!

The Old Post Office, located at 1100 Pennsylvania Avenue, is a National Historic Site. Completed in 1899, this post office replaced an earlier general post office building from 1839. The clock tower is the third tallest structure in DC.

It ceased existence as a post office in 1914 at the beginning of WWI. After avoiding demolition for many years, retail space, a food court and a roof skylight over a central atrium brought new life to the old structure. The building operated for four years as a luxury hotel before reopening this year as the Waldorf Astoria Washington DC.

The 315 foot high clock tower houses the “Bells of Congress” and on its observation level, offers panoramic views of the city. Entrance is free.

Dayan suggested this site, and I admit giddy relief when he told me there’s an elevator to the observation deck! The wind was brisk and cold but what amazing views over the city! The final photo in this post shows just how beautiful those views are.

Old Post Office Clock Tower
Fun Things to Do in Washington DC – the Old Post Office Clock Tower

Walk Around the City

Besides the National Mall, there’s much to explore in the city, such as charming neighborhoods, museums like the International Spy Museum, historic spots like Ford’s Theatre, restaurants that specialize in brunch, cool coffee shops, gardens and stunning architecture.

In spite of the rain, I spent Monday afternoon walking in downtown DC, after one last lunch with my grandson. I “gwalked”…walked and gawked at the same time! DC is a gorgeous city, clean and friendly with lots of green space. I loved everything about it and simply enjoyed being there.

Ford Theatre
See what you can find, as you walk the city!

Take a Tour

There are many tours available in DC, from historic ones to memorial tours to ghost walks. The city offers bike tours, bus tours, walking tours or you can explore by moonlight in a trolley.

I spent the remainder of my last afternoon in DC on a 90 minute bus tour. It got me out of the chilly rain, which was quite heavy by then, and I appreciated the stories the tour guide shared. We stopped at the Lincoln Memorial and I snapped additional photos.

I love experiencing ghost tours in the cities I travel to. This time, however, Dayan and I created our own walking ghost tour, stopping at haunted locations in the city to take photos. Check out my post, Ghost Stories from Washington DC.

Take a tour of the city
Take a fun tour of the city.

Have you visited DC?

My four days in DC flew by! There’s so much to do and see that I need another trip there. I believe I could visit DC yearly and never run out of experiences to enjoy. Let these fun things to do in Washington DC give you a starting point.

Have you visited DC? What experiences did you most enjoy? Add to my list by posting your recommendations in the comments below!

View from the top
Fun Things to Do in Washington DC – clock tower view

 

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citizenM Hotel Washington DC Capitol

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my Disclosure Policy for details.

On my recent trip to Washington DC, finding the right accommodations landed high on my list.

I’m drawn to unique, fun properties. Location is important of course, as I’m usually on foot. And eco-friendliness is a huge factor as well.

As I sorted through possibilities, one hotel stood out to me as it checked all my boxes. Location…perfect. Eco-friendliness…outstanding. And uniqueness…through the roof!

I’m excited to share citizenM Hotel with you, the Washington DC Capitol location.

citizenM Hotel title

The Story Behind citizenM Hotel

The citizenM hotel franchise opened its first hotel in Amsterdam, in 2008, with a big mission: to become the leading transformational hotel inspiring a new generation of modern travelers in the big cities in the world by offering an affordable luxury lifestyle.

They are a new breed of boutique hotel that disrupts the traditional models by eliminating the frustrations travelers shared and offering a luxury experience in central city locations for an affordable price.

This hybrid hotel isn’t just a place to sleep, but a place to work, relax, and play. It’s a place to meet like-minded people and get inspired. citizenM feels like home the moment you walk through the door with its free Wi-Fi, comfortable furniture, and an extremely comfy bed to crash in at the end of a long day exploring.

They call themselves the brand with attitude…playful, cheeky, fun, outrageous. It’s a hotel brand that connects to the young at heart, no matter the actual age. They are proudly colorful, confident and artsy. And the hotels encourage guests to gather outside the cozy rooms in bright common areas, work spaces and meeting rooms.

citizenM Name

According to citizenM, mobile citizens cross continents as easily as they cross streets. They appreciate more than chocolates on pillows. And they mix and match their choices from clothing styles to travel modes.

citizenM is named for these mobile citizens. Every decision they make for their hotels is based on the needs of these travelers.

Currently the company operates 20 hotels in Europe, Asia and the US, with 18 new hotels in development, globally.

citizenM Hotel gathering area
citizenM Hotel Washington DC Capitol – one of the inviting living rooms in my hotel

Why I Love citizenM

Washington DC offers two citizenM Hotels. I chose the Washington DC Capitol location, due to its proximity to the National Mall with its monuments and museums and the Metro system. Once I downloaded their cool and easy to use app, I made my reservation through it and looked forward to experiencing their uniqueness.

I was not disappointed!

Here’s what I love about citizenM, in no particular order.

Quick Contactless Check in

Using the app, I checked in as I arrived at the hotel, located at 550 School Street SW, Washington DC. I paid on the app too, as I walked into the lobby. From there I simply picked up an electronic key to my room and chatted for a moment with the friendly ambassador, available to offer aid and answer questions. Because I arrived hours before check in time, they kindly stowed my carry on so I could head out with my grandson to explore the city.

Check in is SO quick and easy. For those who do not have the app, computers are set up for self check in.

When I left I checked out online and dropped off my key.

Common Areas and 24/7 canteenM

Before going to my room, I wandered around downstairs. I loved the bright, inviting common areas, the table with a bank of computers and all the amazing art.

canteenM is a kitchen/cafe, open 24/7, for drinks and food. I could fill my water container here, eat breakfast from the buffet, grab a late night drink or snack or have a cup of tea.

cloudM is the rooftop bar, however, with the steady rain during the four days I visited DC, this open air space remained closed.

The mezzanine features meeting rooms and a gym.

citizenM Hotel mezzanine
citizenM Hotel Washington DC Capitol – meeting rooms, restrooms and gym on the mezzanine level, overlooking canteenM below

Green Hotel Practices

Eco-friendliness is SO crucial to me. citizenM is kind to the planet with a focus on building and operating healthier, greener hotels. They promote water conservation with water bottle filling stations on site, have a “no single use plastics” policy, provide on site recycling, contribute to local charities and organizations and offer choices on housekeeping.

I chose the option of no housekeeping in my room while I was there. I choose that option in every hotel I stay in. However, citizenM takes that choice one step farther. They donate $3 or 3 euros to charity, when a guest stays 2 or more nights and chooses the “no cleaning” option.

The LED lights automatically turn off when guests leave the room. A light automatically turns on at dusk, in my hotel at least, so that you never walk into a dark room. And all rooms have individually controlled heat/air so that only occupied rooms use energy.

They partner with the TooGoodToGo app to sell breakfast buffet leftovers that would otherwise go to waste.

Read more about citizenM green practices HERE.

canteenM
canteenM with the friendliest staff

The citizenM Room

All rooms at citizenM are the same, designed for one or two adults, with a single extra large king size bed.

This hotel likes to boast about their comfy beds…with the fluffiest pillows and snuggliest duvet comforters…and it’s true. I LOVE the big oversized bed, positioned next to the huge window for great city views. After a day of walking and exploring, it was pure bliss to crawl into that bed. I slept soundly and deeply.

Fun fact: my bed was sprinkled with red balloons when I arrived.

Under the bed storage bins provide ample room to stash gadgets, shoes, luggage or a laptop. There’s also a safe in one of the drawers.

Besides the comfiest bed, what else do I love about about the room?

iPad Controlled

This is fun. The whole room is controlled by an iPad. Lights, the window shades, the television and room temperature, all controlled via the iPad screen. There are mood lights in the sleek bathroom that change colors, lights that brighten or dim or lots of entertainment on the big screen tv on the wall at the foot of the bed.

You can also find traditional light switches on the wall.

I found the iPad easy to use and loved the convenience of changing lighting, tv channels and room temperature from the bed.

citizenM Hotel howdy
citizenM Hotel – a greeting from the iPad in the room

Recycling Bin in Room

The multifunctional counter with sink, storage, refrigerator and lighted vanity mirror also contained a recycling bin. That’s a first for me and I used it for paper disposal.

Multifunctional counter
Multifunctional counter that includes recycling bin

Sleek Bathroom

The room makes the absolute best use of space. The sink is outside the bathroom area while the shower and toilet are enclosed. The walls are opaque. There is a privacy curtain guests can use if desired, to separate the bed area from the bathroom.

You can change the lighting color over the shower, which offers nighttime and daytime shower gels/shampoo and an amazing shower head.

citizenM Hotel mood lighting
citizenM Hotel – mood lighting in the bathroom

Desk with Charging Stations

Next to the bed is a desk and chair. The iPad has a charging dock here plus there are built in charging plugs on the wall above the desk. It’s so convenient to plug in my phone at night.

Desk with charging stations
Desk with charging stations

Window Shades

The large window next to the bed offers wonderful city views. During the day, I could raise the shades to let light in. Or I could lower the thin shade that still allowed light to come into the room while providing privacy. And then there’s the room darkening shade, for sleeping.

Every morning, lying in bed, I’d use the iPad to raise the darkening shade and then the privacy shade and welcome in the new day. What a beautiful ritual that became.

citizenM Hotel shades
Good morning DC!

I’m a citizenM Fan

I thoroughly enjoyed my stay at citizenM Hotel Washington DC Capitol. Everything about this place enchanted me, including the cheerful, helpful staff.

And yeah, I know it won’t be everyone’s preference. citizenM is colorful, playful, bold, progressive, untraditional and outrageous. I believe it’s the hotel of the future, here now in the present. It’s a place where travelers feel understood and acknowledged and encouraged to keep following their hearts as they explore.

I appreciate everything that this hotel franchise offers and the changes they are making in the world.

I’m a citizenM fan, so much so that I’d love to visit ALL of their hotels around the globe. They happen to have hotels in most of the cities on my travel list.

Coincidence? I don’t believe in coincidence. It’s fate. And it’s a big goal, to make this desire a reality.

Have you stayed in a citizenM Hotel? Which one? And if you haven’t, would you stay here? Ask me your questions.

Click this LINK to see citizenM Hotel locations and book a room.

Matching the lobby
Citizen Cindy, in the lobby and accidently matching the decor.

Watch for more posts from my time in DC. And check out this one on Haunted DC.

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Antonia Graza Ghost Ship

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my Disclosure Policy for details.

My sister and her family are Halloween party planners, extraordinaire. They create the most amazing themed parties each year…when COVID (2020) or a move to a new house (2021) don’t cancel the highly anticipated event.

Check out the 2018 and 2019 Halloween Parties…more themed parties available by clicking links at the bottom of those two posts…and prepare to board the Antonia Graza Ghost Ship, for a voyage into spookiness.

Antonia Graza Ghost Ship title

The Antonia Graza Ghost Ship

This year’s theme included a backstory, cleverly posted as newspaper headlines on the walls. My niece Ashley makes full use of her incredible graphic design abilities.

Reading the headlines from various national newspapers reveal that the MS Antonia Graza never arrived at her destination, after embarking on her maiden voyage October 29, 1922. All on board, 600 passengers and 500 crew, are listed as missing. Initial rescue efforts fail to locate the Antonia Graza.

Eventual sightings of the vessel lead to recovery crews boarding the ship, which appears operational although no sign of the passengers or crew are reported. Rescue efforts halt when the recovery crews fail to return.

The Antonia Graza roams the seas for 100 years, all lives…including those of the rescue crews….presumed lost. In 2022, the Antonia Graza is sighted once again, cruising along on her original route in the North Atlantic.

We each received electronic invitations to board the Antonia Graza Ghost Ship, if we dared!

Antonia Graza Ghost Ship staircase
Antonia Graza Ghost Ship – grand staircase

Tour the Antonia Graza Ghost Ship

Come on a tour of the ghost ship with me. My sister Debbie and her family transformed the lower level of the house and the upstairs hallway and bathroom.

The attention to detail is perfect. Using estate sale and thrift shops finds, these creative souls go way beyond adding a few ship worthy decorations. They paper the walls, creating areas of exposed “brick”, add seaweed and cobwebs, add sound and light special effects, remove existing furniture, build false walls and prepare a spread of theme appropriate food. Lights flicker. Red alerts sound. Fog roils past the front door. In costume violinists perform a hauntingly beautiful song in the dining hall.

Guests arrive in costume, ranging from 1920s aristocrats to “dead” crew members to sharks to passengers who perished aboard the ship.

Have a look!

Antonia Graza Ghost Ship buffet
Antonia Graza Ghost Ship – buffet spread out over three rooms.
Antonia Graza Ghost Ship dining
Ship dining room (in reality, this is the family room) for gathering with plates of food and drinks.
Ghost Violinists
Ghost violinists
Antonia Graza Ghost Ship elevator
Upstairs an elevator malfunction! I love the little touches, like numbers on the doors.
Upstairs bathroom
Upstairs bathroom
Antonia Graza Ghost Ship quiet moment
My sister Debbie enjoying a quiet moment in the ship lounge.
Ship clock
Ship clock

Antonia Graza Passengers and Crew

Here’s a peek at the creative costumes of those attending the party.

Antonia Graza Ghost Ship crew
Antonia Graza Ghost Ship crew, my sister and her family, hosts for the party.
Antonia Graza Ghost Ship sharks
Baby Shark with Mommy Shark and Daddy Shark
My brother and sister in law
My brother and sister in law.
Cousins photo
Adult cousins photo. The outdoor deck provided a great gathering spot.
Antonia Graza Ghost Ship greg and roy
Greg and Roy. Perhaps they are members of the rescue crew.
Antonia Graza Ghost Ship sibling photo
Sibling photo – me, my brother and my sisters

Fun Evening

What an amazing voyage, aboard the Antonia Graza. I captured photos of most family members, however there were many more guests that came and went.

We all enjoyed the evening, the food, the music, the decorations and chatting in groups that formed, broke apart and reformed with new people.

I so appreciate all the hard work that goes into this annual event. I absolutely know that my sister and her family could create a successful business around their creativity and their love of Halloween. They currently do all of this for fun. And fun it is.

Does your family celebrate Halloween? If you had a Halloween party this year, what was your theme?

Me and my girls
Me with daughters and granddaughter, We missed my son and his family at the party!

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Ghost Stories from Springfield MO

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Closer to home, this week’s spooky tales come from a city about an hour from Joplin. It was fun to spend a day photographing haunted locations and to take an evening ghost tour of a castle.

The castle proved so interesting that I’ll do a separate post to adequately highlight all the spooky happenings there. Check out all five of the locations I visited for Ghost Stories from Springfield MO.

Ghost Stories from Springfield MO title

Springfield, Missouri

Currently the third largest city in Missouri, the Springfield area originally was home to Native American tribes that included Kickapoo, Osage and Lenape. The first European settlers arrived in 1829, from Tennessee.

John Polk Campbell later donated land from his property for Springfield’s public square and he platted the town site. Springfield incorporated in 1878, with the nickname of “Queen City of the Ozarks”.

The city held strategic importance during the Civil War, with Springfield’s divided loyalty between the North and the South. On August 10, 1861, Union and Confederate troops fought for control of the city in the Battle of Wilson Creek. Considered a Confederate victory, the battle saw the death of Nathaniel Lyon, the first Union general killed during the war.

Today, with a population of more than 170,000, Springfield is the fastest growing metropolitan area in the state. Their historic downtown is enjoying a resurgence and the city’s lively culture includes theaters, art, music, dance and opera.

With her turbulent history that includes the forced relocation of Native peoples, Civil War battles and racial violence, there are plenty of locations within Springfield that classify as haunted.

Bride Ghost of Phelps Grove Park Bridge

This 31 acre park, established in 1931, is situated in a beautiful older neighborhood in Springfield. Once part of the Phelps homestead, the original 1,050 acres belonged to the founding “father” and “mother” of Springfield, John and Mary Phelps. John, a Missouri congressman and the 23rd Governor of Missouri, and his wife Mary aided and educated orphans during and after the Civil War.

At the entrance to the park, visitors cross over an old fieldstone bridge that arches over a drainage canal.  Legend has it that on their wedding night, a couple crossed the bridge in their carriage. The horse bolted, causing the carriage to flip over the railing of the bridge. The carriage landed upside down, killing the newlyweds.

People claim to see a woman near or under the bridge, dressed in a flowing white wedding gown. She appears forlorn. And some report that her face is missing. The park and bridge are popular sites for paranormal investigations and abnormal energy readings.

Ghost Stories from Springfield MO phelps bridge
Ghost Stories from Springfield MO – Bride Ghost at Phelps Bridge

Drury University Ghosts

Drury University opened its doors to 39 students in 1873. Over the years, the campus expanded as did the student body. Today the 40 acre campus includes many academic buildings…and more than a few ghosts.

Drury University occupies land that once served as Native American burial grounds. Later the Civil War raged around it. And Smith Hall, a women’s dormitory, is built on the site of a row of Victorian homes. A little girl, caught in a fire that caused her demise, lived in one of those homes. Her ghost lingers. Dressed in pink, the ghostly girl wanders the hallways, looking for her teddy bear.

Other students in the same hall report locked doors and dresser drawers opening and objects out of place in their rooms.

In Clara Thompson Hall, students report pianos that play by themselves and doors that slam closed. And in Wilhoit Theatre flickering lights move about the building when no one is inside.

Ghost Stories from Springfield MO drury university
Ghost Stories from Springfield MO – Clara Thompson Hall at Drury University

Restless Spirits at Landers Theatre

This pretty terra cotta building, built in 1909, has been in continuous use since its completion. It began life as a playhouse and later became one of the first “talkie” motion picture theaters. After major renovations in the 1980s, Landers Theatre today hosts plays, musicals, ballets, symphonies and other artistic performances.

It is also home to restless spirits.

One of the most frequently seen ghosts is a janitor who died in the theatre during a fire in 1920. The janitor hangs out in the balcony, claim the actors who see him from the stage. Others report experiencing another ghost, a baby who accidentally fell from the upper balcony. They hear the fall repeatedly, on a loop. Or hear the baby crying, followed by comforting sounds from the baby’s ghost mother.

Above the stage, a vaudeville stagehand hanged himself from the rigging. His ghost haunts the catwalks.

Another ghost peeks from a fourth floor window, watching passersby walking along Walnut Street. This spirit, a man with long blond hair and wearing Elizabethan clothing, is never spotted from inside the theatre…only by people outside the building.

Ghost Stories from Springfield MO landers theatre
Ghost Stories from Springfield MO – Landers Theatre

Permanent Guest at Walnut Street Inn

This pretty bed and breakfast at 900 E Walnut Street, built in the mid 1890s, has a permanent otherworldly guest. She claims the Rosen Room as hers. A man staying in the room looked up from where he reclined on the bed to see a woman sitting at a table against the wall.

“Excuse me,” he said. “This is my room!” The woman replied that it was her room…and disappeared.

Others report seeing the woman sitting on the edge of their beds. And people often feel a cold draft on the backs of their necks.

Activity appeared to increase in the inn after a 1998 renovation. If you dare, you can make a reservation HERE. Would I? Yes! In fact, I hope to stay there soon.

Ghost Stories from Springfield MO walnut street inn
Ghost Stories from Springfield MO – a permanent guest at Walnut Street Inn

Haunted Castle

I only recently learned that Springfield has a castle! Image my excitement to discover that it offers year around ghost tours.

Pythian Castle, constructed in 1913, originally housed older members of the Knights of Pythias and their widows and orphans. Later the military purchased the castle and used it as a prisoner of war camp during WWII and a place to rehabilitate burned and injured US troops. It is now privately owned and available for special events and history and ghost tours.

At least 100 deaths occurred within the castle. Causes of death range from diseases such as tuberculosis to accidents to suicide. Many spirits haunt Pythian Castle.

Ghosts include children who speak to and play pranks on visitors, Mr. Boots who lurks in a tunnel in the basement, the spirits of soldiers and shadow people.  Several paranormal investigators have captured audio and video evidence of the hauntings at the castle, including the Travel Channel’s Ghost Adventures crew.

Tours last 90 minutes and include a very interesting and informative video. If you live in the area or pass through Springfield, stop for a tour. Info HERE.

Does your city offer ghost tours?

I learned a lot of Springfield history while checking out these haunted locations in the city. In fact, that’s one of my favorite reasons for participating in a ghost tour or creating my own version of one…learning the oft times hidden history of a place.

It’s fun to explore historical cities, such as Washington DC, and learn about their local ghosts and legends. However, small towns and perhaps YOUR hometown have their own spooky tales as well.

You can read Joplin’s ghost stories. And I’d love to learn about your city’s ghost tales as well. Share a spooky story in the comments below.

Ghost Hunting
Ghost Hunting at Pythian Castle

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Ghost Stories from South Carolina Sea Islands

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The second installment in the October spooky series is Ghost Stories from South Carolina Sea Islands.

Last year, after my first visit to Charleston, SC, I shared ghost stories from that beautiful and historic city. This year, I returned to the area, staying this time on nearby Johns Island. It wasn’t difficult to find spooky tales from the cluster of South Carolina sea islands to share.

Grab a beverage of choice and get comfy. And you might want to leave the lights on.

Ghost Stories from South Carolina Sea Islands title

South Carolina Sea Islands

The sea islands are a chain of tidal and barrier islands in the Atlantic Ocean, along the Southeastern US coast.  Near Charleston, South Carolina the major sea islands are Johns, James, Kiawah, Madmalaw, Folly, Seabrook, Sullivan’s and Edisto. The largest of these is Johns Island.

Plantations existed on most of the sea islands, growing crops of cotton, rice, indigo and tobacco, with enslaved people doing the work. After the civil war, most white land owners fled, leaving their former slaves behind to fend for themselves. Northern charities stepped in to provide help so that the remaining residents of the islands could become self sufficient.

From those peoples came the Gullah culture, one of the oldest surviving African cultures in the US. The descendants of the Africans brought to the South Carolina Colony in the 1500s now number more than 500,000.

The sea islands are unique, offering laid back vibes, a rich culture and many fun places to visit and explore. As with any historical site that has known great change and trials, the sea islands have their ghost stories. These five tales come from Johns Island and Edisto Island.

Angel Oak Tree Spirits

Located on Johns Island, Angel Oak Tree is considered the largest southern live oak tree east of the Mississippi. This massive tree stands 66.5 feet tall, boasts a trunk circumference of 28 feet and spreads its Spanish moss draped canopy over 17, 200 square feet.

There are many ghost stories associated with the Angel Tree. While the tree is beautiful and serene during the day, at night a different energy emanates from the ancient oak.

Native Americans reportedly gathered beneath the sprawling tree and made it a sacred burial ground. It’s believed that the shining spirits of Native Americans surround the tree to protect it when it is in danger.

There are also stories of slaves being hung from the thick branches of Angel Oak. According to legend, a curse was put on the tree because of the violence that happened there. Some people in the area avoid the tree at night because of the curse. They report seeing ghostly figures hanging from the branches.

And in more recent years, people report seeing glowing lights and faces in the branches and trunk. One couple snuck back to the tree late at night, after a wedding ceremony beneath the branches. When the new husband tried to carve a heart on the massive trunk,  the murmuring sounds of an angry mob swirled around them. A flash of light revealed a grim face staring at them in warning. Terrified, they ran away, looking back to see many glowing figures around the tree.

Ghost Stories from South Carolina Sea Islands angel oak
Ghost Stories from South Carolina Sea Islands – Angel Oak Tree

Fenwick Hall Plantation’s Headless Horseman

John Fenwick arrived on Johns Island from Britain, in 1703. After building a log cabin for his wife Elizabeth, John eventually constructed a Georgian style plantation house. John’s son Edward inherited the house and 11,000 acres in 1747. He added extensive stables to the property for his many horses.

During the British occupation of Charleston, the large house served as headquarters for the British army. One local story claims that Edward Jr invited their American neighbors to a dinner party. They met their demise at the hands of the British soldiers.

Over the years the property changed hands several times. Civil War battles razed the fields. The land was sold off. In 1980, new owners turned the house into an alcohol and drug rehabilitation hospital. Then the property sat abandoned from 1995 until 2000 when new owners purchased it for renovations.

Fenwick Hall Ghost Stories

The most infamous story at Fenwick is a tragic one as well. Ann, the daughter of Edward Sr., fell in love with a handsome young groom named Tony, who cared for her father’s horses. Although Edward disapproved, the couple eloped and married.  When her father found the couple and brought them back to the hall, he instructed his men to place a noose around Tony’s neck and hoist him upon a horse, facing backward. Edward forced Ann to strike the horse with a crop, hanging her own husband from one of the old oaks on the property. The force of the hanging decapitated the unfortunate young man.

Ann never recovered from her husband’s shocking death. She wandered the grounds, calling Tony’s name until she died a short time later. After her death, people reported seeing a headless horseman riding through the property, looking for his wife and his head. He’s appeared on the grounds for more than 250 years.

Visitors also report hearing Ann crying and calling for her husband. Her spirit is seen in the East Parlor in the house and on the staircase. And some claim to see a young ghostly couple walking hand in hand down the long driveway to the house.

Ghost Stories from South Carolina Sea Islands fenwick hall
Ghost Stories from South Carolina Sea Islands – Fenwick Hall Plantation

The Tomb that Would Not Stay Closed

The graveyard of the old Presbyterian Church on Edisto Island dates back to the late 1700s. In the cemetery is a mausoleum, famous for the fact that it’s always open, with the door removed.

Why? Read on.

Julia Legare, the wife of a wealthy planter on Edisto Island, came down with a serious illness, thought to be diphtheria. Tragically, she died of the disease in 1852.

After Julia’s burial in the Legare Mausoleum, the door was sealed shut, as is customary. A couple of years later, Julia’s young son died and the grounds keeper reopened the door for burial. To the family’s horror, Julia’s decomposed body was found inside, crumpled up near the door. Scratch marks on the door interior brought the shocking realization that Julia was entombed, alive.

After reburying Julia’s bones and adding the deceased child, the family resealed the mausoleum door. However, this time, the door refused to remain closed. Visitors to the cemetery repeatedly found the tomb standing open. Locks and chains could not keep the door closed. Eventually, church members removed the door and the tomb remains open to this day. Tombstones within memorialize Julia, her husband John and their son Hugh.

Ghost Stories from South Carolina Sea Island legare tomb
Ghost Stories from South Carolina Sea Islands – Julia Legare Tomb

A Haunting Love Story

The Brick House on Edisto Island, built in 1725, used bricks imported from Boston for its construction and aged wood. The French Huguenot influenced structure was part of a 300 acre plantation.

The Jenkins family purchased the property in 1798. Shortly after, a beautiful young relative arrived from Charleston. Amelia, engaged to a man from a prominent family, quickly found herself in a dilemma. She fell in love with a wealthy planter on Edisto Island and attempted to end her engagement. The jilted boyfriend came to Edisto to confront his intended. And when she refused to reconsider her decision, he left with the words, “You will never marry him. I would rather see you dead first.”

A Lover’s Revenge

Months later, on the day of her wedding to the Edisto planter, Amelia retired to her upstairs bedroom to put on her wedding dress. The house was filled with family and friends, anticipating a beautiful wedding. As Amelia prepared to go downstairs, she heard someone outside calling her name. When she peered out the upstairs window, the sound of a gunshot rang out.

Amelia’s bridegroom was the first to reach her, but it was too late. A bloody handprint on the window frame marked the spot where Amelia stood, as she placed her hand on the frame after the fatal shot. Outside, the jilted boyfriend’s body lay beneath an oak tree. After shooting his former love, he turned the gun on himself.

Amelia’s bloody handprint remained on the window frame for 100 years until it was finally covered with dark green paint. In 1929, the house burned in a fire, leaving only the brick exterior standing. Every August 13, people report screams coming from the shell of a house. And Amelia is often seen at the open upstairs window, looking out in her wedding dress.

Ghost Stories from South Carolina Sea Island brick house
Ghost Stories from South Carolina Sea Islands – Brick House

House of Tragedy

Locksley Hall, also known as Seaside Plantation, was built before the American Revolution by William Edings.

Due to the many tragedies within the house and on the property, Locksley Hall became known as the House of Tragedy. Those tragedies contribute to the house’s eerie atmosphere and the belief that it is haunted.

Edings’ first wife died in childbirth. Two of Edings’ daughters died in the house, less than a week apart of diphtheria. A son committed suicide by cutting his own throat. The resulting bloodstains refuse to remain covered and people report hearing the sound of dripping blood in the room below.

A relative of the Edings’, who went to live with the family as an orphan, returned home after a hunting trip. As he carried his rifle upstairs, it discharged, striking and killing his old nanny who had been with him since early childhood. Grief stricken. the young man turned the gun on himself.

The McConky Family eventually bought Locksley Hall. The tragedies continued. A young daughter died there when her hoop skirt caught fire. Her brother died in the stable, after a mule kicked him. Another family member died under mysterious circumstances. And yet another committed suicide.

Today the property is privately owned by a Navy admiral, who seems immune to the house’s curse and its ghosts.

Ghost Stories from South Carolina Sea Islands locksley hall
Ghost Stories from South Carolina Sea Islands – Locksley Hall
*photo from South Carolina Department of Archives

Have You Visited the South Carolina Sea Islands?

One thing I’ve discovered, no matter where I travel, is the existence of local ghost stories. Every region has them because tragedies and  historical events happen everywhere.

The South Carolina Sea Islands are no exception.

Have you visited these charming, beautiful islands? If so, do you have a spooky tale to share?

Ghost Stories from South Carolina Sea Islands dark night
A dark night on Johns Island.

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Ghost Stories from Washington DC

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October ushers in spooky season, and that means it’s time for my annual round up of ghost stories from around the world. Every Friday during October I’ll post a fresh batch of haunting tales from my travels.

Having just returned from the beautiful US capital, I’ll start with Ghost Stories from Washington DC. Grab a cup of hot tea and read these fun scary stories.

Ghost Stories from Washington DC title

Haunted DC

Founded in July, 1790, DC is the capital of the United States. During its long history, the sprawling city has experienced military battles, fires, deadly duels, assassinations, untimely deaths and many other tragedies.

It’s no wonder that DC is considered a city of many haunts. Ghosts range from past presidents and first ladies to workers who died constructing the massive buildings to Civil War soldiers to government officials. There’s even the ghost of a black cat that appears in the Capitol Building.

Enjoy these five ghost stories from Washington DC…and watch for more in future posts.

Ford’s Theatre

Located at 511 10th Street NW, Ford’s Theatre is one of the oldest stage theatres in the US. Built in 1833, the theatre once housed a church. However, when the membership outgrew the facility, the building passed to theatre producer John T Ford. After a fire in 1861, Ford’s Theatre opened to the public in 1863.

On April 14, 1865, President Abraham Lincoln and his wife Mary attended a production of “Our American Cousin”, five days after the official end of the Civil War. Seated in the theatre’s presidential box, Lincoln was shot by John Wilkes Booth, seeking revenge for the defeat of the Confederacy. Lincoln died from his wound the following day.

While the assassination is the most well known death at Ford’s Theatre, it’s not the only one. In 1893 the front of the building inexplicably collapsed, killing 22 clerks of the War Department. Another 70 people were injured. The accident, never explained, led to the belief that the building is cursed.

Ghosts of the Theatre

Ghosts reported in the theatre include the somber specter of Abraham Lincoln, in his tall stovepipe hat, his wife Mary Lincoln who is seen leaning over the balcony and John Wilkes Booth, most often spotted sprinting across the stage or walking into the theatre box.

Visitors also report encountering cold spots, hearing disembodied voices and footsteps, ghostly gunshots and the sound of screaming and feeling nauseous and shaky on the stage where Booth apparently stood after shooting Lincoln.

Ghost Stories from Washington DC fords theatre
Ghost Stories from Washington DC – Ford’s Theatre

Ghost Stories from Washington DC – Ford’s Theatre

US Capitol Building

George Washington laid the cornerstone for the Capitol Building in 1791. The construction of the huge building was not without complications and perils however. A collapsed beam crushed the construction supervisor. Another man fell to his death working on the dome. Both of their ghosts haunt the structure.

Other Capitol Building Specters

The spirit of John Quincy Adams reportedly prowls the Capitol Building. He suffered a stroke while giving an impassioned speech on the floor of the House of Representatives. People claim to hear his wails throughout the building and even his emphatic “NO” that he uttered during that last speech.

During the Civil War the building served as a military hospital for Union soldiers. Cots filled the Statuary Hall. At least one ghost soldier remains in the building, his shadowy figure drifting among the statues

In 1890 Congressman William Taulbee was shot and killed on a stairwell by a reporter that Taulbee taunted. His blood stains the steps and Taulbee’s ghost likes to trip reporters as they climb those stairs.

The strangest spook in the Capitol Building is a black cat said to appear in the hallways before historic or tragic national events. As early as 1862, night watchmen reported spotting the cat and even shooting at it, only to see the animal disappear. The cat supposedly appeared before the assassinations of President Lincoln and President Kennedy.

Ghost Stories from Washington DC capitol building
Ghost Stories from Washington DC – the Capitol Building

The Ghosts of the White House

Since its completion in 1800, many presidents, first families and staff members called this grand house at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue home. The property is also the site of countless historic events. Over the past 200+ years, presidents, first ladies, visitors and staff shared stories about the ghosts that wander in the White House.

Abraham Lincoln

The most frequently sighted apparition is Abraham Lincoln. He’s most often heard or seen near or in the bedroom he used while living in the White House and occasionally peering out of a window in the room he used as an office.

In 1942 Queen Wihelmina of the Netherlands woke to the sound of someone knocking on the door while sleeping in the Lincoln bedroom. She opened the door to see the former president standing there…and promptly fainted.

British Prime Minister Winston Churchill stepped out of a hot bath and walked into that same bedroom where he encountered Lincoln’s ghost standing near the fireplace. Caught naked, the prime minister supposedly quipped, “Good evening Mr. President. You seem to have me at a disadvantage.” Lincoln smiled…and faded away.

Others report seeing Lincoln pacing up and down the second floor hallways, knocking on doors and peering out windows. President Reagan, in 1989, commented that his dog refused to enter that room. Others reported that their dogs barked at Lincoln’s bedroom door.

Other White House Ghosts

Other White House ghost stories feature Abigail Adams, hanging sheets to dry in the East Room and Dolley Madison, tending the garden. People report hearing Andrew Jackson swearing and Thomas Jefferson playing the violin. It’s even reported that David Burns, the man who sold the land for the building of the White House, introduces himself as Mr Burns in the Oval Office.

Ghost Stories from Washington DC white house
Ghost Stories from Washington DC – the White House (back view)

Ghosts of Lafayette Square Park

Directly behind the White House lies Lafayette Square Park. Created by President Thomas Jefferson in 1804, this green space served as a graveyard, a slave market and during the War of 1812, an encampment for soldiers. Many tragedies occurred in the park, including a revenge murder. It’s no surprise that ghosts haunt this spot.

Representative Daniel Sickles shot and killed District Attorney Philip Barton Key, son of Francis Scott Key, in the park when he discovered Philip was having an affair with his wife. Sickles pled temporary insanity and escaped a prison sentence. However, as fate would have it, while fighting in the Battle of Gettysburg a cannonball severed Sickles’ leg.  Both men supposedly haunt the park as Sickles relentlessly stalks Key.

Surrounding the park are a number of haunted buildings and houses. These include Decatur House, Hay-Adams Hotel, St. John’s Episcopal Church, Cutts-Madison House and Octagon House, now a museum.

Ghost Stories from Washington DC lafayette square park
Ghost Stories from Washington DC – Lafayette Square Park

Smithsonian Castle Ghosts

You’ve heard of the Smithsonian museums in DC. There are 19 of them. Have you heard of the Smithsonian Castle?

The castle’s namesake and founder of the institute, James Smithson, was born in Paris and kept a secret. He was illegitimate and not allowed to use the Smithson surname for many years. As a result of early rejection, he traveled throughout his life in search of a place to belong.

Although James never visited the US, when he died he donated his vast fortune for the founding of the Smithsonian Institute. His remains, brought to the US in 1904, are entombed in one of the castle’s main rooms. His ghost frequently wanders through the castle. So many people reported seeing Smithson that in 1973, they opened and examined his coffin. His skeleton remained within.

Today the castle serves as a space for administrative offices and a visitor center.

Other Smithsonian Castle Ghosts

Another frequently seen ghost is that of the first curator, Spencer Fullerton Baird. When approached by the night watchmen, Spencer vanishes.

Paleontologist Fielding Meek, who lived with his cat in a tiny suite of rooms beneath the castle grand staircase, also roams the hallways at night, seeking other scientists to converse with.

And James Henry, the Smithsonian’s first secretary, walks at night in the castle dressed in a frock coat, cravat and a starched white collar. When approached by security guards, he fades away.

Ghost Stories from Washington DC - smithsonian castle
Ghost Stories from Washington DC – Smithsonian Castle

Do You Believe in Ghosts?

You might, after this ghost story series completes at the end of October. I’m excited to share spooky tales every Friday, from different locations.

I believe that everything is energy and vibration. Some energy frequencies loop and repeat in a particular space, especially after a tragedy occurs, creating a haunting. And some lower energies feel heavy, troubled and yes, scary. Those are hauntings too.

When I visit a city or region, I learn the local ghost stories because historical information intertwines with those tales. Washington DC, with its long and varied history, is certainly a hotspot for paranormal activity.

Have you visited DC and toured any of the city’s haunted locations? Share your experiences in the comments below!

And check out one of the posts from last year: Ghost Stories from Rome

Ghost Stories from Washington DC st johns church
Ghost Stories from Washington DC – St John’s Episcopal Church, on Lafayette Square. Photo by my grandson, Dayan Reynolds.

 

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Going Beyond People Pleasing

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For most of my life, my desire to please others drove my behavior and my choice of words or the lack of them.

I carefully avoided confrontation due to my agreeableness…and my silence, choosing to play small rather than upset anyone.

What I eventually learned, way later than I should have, was that people pleasing kept me from being who I was meant to be. Sure, I didn’t “rock the boat”…but I didn’t rock my life either. In fact, for many years, I lost important aspects of myself, all because of a fear of disappointing someone else.

Can you relate?

People pleasing is very common, especially among girls and women. If you routinely seek to please others, rather than yourself, check out these six tips for going beyond people pleasing.

Going Beyond People Pleasing title

 

What is People Pleasing?

People pleasing is the behavior you adopt to avoid disappointing others, upsetting others or attempting to meet the expectations of others. Kindness and courtesy are desirable traits, however people pleasing is a lessening of who you are to fit within the acceptable parameters of someone else.

It’s a great way to avoid confrontation and conflicts. And also a great way to lose yourself. You can’t live as your authentic self when you constantly change how you act and what you say or refuse to say, based on what you think someone else wants.

People pleasing is energy draining. Focusing on what others expect or want means you aren’t focusing on your own desires and needs.

Try the following ways to shift away from people pleasing.

“I lost myself when I learned how to please.”  Glennon Doyle

Get to Know Yourself

You are told to love yourself. It’s not that simple. I found self love impossible to do before accepting myself. And I couldn’t accept myself until I really got to know myself, in a deep way.

Small children know who they are. Just watch a toddler at play. She isn’t trying to figure out what others expect of her or trying to please. She’s simply being herself as she explores her world.

By the time that same child starts school though, she’s learning to adapt herself to others in order to make friends, to keep friends, to receive praise from the teacher or parents, to avoid conflicts. That’s when people pleasing starts.

Know yourself. Use journaling or voice recordings to get beneath all the layers you’ve built up over the years and REALLY get to know yourself again.

What makes your heart sing and your face light up with anticipation? What brings you great joy, no matter what anyone else says or does? And what did you love doing as a child that you stopped doing as you grew older? List your strengths and gifts, your quirks and superpowers. And list your flaws too. You are all of these things. They make up your unique personality.

Once you’ve spent time getting to know yourself again, THEN you can accept yourself, just as you are. Self love follows. And then, you know. “This is me…with my gifts and quirks and abilities and desires.” You become unwilling to forsake yourself to please another.

“We forgot how to know when we learned how to please.”  Glennon Doyle

Find Your Voice

To stand on your own truths and beliefs, rather than on another’s, you must find your own voice.

So…what do you believe? It doesn’t have to be what everyone else you know believes, nor the same as your best friend or your family. What are your key beliefs and values, the rules you live your life by?

It’s helpful to write your own manifesto, to uncover what those beliefs are. Find tips for writing yours HERE.

Once you know what you believe…then you learn to speak up for yourself and those beliefs. Trust me, I know how difficult that can be.

The greatest harm I’ve done to myself and to others, is to remain silent when my voice is needed. Silence is perceived as agreement. My silence through much of my adult life eventually led to living out of alignment with who I am. Carrying the burden of silence seems justified when people don’t like what you have to say. However, it is so crucial to find your voice, to express your thoughts, and stand up for yourself.

Speak your truth. Don’t let others belittle you and your beliefs. Walk away from conversations you don’t want to have. And, make new friends. It’s okay to let people go, those who discover that the real you isn’t to their liking. Remember, you are no longer trying to please them.

“We can stop asking what the world wants from us and instead ask ourselves what we want for our world.”  Glennon Doyle

Going Beyond People Pleasing know yourself
Going Beyond People Pleasing – know yourself

Set Boundaries

Once you know who you are, know what you enjoy and use your voice to express your beliefs and values, you’ll find it necessary to set boundaries.

People who are used to you going out of your way to please them and do what they want, may continue to manipulate or place expectations on you, to meet their needs.

It’s not selfish to know what you will and won’t allow in your own life, and what you will and won’t do for others. Of course you can offer help to someone in need, if you choose to and it aligns with who you are. And, you can decline to help, go out with friends for an evening, have people over or have coffee with others. If it doesn’t feel like the person or activity is in alignment with what is important to you, don’t do it.

You don’t have to volunteer for every project, repeatedly stay late for work, babysit for the neighbor or be the mom who always organizes the class parties. If it feels like others are taking advantage of you, it’s time to create or re-establish boundaries and protect your time and energy.

“Anger delivers important information about where one of our boundaries has been crossed. When we answer the door and accept that delivery, we begin to know ourselves better. When we restore the boundary that was violated, we honor ourselves.”  Glennon Doyle

Learn to Say No

Connected to establishing boundaries is learning to say no.  And I get it…this feels very difficult, saying no to people who are used to hearing yes. Feeling like you disappoint people for not agreeing with them or their requests is uncomfortable.

If you are asked to do something you don’t want to do, say no. If someone makes fun of another person or a whole group of people, say no and walk away.  When someone is unreasonable in his or her requests, say no. If a task or project feels unfulfilling, say no. Saying no and meaning it is part of knowing who you are and caring deeply for yourself. You only have so much time and energy to give to others and to tasks. Saying yes to too many requests uses up that precious energy.

And, you don’t need to offer excuses for saying no. A simple, firmly spoken “no” is enough. You don’t have to justify why you answer the way that you do.

“Sometimes being brave means letting everyone down but yourself.”  Glennon Doyle

Going Beyond People Pleasing voice
Going Beyond People Pleasing – learning to say no

Stay True to Who You Are

After doing the sometimes challenging inner work of freeing yourself from the need to please others, stay absolutely true to who you know you are. You are a powerful, amazing, creative, compassionate bearer of light and truth. No one can take that from you.

Learn to go within and listen to that still small voice that continually reminds you who you are and why you are here on Earth. Journal what you hear. Write down thoughts, feelings, dreams and plans.

Trust what you know is true about yourself and let that guide you in your dealings with others and in your actions.  You stop pleasing others not by changing who you are but by knowing who you are and staying true to what you know.

Sometimes fear arises, attempting to drive you back into people pleasing mode. “What if no one likes the real you?” fear whispers. “You won’t fit in anywhere,” fear threatens. Go beyond fear with these tips. And stay true to you.

“The people who build their truest, most beautiful lives usually put pen to paper.”  Glennon Doyle

Spend Time Alone

Another reason that you might feel tempted to please people is so that you are not alone. Loneliness, in my opinion, occurs when you aren’t present with yourself, rather than when you aren’t with others. People pleasing to insure you are surrounded by others ultimately doesn’t help to ease that feeling of aloneness.

When you focus on who you are and what you enjoy, you are present with yourself. When you focus on your present moment instead of a past that cannot change or a future that has not happened, you are present with yourself.

Learn to enjoy your own company and thoughts. Spend time doing what you love, what brings you joy, what encourages growth and expansion. The more you learn to please yourself, the less you desire to please others in an unhealthy way.

Schedule times of solitude and use them for self care, having fun, meditating, pursuing an interest, enjoying a new experience or doing absolutely nothing.

“Then I built a life of my own. I did it by resurrecting the very parts of me I was trained to mistrust, hide and abandon in order to keep others comfortable: my emotions, my intuition, my imagination, my courage.”  Glennon Doyle

Going Beyond People Pleasing lunch for one
Going Beyond People Pleasing – lunch for one

Are you a People Pleaser?

Unlearning my people pleasing tendency took years, and I still feel the pull toward it occasionally.

Was it easy to stop trying to please everyone except myself? No. Did people cheer me on? No, most did not. I let many people go and limit contact with others.

Do I believe it was worth the effort? Oh yes. I’m happier, healthier, more confident, less anxious, at peace with who I am and what I enjoy doing. With my energy more focused on what I desire to do, I find exciting opportunities come to me frequently. I never feel lonely or unworthy or unwanted. I’m exactly who I am and doing what I love. Gratitude is my foundation…Joy my companion…Adventure my traveling partner. I feel centered and settled in my soul. Life, truly, is good.

Are you a people pleaser? Do these tips inspire you to take the steps toward breaking free? Have you found other practices helpful for saying no to the expectations of others? If you feel so inclined, share your journey in the comments below.

Going Beyond People Pleasing alone time
Going Beyond People Pleasing – alone time

The quotes in this post come from Get Untamed: The Journal.  With a subtitle of How to quit pleasing and start living, I highly recommend the journal and the companion book, Untamed, to all those ready to stop people pleasing.

 

Cindy Goes Beyond is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. This affiliate program provides a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com, all at no extra cost to you.