Six Ways Travel Helps Me Grow

I recently saw a simple quote, a list of words really, that so resonated with me.

Travel. Learn. Grow.

Those words brilliantly capture what I love about traveling and why my heart sings when I visit new places. As I pondered the quote I came up with six ways travel helps me grow.

Six Ways Travel Helps Me Grow

How travel helps me learn and grow

I had the opportunity last year to visit four countries…Italy, Ireland, Scotland and England…during two separate trips. This is what I learned.

1. Strangers can become family. I traveled to Italy in the company of my daughter Elissa and grandson Dayan. We joined with a group of other travelers from around the world. Not only did I learn new things as a result of the Italian culture, I learned from the people in the tour group. How amazing and enlightening to see Italy through my own eyes, and through the eyes of Australians, Iranians and a couple from India. Our diverse group very quickly formed strong family bonds.

Six Ways Travel Helps Me Grow

Six Ways Travel Helps Me Grow

2. Family can be strange. Just kidding! If we are strange, we consider that Divine. I traveled with a group on my second trip as well, all family members. I learned that it is very doable for five people to plan a trip that makes everyone happy. Ensuring each person has a say in the itinerary and gets to select favorite activities is important. We watched out for each other, listened, and made compromises if necessary. Above all, we looked for the adventure in each day.

3. Adventures appear in unexpected ways. Go with the flow. Elissa, Dayan and I learned this truth immediately when storms in the Charlotte, North Carolina area caused our plane to reroute. As a result we missed our overseas flight. I had the choice of railing against what happened or staying open and watching for other opportunities. When we let go of expected outcomes and stayed open, miracles happened. We were among the few who flew out of Charlotte that night, thanks to the appearance of an angel named Jason who got us onboard a plane bound for London.

4. Getting lost can lead to finding what one is truly searching for. In Scotland my brave sister Debbie drove us all over the country in a rental car. When the GPS system went awry, we ended up off our chosen route. And yet that’s when the magic happened and we encountered sights we did not expect to see. Because of our wandering, I got to cross several places and attractions off my wish list.

Six Ways Travel Helps Me Grow

Six Ways Travel Helps Me Grow

5. Embracing new experiences guarantees that more will arrive. When traveling in a country for the first time, every sight, every experience is new. The food is different. The language requires concentration, even when it’s heavily accented English. And the culture is fresh whether it is ancient or constantly changing.

The less preconceived ideas I have about what I will experience, the more I learn and grow. In Italy I initially wasn’t excited about visiting the churches and cathedrals. These magnificent structures are the heart of every city and town, village and piazza. The architecture and the museum quality art within astonished and moved me. I would have missed incredible sights and opportunities if I had dismissed visiting those basilicas and chapels.

6. Travel enriches my life and expands my soul. For me, nothing in this life is more expansive than seeing new places and meeting new people. The history, the magic, the mystery and noise and spirit of a place, all call to me. Each country that I visited has ancient stories, symbols, songs and art. It’s more than knowledge that I collect as I travel, it’s a knowing, a recognizing, and a greater awareness of the richness and diversity of life. I love watching people. And I love taking time for solitude and deep inner reflection.

Six Ways Travel Helps Me Grow

Six Ways Travel Helps Me Grow

Where to Travel to Next

For me, there are many reasons to travel. Learning and growing and becoming more expansive tops my list of why I travel and why I long to experience more. Wandering is in my blood, exploring in my DNA.

I am creating a life that allows my heart, soul and body to be untethered and free to roam about the planet. These six ways that travel helps me grow is just a beginning, as is the list of countries I intend to visit.

There are many places I want to explore and get to know. I have so much more to learn.

Six Ways Travel Helps Me Grow

Cherishing One Another’s Hopes

Tonight’s story arrived in a round about way. I had intended to do a review of a tv series that I recently started watching. Just before beginning on that post, I went to Google to look up photos of the series. As it happened, the first news headline beneath the Google search bar announced the cancellation of that series!

Sitting on my bed, in my room, I opened up to other possibilities, and another story to write. My eyes fell on the vignette in the vintage suitcase atop my armoire, a visual reminder of my love of traveling and the desire to do more exploring. And that glance suddenly unlocked a flood of memories.

This is the true story of two friends who have never actually met. However, the actions of my long distance friend Erik nurtured a hope within me that later manifested into reality.

Cherishing One Another’s Hopes

I met Erik in 2004, in an online chat room for people who loved The Phantom of the Opera story. The film version of the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical had just released and I fell in love with Phantom. In a time prior to Facebook or Instagram, I connected with amazing people from around the world who shared an appreciation for this classic story. I’m still friends with several of those creative souls.

Erik lived in Germany at that time. He was as mysterious as the Phantom at first, in the chat rooms, and ironically, had much in common with that character. Over time, as trust grew between us, we became the technological equivalent of pen pals. We spent hours chatting about the movie and about the fan fiction that sprang up to feed the desire for more stories about the POTO characters.

I learned more about Erik, as he opened up about his life. His stories are just that, his, and not mine to share. I marveled though at his ability to rise from the metaphorical ashes of a difficult youth and create beauty. He shared deeply moving artistic expressions…musical pieces on the piano and violin, songs, poetry and written stories. Erik was able to use the fire of pain to forge incredible works of art.

I still have recordings of his songs, although the stories are long gone, casualties of a string of computer crashes. I have a dvd that I cherish, his performance in the musical Jekyll & Hyde, in which he played the title role.

And I have items displayed throughout my home, that came to represent hope to me. Erik had lived in or visited many different countries. I had visited none, yet, other than Mexico. Knowing my desire to explore new places, Erik began to send me gifts, items from around the world.

Cherishing One Another’s Hopes

Cherishing One Another’s Hopes

I received Japanese geisha girls and intricate fans, a cuckoo clock from Germany, a Scandinavian nesting doll, statues, a vase, plates, keepsakes…all from various countries. The canvas painting in my travel vignette, the piece that drew my attention tonight, and inspired this post, is from Erik and came from France.

The final gift that Erik sent me was a big surprise. We had discussed the Lord of the Rings stories by JRR Tolkien. I love that epic tale of transformation. In particular, I identified with the elven Arwen. Erik sent me a replica of Arwen’s sword, as a reminder of who I really am as I journey, and as a connection to another destination, albeit fictional…Middle Earth.

Cherishing One Another’s Hopes

I’ve had the privilege of traveling, since those days when seeing the world was just a dream. Tonight, as I thought about my friend, whom I have not heard from in years, I realized how important, how precious, how sustaining those gifts were. They ignited a hope within me that someday what I dreamed of would come true. Erik shared his travels with me. He helped me to develop a bigger view of the world.

And, I realized tonight how precious the friendship was. Erik and I never spoke on the phone. We never tried to meet. We didn’t need to. It was enough to connect via chat rooms and later by texts. We shared hopes and dreams and we discussed the sorrows and joys of life. And eventually we lost touch with each other. Until tonight.

With a bit of hesitancy, I sent a text to the last phone number I had for my friend. I identified myself and asked if this was still Erik’s cell number. I knew it was possible he had a different number. Or that he would not or could not respond. I had things I wanted to tell him, stories to share about countries I’ve visited. I wondered how he was and what he was doing.

I didn’t have to wonder for long. Almost immediately I received a reply. “Hey, love. It’s been a while. How are you?”

Oh my friend, hello again, I have so much to tell you…

“Friends…they cherish one another’s hopes. They are kind to one another’s dreams.” Henry David Thoreau

Cherishing One Another’s Hopes

A Million Dreams

I woke up this morning, just before dawn, from the most amazing dream. It was the type that stays with me, makes me smile and causes deeper reflection. My Morning Pages were devoted to exploring my thoughts around the dream, through writing.

Coupled with the vivid dream I had is the fact that the song A Million Dreams, from The Greatest Showman film, has been on repeat in my brain for at least a week. I wake up singing it, I belt out the chorus while in the shower, I break into spontaneous song with those lyrics multiple times a day.

There is a connection.

A Million Dreams

In the dream, I was in Africa. A family consisting of a dad, mom and seven year old daughter had asked me to accompany them on this trip. The opportunity came out of the blue. I didn’t know this family, yet I said yes. I was going along to help out with the little girl, who was delightful, while her parents took care of some business.

We were bicycling down a dusty road, toward a small community of simply built houses. The air was shimmering with golden heat. And a herd of zebras was running alongside the road. I laughed from the sheer pleasure of the magical experience. When we arrived at the house we were staying in, I realized that I had left on this trip so quickly that I had not told my family where I was. I began sending text messages to my kids and my sisters and my mom, marveling that I was here in Africa and enjoying these beautiful experiences.

A Million Dreams

This is the part of the dream that I loved. In the messages I was sending, I explained how I had been open to more travel opportunities and had released expectations, trusting the Divine to provide…and then this grab-your-passport-let’s-go invitation arrived. I felt such joy, such gratitude, which was perhaps more significant than anything else in the dream.

Do you know what woke me up, pulling me out of that gorgeous dream? My practical brain inserted itself as I hit “send” on the group messages. I realized with a pang that I had not notified my cell phone provider that I was leaving the country!

I appreciate that my dreams seem to indicate how my life is shifting and changing, from my heart and soul outward. As I learn and grow, my vivid dreams reflect that. I realized this truth a few years ago when the nightmares I had had all my life began to change. As I faced my fears and embraced myself completely, I took control of my night terrors, saying “No!” or “Stop!” during the dreams. And the scary stuff did stop. I quit having nightmares completely.

A Million Dreams

Instead, tracking slightly ahead of reality, I began to dream of wonderful adventures, abundance, writing, and more recently, of travel. I am shifting, I am reaching out, I am handing all my hopes and dreams over to the Divine, to the Dream Giver, and my dreams are exploding outward into the manifestations of those heart desires.

My dream last night shows me I’m in an excellent place in my life journey. I am open to receive, without making demands or setting up expectations. The words from The Greatest Showman’s A Million Dreams came to mind, as I wrote about the dream.

I close my eyes and I can see/ The world that’s waiting up for me/ That I call my own./ Through the dark, through the door/ Through where no one’s gone before/ But it feels like home.

They can say, they can say it all sounds crazy/ They can say, they can say I’ve lost my mind./ I don’t care, I don’t care, so call me crazy./ We can live in a world that we design.

Cause 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 gonna take/ A million dreams for the world we’re gonna make.

A Million Dreams

That song represents my life, from earliest childhood until now. To combat the fears I had as a child, I learned to create vivid dreams in my mind, to escape into. Every night I lie in bed, the brightest colors fill my head. That was true as a child and still true as an adult. I created with the brightest lights and colors that I could conjure. I totally understand the thinking of what the world could be, a vision of the one I see part of the song. I create a vision, in my heart and mind. And amazingly, that dream often becomes reality.

I am grateful for my ability to cast visions and create worlds. I appreciate that my dreams give me a glimpse into my deepest heart and that my subconscious provides this feedback about where I am on my journey. I am ever changing, ever growing, and my dreams show me I am on the right path.

I’m excited that I am dreaming about traveling. I know that means that travel is going to be a key part of my near future. I don’t think it’s going to take a million dreams for the world I’m gonna make to appear. But if it does, that’s okay. I’ll keep dreaming…of the world I see when I close my eyes…and of the world I see when I’m dreaming with my eyes wide open.

A Million Dreams

Showcasing My Vision

On January 1, I began a new journey into a year of stories. As it happened, Mike Dooley, author, speaker and founder of The Notes from the Universe, offered a fun 30 day course called Love Your Life. Each day he sends a short video and an exercise to do, with the purpose of helping the participants create the life of their dreams.

I’ve been a follower of Mike’s for many years. I was intrigued by the timing of my new adventure and his course. I love these types of playful activities that get beneath the surface chatter and open up new spaces within and bring fresh insights. I signed up.

On Day 1 the exercise was to write out five areas of my life that I would like to experience change or continued growth in. I only needed to list the areas, without overthinking about the “hows” and “whens”.

I listed these five areas:

1) Blogging/Writing

2) Travel

3) Continued Optimal Health

4) Abundance

5) Creativity

Each day I have had assignments regarding those areas of my life. Day Four, Showcase Your Inspiration, encouraged me to create a vision board, or other visual representation, of each of my five dreams. I am in the process of creating a vision board for 2018 and I will certainly include these areas. However, the assignment sparked a new idea. Tonight, I had the opportunity to play with Travel.

My idea was to create a vignette for each of the five areas that I am envisioning growth in. I am in the process of resetting my house, as I pack away Christmas décor. The timing is perfect. I began with the area of travel.

I enjoy creating vignettes, using materials and items I already possess. So the challenge tonight was pulling together enough travel related items to successfully capture that idea. A vignette tells a story. I wanted this particular tale to be a travel adventure.

My battered vintage suitcase in my bedroom immediately came to mind. It seemed perfect for a story about traveling. I wandered about my house, deep in thought, gathering items that could work. Slowly, the vignette came together.

This print inspired my theme, and the predominant colors for the vignette. Put down that map and get wonderfully lost is such an inviting prospect. It became my equivalent to Once upon a time…

I used my Scottish tartan from Lauder as the foundational piece. It provides a beautiful blue, green, red, yellow and black backdrop. I added a metal globe, a gift to Greg from our grandson Dayan, a green candle left over from Christmas, and stacks of books ranging from travel guides to vintage books about Scotland and Ireland, to an Italian phrase book. My actual passport is present as well. I tucked a postcard I bought in Scotland into a simple black frame. And the little painting of Paris was a gift from a French friend, years ago.

I love how this travel vignette turned out. It fits well in that corner. Nearby are framed Middle Earth maps, a sepia print of a pathway curving off into the unknown, and a painted sign that reads, Wild Heart, Gypsy Soul.

The story unfolding here is one of adventure, mystery, and fun. It is my story. And the passport indicates my readiness to go.

What I most appreciate about this 3D vision board is that as I sit here on my bed, I can see it. And believe me, I have already looked at the vignette many times in the last hour. It calls to me. It excites me. And that is its purpose. These story vignettes that are showcasing my visions are evoking strong feelings of anticipation, joy and gratitude, which is exactly what the Love Your Life assignment was all about. Intention…realized. Outcome…released. I am ready. And the Divine knows.

In place soon…four more vignettes, telling stories about writing, creativity, abundance and health.

Touching Heaven

With this being Thanksgiving week, I have decided to very mindfully celebrate a week of expressing gratitude.

Gratitude is the quality of being thankful, of showing appreciation for gifts, large and small, especially those freely given. I have a choice. I can feel and express gratitude or I can choose to be ungrateful. Living a life of gratitude means I notice the gifts I’ve been given, from flowers and sunsets, to real estate closings and a grandchild’s hug. Nothing is taken for granted and life itself is a gift. I can feel gratitude even for the challenges during the journey, seeing them as opportunities to grow and shift.

Johannes A. Gaertner said “To speak gratitude is courteous and pleasant, to enact gratitude is generous and noble, but to live gratitude is to touch Heaven.”

Day 1 I felt gratitude for my family, all of my family. I am blessed to have mother, stepdad, stepmom, sisters, brother, daughters and daughter-in-law, son and sons-in-laws, grandchildren, nieces and nephews all living within an hour and a half of Joplin. I get to spend time with them and be a witness to their lives.

Today I considered what I wanted to express gratitude for. There are so many things that I am grateful for. Without overthinking it I opened my heart and went with the first image that popped up.

For Day 2 I am grateful for the opportunities to travel this year.

The travels this year were so much more than planning a trip and then hopping on a plane. I have wanted to explore the world for a long time. Nine years ago, on Mike Dooley’s TUT website, I wrote out my desire and expressed it this way:

Rome, Italy

I gave my heart’s desire to the Divine…and let go of the outcome. It’s not that I sat back and did nothing. I dreamed. I looked through travel brochures. Five years ago, when my grandson expressed a desire to go to Italy after graduation, we dreamed together and released that shared goal to the Divine. Last January we met with a travel agent and the dream began to become a reality. Amazingly, the funds poured in as needed, to meet the expenses for the trip.

What a beautiful lesson for me in dreaming, trusting, letting go and receiving.

Taxis to Venice

Orvieto, Italy

A year ago, my sister Debbie asked me about going on a trip to Scotland and England. We decided to include Ireland as well, and our group grew to include our mom, sister Linda and Ashley, Debbie’s daughter. If I had wanted to play it safe, I would not have agreed to two major trips, three months apart. I am so grateful I said yes. And there they were, the three countries I wrote about visiting, with Ireland thrown in, all in one glorious summer.

Dublin, Ireland

Eilean Donan Castle, Highlands, Scotland

London, England

Again, the funds arrived for the UK trip, exactly on time. And for the second time this year I boarded a plane and followed my heart. There were other elements that came together, to express gratitude about, connected to these travels. Six family members were able to journey with me. My health improved dramatically, by way of Anthony William and a plant based diet, so that I could walk freely and enjoy these trips. My mother experienced improved health as well. Little and not so little details fell into place. Protection was given for all travelers.

And my wanderlust was truly born, set free. I have other places I hope to visit. More corners of the world to explore. The Divine knows the desires of my heart. I am grateful for that as well.

I recognize that this year of travels, these adventures, are representations of my life journey. The dreaming, the playing, the letting go and trusting, and the birthing of dreams into reality…my life is shaped by these components as well. And I am full of gratitude that traveling deepens my awareness of these connections between my wanderings around the globe and my journey through life.

Perhaps most of all, I don’t want regrets. I don’t want to be sorry that I balked at an opportunity to travel or hesitated when I could have grown. I am grateful that traveling enlarges my soul and exposes me to other people and other cultures and teaches me important truths about who I am.

Dr. Steve Maraboli sums it up well.

“Your ability to see beauty and opportunity is proportionate to the level at which you embrace gratitude.”

I am embracing gratitude.

Memories on the Wall

I’m sharing a pictorial blog post tonight, as a follow up to creating travel art a few days ago. Using postcards and miniature watercolor prints from the countries I have visited this year, I captured memories within frames.

This evening, those memories went onto the walls.

If you can’t live longer, live deeper. Italian proverb

Italy…the first country I visited this year, accompanied by my daughter Elissa and my grandson Dayan. Or rather, Elissa and I accompanied Dayan, for this was his dream trip and his chosen destination. Italy was my graduation gift to Dayan, and how wonderful it was for his mom and I to experience it with him.

I love the vintage-look postcards from four of the cities we visited. What memories we collected in each place. The colorful square postcard is from Cinque Terre and reminds of the day the three of us stood with bare feet in the Mediterranean Sea. I made the framed print with a favorite Italian expression that we embraced…cogli l’attimo…pick up the moment…hold the moment. And the little ceramic bowl from San Gimignano was a gift from our fun and cheerful tour guide, Fabiola. I will always remember her graciousness and the joy she expressed as she lives her life.

Your feet will bring you where your heart is. Irish proverb

I failed, big time, in not bringing home postcards or art from Ireland. My kids and grandkids got souvenirs from the Emerald Isle. I returned with a silver Celtic knot ring, a scarf, a scarf pin…and a heart full of memories. My traveling companions for countries two, three and four were my mom, two sisters and niece. Rather than continue to beat myself up for my postcard oversight, I have instead remained open to creative ideas to remedy the situation.

I am excited to report that I’ve had a brilliant idea, a clever way to create art from something I did bring back from Ireland…photos. My idea involves a non traditional way to display them. Stay tuned for that creative project.

Listen to the silence. Be still and let your soul catch up. Scottish proverb

I’m quite pleased with my Scottish display. The vintage looking postcards hang above a teal table holding my wee collection of Scottish treasures. I picked up the Thirlestane Castle postcard on this trip. The Lauder tartan was a gift from my mom years ago. I purchased the silver heart-shaped votive holder on my first trip to Scotland, in 2014. And the small Scottish dirk, called a sgian dubh, was bought at a Renaissance Fair I attended.

The lion represents the one on the Clan Maitland crest with the Latin phrase Consilio Et Animis – by wisdom and courage. It reminds me that I have a “tribe”, a clan, that I am a card carrying member of. My clan, with its Scottish roots, is scattered around the globe. I just today connected with a woman via Facebook, who has Lauderdales in her family tree. She visited Thirlestane Castle in Lauder three weeks before I did. How wonderful to find each other and compare genealogies.

A joy that’s shared is a joy made double. English proverb

The watercolor miniatures from London, England found a place in the living room, near shadow boxes containing mementos from musicals I have attended. These iconic images remind me of the amazing energy and diversity we encountered in London. I hope to return someday, and experience this grand city’s artistic and theatrical side.

Looking at the watercolors transports me back to those days of wandering the city and hopping on and off the Tube, sharing in the adventure of it all with my mom, sisters and niece.

The last framed art piece that went up on the wall tonight did not travel back with me from abroad. It arrived this weekend, as a gift from my sister Debbie and niece Ashley. They had sent me a pic of the artwork and I was excited to receive their generous gift. What I didn’t realize was how big the art piece was!

It was difficult to tell from the photo they sent, however I was estimating something about 12″x14″, or even a bit smaller. It is huge…and gorgeous…this framed painting of Venice. I love it. That’s how Venice is…larger than life. And that’s what travel does for me, it enlarges my life, it makes me grow, it opens my heart so that I can receive more.

I am grateful for this reminder, this travel art, that triggers memories as surely as my photos and mementos do. I don’t know who said it, but I read a quote that captures my heart.

We take photos as a return ticket to a moment otherwise gone.

That’s what my travel art is. Return tickets…time portals…to beautiful memories of beautiful experiences. I want to collect memories from all over the world. I don’t want my home to look like a museum. I want it to look like the home of a woman with an expansive soul and a wanderer’s heart.

I have a good start.

Postcard Art

I’m back in creative mode today, and just in time. Fall is here, and with the changing of the seasons, my house and front porch get a reset. The summer items will be packed away and fall decor unboxed.

Tonight’s artistic project was not seasonal, however. During my travels this year, I picked up postcards, not with the intention of mailing them, but for the purpose of creating art to hang in my home.

Thanks to a great sale at Michael’s and a couple of discount coupons that I had, it was the perfect time to purchase a variety of frames and get creative.

The postcards from Italy and Scotland have a vintage look. From Italy, those mementos have the names of four of the cities that we visited, printed in their Italian equivalent. The Scottish cards are adorable, with illustrations of things that are considered representative of that bonnie country. I also bought a postcard at Thirlestane Castle that features that gorgeous fortress.

And in England I purchased three small watercolor prints of iconic landmarks. I took all of the cards/prints with me to Michael’s, an arts and crafts type store that never fails to inspire my creativity. I spent a pleasant hour sorting through frames and shadow boxes, considering how best to display my miniature works of art.

Although the styles are different, the unifying theme among my purchases is the use of black frames. Here is how the collection turned out:

The Italian postcards.

The Scottish postcards. I really like this display, with the cards mounted between panes of glass.

The Thirlestane Castle postcard, with a lot of reflection caught in the glass. This one is a stand alone tabletop frame that will become part of a larger display.

The London watercolors.

In the next few days, I’ll figure out where to hang these works of art. I like using the postcards. They are typically sent to friends and family from far off lands, with a Wish you were here type message scrawled on the backs.

My postcards are reminders that I was there, and that my wishes, my desires, to visit those countries were fulfilled. I will enjoy pausing to study these works of art, these travel reminders, as I walk by. And, they will fuel my future dreams.

You may have noticed that one of the countries that I visited this year is not represented. I didn’t realize, until after I got home, that I never purchased postcards in Ireland. I meant to! I planned to. I was looking for vintage postcards or some other artistic style to grab my attention. Somehow we moved on to Scotland without me finding the right cards.

I can probably find Irish postcards to purchase online. But I have a better idea. I simply must go back. I must return to that emerald island to complete my mission of finding the perfect set of postcards.

What a great excuse for another grand adventure!

London Town

I am concluding my travel blogging with additional pics from our three days in London…and some personal thoughts on traveling.

London was a surprise to me. Or perhaps, more accurately stated, my response to being in London was a surprise. The energy of this big, busy, ever shifting city was amazing to me. I loved the historical elements, and seeing well known landmarks like Big Ben and the London Tower. Our guided tours were fun and informative.

However, it was the people…the many, many people gathered here from countries around the world…that captivated me. The combined energy of so many souls, with their stories and their unfolding lives, surrounded me and impacted me deeply. I enjoy people watching anyway. Here, in a city of 8.8 million plus, the throngs of people were fascinating rather than overwhelming.

And yet, sadly, I tend to crop people out of my photos. I wish now that I had taken more pics of people walking and playing and laughing and sharing. I’ve come home with a determination to get more candid photos, on my next trip!

Here are additional shots around London:

Although our London hotel was housed in an older building, it was quite nice inside. This pic of our hotel captures my traveling companions in the foreground. I am grateful that my mom, sisters and niece traveled with me. It was a wonderful, shared adventure that I will never forget! And trust me, there were a few things I might want to forget…such as the escalator incident, in which my mom and I both fell down and tangled with each other and the luggage…and the day I forgot to lock the bathroom door during my shower and had not one but four interruptions…however, overall, this was a dream come true trip with my family.

My favorite shot of Big Ben.

This pic, at least, has some people in it! Taken in front of Buckingham Palace.

Statues in front of Buckingham.

Queen Victoria.

Inside London Tower.

The White Tower inside the Tower complex.

Tower Bridge.

Harry Potter fans will recognize this site, located inside the King’s Cross Station. There is a Harry Potter shop located next to this photo op place. Long lines kept us from having our photos taken.

I’ve had several people tell me this past week that I was so lucky that I got to travel to Italy, Ireland, Scotland and England this year. I understand what they are really saying. What they are expressing is their own desire to travel. And I get that! I have wanted to visit Scotland since I was a wee girl.

Luck had nothing to do with my travels this year though. They were intentional desires, released to the Divine. I dreamed. I planned. I saved. I read and researched and included my intended destinations on my vision boards. And then I opened my heart and lived life, with excitement, anticipation and curiosity.

And the Divine met me in those desires to travel, and explore, and see the world. Opportunities came. The funding arrived, exactly on time. I traveled. Family members got to travel with me. This is how life works for me. It’s a dance, and an interaction…it’s creative play, and going with the flow, and it’s accepting Divine invitations.

Travel is something I want to continue doing. So the intentions are still flowing. The desire to explore is out there, resting with the Divine, and my heart remains open to delicious possibilities.

“To move, to breathe, to fly, to float, to gain all while you give, to roam the roads of lands remote, to travel is to live.” Hans Christian Andersen

I am looking forward to my next adventure, which will be next summer, most likely. However, I am open to everything, attached to nothing. When the invitation to travel comes, I’ll pack my carry on and go!

Several of my photos inadvertently caught an airplane flying overhead. I didn’t consider that a mistake. It is very symbolic of my desire to travel and experience new places. My favorite photo, posted below, captured a jet high in the sky, with a double rainbow nearby. The rainbow…a symbol of hope and promise.

Yes. I’ll accept that as my own personal message, my invitation…do you want to explore, do you want to play, do you want to travel? I do! My carry on became a casualty to the escalator incident. I am ordering a new one, a sturdier one. And I will be ready to go!

Passing Through Glasgow

Our time in Glasgow was very brief. Most of our last full day in Scotland was spent traveling by car, from the Isle of Skye to Glasgow. We had hoped to catch a hop on/hop off bus and tour the city, but by the time we arrived and dropped off our luggage at the hotel, the day was quickly slipping away.

We barely had time to make it to the one place we all wanted to visit…the Glasgow Cathedral with the huge, Victorian cemetery behind it, known as the Necropolis. And yet, riding in taxis instead of on the bus allowed us to have fun conversations with several different colorful residents of Scotland’s biggest city. And the rain that continually fell didn’t deter us but rather made us appreciate the cozy atmosphere of the restaurant we chose for dinner. It was the right spot. Our young waiter was attentive and we enjoyed chatting with him about Scotland and the US.

Here are additional photos from our brief, but pleasant sojourn in Glasgow.

The glistening square outside the Glasgow Cathedral. In Scotland, you just accept that it is going to rain. We dressed accordingly, in warm layers, with hoodies to cover our heads when the rain fell steadily. When the sky lightened or that rare object, the sun, broke through the clouds, we would push the hoods off our heads and shed a wrap or two.

The sacred beauty of the cathedral.

Far from morbid, the Necropolis, perched high atop a hill, has a unique beauty of its own. The lateness of the day coupled with the rain allowed us to walk among the massive monuments mostly alone. The thing that struck me about this City of the Dead is that the tombstones and memorials list the names of the deceased, and their occupations. This is a burial place of the wealthy and well known in old Glasgow. What the person did in life seemed to be as important as who they were. Even so, in the end, all their empty shells returned to the dust, death being the great equalizer among men.

We wondered if we should be concerned about this sight!

Such a variety of monuments and memorials.

What a gorgeous monument, with its black weathered door.

Outside the gates of the Necropolis is one of the few remaining blue police boxes in the UK. Fans of the long running British show, Doctor Who, will understand why a pic with the blue box was a must!

And that was all we had time for in Glasgow. Another short taxi ride to Buchanan Street, to people watch and find a place to eat, gave us another opportunity for a lively conversation. The next morning, we boarded a train, London bound.

British actor Darren Boyd says about this friendly city:

“For me, Glasgow is all about the people and the spirit of the place.”

I agree. I love Edinburgh. And if it feels like home to me, then Glasgow feels like the fun city I visit on holiday. The people are friendly here. They laugh heartily and share their stories easily. There is a lively energy in Glasgow that courses through the city, encouraging me to return, to explore and see what else I can discover.

I accept that invitation. Glasgow, I will return.

Land of Unicorns

You know that any country who claims the unicorn as its national animal is going to be magical. As we left the Borders behind, heading north into the Highlands, it was easy to set logic aside and firmly believe there were unicorns, hidden in the deep shadows pooled beneath stately forests.

Because of the courage and skill of my sister, Debbie, we journeyed by car. The further north we went, the more wild the countryside became.

These additional photos capture some of the rugged beauty of the Highlands.

The Highland Coo (cow).

Mysterious Loch Ness

The ruins of Castle Urquhart overlooking Loch Ness.

Heart piercing beauty outside the car windows.

There are numerous waterfalls cascading down the Highland slopes.

Sitting pretty, Eilean Donan Castle, near the Isle of Skye.

From the hotel room window, Isle of Skye.

Near the Fairy Pools on Skye.

Since my return, I have been watching episodes of Outlander, a story of survival, challenges and romance, set in the Scottish Highlands in the 1700s. The breathtaking scenery captured on film is familiar and brings me joy, while it simultaneously stirs the desire to return to Scotland.

The female star of Outlander, Caitriona Balfe, who portrays the heroine Claire, said, “The Scottish Highlands are incredible. There seems to be magic and poetry everywhere.”

I so agree. I have experienced the magic of the Highlands and the poetry found there roots around my heart, waiting to be born through expression.

I’ll keep my heart open.