The Decision

So my solo days of traveling are over. And at one point, I thought my traveling days were over! Just taking vacations here and there, whenever whatever job I had gave me time off.  That’s not the life I wanted.  So I decided to make a big decision, luckily, my husband Stratton agreed with me.

Follow us! Here is my first blog post from our new blog Our Wandering Roots:

Travel is something that is always on my mind. Its been there for a long time. When I was 22, I decided to quit my job and move to Thailand to teach English by myself. That might not sound to weird to some of you because I know a lot of people choose to go abroad and do something like teach English. That’s why teaching English is so popular and you can get your TEFL online in a few days. Its something a lot of people just do.

But not me.

I had lived my life by the book. I played softball my whole life, which granted me a scholarship to the University of Michigan. Amazing. Best decision of my life. Loved every second of it. But after college I was left with a small “going abroad” sized hole that wasn’t filled because I was playing softball and couldn’t choose a study abroad program.

So when I got my chance, I took it, and had the time of my life, on my own. I wrote about my adventures here as The Traveling Dreamer.

When I came home from my travels, literally the day I came home, I reconnected with my high school crush, Stratton, and we’ve been together ever since. Cute right? And 5 ½ years later here we are. Making the biggest decision of our lives.

About to become a pair of traveling dreamers.

A few months ago we were planning a trip to Iceland (awesome by the way, there will definitely be some blogs about it so stay tuned and we’re actually going back in a couple weeks). I had gotten back into the backpacking spirit as I was plotting our course throughout the island. I would go to work and come home ready to keep planning.

Side note about my work. I love it. I’m a psychotherapist for mostly children and adolescents. I also love working with parents and transitional aged young adults. I pretty much get to help people grow and heal and with the young ones I play all day. I mean doesn’t that sound like a great job? It is. I decided that I wanted to build myself a private practice and had achieved a good sized caseload pretty quickly. I love my job. To see people make progress, to see the smiling faces of the kids who are dying for connection, to be a sounding board for a teenager just trying to figure life out, I mean it’s the best. So please don’t get me wrong, I love what I do, and I have tons of ideas of how I want to expand on it in the future.

So anyways, I come home one night after maybe 6-7, maybe 8 clients, which is a lot. I’m tired. Probably a little cranky, definitely hungry, getting close to “hangry” at the time (hangry is our word for what happens to me when I’m really hungry, you know the feeling…). Stratton looked at me and said, “You’re not happy.”

This honestly surprised me. I loved my job. I had actually just had a great day. I had gotten to play kickball, smiled and laughed, helped a client talk about difficult experiences, I mean, all in a days work of a therapist. I really honestly had had a good day.

But something was wearing on me. And of course, my husband was going to notice it.

I fought him a little bit on the idea. “No, that’s not true. I had a great day. I love what I do.” But he saw right through it. And then he asked the question.

“What would you do if you could do anything?”

If your Dreams don't scare you they aren't BIG enoughWithout hesitation, the Iceland map sprawled open on the living room table, guide book next to me, I said, “Be a perpetual traveler. I would have our family on the road. Live in other countries. Learn languages. Be a part of the world.” Honestly, he was mad at first, and I’m hoping he’ll share his side of how he came to agree with me. But here we are. Almost 6 months later, ready to go for it.

Leaving my job and my clients were two of the hardest things I have done. They were my family. And even though I know I will continue this work in my own way, it was still heart-breaking to say good bye. But I had to.

Life is about living.

Its not about just getting by, living day by day, waking up going to your job, making money, and doing it all over again the next day. Its about happiness. Its about finding love. And not just love of another, but love of yourself, love of life, love of the world.

Its hard getting “stuck” in what we’re “supposed to do.” We’re supposed to go to school, graduate, go to grad school, then get a job. ugh. And when we veer from the path, often people scoff at the idea or judge you, at least that’s what they do where I’m from. But that’s not what life is about. Sure we need money. Unfortunately that’s the world we live in. And that is often what stops people from following their dreams.

That’s why we’re here. We’re hoping to inspire you to live your dreams. Whatever they may be. But go for it. Make it happen. Because we are.

Month #1: Juice Plus+

Hi all! So I realized I had been pretty diligent about posting how my first couple weeks on Juice Plus were like and then you were probably wondering, um, what about after that?  Well I thought I would update you on what I have noticed since week 1 & week 2.

Well, the biggest difference I have noticed is feeling less sluggish at the end of my day.  As a therapist for children and adolescents, I normally see my clients after the school day is over, often ending at 9pm.  I was always a little sleepy, heavy-eyed at the end of my day, although I was still able to muster up some alertness to help my clients.  My Juice Plus routine has been to have 6 gummies in the morning (2 of each) and the other 6 gummies as a snack between clients in the evening.  I started doing this only because I wanted a snack at that time and the gummies are so delicious, but what I found is that I was no longer having to fight my eyes closing at the end of my day.  I was able to give my clients what they needed to get through whatever they were going through.   I was leaving the office more energized and happy.

I had earlier about thinking I was having more energy, but I had been skeptical especially because I had just started the Juice Plus and I didn’t want to instantly believe the hype that they give you more energy to get through the day.  I wanted to be convinced myself.  And boy does this convince me. I work such weird hours that I wasn’t sure of what kind of effect it could have on me.  I’m not sure if splitting them up is what is so helpful as I know there are people that take them all in the morning all together, but I’m definitely going to keep on my routine!

Another difference I’ve noticed is that I have to pluck my eyebrows more often.  I know, this sounds incredibly silly.  But what it is telling me is that my hair is growing faster. I got a haircut about 3-4 weeks ago, so I am eager to see how it effects my hair both in terms of length, but also strength (because I hear that it helps with both).  I also noticed that my nails are growing faster and stronger.  I’ve always thought I’d had pretty strong nails, but now looking back on it they would be breaking a lot.  I broke my first nail in over a month a couple nights ago, only because I smashed it into the table! My bad!

So all in all, you can see how Juice Plus is helping me.  What we cannot see, is what Juice Plus is doing to me on a cellular level.  More on that later🙂

Juice Plus is backed by over 30 clinical trials and research.  Its pretty amazing.  There’s no other product out there that has been so extensively tested like Juice Plus has and its because its the real deal!

Trekking & Karaoke? Yeah it happens…

One of the first things I was told to do while I was in Northern Thailand was to go on what they call a “hilltribe trek,” which as I’m sure you can figure out, is a backpacking trip through the forest/jungle where you visit various settlements of people, usually in the middle of nowhere.

I traveled to Pai straight from Chiang Mai, where I had celebrated Songkran, Thailand’s new years, which is a countrywide water fight, yes I said water fight, with super soakers and trash cans full of water being dumped on innocent passerbys (I’m not sure I ever had the chance to write about Songkran, but you better believe I will make sure I get that chance soon! Followed with MANY pictures of this once in a lifetime – or if you want, every year – event).

Anyways, I digressed, Songkran can do that to you, but I took a bus from Chiang Mai to Pai and when I landed in this very small town, I went straight to sign up for one of these treks.  The only one I found was a 2 day, 1 night trek, which was a bit disappointing for me because I wanted a serious, grueling, arduous backpacking trip through the wilderness, but I took what I could get (I later had a trek like this in Laos, and honestly, could have done without the “grueling” and “arduous” part, although it was a fun experience…more on that later).

IMG_9425As we set out on our trek, we happened across a village that was celebrating a wedding.  I wrote about the experience I had at the ceremony here.   While the ceremony was happening, there was a party going on right outside (I guess in Thailand the party starts even before the bride and groom have said their vows).  The party consisted of free-flowing Beer Chiang and a computer hooked up to a couple microphones for, you guessed it, karaoke.

Did I ever think that I would be karaoking on my first hilltribe trek?  Definitely not.  Was I a big karaokier (not even sure if that’s a word) myself? Not really.  Was I going to sing?  You bet.

IMG_9426I can’t really remember how we chose songs.  I have a faint memory that they had a short list of songs to pick from.  But nonetheless, I chose “My heart will go on” by Celine Dion.  I mean, that was the obvious choice, right?

Well, lets say, I wasn’t the star of my Pai debut.  The man to my right, not sure what his name was, definitely rocked the Titanic ballad harder than I did.  But I sure tried.  He got so into it, I had to reciprocate.

I mean here I was, in the middle of the wilderness of Northern Thailand, probably a few hours walking distance from any “city”, on the biggest adventure of my life, all by myself (other than all the other people around me, but all by myself in the sense that I knew no one), and I was singing “My Heart Will Go On” at a random couple’s wedding.

Epic.

This definitely goes down in my book as the most memorable karaoke experience I think I’ll ever have…unless I’m in a duet with the actual Celine Dion, whereas in that case, that might win.

But right now, this is definitely it.

Sunset from the Ship

In December 2014, I went on a cruise with my (now) husband, Stratton’s, family (my mother-in-law, her best friend, and my 2 brothers). I’m going to be sharing more pictures from this trip as we went snorkeling, whale watching, and much more, but I wanted to share my most cherished moment from the trip.

The cruise (via Princess Cruises) embarked from Los Angeles (Port at Long Beach) and took us down to Puerto Vallarta, then to Cabo San Lucas, up to Ensenada, and back to Los Angeles.

In both Puerto Vallarta and Ensenada, we ported right on the dock, but in Cabo San Lucas we actually threw the anchors down in the middle of the bay.  We had spent the first half of the day snorkeling and had the choice of walking around Cabo San Lucas (checking out the beaches, shops, bars, etc.) or heading back to the boat. Stratton, the brothers (Allan and Ryan) and I decided to go back to the boat and relax (as we had bought the all-inclusive drinks package and were all about taking advantage of that!).

IMG_5339

The top deck was practically deserted – if you’ve ever been on a cruise before, it is extremely tough to find chairs together (if any at all!), so we were pretty pumped to have the whole place to ourselves.  Everyone was exploring Cabo, while a select few were taking advantages of the perks of being on a cruise ship without the crowds.

We all got our drinks (delivered to us of course) and settled in to some seats facing Cabo’s iconic arch.

I was lounging reading a book, soaking up the last bit of sun. I can’t remember what it was, but it was probably something girly (and wonderfully entertaining) by Lauren Wiesberger or Emily Giffin.  Every once in awhile, I would put the book down, and just look out and relish in the beautiful bay and the scene stretched out before me.

Stratton and Ryan were playing a game of chess, which small-human sized pieces. I’m not sure who was winning, or who won (I’m sure one of them remember), but there was a lot of laughter peppered with a little (ok, maybe a lot) competitive trash talking.

And Allan…God bless Allan…. had brought his guitar and was playing and singing.

And Allan is really good.

So good that when people came back from the beach, they chose the seats next to us, even though the whole deck was empty.

So imagine this scene as the sun is setting below these picturesque rock formations with boats in the water awaiting for what would most likely be an epic sunset…

Surrounded by beautiful music, three of my most favorite people in the world, drink in hand, and one of the most breathtaking views…

That, my friends, is heaven.

Week #1 & Week #2 on Juice Plus+

WEEK #1:

After 1 week, I can already feel slight differences.  Now, I’ll tell you right now, I don’t feel drastically different by any means, that wouldn’t be authentic, but I can feel small changes that I know will have a big effect.  First, I’m drinking way more waterthan I was before and I drank a good amount before.  My husband also noticed that effect and our large Brita filter is having to be refilled almost every couple days, when we used to not refill it for weeks.  I’ve very rarely seen him go and get a cup of water and now I see it all the time! Second, my cravings for sugar and sweets has decreased.   My husband has also noticed this and this is a huge surprise as he has a pretty intense sweet tooth and has a history of eating ice cream for dinner.  Third, I want to eat more fruits and vegetables.  I used to have cravings for Cheez-its, chips, puffed popcorn, you name a bad food for you, I would crave it.  This past week I found myself saying, “Man I could really go for some carrots right now” or “I wish we had oranges in the house.”  I’m going to definitely have to change my shopping habits! Lastly, and possibly the most important for me, is the lack of pain in my lower back.  And I say it that way because I live with back pain.  I had back surgery when I was 20 and have had pretty constant and sometimes intense back pain (especially when I’m not taking care the way I need to: strengthening my core, using the inversion table daily, and exercising regularly).  I can usually tell when my back is going to hurt after a long day of walking.  The weekend after I started JP I went to Santa Barbara with some girlfriends and walked A LOT, with very flat sandals, and I just knew that after 2 full days of walking, my back was going to hurt on Monday…and it didn’t.  Barely felt it, there were times when I wouldn’t even have known that I had trouble with back pain.  I was blown away.  That felt like absolute PROOF to me that JuicePlus+ is the real deal!

I have difficulty taking pills (small Advil even gives me a problem!), so I was a little disappointed that I had trouble with taking the capsules as I really wanted to use them.  I had to put in an order for the gummies as I was having to resort to opening the capsules and putting them in food/drink (took a long time!).  I’ve been getting better at swallowing them, but I’m excited to get my gummies.

WEEK #2

I started the gummies this week, since I was having so much trouble with the capsules (I am probably the ONLY one who I’ve talked to that has this problem, but so be it!)

I haven’t craved or even wanted something sweet like chocolate, or any of the bad food I’ve always wanted to stuff my face with.   There is a box of Mint Cremes from Trader Joes (DELICIOUS – and one of my favorite treats) sitting right on my living room table and I haven’t even wanted to open the box.  I also have a bag of Powerberries (also from Trader Joes…sorry Trader Joes I’m not doing you justice right now!) that I haven’t opened either.

I was out at Cheesecake Factory the other day and I was in the mood for a light snack.  I perused all their “small plates” and saw zucchini fries, crab cakes, mozzarella sticks, and anything/everything fried.  I thought, “thats what I would normally order, so might as well” but none of it sounded good.  I then landed on the beet salad, and that, all of a sudden, sounded delicious.  I can definitely, confidently tell you, I have NEVER ordered a beet salad before, let alone ordered one when I could have easily ordered something fried.  I’mmaking better/healthier choices when it comes to the question of: what to order?

Also, I’m not sure if you know this, but I’m a therapist that works with children and adolescents.  Over the past few months I have had some pretty tough cases and although I love my work, I was coming home tired, dejected, and disheartened every day.  Over the past few weeks, my attitude has changed.  My clients have not, but I can feel an improvement in my mood.   I’ve been enjoying my work way more.  I’m not sure if I have more energy (which I have heard is a benefit of Juice Plus, but I’m not ready to make that claim yet), but something has changed.

And I like it.

New (and revamped) Blogs coming!

As you’ve noticed, I haven’t updated my blog in awhile.  Well, #1 its because I haven’t been traveling like I used to, #2 I went to graduate school for social work and started a new career as a therapist for children and adolescents, and #3 I just didn’t make the time!  I’m going to be changing that (not the part about being a therapist, but definitely the traveling and making time part!).

When I was traveling in 2010, I had stopped blogging due to meeting friends and not having any alone time like I had when I was traveling earlier that year.  There is a big gap in what I did on my travels and what I told you about! So I’ve decided to do something a little different.

I’m going to be taking a specific picture and tell you my stories, memories, and thoughts that are associated with that picture.  I’m not going to be blogging about my entire experience in a certain country or city (like I did before), but rather the individual, unique, special moments that I captured while I was there (and I have a LOT of them as most of you know I love to take hundreds and hundreds of pictures).

I have also been on recent travels (honeymooning in Maldives) and have a trip planned to Iceland in a couple months that I am so excited to tell you about.

I hope you enjoy!

First Impressions: Chiang Mai

Alright, I’m going to be a little biased here.  I arrived to Chiang Mai when it is at its best, the New Year’s Festival called Songkran.  If you’re in Thailand for this holiday, it is said that Chiang Mai is the place to be.

And I believe it.

The old city of Chiang Mai is surrounded by a moat.  This moat is then used to refill countless and countless buckets and waterguns, which are then used to soak and re-soak every single person in the city.  And I mean every single person.  Businessmen, shopkeepers, mothers, infants, monks, even policemen are dripping water by 10 o’clock in the morning.  I can’t imagine being anywhere else for this holiday! 

It was an endless supply of water.

But more about the holiday later.  I want to talk a little bit about the city.  Or at least what I saw of it.

Most of the shops were closed.  And by most, I mean at least 95% of them.  Everyone was out “playing Songkran.”  But I liked the way the city was structured.  It was definitely walkable and I got to stroll down the Sunday Market (which was going on a Friday because of the massive amounts of people inundating the city, and I mean literally inundating) and was tempted to buy anything and everything once again.

It seemed like a pretty laid back place with a lot of character.  My couchsurfing host showed me all of his favorite restaurants.  And yes, he could only show me them, because their owners were out spraying people with hoses, but needless to say, I heard there were some good restaurants.  And I’m sure there are a lot of great temples and museums to see there, but I was a little caught up.

So my first impressions of Chiang Mai are a little skewed.  I thought the city was the greatest place on Earth, but I might have to revisit it away from all the mayhem. 

Instead of exploring the city, I was captivated by the Thai culture on this amazing holiday!