A Change of PAce
Originally, I wanted to create a travel blog and website to discuss my love of Disney. I still love Disney, but through my own personal development work I’ve switched gears to become a life coach. This transition took quite a bit of time to decide, work through and bring to life.
I’ve overcome some big challenges in my life. Divorce from a difficult marriage, moving across the country, rebuilding my life from the ground up, and learning how to love myself again and allow others to love me in turn. In that time I’ve developed quite an arsenal of tools to help me have love and compassion for myself. In that growth I decided to follow a path to become a life coach so that I can help others.
Things aren’t perfect, but they are really good right now. I still struggle sometimes with depression and anxiety. I have my days where I would much rather sit on the couch and watch one of my many streaming channels instead of confronting the uncomfortable feelings I have. Instead of confronting them and being upset that I’m having a hard time, I lean into those feelings. I honor them and speak out loud why I’m mad, angry, pissed-off, sad, depressed - insert any negative emotion here. Sometimes I journal about them, sometimes I take a walk, or sometimes I just sit out in my backyard. I’ve found that it’s far easier to honor those feelings than to try to force them out.
What about the good times though? If I’ve worked with life coaches and a therapist, shouldn't things be better? On the whole, they are a lot better. I keep a daily gratitude journal to remember the amazing things that happen, even if it’s seemingly insignificant. Gratitude happens when I finally clean out and organize my kitchen (that just happened and it’s glorious), or even if I enjoy a short nap while I’m on summer break. I love to create art - mainly in my art journal, but I have a huge studio setup and I don’t know that I’ve ever met a craft project I didn’t like. Good times come when I spend time with Jake, whether we are on a vacation or relaxing at home. I find joy and happiness in the life I have found and continue to cultivate out here.
I welcome you all to the blog and the new direction of my website. I’m excited to explore some of my own challenges, growth, gratitude, joy and tools to help you make all of that happen in your life. You’ll enjoy some of my writing based on my travels still, and some of the lessons and ideas learned on my journey. I’m here to cultivate compassion and love for you, and help you learn how to bring that compassion to your own world. Welcome back!
Good Eats On The Road; Vacation Eating
Ah the joy of eating out. You don’t have any dishes to clean, someone preps and cooks your food for you and there are so many options out there. (Insert screeching halt noise) Ok, so I’ve mentioned here and there that I’m vegan and I can make a safe assumption that a lot of people are vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free or have diet concerns when it comes to dining somewhere that they have no control over the preparation and ingredients. This can be a big concern when traveling.
My first plan on any trip - whether a day or an extended trip- is to hit up the grocery store. I pack up snacks that work for me (Costco snack size bags of cashews and I are best friends). There are so many options for different dietary needs and I find that I don’t need to go to the natural foods store to find lots of good vegan snacks, although it’s always helpful. I mean, there are two kinds of vegan gummy candy at Sprouts! You can find shelf stable food and drink, or bring a cooler for the refrigerated items.
Now on to the planning. I don’t know that I’ve ever had an issue finding vegan food on any trip. Even Burger King has an Impossible Whopper. Is it the most unique item for this trip? No, but it is a welcome change from years ago when I wasn’t vegan and knew friends that were and how much they would struggle on their vacations. That being said, I still try to get a feel for what the location offers. Are there restaurants that are only vegan? Even Jake enjoys a lot of vegan options so those work fabulously. So many other restaurants have vegan options or dishes that can be vegan with modifications. Like how I get the really weird look at any Italian place when I tell them I don’t want any cheese on my pasta. With the advent of the internet and apps like Yelp! it is so much easier to find places that can accomodate almost any dietary need.
I have to give a special mention to Disney, because I did warn you that there would be a lot of that going on here. Both Disneyland and Walt Disney World designate allergy friendly and plant based menu items on their app. It’s quite literally magical. (This is my story and you can’t stop me from making bad puns). Friends and also Jake will let you know I spend a bit too much time researching and planning how many of the plant based items I can stuff down on any given trip. I end up eating about half the plan. It’s just such a welcome change from my first trip, in a land where burgers and french fries were the standard. Ok, I still go for the Impossible Burger and fries at Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe because I absolutely love the atmosphere and music, and sometimes you just need a burger. From what I have seen, Disney is also great at noting allergies or special dietary needs on their app as well.
So if you have a specific dietary need, traveling seems to be so much easier these days. Ok, just like me you probably won’t be able to find something at every single restaurant, and that’s ok. I didn’t eat a ton of fast food before I went vegan, and now I tend to wish more of those places had options for me. But there are lots of great restaurants out there who will be amazing to you, help create meals that make your trip memorable in a good way, not in the way that you remember NOT to visit that place again. We have all been there. It does help to call sometimes and check in, and that will help the kitchen give you more accurate information if you don’t see it posted online. Like when I found out my local pizzeria started carrying vegan pepperoni in addition to the vegan cheese already offered, I only knew from picking up my veggie pizza that night. You don’t have to sit out, just do a little extra planning and find something that works for you!
Until next time, tell me one of the restaurants you love that created that special experience for your dietary needs! (Seriously, I love collecting restaurant ideas!)
Williams Weekend - Our Big Reset
This was the most unplanned trip I had ever taken. Ever is a strong word, but it’s up there. It had been almost a year since the pandemic started and things shut down. It was January, the long weekend with Martin Luther King Jr Day. Jake and I were becoming exceedingly frustrated and short-tempered. We had a lot of challenges that year; I’m a teacher and for a time we were full time parents for Jake’s two sons.
Things were starting to let up and we were able to have more weekends to ourselves again. A dear friend suggested that we take a trip to connect with each other and leave all responsibility behind. But there still wasn’t a lot to do, so many things were still closed or at least very limited.
Jake and I talked about taking this weekend and he definitely agreed. I asked him, since he’s lived here much longer, where should we go or where could we go that wasn’t super expensive and that had some fun things we could enjoy. He suggested Williams, Arizona. First we found a hotel, just a basic Quality Inn and booked it for three nights. I scoured the internet for restaurant ideas, especially because I’m vegan and I wanted to make sure I had options and I sure did! With restaurants checked and hotel booked, we remembered this wasn’t going to be a go wild and do all the things trip. We wanted to really spend intentional time with each other, relax and reconnect.
Packing was super easy for this trip; basic clothes and toiletries, cozy pajamas because it was actually going to be cold up there. We had a mini fridge in our room so we went to the store to get some snacks and drinks to bring up. I even found some new wine to try - Flybird Margarita Wine. We were super excited and I couldn’t wait to not look at things to clean and unpack (we had bought and moved into our house four months earlier so there was still a lot to do). Sure I cleaned up a little, but I decided to leave the big things until we got home. We hopped in the car Saturday morning and headed out.
While I don’t remember everything specific from this trip (a big reason for working on this blog, by the way) I do remember that we took a lot of naps. We probably even took one after we arrived because - best thing ever - our room was ready early. I’m sure this is one of those holy grail things on vacations. Plus Williams is a three hour drive from our house, so rest was very welcome. I remember going to the Pine Country Restaurant that had an amazing veggie burger. My belly was super happy about that, and my heart was happy when we got back to the car and Jake had a surprise for me. He had picked up this super cute mini plush dragon for me at one of the gas stations. Surprises are so much his forte and this was my favorite part of the trip.
Sunday we actually woke up reasonably early and had a basic breakfast from the hotel. Don’t get me wrong - nothing beats unlimited Froot Loops at a hotel. I just bring my own almond milk. The one thing Jake decided I needed to experience was Bearizona. It’s a drive through wildlife preserve and if you happen to go there, go early. For one, it gets busy. But the best (and one part of the trip I will never forget) was driving by the wolves who were just waking up. They were letting out that low melancholy-style howl and it was music to my ears. Of course I had to quote Dracula in the car “Listen to them, the children of the night. What music they make!”. The whole drive through and walk through experience were wonderful, and I was even able to convince Jake to have lunch at the Canyonlands Restaurant inside Bearizona (Jake is not a big fan of themed restaurants at tourist stops). Even he agreed that the food was good and the scenery inside was worth it.
Monday was our drive home. We had actually rested that weekend. We didn’t go nuts driving all over, but we did walk around Route 66 a bit. Bonus - I highly recommend the Bayou by You. So good, and it felt like that little hidden gem I would never expect in a small town. We loved sleeping in two out of the three mornings, and napping whenever we felt like it. The only must-do was Bearizona, and also enjoy eating out and not having to clean up any dishes for the whole weekend. That was glorious I tell you. Special mention for the Grand Canyon Brewing and Distillery - also some super yum food, felt so relaxed and the tables were so inspiring! Yes tables can be inspiring if they are carved wood with resin pours.
So would I call this trip a success on intention? For one of my first intentional trips, yup!
We planned to NOT do a lot - spend more time resting in the room or making sure we had meals. Was it difficult? Oh heck yes, especially for me. Jake has this wonderful ability to let himself rest and relax, but I do not. Working on that, however. I loved the places we chose to visit, how much time we just spent with each other and enjoying time to just be. The food was excellent and I really want to try again this weekend. Bonus; the hotel was pretty close to everything and we could have walked to a lot of places but the goal was to relax. And I even got to experience cold weather again and play in the snow.
So until next time, any suggestions for really good three-day-weekend trips for relaxation and spending time with loved ones?
I’m going to take a safe bet that you’ve been there too. You know the one, the trip you take to ‘really get away from it all’. Pick a spot, any spot. Picture that vacation in your head. You went on the road, and maybe answered some texts or did that one last email back to work (even though they knew you were off for the week). You kept answering the calls on your cell phone, because now it seems we are available almost everywhere. Then the calls and emails crept into your actual vacation. Here you are, relaxing away from home and answering work emails or checking social media for the tenth time during your relaxing morning coffee.
Somehow this practice doesn’t end. It spirals right into your vacation. I’ve done it too. Most every vacation I am guilty, but it’s something I am actively working on. How often will I check work email because I might miss something even if there’s a holiday, or get back to messages because I feel bad for leaving my friends hanging. I say I’m going to do it once, or maybe even once a day check everything and get it out of my system. Ask me how many times I ended up on social media or calling and texting people all week long.
So how do we set those boundaries on the vacations we use to get away from our routines? How do we really move into the space of getting away and really taking that well-earned break? My first and seems simple enough (to me anyways) tip is to send a work email to whoever might need to contact you. Let work know you are away and even set up an auto-reply email. I’m fortunate to work somewhere that respects time off and really only calls if it’s a true emergency during a vacation. Just like calling in to check as things were shutting down last year as the pandemic hit and letting us know not to report to the building the Monday after break.
How about our friends? I for one hate being left hanging for days on end, but I don’t remember a time that my close friends didn’t return a text within a day or so. I also tend to notice on social media if they are out of town and usually figure it can wait until they return (hey friends reading this - I write these things down a lot because I know my brain won’t remember after a few hours). My friends usually know well in advance about trips because I’m so dang excited about them I can’t stop talking about it anyways. If I failed to mention it, I try to bring it up so that they know I won’t catch all the messages or maybe take extra time to respond.
My final tip to really get away from it all? Go off the grid! Bear with me on this, because being disconnected and not being able to use my phone or all my apps used to be so foreign to me. I wasn’t connected to it all the time, but not being able to use it was, well, weird. Then I started taking some trips with friends up to Mendocino, or going camping with Jake near Payson, Arizona. There is no signal to be had. Sometimes we would travel into town and get a very basic signal but it’s a whole different world. You sleep well because your alerts don’t go off, and no waking up to check apps and emails. You just….relax. Don’t knock it til’ you try it! Bonus tip - take a group of friends and you will have some amazing fun!
Until next time, what was your biggest snafu on a “getting away” trip and how are you going to do that differently?
When I was faced with the cancellation of a minimum of three trips this past year, it hit hard. I realized how much I would miss going to Walt Disney World, a planned camping trip with friends to California and also the return to the Craftcation conference. There was a specific ‘why’ for each trip; I was taking my mom on a vacation, the camping trip is an annual thing with close friends, and I had not been to a Craftcation since 2013. I had built so much intention into each trip, and they were all gone (well, postponed anyways).
I realized that there wasn’t anything I could do to make these trips happen. I could still plan, and I did. There were amazing online experiences that helped me connect, even if I didn’t see everyone in person. I was still able to muse over the idea of returning to Disney. But the fact remained that I wasn’t making any journeys that year. Or so I thought.
Enter my amazing boyfriend Jake. He knew I was upset and also had a solution. One of my big deals each summer is getting into the woods and going off the grid. This ‘why’ was a challenge the first time in 2016 but now it is necessary. A time to reset, to really get away from it all and the much needed social media and phone break. Jake reminded me that he had an RV. It needed some work, but he was willing to make it happen for a couple family camping trips and he knew a spot that was both in the woods and off the grid. So while the other trips were postponed, I was able to refresh my brain and relax in the great outdoors.
So what does this random tale of a boyfriend with an RV have to do with the why’s of travel? It helped me realize that yes, I love the trips I plan. That I’m always planning my next excursion to Disney. Now I realized that the why, the intention, of the trip is also sacred to me. Intention sets the tone of the trip. Like the weekend Jake and I spent in Williams, AZ. There will be another post with more on that, but Williams was our weekend to re-connect with each other after a particularly crazy year of family events plus COVID. Everything had hit us at once and we needed some intentional time together to just be. And we did just that.
The intention of any trip can and should be quite magical. It can help you decide where to go and what you want to prioritize. Will it be a big family or friend get-together, a solo trip or a weekend with your beloved? Is there something special you want to see, experience or even a restaurant you have longed to try? Once I made a stop in Worcester, completely out of the way as I headed to visit family in the Boston area, just to try a restaurant I heard about. And yes it was completely worth it. That small intention led me to try out more of the locations in other states that have different menu options.
A special mention goes out to the Disney parks - both Disneyland and Walt Disney World. So many people wonder how I can keep going back to the same place with the same excitement each time. Simply put, I find a reason for each trip. Walt Disney World is a special meeting place to spend time with my friend Adriana, who still resides back in New York. There are still experiences and restaurants on my to-do list for all parks. Add on the theming and special events throughout the year, and it’s magical each and every time. Having a reason why has become central to any trips that I plan for myself, family and friends.
Until next time, what intentions will you incorporate into your next trip?
Vacations, oh how I love them. Now I love them anyway. I used to load so much into a vacation that I would come back more exhausted than when I left. I wouldn’t always take care of things before leaving home so I ended up doing more clean-up and triaging my life and didn’t ever feel like I had any sort of vacation at all. At the worst, I felt like I would have rested and enjoyed more if I just went to work and did my usual daily and weekend routine. I knew it had to change because I love traveling (one of my bold Sagittarian traits). But I didn’t want to keep coming home more miserable than when I left. The whole point of a vacation was to reboot and relax right?
One thing my mom was and is still big on was cleaning the house before she left for a trip. Her key phrase “Nobody likes coming home to a dirty house” stuck with me. So I started there. Whenever I would go away from the house - be it a weekend, or a longer vacation, I started tidying things up a bit. Garbage was out, laundry was as done as it could be (because I know we all have that towel or random shirt that just didn’t make it into the load). The dishes were done and when I felt like being a superhero, I would even clean out my fridge to make sure I didn’t come home to any science experiments and that I had food to eat when I arrived back, especially after a really late flight home.
I really suggest this if you aren’t already working this in. It doesn’t have to be a full-on top to bottom house cleaning. Just something that leaves your space welcoming to come back to. Bonus, there's usually more room to set souvenirs and your suitcase full of dirty laundry. I also live with anxiety, so this process really helped calm me down before I left. I knew everything was taken care of and that there was less possibility of unwelcome surprises when I arrived back home. I’ve had the rare occasion of having to deep clean something at midnight on a Sunday before work, exhausted from a long flight and I like to minimize the probability of that happening. As I type I’m planning on clearing out the produce drawers tomorrow before my trip to Florida next week.
Intention to me isn’t just about the trip itself. It’s about the whole process of a vacation. The planning, the preparation and also allowing yourself the time to really enjoy the memories of the vacation once you return. As much as I love traveling, coming back to my home is just as special. It was a lot more lovely and relaxing once I stopped using vacations as a reason to just get out of the house and treating my home, whether it was my small apartment or my new house, as a place just as special and magical as the Disney parks I love so dearly.
Until next time, how do you create a space to welcome you back after being away?
Thinking about some of my first trips, the ones I paid for on my own, it feels like I went places just because I could. I took a trip to Walt Disney World because I had a job and the money to fund it. I drove to Boston to visit family and because I had the freedom of a license and a car of my own. I’m sure I went on plenty of other trips with friends; road trips, day trips and overnights as well. The worst part is, I barely remember any of them.
Disney trips tend to have a stronger memory bank for me. I had been with my family when I was seventeen, when the Disney magic worked on me for the first time. There are some fun memories of me commanding my family around the parks since I had read every guidebook available from the library prior to our trip. The why of this trip remains - our family had been through some tough times and Disney marked the end of them. It was also a first for all of us, and we all experienced that in different ways.
I look at the trips and travel I go on now. Sure, there are some I take just to get away for a day or two. But even then, there is a reason for the trip. The “why” is the break. I need time to myself, a break from reality, responsibility or both. The reason, or “why” for the trip tends to help me remember more. I get more out of the excursion, no matter how long I am traveling. Having a reason for travel also helps me be more mindful on the trip. How many times have you gone somewhere with the intention to relax and refresh, only to find yourself returning more tired than you left in the first place? Same here.
One of our most intentional trips was last January. Jake and I had some more time to ourselves after a rough year. We were overwhelmed from the pandemic, taking care of the boys, and buying and moving into a new home. It was eating at us! One of our friends recommended a weekend trip, just to get away and spend time together. No big plans, just to get away from the house and all responsibilities. It sounded like a great plan, so we booked a Quality Inn in Williams, Arizona and took off for the weekend.
I was surprised at how much there was to do there! It’s right on Route 66, and there are tons of shops and restaurants along the road. Believe me, I wanted to do it all. Then I remembered the “why”. My intention was to spend time with Jake, reconnect and relax.
Let me preface; this year I have changed to become a morning person with a morning routine. This trip was going to be difficult to not go-go-go, especially since it was our first actual vacation during this pandemic year. I forced myself to laze around in bed every morning. We would eventually get going and grab breakfast, walk around town and check out the little shops and then find somewhere to grab lunch. One morning we did get up early, because Jake wanted to take me to Bearizona, a drive through wildlife preserve. It was worth getting up early for that, especially to see wolves waking up and howling. I still love the video and sound of that. Then another night we spent a slow dinner at the Grand Canyon Brewery and Distillery.
This trip felt so different. We enjoyed our time together and didn’t rush around at all. Relaxing in the hotel was a priority, we took plenty of naps. The kind of nap that you don’t set an alarm for because there’s no huge reason to get up. We tried a few restaurants on a whim, but brought tons of snacks and drinks for the room. I ran outside at night a few times just because I was excited to experience temperatures below thirty degrees again. Jake even stopped alongside the road to let me go and play in the snow that had fallen. Something I had not done since I lived in New York - almost ten years ago!
So when you think about your next trip - be it a day trip or a weeklong excursion - think about why you are headed out. If you are going out to relax and rejuvenate, make sure it happens! By any means, try not to over-extend yourself. Vacation by definition is an ‘extended period of leisure and recreation’, not a reason to run yourself ragged. Find your “why”, your intention for the trip and let it guide you. Find places and even restaurants that support the reason for the trip, and especially don’t forget to enjoy and have fun!
Until next time, what is an intention you could set for your next vacation and how can you support that?
Hi! I’m Jenn and I love to travel. I’m especially a fan of taking trips that are Disney themed. I’ve been to Walt Disney World just shy of twenty times and Disneyland (technically) four times so far. The technicality was one trip, my triumphant return to Disneyland for the “Touch of Disney” event. More on that later. I anticipate a few posts dedicated to just that.
Disney aside, and yes I just said that, I try to travel as much as possible. Sometimes it’s camping, other times a weekend getaway with my boyfriend. There are my crazy three day weekend trips back home to attend family events and weeklong excursions. Many of my excursions require some amount of planning but there are also the days where I wake up and decide to take off on a day trip in the old RAV4 or on the Harley with Jake.
I’ve been working on weaving that intention into life a lot more, especially after this crazy year. Jake and I were at Disneyland the night it closed in March of 2020. I wasn’t sure how long the closures would last or how little traveling I would be doing that year. Trips and events were canceled, two that I had already paid to attend. A trip back home to visit was a strong possibility, but that fizzled and so did the trip planned to Walt Disney World with my mother in October. I was ridiculously frustrated with how much I couldn’t travel.
As the year progressed, the limitations on travel gave rise to the idea to start writing about it. Weird right? In a time when I can’t go anywhere, I decided to start a blog about it. I looked back to all of my travels - day trips, weekends, the three-to-four day events, and the delightful week-plus-long trips. What was it that made all of these so important to me, and what could I bring to others?
I realized that returning to favorite places could be just as amazing as trying out a new location, or even trying out new experiences at one of those favorite places. And no, the favorite places are not just Disney. Before I moved to Arizona, the Boston area was the site of multiple visits and now it tends to be California. Wherever I travel, I try to build intention into the trip. That’s what I hope to share with you. That the “why” of a trip can be just as amazing as the destination itself.
Weaving intention into a trip and setting the stage has helped me to rush less, experience more and enjoy the flow of any travel. Yes, I even found a way to relax more at Disney. I’ll still be found walking swiftly to short lines at my favorite attractions, but I’m finding myself experiencing more in and around the parks. Intention has helped me create some amazing weekends and even day trips with Jake. I’m hoping that sharing these stories and ideas will help you create more magic for your own journeys, and give you some inspiration and ideas of how to weave intention and some magic into the everyday.
So tell me, where’s your favorite place to travel?
Jenn; Writer, Disney Enthusiast and Artist.