Landmarks – Why Should We Care?

Happy Monday everyone! I wanted to talk about something a bit different this week. Recently I was asked, “why do we make such a fuss over landmarks. What do they even mean to us?” This question took me by surprise but also gave me a great opportunity to share my knowledge of history. In my opinion, there was a simple answer but this lead to a topic for debate and I wanted to share my view with all of you as well as see what you think.

For centuries, landmarks have been an important part of culture all over the world. They tell a story of an important moment in time which remind us of the joy, suffering and sorrows that accompanied them. These events molded America into what it is today. The United States has several important landmarks that represent historic events such as tragedy, alliances, and war.

The first landmark I want to talk about came from a tragedy that happened on September 11th, 2001 that still haunts America to this day. For all those who had to endure the horrific events that morning will forever have scars on their hearts. This landmark reminds us of those 2,977 lives that were lost due to a senseless terrorist attack. It is a constant remembrance that even though we may have gone through this horrendous event, we stand strong and united as one. The beautiful waterfalls at ground zero stand in place to memorialize the lives of the mothers, fathers, sons and daughters who were lost that day. They tried to tear us down but little did they know that this act would show them how resilient we are.

There has been plenty of tragedy throughout history but we must keep our chins up and be grateful for all the positive relationships we have built over time. Just like when the Americans accepted the Statue of Liberty as a gift from the French to symbolized our alliance with them during the American Revolution. It ended up meaning much more than a friendship between countries. This gift represented liberty to all who enter America. It is a sign welcoming them to the land of the free and the home of the brave. On the base of the statue it reads, “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” This in and of itself expresses America’s want to show immigrants the path to liberty in our country. That’s powerful stuff!

The Pear Harbor Memorial for many years has reminded us of how America entered World War II and has been one of the most talked about wars I personally have ever experienced. Who can forget Franklin D. Roosevelt’s famous quote, “December 7, 1941, is a date which will live in infamy”. That day created terror for America and its soldiers, taking 2,403 lives and wounding 1,178 others. We had known the attack would happen but did not know when or where. The Japanese took us by surprise and demolished our naval base. Today you can tour the marble memorial engraved with the names of those who perished at the naval base in Hawaii.

My opposing side views landmarks as a waste of money, space and time. They stated we do not need landmarks to remind us of wars, losses or tragedies. We have those in history books and should learn from those. I say, these landmarks are our battle scares, our trophies and our constant reminders of what makes this country great.

What do you think about landmarks? Are they a waste of space for something bigger and better or do you think they serve a purpose for being there?

Until next time, never forget the ones who made the ultimate sacrifice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Runaway Traveler

“Why are you running away again? You can’t escape the reality of life.”

If I had a dollar for every time I heard this I could have traveled the world two times over. As I’m mentally preparing my next adventure, I can’t help but have that hesitation in the back of my mind. Anticipating the all too familiar reactions I will get. “But Ashley, it’s dangerous to go alone! You could be mugged or attacked.” Or there’s, “You’ve been through a lot but you can’t run away again.” And the most popular of them all, “Aren’t you scared?” Now, these are all fair outlooks but I see it differently. I would like to explain my thought process with each one of these.

Let’s address the first statement, “It’s dangerous to go alone. You could be mugged or attacked.” Did you know that living in today’s world of 2017 is the safest the world has been in quite some time? It’s true! Look it up. Crime rates have dropped over the years in most places. Thanks to a lovely thing called the media, the world seems a much more treacherous place than it did 50 years ago. If there is bomb in a city half way around the world, we know about it within minutes of the attack. Half a century ago, the news wasn’t so easily distributed as it is today. Think of it this way, I could just as easily be mugged or attacked in another large city such as Seattle, Chicago, New York City, or even here in Phoenix. It doesn’t mean that it is more likely to happen outside of the United States. Being safe and vigilant are important no matter where you go. Luckily, I have the street smarts to stay out of harm’s way.

I just love this one, “You’ve been through a lot but you can’t run away again.” Yes, I have been told this. To be fair, I can understand where they were coming from. At the time, my Aunt had passed away, I had just ended a three-year long relationship, my anxiety was worse than it had ever been before with panic attacks as an almost daily event and on top of all that I put in my two weeks at my job with no other job to back it up. This was all within a three months span. It was a lot for anyone to deal with. When my stress levels are high, I look for a stress relief, something to take my mind off all the negative that is surrounding me so I can regroup and focus on the positive. Traveling makes me happier than anything I’ve ever experienced so why not immerse myself with something that positively impacts me?

I had just given my two week notice to my manager at my work at home part time. It was Wednesday, the end of my work week and I was a couple of hours into my shift. I was consumed with the memories of the transformative events that had taken place in the last few months and thought to myself, “I need a break from all this. I need to get away and take a vacation”. 

I had saved several hundred dollars for a weekend trip to New York with my ex-boyfriend and since that was no longer happening, I wanted to spend that money elsewhere. I had a four day weekend and decided that I was leaving. I calculated how long it would take for me to get to my home state, Washington. If I left right after work and drove straight through I could get there in roughly 28 hours. I pinned cheap hotels on my map along the way if I needed to stop and sleep. I added up gas prices, hotel and food costs and within an hour I had everything planned out. I just had to finish up my last couple hours at work and I would get ready to leave.

I couldn’t believe it. I was actually going! I was really doing this. I clocked out, packed a bag for myself and my dog and we hit the road. My anxiety started to kick in and I kept second guessing myself. I almost turned around a few times until I reached the California boarder. I turned to my dog Romeo and said, “Well Romey, it’s too late to turn around now!” When I crossed that line, it felt liberating. I could breathe for the first time in months! It was as if that boarder line shoved all my problems out the trunk of my car and I watched as they crashed to the ground and faded in my rearview mirror. Sure, they will still exist as a memory but they didn’t feel so unbearable. I was starting to feel an emotion that felt foreign to me in the last few months, happiness.

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I told no one of my plans other than a select few friends. I checked in with them each time I stopped along the way. They had mixed feelings of my travels but they all had one thing in common, concern. The texts read, “Are you okay? Did something happen?”, “Why are you going?”, “Woohoo you go girl! But why so sudden?” I was at a loss for words. I was trying to sort out my emotions but to have to explain it to someone else was a near impossible task. How do I explain this feeling to them? It’s like I had been chained in the ninth circle of hell and making this trip allowed me to break those shackles and free myself of that misery. I tried to explain it as best I could and for the most part, I received well wishes and safe travels.

I more than enjoyed my trip. The countryside was breathtaking. It allowed me the peace I so desperately needed to sort through my thoughts and lingering feelings. After about 28 hours, I made it to my hotel in Fife, Washington then went out to visit with a friend. The next day I had the opportunity to visit my Aunt’s grave site for the first time since she passed away. I spent about an hour with her telling her about all my worries, fears, and all about my heartache. I expressed my internal struggle whether I should tell my family, who lives only minutes away, that I was there. The point of my trip was to be alone, to force myself to think through the events that had transcribed, to clear my head and get a better understanding of who I am and what I want. It was for no one other than me. Some may view it as selfish but I knew my family wouldn’t see it that way and would understand. I didn’t view it as avoiding life or running away from responsibilities. My purpose for leaving was to clear my head without the distraction of the everyday hustle and bustle of life.

When arriving home, I wasn’t entirely greeted with the warm welcoming as I was hoping for. My actions were hurtful to a few and worrisome to others. As I mentioned before, some viewed it as a selfish choice but it was a choice I felt I had to make to get through the that dark period in my life. My intentions weren’t for others to worry, I only wanted space, time and understanding. This wasn’t about them, it was about me.

Lastly, let’s talk about the all too popular question, “Aren’t you scared?” The answer to that is simple. Yes, I am scared. Like most people, I too, am scared of the unknown. I’m scared I will have a horrible experience and want to come home. I’m scared of running out of money sooner than expected. I’m scared of getting lost and not knowing how to find my way back. I’m scared I will lose my passport or will be a victim of pick-pocketing. There are endless things to fear but my biggest fear above all else, is not going at all. Staying home and not even attempting to live out my dream would be my worst nightmare. Just because I’m scared of the unknown doesn’t mean it should stop me from doing what I love.

I will most likely experience my next big trip solo. This will be my first time on my own outside of the country which I know will spark worry in friends, family, and even co-workers. I don’t think it is as scary as some people imagine. They just can’t see the possibilities or the potential to gain life experiences in the way I see it. You get to meet new people, explore beautiful places, experience different cultures. You get a chance to see the world in a way that not everyone will have the opportunity to see. It opens your mind to different ways of life.

I have tried to express my love for travel and it’s next to impossible to explain to someone who might not have that kind of passion for something. It’s like being color blind your entire life then suddenly having the opportunity to experience all the colors of the rainbow. It is beautiful and enchanting and leaves you in awe. I would go crazy without being able to travel. It’s my muse, my drive, and is what gets me through hard times. When I don’t have the money to travel, I simply substitute it with research at a local coffee shop. I day dream about the place I want to visit next and gather all the information I possibly can before stepping foot on that foreign soil. Traveling for me is not just a want or a desire, it is a need.

If you ever have any interest on being a “runaway” traveler and want tips, suggestions or need guidance on how to get started, feel free to send me a message and I would be happy to point you in the right direction. I also highly recommend checking out Matt Kepnes’ blog. I’m addicted to his writing and have read several posts multiple times. You can feel the passion in his blog not only for travel but also for helping others. He’s very knowledgeable and all the information he provides has been tested by either himself or his team. He also writes a wonderful article that explains many of the same points I had in this post. I encourage you to check out his work and don’t just envision about your dreams but put it into action!

Until next time, remember to never let your fears get in the way of following your passion!

 

 

 

My Not-So-Secret Obsession

Most people think I’m obsessed. I beg to differ. Just because I can’t stop talking and thinking about it doesn’t define obsession.

“Obsession: an idea or thought that continually preoccupies or intrudes on a person’s mind.”  – Dictionary.com

Okay… Sure that might be the definition but it’s more than obsession. It’s an uncontrollable love and desire. I spend my days dreaming about the moment I will feel that high again. I’m restless, itching for a taste of freedom and pure bliss. The daily anxiety that consumes me suddenly disappears. It is my release that transports me to my utopia. It is my muse, my drive, my true love in life. I don’t know when I can do it again or where my future lies but all I know is that I need it soon…

Hello, my name is Ashley and I have an obsession passion for traveling.

Ever since I can remember, my dream has been to travel the world. As I’ve grown into my adult years I have realized, it’s not as simple as it may have seemed to seven year old me. My young, naive self did not factor in the large sums of money it would cost to live out these dreams. As a lower middle class young woman, I struggle to escape these endless bills that continuously appear in my mailbox. Even though I am working a full time job, it seems near impossible to save for any grand adventure. However, I am starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. The end of next year my car will be paid off and will give me the opportunity to embrace my passion once again.

Sometimes I wonder why I couldn’t have chosen a cheaper hobby like knitting, collecting coins or even collecting those creepy porcelain dolls…Alright, I retract that last one. I want a hobby, not nightmares. As I thought deeper into it, I remembered the initial flame that ignited my passion and realized it couldn’t be anything but travel. I couldn’t help but smile and mentally relive that initial feeling.

It started when my dad had orders to PCS (Military acronym for Permanent Change of Station) to Korea when I was about six years old. When my dad came back roughly one year later, he brought me a gift from the Korean Markets. It was a musical jewelry box made from cherry wood with decorative, white, shiny cranes on top. At the time, I thought it was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. He told me the cranes were made from pearls which only made it that much more special. His second gift was a sandalwood folding fan. The hand painted bright pink cherry blossoms danced across the folds of the fan. I felt beautiful and elegant using that fan.

Over the years my dad continued to bring me gifts from the countries he visited. I received a leather, handmade journal from Hungary, a set of nesting dolls from Germany, and as I became of legal age, shot glasses from Paris and Bangkok. On one of his deployments, he even brought back currency from Afghanistan. Ever since that first jewelry box, I’ve wanted nothing more than to visit these places where all of my beautiful trinkets originated.

Deciding where to go first was going to be difficult. Granted, I had a few years to plan before I would be old enough to go anywhere. I continuously changed my mind of my where my adventure would transpire. England sounded great! There’s Big Ben, parliament, Buckingham Palace with The Queen’s guards outside. Plus, they speak my language so I would be able to communicate with them much easier. It was decided. That is where I’ll go first, England! London, England to be exact. This time I was 100% sure this is where I wanted to go first. Or so I thought.

When I reached seventh grade, Spanish was an option for an elective at my school. I thought it could be beneficial to learn a second language since I want to travel around the world. It also doubled as a bonus since I live in Arizona where it seems like half of the population speaks Spanish. I chose to sign up and continued taking Spanish throughout middle school, all four years of high school and a year in college. As I learned the language, I was also given insight to their culture.

My end of the year Spanish final included picking a country, researching their traditions and write about it in Spanish. Bonus points were given if you made and brought a popular pastry found in that country. Not only was all the food delicious but each country had slight variations within their culture and it was absolutely intriguing. I was fascinated that there are other people walking this earth in a completely different light. I realized that there are thousands of ways to live. Just because it is not your way, doesn’t mean it’s the wrong way. It is just different. I realized that travel isn’t just about seeing pretty scenery, historic buildings or getting the perfect photo. It’s about experiencing and embracing the culture. Learning about the history of the people in the pretty buildingThis peaked my curiosity so I dug deeper. I started watching telenovelas, listening to popular Latino music and eventually singing along.

‘No, Ashley! You can’t change the plan now. It has to be London. You decided London first THEN you will branch out.’ I seemed to be talking myself out of putting London on the back burner to make way for my new pasión; Latin culture. My brain wanted to stay loyal to my London plan, while my heart pulled for Spain, Brazil, Puerto Rico, anywhere that spoke that beautiful tongue. How could I ever plan a trip if countries and destinations are endlessly swirling around in my head? In a world full of options, I would have to make the impossible decision. I was wishing for some type of sign that would help me decide what I should do. I was about to find out the answer to my wish was only a phone call away.

During my junior year in high school, my dad was stationed in Stuttgart, Germany. I got a phone call from him inviting me to spend Christmas break with him in Germany. After years of anticipation and many debates between my heart and brain, I came to the conclusion, it doesn’t matter where I go, just GO! Of course, I jumped at the opportunity.

Though I never had much interest in visiting Germany, I would later discover it to be my favorite country thus far. I decided to engulf myself in the culture as much as I could. Not knowing the native dialect, I did some research and purchased a small translation book which listed commonly used phrases and words. I practiced the most important phrase I could think of, “Ich komme aus Amerika. Sprechen sie Englisch?” which translates to, “I am from America. Do you speak English?” I’m not quite sure how many times I must have practiced it alone in my room. It is the only full phrase I can still remember. And remember I did when the time came to use it. That is a story for another day.

I was so intrigued by the minor differences in culture and wanted to learn more. I asked my dad what should I expect? What are some differences that might surprise me? As a person who likes planning and knowing what to anticipate, his response would frustrate me to no end. He responded with, “Adventure awaits around every corner. So instead of me telling you what it’s like, come here and experience it yourself.” I didn’t know it then but that was the best advice anyone has ever given me.

Until next time, get out there and experience your own adventures!