For the Love of Words

A few years back when my grandpa passed away I not only lost my last grandparent, but the world lost one cool cat; a man who not only played trombone in the Sooner band, but married his college sweetheart who was, in his words, “the prettiest girl in Norman,” and he had a penchant for saying, “Dear Gussie!” in his measured Midwestern lilt whenever you impressed or shocked him, which delighted me to no end. He was known as a man who had a way with words and he could spin a tale that kept the rapt attention of all his grandkids, especially me.

When the extended Graves family got together to say good-bye to Daniel Maloy Graves II we each took turns sharing a favorite memory. My dad shared several memories, but one in particular made a lasting impression, “He had the best vocabulary and a system to improve it. When he would come across a word he didn’t know, he’d look it up and write down the definition. He would then make a point of using that word in conversation at least three times the next day to commit it to memory. I always admired that.”

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Trying to Throw Your Arms Around the World

When thinking about Day 2 of the BootsnAll 30 Days of Indie Travel Project, Embracing Change, I couldn’t help but borrow a lyric from U2. One of the aspects I love most about travel is its transformative power. You leave home open to the unknown. Anything can happen, new people, new cultures – all in pursuit of that moment when you know your life won’t be the same. It’s not to say these experiences aren’t difficult or trying. On the contrary, they can test your patience, your spirit, not to mention your budget.

Which leads me to the prompt of the day…

Day 2: Embracing Change

Change can be exciting and bring new joys into our lives. But it can frustrate or annoy us. How has travel changed you in the last year? Did you welcome these changes or did you resist them at the time, and how do you feel about them now?

Ahh, change. I’m happy to say that I am a pretty good roll with the punches kind of girl when unexpected changes occur. Flights canceled? No big deal (as long as there are other flights or a hotel stay on the horizon). Itinerary changes due to national holidays or running out of time? I’ve always ascribed to the Rick Steves’ philosophy that you can always go back.

This past year, I can think of one major change – traveling with a partner. I’m accustomed to traveling with friends or solo, but traveling with the man you love brings an entirely new dimension to your relationship. Like when you get stuck on the jetway while boarding the plane and respond with audible exasperation or lose your temper when your laid back, but oh so indecisive family can’t decide where to go eat.

It’s embarrassing when you have to own up to those personality traits that are less than flattering, especially when you know you should be a bit more understanding or take a deep breath and relax since getting worked up doesn’t help anything. Although, they say self-awareness is the first step, right?

Challenge Accepted

Confession: I toyed with the prospect of participating in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) for those unfamiliar with the acronym. But I couldn’t commit since it’s not so much that I have a novel in mind that I’m dying to write. It was more about writing daily, focusing on getting the words on paper to meet the 1,667 daily word count as opposed to getting mired down in the editing/review process.

So imagine my surprise (and delight) when I read a BootsnAll tweet about their own 30-day challenge, otherwise known as The 30 Days of Indie Travel Project. The premise? For the next 30 days, BootsnAll will provide daily prompts allowing bloggers to “reflect on past travel experiences.” And since I posted only one measly entry for the month of October, this is right up my alley. Fingers (optimistically) crossed it will give me the burst of creativity I crave. So here goes nothing…

Day 1: Goals

What were your travel goals last year? Did you accomplish them? What travel goals do you hope to accomplish this year?

After seven years of living in New York City and having relied on a wee bit of ahem, plastic, my travel goals have taken a slight detour. However, I recently read Dave Ramsey’s “Total Money Makeover” and have a slightly different goal: financial freedom to allow me the freedom to travel extensively.

This isn’t to say travel has become completely foreign. This past year I set out to explore my new home state of New Jersey: from snowshoeing at High Point National Park to discovering the hidden gems of the Jersey Shore in the summer. This, along with a couple of short weekend trips (New Year’s Eve in Vermont and a family reunion in Oklahoma) has allowed me to get out and explore a bit more of the contiguous 48.

As for next year? My goal is to be finish paying off all of my remaining debt and plan my triumphant return to international travel. I’m thinking South America. Perhaps a trip to Machu Picchu or Patagonia? Until then, I’ll continue to daydream with National Geographic and AFAR magazines, and the countless websites and blogs that keep me tuned into the world at large.