She stole my heart….

As a child, I grew up always having dogs in the house.  First, there was Tex, our daschund that we got when we lived in Texas.  Then there was Peaches, our cock-a-poo that we got in Georgia.  There is little time in my memory when there wasn’t a canine companion in the house.  And as far as I can remember, the only times I’ve seen my father cry were when we had to put Tex or Peaches down.  So, fast forward to me as an adult and my desire to rescue a dog for many years.  I’m pretty sure it was on my list of things to do in 2010.  But I couldn’t ever pull the trigger and commit to a canine housemate given my work and my travels.

Enter Second Chance Dog Rescue, a fabulous organization in San Diego that rescues all kinds of dogs from horrible situations and seeks to provide them stable homes and forever families.  The organization does not have a shelter so relies on generous San Diegans to take these pooches in until they are adopted.  I signed up to be a foster parent thinking it would be a great way to test-drive dog ownership.  Perfect for me – try it out, no commitments!  And 10 days ago, I was given Bambina to care for..

Photo on 5-3-13 at 11.50 AM #2

Bambina’s online profile said she was a 2-year old Maltese.  I think not!  The rescue org told me she was a 1 1/2 year old poodle… getting closer.  My assessment is that Bambina was no more than 9 months old and was a poodle/terrier mix.  The poor girl was born with a malformed eye so had her eye removed and was learning to cope with just one.

Bambina and I had our issues, mostly around my personal space, to start but she quickly grew on me.  I’m thrilled to say that after a short 10 days, Bambina was adopted by her forever family last night and I’ve already received the following message from her new mom within 12 hours:

OMG! What a sweety!  I’m in love.

But when she left, she took a little piece of my heart with her.  Much as I knew I was not her forever family, that little girl will have a piece of me with her always.  I’m super-impressed with the rescue org’s approach and all of the other foster families in San Diego that do this.  It’s not easy, but the rewards are worth it.

I’m going to take a few days off but then it will be on to my next rescue.  Will I be the forever family for that one?  Only time will tell!  Wish me luck y’all…..

If You Can’t Say Something Nice….

I have been reminded gently that it has been 1 year, 4 months and 16 days since I last posted to this blog.  Now you know why I don’t make new years resolutions… I never see them through!  So, my apologies for having been gone so long, but I’ve been thinking about this dang blog for a while now.  But I’m back and ready to post!

As my mama still says… if you can’t say something nice, then don’t say anything at.  Sound familiar?  I don’t think that is a particularly Southern saying.  It’s more like the Southern way of reiterating the golden rule – do unto others as you would have them do unto you.  So, if we are all trying to be good people, then how can such vitriol be spewed in the comments section of any article on the web?  I am an avid reader, always have been, and I’ve taken very well to getting my news and information every day on the interwebs.  It’s a beautiful thing… until you get to the comments section.  Be it a rather benign article on the latest shenanigans of Lindsay Lohan or as in recent days, the followings of the Supreme Court as it relates to Proposition 8 and DOMA, people are unafraid to go to town on their fellow commenters or the subject of the article.  In some cases, there isn’t enough soap in the world to wash out the mouths of the folks who leave comments, and take no pause in writing derogatory comments that have nothing to do with the article.  So, my question to you is…. why is that?  Besides anonymity, what does the internet provide that allows people to  leave their base moral code behind to spew such venom to those who dare have a different point of view?  Can’t we all just get along?

This is something that has bugged me for a long time, and I’m sure will continue to do so.  I’m truly curious to hear what you might have to say.  So, sound off by leaving a comment ;-)

Too Early for 2011 in Review?

Me thinks so…..

Remember way back when I posted about how much I don’t like New Years resolutions?  Well, this blog is testament to that.  I secretly made a New Years resolution that I would blog at least once a month.  EPIC FAIL!  But here we are in mid-November and I’m going to give it the ol’ college try from here on out…..

2011 has been a year of phenomenal change for me.  I left my job, traveled, found a new job, traveled, moved, resigned from said new job and am about to embark on yet another new job and yep, some more travel.  It all sounds a bit crazy when you say it like that, but I also got to have an amazing 6-months off to rest, rejuvenate and reflect.  It’s amazing what change and a little introspection can do for you!  I can say that 2011 has taught me an enormous amount about myself.  I used to think that I was a creature of habit and that change was no bueno, but I was totally wrong.  Change is good, yall!  Having started my new career in August, I learned very quickly that maybe it wasn’t the right fit for me.  But I wouldn’t change my decision to take that job for anything.  I learned two very valuable things from the last three months:

  1. I met some truly great people from all over the world!  And as I leave this position behind, I will miss working with them but know our professional paths will cross again and I look forward to it
  2. But more importantly, I learned that I ultimately have control over my own life and if things aren’t the way I want them to be, I have the power to make a change.

I am firmly in the camp that things happen for a reason and I believe the job I will be starting in a few weeks is ultimately where I am supposed to be… time and circumstance just had to catch up!

So, as I come up on yet another birthday, it’s time to start thinking about what my 37th year will have in store for me.  Things I know for sure – more travel, great people and grand adventure are all in my future.  To quote Robin Williams’s character Peter Banning in the movie ‘Hook’, “To live… to live would be an awfully big adventure”.

So, late 30s, all I have to say to you is…. BRING IT!

Wanderlust Strikes Back

T minus 4 days until I am off again!

For those of you that followed my adventures in Italy last year, just wait for the coming weeks.  Southern Wanderlust is off again, this time to more destinations and more language barriers in Europe.  I depart this week for a second culinary extravaganza, returning to Italy for cooking school again and also venturing to Venice.  But Italy would not be complete without a day of designer shopping with a good friend in Rome.  I must admit – I can’t wait to see my cooking school friends!  I’m quite positive that new recipes await me, which means more luscious pictures for y’all to view.

After Italy, I am off to Spain for a 10-day solo adventure.  My travels will take me to San Sebastian in the North (the Spanish version of Monaco), Toledo, Segovia, Salamanca and Madrid…. this is all assuming I can tear myself away from the Spanish version of Monaco.  My fabulous brother, Michael, will be joining me for Salamanca – he’s always fun to travel with :-)

And finally, I’ll be heading to Prague.  I have heard so many great things about Prague that I feel like I have to go.  It is not convenient on my itinerary at all, but I figure if you are going 8,000 miles from home, what’s another 500 miles right?!?!  And I’m hoping a long-time friend from grade school who happens to live in Munich will pop over for a visit….. c’mon Mo!

And when all is said and done, I will be returning back to the land of sun and fun… and must really start thinking about working again – but unemployment is really fun!

Buenos noches, chicitos!

Greetings from Paradise Valley

… but I’m sure whoever named it that did NOT name it in the summertime.  Paradise Valley is stunning – the views, the food, the pool but lawd the heat has got to go!  For the laymen out there, Paradise Valley = Scottsdale, Arizona.  And no one in their right mind would go there in the summer unless you live in the Midwest or the Northeast where the weather is just shit year-round.  Yeah… I’m talking to you Boston and Chicago!  But yet here I am writing to you, both my readers, from this haven of heat.

As most of you know, I’m a traveler.  I’m the instigator of movement amongst my friends.  And for the most part, I’m just damn annoying about it, except to the few of you that actually enjoy traveling too.  Occasionally, I’m able to actually talk someone or several someones into joining me on my travel adventures.  But today, I have come to realize that I am spoiled living in Southern California.  To get to ‘Paradise Valley’, I jumped on Southwest Airlines and arrived 45 minutes later.  Score!  My friends – not so lucky.

For those keeping score at home, the arrivals board looks like this:

Meg – San Diego (45 minutes)

Katie – Boston (5 hours and 1 screaming baby behind her)

Dana – Chicago (3 hours and 1 fear of flying)

Ursula – Atlanta (4 1/2 hours).

What does all of that add up to?  11pm on a Friday night and I am on the only one awake.  Thankfully, we are staying at the fabulous Sanctuary at Camelback Mountain Resort (http://www.sanctuaryoncamelback.com/) which means I can sit on the balcony, in the fabulous Arizona “Paradise Valley” heat and soak up the live music while everyone else dreams sweet dreams!

Tomorrow – I conquer Camelback Mountain for the third time…. and I’m going to beat 51 minutes dammit!  ‘Cause its just a dry heat….

 

Howdy friends!

It’s been almost three months since I last blogged and let me tell you…. not much has changed!  Despite an abundance of free time these days, I am managing to keep myself busy and therefore not writing.  Oh well!  But lest this be an exercise in futility, I am re-committing myself to the blogosphere.

Since I last blogged, life has slowed down considerably and in a very good way.  Having been on-the-go since the day I graduated from college (and honestly, since my first day as a co-op student three years before that), I might have finally gained some perspective on that thing called work-life balance.  In my case, there is no work so I’m loving the balance!  But in all seriousness, I have really come to realize that work is not everything and that it shouldn’t be the core of someone’s existence.  I am not yet there, but am close to the point where I miss the purpose that work gives you but also fully realize that other things can give you a complete sense of purpose as well.

And for all of my friends who know me from a work setting, stop scratching your head and wondering what the hell happened to me! ;-)  I know, I know…. I should have figured this one out a long time ago.

Now, you may be wondering what I have been doing with all of my spare time these days.  That’s the question of the year!  I haven’t really been keeping track of my day-to-day, but I can tell you I have “accomplished” things like:

  • Getting a full night’s sleep multiple days in a row (8 hours + people!)
  • Figured out how to wake up without the help of a 45-minute snooze button
  • Become a fixture at the local coffee shop to the point we are on a first-name basis
  • Going through my entire house and donating about 16 bags worth of stuff to Goodwill
  • Finished all three of the Stieg Larson ‘Girl with the….” series
  • Become a regular volunteer with Habitat for Humanity, so much so that they have given me permission to just show up whenever I want rather than go through the usual volunteer channels
  • Lost several percentage points of body fat
  • NOT watched daytime television
  • Taken up Stand-Up Paddleboard Yoga
And somewhere in there, I started actively looking for a new job too :-)
But this wouldn’t be a blog called Southern Wanderlust without a little bit of travel built into the schedule.  One of my biggest “regrets” from college is that I never had the opportunity to travel overseas for a semester abroad.  Most of my friends did it, and the stories they brought back were priceless.  I, however, had two factors going against my ability to do that:  (1) that little thing called a co-op job and (2) the lack of money to pay for it.  Mom and Dad laid down the law that they were not paying for me to go to Europe if Mom had never been and that was absolutely the right thing to do.  But here I am – in my, ahem, mid-30s – and that is still something I think about.  Yes, I have been to Europe for business and for fun and it has been fabulous.  But I haven’t really done the city-to-city-to-city thing.  So, guess what I have been planning y’all?!?!  Italy, Spain, Prague – here I come!
So, Southern Wanderlust is getting her groove back on and setting off on a couple grand adventures.  The California exploration continues with a stop in Santa Barbara next weekend.  Then I am off to have a mini-reunion with my grade school girls in Scottsdale (aw lawd… the heat is gonna kill me!).  From there, I’m off to visit the family in Georgia and a quick pit-stop in Dallas for a reunion with my Italy cooking school ladies.  And then it is time for the big adventure – bring it on!
Don’t be jealous, y’all…..

Adventure #3 – Malibu

And she’s back on track…..

March’s adventure took me to the uber-casual and uber-rich mecca known as Malibu.  Located slightly north of Los Angeles, it is known for where former and/or current Hollywood celebrities hang out or own homes to “get away”.  Malibu is essentially a stretch of beach with multi-million dollar homes on the beach.  What I found most funny about Malibu is that you would see these houses right on the beach with about a two-foot driveway and a Maserati or Bentley haphazardly in the driveway and on the curb.  What was most ironic is that said uber-expensive car was usually wedged in right next to a Honda.

My adventure actually started with a bit of a detour to Yorba Linda.  Before I started my three days of excess, I wanted to take a step back in time and get learnt up at the Richard Nixon Museum and Library.  If you have not visited the museum, I highly recommend it.  And lucky for me, it was Pat Nixon’s birthday so…. FREE ADMISSION!  Here are a few pics of the museum:

The Library

A Rockin' 1970s "Beast"

Richard Nixon's childhood home, in the exact location where he grew up

After my detour to Yorba Linda, I hit the coast and got checked in to the beautiful Malibu Beach Inn (www.malibubeachinn.com).  I found this hotel on Jetsetter and it lived up to the hype.  Located directly on the coast, the west side of the Pacific Coast Highway, every room is beachfront and with a view.  While I went for a less direct view, I had a great view of the beach, sunset and the Malibu Pier.  Here is a great example of the views:

Livin' the Dream

While I spent the majority of my time in this exact spot or on the beach, I also go to experience all but one of the spots listed in my Southern California guide.  I got the Pier, Venice Beach, 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica and the Santa Monica Pier.  Getty Villa, I’m coming back for you!

A great visit to the beach was capped off by several dinners with friends.  Thanks y’all!

Stay tuned for my to-be-determined April Adventure