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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

An Offbeat Kinda Day

Our eight days in London had passed by so quickly and the last day of our vacation loomed before us.

We'd seen the parade at Buckingham Palace with the Changing of the Guards.


We'd visited the Tower Bridge and Tower of London.

We thoroughly enjoyed "Guys and Dolls" playing in the West End with
Jane Krakowski and Ewan McGregor!


We'd wandered parks and seen statues, and tributes galore.

The plan was to jump on the tube at Swiss Cottage Station near Regent's Park and get off at Kings Cross Station before boating up the River Thames to Windsor Castle. SO looking forward to seeing the castle. Aaaahhh.... the best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry.... or so they say.

At approximately 8:45am on July 7th, 2005 the London Underground Railway came to a screeching halt when three bombs exploded simultaneously destroying multiple sections of the track. Our vehicle stopped midway between two stations to unload commuters into the darkened passageways of the underground. An electric failure was given as the reason for disembarking the train and we followed along, climbing into the London sunshine and the monumentally crowded streets above. Over 700 people were injured and 52 people were killed in this horrifying display of terrorism. Yet here we were, blissfully unaware of the tragedy, mildly disappointed that we'd miss Windsor Castle.

And so our day began. Strangely enough, it was one of the loveliest days we've spent together as a family. The city was basically at a standstill, especially after a double-decker bus was bombed and all traffic was removed from the city streets. Hundreds of thousands of Londoners were out walking to work, or back home as shops, restaurants, and tourist attractions closed their doors. We stumbled into a grocery store with a television and saw the news reports. Scary to be sure, with our only recourse to head back to our hotel on foot.

You cannot possibly imagine the sense of quiet that comes over a major city when everything shuts down. It was an experience like none other - truly surreal.

There were a few shops that stayed open and an eatery or two along the way. We meandered unhurriedly, crisscrossing the city back to our hotel on foot... a mere 7 hours, mind you. We really did stop to smell the roses in Queen Mary's Rose Garden and shared a most delicious afternoon tea at a little stand inside the park, not knowing if any of the Regent's Park restaurants would be open when we got there.

Jeff had left his cell phone in the hotel room so we wouldn't be bothered with work phone calls - the only day he had left it behind! When we arrived back at our hotel, we checked in with family and friends who had called throughout the day, all of them concerned for our safety. Feeling that depth of both love and worry humbled us.

We are so blessed, so lucky, so fortunate to have been so close to a disaster of this magnitude and escape with only the memory of an extraordinary day. Our story has been told many times to new friends who cannot believe we were there. But, we were and we are better for the experience.

Travel is a grand opportunity to experience this beautiful planet we inhabit. There are certainly terrors and boogeymen everywhere we go. But I cannot travel in fear. I research and plan, begging and cajoling others to join us for adventures near and far. I am unafraid and eager for that next delicious plate of food, a chance to spy a glorious bit of nature, and a reverence for the differences that bind us together.

With Gratitude,
:) Deb

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Best. Days. Ever.

Do you ever stop and ponder your best day ever?
                   A day filled with so much joy you just might burst....

 Seize the day - Carpe diem!!

I mean honestly, how do you conclude from one day to the next?

Was yesterday your best day ever?
Or was it one day long ago?

 Are holidays the best days ever?

                          Will it be tomorrow or next month or maybe next year?

Maybe it was in the Summer of '69 like Bryan Adams sings "those were the best days of my life."

(Easter 1969 - my first time wearing pantyhose and I had to chase the dog around the block in bare stockings!)

                         Or the day you got married. A truly spectacular day for me by the way.

Every once in awhile a great day is re-enacted on television or in a movie. Sometimes a magazine article about living your best life will come along. And many times while listening to a favorite song on the radio, the notion will rock me back in time.

 Corona Grads 2004 and 2006

Brooklyn-based alt-rockers American Authors sing about The Best Day of My Life. They are "never gonna look back." So then, should I stop cataloguing all the best days of my life? Or keep moving forward in anticipation?

My favorite Green Day song, Good Riddance shares this sage enlightenment "... time grabs you by the wrist directs you where to go, so make the best of this test and don't ask why, it's not a question, but a lesson learned in time ... it's something unpredictable but in the end it's right, I hope you had the time of your life."

 Cruising in Alaska

Mid-way up the Eiffel Tower in Paris

 Pub-hopping in Dublin

We may not know exactly the time or place for our best day ever. Those magical moments may be spontaneous or carefully orchestrated for perfection.

Tae Kwon Do - State Champ!!

My Mom Beating Breast Cancer!!

Unforgettable Switzerland!!

Can you conceive the idyllic dream of your best day ever, put it on paper, and then make it happen? Sure - weddings are such events. We've got two biggies coming up this year and they will most definitely be the best days of our lives.

Pitbull is counting on it when he sings in Time of Our Lives "I want the time of my life, give me the time of our life."

Are there many best days of your life? I certainly hope so. As a matter of fact, I'm counting on it. SO many best days past, present, and future.  Is there truly such a thing as only one best day? Or is life a cornucopia of Best-Days-Ever??

The Best Day, sung by Taylor Swift shares a perfect sentiment from me to my family and friends ... "and I didn't know if you knew, so I'm taking this chance to say that I had the best day with you today."

I mean seriously.
You wanna know what I think?
Make the most of what you've got and really live your best day every day.

The sun is shining, and the chimes are singing in the breeze. The dogs are happy, and I'm packing for a trip. In the movie, The Way We Were, Robert Redford's character Hubbell Gardiner rows on the lake with his college buddy and states that the best day is in fact... today.

I couldn't agree more.
:) Deb

Thursday, March 19, 2015

People Spend $$ On What They Want...

The neighbors have a couple of timeshares in California. My cousins have RV's and boats. Some of our friends have bigger houses and large-screen TV's. I know a few people with a Starbucks obsession so compelling their checking accounts dwindle daily. My own brother, Greg, drives a Porsche!

Greg and Mom

People spend their money on what they want. Always. People wisely spend their money on exactly what they want. My mom and I talk about this all the (stinkin') time, reminding ourselves of this fact when we're green with envy regarding others' material possessions. How can people afford this or that? What DO they spend all their money on? I seriously shouldn't care and I don't. Because I know what I like to do with my little wads of cash.

Looking down the road apiece, I see what I really truly want.


I want to see the world, experiencing the richness of other cultures. I want to taste the divine inspiration of food from around the globe, and investigate ornate churches and museums. I want to stroll through downtowns and along boardwalks, and sail upon the great blue oceans of the world.
Hooked on travel - Yes I am!


My family didn't travel so very much when I was younger. A couple of camping trips to Bass Lake were enjoyable, and a memorable trip to the Grand Canyon whetted my appetite for a lifetime of travel.

Bass Lake & Yosemite

The Shelton Family at the Grand Canyon circa 1973

Luckily Mr. Smith agrees with me and made me the CEO of Smith shenanigans and family fun.

Measuring our ideas of what we need versus what we want or where we want to go is a habitual weekend pastime. Our list grows each year with Belgium topping the docket of ideas for 2016. Can't wait for that one!! Beer and chocolate anybody??

But will there be enough money? Will we see the world before we run out of cash or will we be stymied in our retirement. No need to worry just yet. There's plenty of affordable travel action out there just waiting to be investigated and conquered.

From tent-camping to cruising and everything in between, we'll think of something.
Won't you join us?


Maybe we'll see you in Berlin...

Or tripping in a salty pond...

Or motoring through Minneapolis or Disneyland...

Riding Segways in Chicago...  where I bought a Segway handle!
Or relaxing in the gorgeous backyards of Charleston.


The more the merrier I always say!!

Life is Good!
:) Deb


Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Flowers of Perfection

Leafing through Oprah Magazine, I spied a paragraph by Martha Beck that touched on this idea...

In the 2003 historical drama, The Last Samurai, the handsome and talented Ken Watanabe plays a Samurai Lord known as Katsumoto. Katsumoto's displeasure with the Westernization of Japan courses through the movie as he personally searches in vain for the perfect cherry blossom. It is only near death that Katsumoto realizes that no single flower captures perfection. Truly, each and every flower on this wonderful planet is perfection itself.

I couldn't agree more!!

It seems as though we sometimes peek at life through lenses clouded with inadequacies and influenced by deficiencies, real or imagined. Imagine the exquisiteness of a life lived with joy, affection, gratitude, and beautiful flowers.

I should think we'd all be a whole lot happier....

Enjoy the view,
:) deb