What If?

What if we could truly believe in ourselves?

Spring Equals Renewal and Change

Our mind is a glorious thing; tricky, complicated, and untapped. We are born thinking that everything and anything is possible, but as we grow older, the world and people around us teach us to limit our hopes and dreams to the just barely attainable. Why? Why do we do this to ourselves? Why do we do this to one another? Why do parents tell their children that their dreams are unrealistic and/or silly? Is it jealousy? Resentment? If I can’t have it you can’t have it? Can we who are highly motivated overcome it?

Human beings are extremely complex creatures, making answering these questions near impossible. However, that’s not a bad thing; mystery, questioning, wondering — it’s all good. And the short answer to the last question, is a resounding yes.

The desires for oneself that I’m talking about here can be dreams, but they might also be what you are expecting to accomplish in your life; normal everyday expectations or big longterm plans.

To dream the impossible dream, to fight the unbeatable foe, to bear with unbearable sorrow, to run where the brave dare not go, to right the unrightable wrong, to love pure and chaste from afar, to try when your arms are too weary, to reach the unreachable star. This is my quest, to follow that star, no matter how hopeless, no matter how far. To fight for the right, without question or pause, to be willing to march into hell for a heavenly cause. And I know if I’ll only be true to this glorious quest that my heart will be peaceful and calm when I’m laid to my rest.
Joe Darion

Stretching Your Imagination

I’ve been working on this for a long time. I don’t have all the answers, but I thought it might be helpful to share some of the tools from my toolbox with you; oversimplified psychobabble, but an effective metaphor.

  • Write down what you hope to accomplish. When you put it on paper, you’re one step closer to reality.
  • Picture what you hope for in your mind. Repeat, rinse, repeat.
  • Tell people about your wishes. Be careful not to be pretentious or lofty.
  • Be inspired by what others have to say about goals and objectives.
  • Set goals and objections with no limitations. Add specific details for “how” and “when” later.
  • If you are a parent, tell your children that they can achieve anything they work hard to achieve.
  • Climb to the highest peak you can find (be alone or with someone who won’t mind your behavior). When you’ve reached the top scream what you want out loud several times. Listen to your own words and follow your heart.
  • Ignore the noise all around you — the “I wouldn’t do that if I were you nonsense.”
  • Staying power is everything, don’t let go no matter the obstacles.
  • Celebrate every hurdle.
  • Success in achieving your goals is a healthy elixir. Let it become a welcome habit.

I refuse to use the word manifest. We sometimes latch onto a word or phrase and allow it to become cliché.

I am aware that nothing that I share is new or something you haven’t heard before; however, I am also aware that a reminder is never a bad thing. Also, sometimes the same thing said differently, sticks.

Upcoming Travel

I will be returning to Manchester & Liverpool, England April 5. Following that, a brief return to Nantes and Pornic, France. Then Marseilles in June, and Glasgow/Oban, Scotland in July. Dubai and four countries in Asia this October/November. Land and sea tour of South Africa, February 2024.

People sometimes ask me why I visit the places I travel to:

  1. I have never been and have always wanted to go.
  2. I have been and I enjoyed it so much I want to return. It’s usually the food that draws me in.
  3. I am visiting a friend or family member(s).

I Had a Dream Last Night

Last night I had a dream that Paco (my pooch) and I went on vacation. The place we visited was dog friendly and they were in every household; most ran loose in the streets. There were many dogs who looked just like Paco. Briefly after arriving wherever it was that I was visiting, Paco somehow got loose and wandered off. Another dog that looked like Paco ended up at my door. I was extremely upset, but people kept telling me that I shouldn’t be upset because I had a small blond dog and that’s all that mattered. I wouldn’t and couldn’t let it go. I walked the streets shouting his name (Ruffino in my dream). I spotted a large pack of dogs running in another direction; Paco’s red harness stood out. I called out: “Ruffino come to daddy (I think his name was Ruffino because I’d been longing for good pizza all week).” He stopped and looked at me and then kept going. I managed to nab him. It was a bittersweet ending, I’m afraid. I woke up feeling that I was keeping Paco locked up in our home, when what he really wants is to be free with other dogs. That guilt only lasted a few minutes. Oh how the mind works.

Thank you for reading my ramblings.

Let’s Get Started!

I took this photo on a hike in Colorado recently. There were too many people around for me to scream out my hopes and dreams for the future; I did the next best thing, I screamed it in my head and you know what, it worked just as well. Limitations are made-up roadblocks we tear down or ignore.

Post Publishing:

A wise friend wrote to me about fear after I published my blog yesterday. Fear is probably the number one reason that people abandon their goals/dreams. I write about fear in an earlier blog. I also omitted money as a consideration. I’ve had some time to think about both of these obstacles and I like where I have rested on this. Anyone who knows me can tell you that fear is not usually a concern for me. Right or wrong, I often charge into situations without much consideration for whether or not I will fail or be hurt in the process of pursuit. As for the other, I was born in poverty. My family didn’t have much money and we didn’t talk about money as an obstacle to fulfilling life goals. I guess in retrospect that is a testament to both my parents. They instilled the, “If you want it, you should go for it attitude.” I still feel that way. Why not try and see what happens.

Positive intentions and thoughts equals positive outcomes; yes please.

Quiet Chaos

How To Navigate This Crazy World We Live In

Chaos defined: noun. a state of utter confusion or disorder; a total lack of organization or order. any confused, disorderly mass: a chaos of meaningless phrases. the infinity of space or formless matter supposed to have preceded the existence of the ordered universe (dictionary.com).

How many people do you know who are taking anti-depressant/anti-anxiety medication(s)? Smoking pot to chill or cope? Drinking alcohol to soothe the pain? Sleeping to escape? Running from pain? Personally, most of the people I know do one or more of the above in order to deal with the complexities of the world we live in. For some, it is a life saver and for others, it’s killing them.

The flip side: how many people do you know that thrive on chaos? They gravitate toward it, create it, or wait for it to happen. I know one or two of these people and I think they know who they are.

Conflict and Chaos are not to be confused — conflict is a disagreement or argument. A state of chaos might be present if there are several arguments taking place simultaneously or if the conflict is random. I like a bit of conflict when it might get you to agreement or some resolution; chaos on the other hand makes me want to flee. I once lived in the center of chaos and not by choice. I now do whatever I can to avoid it.

How Bad Is It These Days?

We always believe things are currently worse than they were before; that’s a common misbelief. I’ve written on the “state of the world” topic before, therefore, I will leave it at this: no doubt the world is a difficult place to inhabit these days, but I would argue that it’s safer and better than it’s ever been, in most places; technology and greater wealth have made it so.

Why Are We Judged So Harshly?

Social media is not necessarily a bad thing; keeping up with friends from all over the world is one of the features I fully embrace. But in my mind, the dark side of social media is having aspects of your life displayed before strangers. With that comes jealousy, judgment, and criticism — everyone has an opinion. Unfortunately, those opinions are related to little snippets of your life; mostly aspects of your life people know nothing about.

In addition, it suddenly seems as if it’s okay to pass judgment on others. Whether it’s about a woman’s right to choose, a drag queen reading to children, the right to bear arms with or without a criminal record, how old the president might be while serving; everybody has an opinion and no one seems shy about voicing that opinion publicly.

How I Know I am Impacted By Chaos

Perhaps growing up in a totally chaotic environment with many sisters and brothers, has shown me that peace and quiet and an absence of chaos is where I prefer to be. My mother was one of those people who thrived on chaos. Living alone with my pet (Paco) provides me the peace I require. I know that it’s unrealistic to think that I can remain inside 24/7, never interacting with another individual or group. I often force myself to socialize and be a part of group interaction. When one of these groups gets rowdy, I run away. An Irish goodbye might even be necessary (leaving without telling anyone — I’ve heard it called a French goodbye as well).

I grew up in Coney Island; full of tourists and the fringes of society. When we went to the beaches, there was no space between blankets; people seemed to like it that way. No judgment at all, just a bit chaotic. As a child I shied away from crowds.

My body reacts to chaos in several ways: I become anxious. I sweat. My stomach hurts. I get a headache. Usually at least one of these symptoms is present; sometimes all.

Not everyone responds to chaos the same way, unfortunately, I become prone to accidents due to being wildly distracted and anxious.

Coping Mechanisms

Turn it off — We don’t always choose to be right smack in the center of insane chaos, but sometimes it just sort of happens. The easiest thing to do is to step away from it. We often have that choice and do not not exercise it.

Steer clear of chaos — easier said than done perhaps. When I lived in New York City, I noticed that there were three or four streets in Times Square that were always congested and chaotic; people who had no idea where they were going, tourists milling about, individuals trying to get tickets for this or that performance, people who love being in the middle of soup. I avoided those streets and now I couldn’t imagine being anywhere near Times Square.

Turn it into something positive — the best way to learn from a situation is to take a step back and evaluate what just occurred. Ask yourself the following questions: Did I have anything to do with the chaos I just experienced? Could it have been avoided? What steps can I take to prevent it from happening again? For example: flying on the day before a major holiday? Perhaps you might choose to fly a week before the holiday or on the actual holiday? We all know airports are chaotic the day before or a couple of days before a major holiday.

Chaotic dreams — I’ve noticed that sometimes I awake from a dream and I recall chaos in the dream I just had. I think it may be a way my psyche is coping with the chaos in my life — a way of sorting it out in my sleep, rather than working through it in reality. I’ve noticed this more at times in my life when I am dealing with several major issues all at the same time: family, financial, plans gone awry, etc.

Making My Bed Every Morning — It’s been proven that having order in your home, leads to greater order in your life. Make your bed and pick up after yourself.

A tip: One of the best tips I learned from one of Queen Elizabeth’s butlers, is to wait at least 30 minutes after getting out of bed to make the bed. We sweat at night. The moisture needs to dry before you make the bed. Trust me on this one.

“Our real discoveries come from chaos, from going to the place that looks wrong and stupid and foolish.”
― Chuck Palahniuk

Upcoming Travel

In a few weeks I will be returning to Liverpool, England. Not for a Beatles tour, but to see a good friend, enjoy a diverse and cultured city, and eat ethnic (street) food. After that a brief return to Nantes and Pornic, France, Marseilles in June, and Oban, Scotland in July. I’m getting closer to my Grand tour of Dubai and four countries in Asia this October/November. It doesn’t seem to be the case, however, this year there is more time between trips and most of my journeys are shorter.

I recently booked a South Africa cruise on NCL. My college roommate and his wife will be joining me. South Africa has been on my bucket list for a long time.


My friend David (I wrote about him a few blogs ago), pastel drew Hanging Lake where we hiked in Colorado and sent this to me so that I would never forget.

The piece is lighter and more colorful than this. I took a quick photo prior to sending it off to be framed. I chose a light orange frame to pick up the gold and green tones. I’m excited to hang and admire it.

What Strength Looks Like

Strength of character is what I will be be discussing in this piece. Inner strength; strength that comes from resolve, survival, wisdom and experience. We are all warriors; your authentic self is where your strength thrives.

“True strength is the courage to admit our weaknesses.”

— Simon Sinek


For a change, this is not about me. Not that I’m unwilling to admit my weaknesses; I have many and I often reminded of them; sometimes by friends and family. Weaknesses are difficult to come to terms with if you are hard driving and highly motivated.

I am referring to weaknesses such as embellishing the truth, self-esteem struggles, needing others to validate you, lacking empathy, shying away from reality, surrendering control, allowing people to push you around, and a few more I cannot think of right now.

Apologizing for everything is seen as a weakness. As human beings we all make mistakes. Most of us are forgiving and willing to overlook unintentional blunders. When you constantly apologize, people see you as fragile and weak. Forgive yourself and move on. Not so easy sometimes.


Strengths may be easier to identify than weaknesses. What makes you proud and prideful? What fills you with self-esteem and a feeling of self-worth? What do others admire about you? What do you admire in and about others? Do you stand up for yourself and what you believe in?

Ask yourself these questions, be honest with your answers, and then make notes about what you’re pleased about or changes you’d like to make. You’re in control of a great deal more than you may believe.

What is Appropriate

Being authentic comes at a cost. Unfortunately, strength of character can be intimidating. You have to keep in mind that there are haters and jealous individuals everywhere. These people do not want you to succeed because they know they do not have the wherewithal to succeed themselves. They will work hard to bring you down or stop you from being fully empowered or realizing your full potential. These individuals are insecure and often in a great deal of emotional pain. Unfortunately, there is little you can do to help them, they have to want to help themselves. Do you know people who fit this description?

Weak and insecure individuals know that once you find your power, they will no longer be relevant. As difficult as it may be at times, the best way to disarm these individuals is to disengage. My resolve was tested this week and I am pleased to report that I walked away — practice, practice, practice. The lift you receive from taking the high road is incredibly rewarding.

Standing Up for Yourself

As difficult as standing up for yourself might be, it’s the only way you will achieve empowerment. Empowering yourself to live life with determination, reflection, action, and authenticity. Never allowing someone else to make you do something you do not want to do or be someone you do not want to be. This is one of the key principles in personal fulfillment.

I have watched so many people allow others to control them. It’s a difficult thing to witness because there is very little you can do about it. This kind of growth has to come from the desire for freedom and pride.

I not only have the right to stand up for myself, but I have the responsibility. I can’t ask somebody else to stand up for me if I won’t stand up for myself. And once you stand up for yourself, you’d be surprised that people say ‘Can I be of help? — Maya Angelou

Future Travel

Fort Lauderdale (Deerfield Beach) in three weeks, then Nantes and Pornic, France, Liverpool, England, and Marseilles, France — Nantes and Pornic are happening on the same trip, over a four day period. Other holidays planned later in the year. Biggest trip of the year will be Dubai, Singapore, Vietnam, Thailand, and Hong Kong — end of October to mid-November. This is an adventure of a lifetime that has been postponed three times due to COVID. The extra time has given me the opportunity to truly consider how I want to spend my time in Asia. I do not like long flights; therefore, Asia will not be a frequent destination.

Status Of My Hybrid

Although I’m enjoying my tiny Fiat 500C, a hybrid will not save you as much on gas as you might have thought. I think I might be getting about 10 additional miles per gallon — if that. I guess it has more to do with the psychological benefit; I am after all, helping to save the planet (tongue in cheek).

I am learning to laugh at myself. When you take yourself less seriously, others around you will ease up on you and consequently, themselves.

Never be afraid to stand with the minority when the minority is right, for the minority which is right will one day be the majority. — William Jennings Bryan


Coping With and Managing Empathy

What We’re all Dealing With

Everyone tends to believe that circumstances are worse now than they’ve ever been. The truth is that this is just not the case. The Holocaust was a great deal worse; WWI or WWII were terrible times, Hiroshima, plagues in history when millions perished — yes there were worse times. Some of us tend to forget the suffering, horrors, and chaos humankind has endured in the past. Some, understandably, will never forget.

Still, the current status of the world is challenging: climate change, mass shootings, pandemics, cancer, war, the economy, the list goes on and on. But human beings are survivors; we are built to come up with solutions and cope with whatever lands in our laps. Positive thinking and a good attitude goes a long way — I’m not saying it’s easy.

Internalizing the Pain Others Are Feeling

No doubt empathy is a double edged sword. Without empathy we are without care or feeling, while with it, we carry the burden of pain. Still, it should not be forgotten that it is usually a lot worse for those experiencing pain or loss first hand. Being supportive of the person(s) in pain by being by their side or letting them know you are there for them, is more productive and healing for all parties. Letting others know how sorry you are by displaying your emotions publicly is usually not helpful.

When my brother passed, my mother could not support the woman who walked out on him. Even if her grief was real and justified, my mother had lost her son and it was my mother I needed to support. Sometimes we forget that empathy means prioritizing your emotional and physical support.

You can also be empathetic toward someone you are not terribly fond of; this is called being compassionate and a good human.

The Lack of Empathy Around Us

The term “thoughts and prayers” has been troubling me lately. To tell grieving parents that your thoughts and prayers are with them is hypocritical in some situations and most can see right through hypocrites. How could someone who supports the purchasing of firearms without a background check, be empathetic? There are so many clear examples of the use of religion or laws to justify a lack of empathy for others.

This idea of showing strength and keeping your emotions hidden, is nonsense. Being strong when others need you is essential; however, being stoic and without emotion makes those around you skeptical of your ability to understand their pain. As with all things balance is key.

Unfortunately, some people lack the ability to feel empathy; these individuals are broken and in need of therapy or some other means of awakening their emotions.

Coping Mechanisms

  • I hate to suggest this, but I firmly believe that sometimes the only way to deal with something is to turn it off (not deal with it).
  • Thinking about the worst case scenario. Not always, but sometimes, reality is less harsh.
  • Be good to yourself — do something nice for yourself.
  • Extend your sympathy to the person who is most affected.
  • Guilt is a horrible thing to feel and it is usually unwarranted. Survivor remorse or guilt is a very real feeling and for some, it is just as hard to deal with as if the tragedy happened directly to them. One way to deal with guilt is to talk it out with a friend. An objective point of view can be helpful. Knowing that the passing of time often makes things a bit easier, is useful knowledge to be aware of.
  • Find peace in knowing that empathy is so much more positive than a lack thereof.
  • Putting your thoughts and feelings in writing.

Do you have ways of coping with empathy on steroids? Please share.

How do you tell someone that they lack empathy? The $10,000 question.

Future Travel

This three month break from travel has been exactly what I needed. Too much of a good thing and all that jazz. No need for further explanation.

South Florida in four weeks, then Nantes and Pornic, France, Liverpool, England, and Marseilles, France (first time). Other trips planned for later in the year. More next blog. I’m learning to spread my trips apart and appreciate them more.


Many things help us to cope as we navigate the day-to-day. I find two things very useful. The first is gratitude; thanking the universe for the many things we have to be grateful for: good health, friends, family, travel, having means, the weather, etc. The second thing that helps me prepare for the day and keeps me physically and mentally healthy, is exercise. For me it’s a trip to the gym five or six days a week. I’ve been participating in this daily routine for over 40 years; although it is not a cure-all, it sure does check a lot of good health boxes. Just be grateful that you have a heart and the ability to feel.

How to Be More Empathetic, NY Times, “A Year of Better Living,” Claire Cain Miller.

A question, I thought I should address, came up this week: How do you choose your topics? I do not spend a lot of time thinking about what to write. I usually open up my laptop when it’s quiet and I have no plans. I look at a blank blog page, click “write” and I begin to type. My guess is that the topic has been swirling around my brain the night or day before I write, but I’m not fully conscious of it.

Occasionally, a topic will come up at a table of friends during a meal.

I mostly write to sort things out in my head. I’ve learned that a combination or journaling and blogging clears my mind so that I can enjoy the moments that matter.

“Writing, to me, is simply thinking through my fingers.”

— Isaac Asimov

Tools For Survival In the Modern World

Situations I’ve Discovered Require Tools

  • Navigating difficult people
  • Stress from work
  • Aging
  • Coping with medical issues
  • Sorting through stuff in order to determine what matters most
  • Discovering how to talk to people (all people)
  • Managing dark and dangerous thoughts
  • The unexpected, the reimagined, and the unintended

Tools For Living

The best tool is a good friend; a friend whom you can trust and call upon. This friend will not judge or question your loyalty. A friend can get you through some pretty rough stuff. Be sure to nurture good friendships, they’re hard to come by.

Food & beverage of your choice, are another great tool. It doesn’t have to be a gorging session or drinking your way into a drunken stupor. I’m talking a nice meal with someone you care about, a dinner party, a destination meal, fresh veggies from your garden, a nice glass of red or white . . . you get my point. Something to look forward to; something to take your mind off whatever it is that is troubling you. Escaping for the moment isn’t bad as long as you eventually deal with whatever it is you need to deal with. Stepping away helps you put things in perspective.

Learning how to be a good communicator is a tool that will pay off in spades. I know I have repeated this repeatedly, however, it’s worth repeating again: learn how to be a good listener. It’s an invaluable tool. Listen intently with your entire being. In addition, validate, repeat back key thoughts, share, confide, show interest, be objective, be generous, provide feedback when asked, and lean in. Authenticity is key when communicating; people will see right through you otherwise.

Developing a thick skin is essential for survival. There was a time when people kept most of their thoughts, feelings of contempt, resentment, rage, etc. to themselves; then along came social media. Now someone thinks a sideways glance to their ex was salacious and suddenly it’s all over Facebook or worse, Tik Tok. You need to be able to let it roll off your back and ignore it. Not easy, but if you spend the time to cultivate this practice, you will be a whole lot better off.

The ability to walk away when you are exposed to toxicity. A healthy self-esteem comes from looking out for your own well-being. Part of survival is having the ability to say “no more” or “I’m done.” It may be difficult while you’re in the thick of it, but you’ll be glad you did it when you discover how much better off you are or how much better you feel.

Laughter is a tool I often forget to use. Humor and the ability to lighten things up is part of living a happy and healthy life. I (we) take life far too seriously. Do not apologize for injecting levity into a situation or conversation. I told a joke at lunch with about 15 people last week. I noticed many were laughing, but two or three people had a very serious look on their faces. I immediately thought, oh no, I should apologize. The thing is, if they’re uncomfortable with your sense of humor, it’s more than likely a reflection of them and their biases than you. Don’t apologize, if they can’t handle your humor they can either tune you out or confront you; most people will never have the nerve to do the latter and that’s not your problem. I’m still learning this lesson.

Being authentic and true to yourself is less a tool and more a way of being. It’s necessary for success with relationships and real happiness. I truly admire people who are comfortable in their own skin.

Talking about reaching into your toolbox has become cliché. That’s unfortunate, because in fact, if you have worked hard to come up with healthy and useful ways of dealing with difficulties in your life, you should be able to call upon these “tools” without feeling that your methods are being discounted by others. If this works for you, by all means use it. “Whatever works” is cliché as well, but truth is truth. At the end of the day you want to feel good about yourself and sleep well; you will awake a stronger, healthier, more optimistic you.

What makes me equipped to share these thoughts with you? The answer is simple: life experience, hard work, and the desire to pay it forward. I took an elective course at University entitled: Living Skills; the best three credits of my educational career.

My Inspiration

I am working on a life coaching project — two individuals coaching one another. It’s early days, but eventually I’ll be writing about it. Our recent conversations inspired this blog. My coaching partner shall remain nameless. Peaked your interest . . . hmmm, you’ll never find out who it is.

“The only person you should strive to be better than, is the person you were yesterday.”

— Matty Mullins

10 Things I Love to Hate

From What I Hate Most to What I Hate Most

  1. Cigarette smoking, if it’s anywhere near me. I am aware that nicotine is a strong addiction.
  2. Men doused in cheap cologne. I have never experienced this issue with woman. It seems to be a European male thing (obviously not all men).
  3. People who lie (not including white lies to prevent bad feelings or pain).
  4. When a business fails to deliver a service and then does not own their mistake and/or compensate adequately.
  5. When someone knows they did something wrong, however, refuses to apologize.
  6. Cheaters. Not the same as liars.
  7. People who do something egregious and then refuse to own the consequences.
  8. Vanity.
  9. When people use religion as a reason to strip away the rights of others.
  10. People who abuse children in any way. People who parent children, but put themselves first. People who murder children. I like to think I can forgive anything, but, I’m not sure I can forgive murdering a child.

Honorable mention: when people do not pick up their dog’s poop or when they throw trash on the ground, when people talk about money incessantly, and certain political leaders.

I could have kept going.

The Good News

I’ve sort of worked all of this hate out of my system over the last five years; pretty much since I arrived in Portugal. Yes, I still get angry, frustrated, and pissed off, but not nearly as often and for shorter periods of time.

Smoking Gets Its Own Heading

I have a couple of friends who smoke cigarettes. I hope they don’t get angry with me when they read this. I love them; because of my affection, I’m willing to deal with the smoke — just being honest here. I am absolutely certain there are things about me that annoy them. There are degrees of hate (like most things in life); this is the kind of hate that I feel because I know what smoking does to one’s health — I watched my mother die from lung cancer. She smoked days before she died, knowing it was killing her. Hard for me to wrap my head around that.

I’m fairly certain we all have a “hate” list. Putting it in writing helps to keep things in perspective. My “love” list is a lot longer.

The Frequency of Travel

Or Staying Put

Not my window

Recently, a few people very close to me expressed their concern about my travel habits this past year. No one said as much, but I got the feeling that some may have thought I was running away from something. Damn it to hell when people who love me are right. It’s true, I was running away; I’ve been running for a long time, and . . .

Not running from any one particular person, place or thing, but I do run. When you become aware of something and you own it, you’re more likely to make change happen. Change is happening for me now.

Arguments for Staying Home More

  • Save money
  • Spend more time with your pet.
  • Enjoy and appreciate your home.
  • If you like routine, it’s easier to keep up with it at home.
  • Your food won’t go stale.
  • Commitment to create a nest you’re happy to nest in.
  • Becoming a regular at neighborhood eateries is extremely satisfying on so many levels.

Making Travel A Treat

If you’re like me, too much of a good thing gets old fast. I’ve learned that I need time between travel. Travel is exhausting these days; you need time to fully recover before you venture out again. If you space it out, it gives you time to anticipate your next adventure.

The joy of discovery is the single most important thing in life. Don’t forget it.

— The Common Wanderer

2023 Travel (scheduled)

No travel until March 1st!

Florida, Liverpool, Nantes, Pornic, Oban (Scotland), Dubai, Singapore, Vietnam, Thailand, and Hong Kong. My very first trip to Asia. I believe this will be more than enough travel for one year. I’ll be in my own bed a lot more in 2023.

Just an Aside

Two amazing things happened in 2022: I reconciled with a family member that I have been estranged from for too long. I love this person very much, therefore, it was a difficult estrangement. The other is that I have come closer to being a whole person who truly believes that I am enough. I know it’s a big deal.


I don’t want my blogs to become boring or irrelevant. Please share your honest thoughts with me; I promise not to cry or block you. You can only send me a private message. I appreciate the ability to put my twisted thoughts in writing and share them with you — always with the intention of helping someone, somewhere, who may relate in some way.

Dealing With Division

Keeping Your Friendships/Family Ties Intact

A difference of opinion, politicians/political parties, immigration, abortion, racism, the royals, religion, gay marriage, gender identities; you name the issue and everyone around you is on a different side. It’s important to stay true to yourself, but the truth is, we need one another. If you began eliminating people in your life because their values or beliefs were different, you’d end up with your principals and many lonely nights. We have to find a way to be with one another despite our convictions and predilections.

What It’s Like These Days

It so often feels as if no matter what you say, you will either offend someone or clash with them on some issue. The last thing I want is to be surrounded by people who always agree with me or vice versa. I am fascinated by what people think and feel. Of course there are red lines. For example, there are people out there today who proudly state their hate against Jews. For me, if you hate an entire population of people and wish them ill, we cannot be friends, family, or acquaintances. That sort of toxicity has no place in my life. These people may have some wonderful qualities, but annihilation, extremism, and hate overshadows all else as far as I’m concerned.

Navigating Differences

I was having dinner with a friend last night and we got into a conversation about marriage — who should be able to marry whom, that sort of discussion. I could tell from the start that she was going to say some things I fundamentally disagreed with. She went on to explain where her values came from; clearly she was taught from a very early age that there are things good christians should do or not do. I asked her if she intellectually believed that what she was taught was right and she emphatically said, “No!” For me, that makes all the difference. I have prejudices that I believe are wrong and unfair, but I know they are wrong and I’m working to change a position(s)/belief(s) that has been embedded in my consciousness for many years. We need to accept our differing beliefs, knowing that the foundation of these beliefs were deeply laid. And that most people are inherently good.

Listening to a different point of view is necessary and helpful. It helps me to formulate an informed, stronger, more absolute opinion or thought. Challenging someone is also good; provided the individual being challenged is open to what you have to say.

Love Conquers All

If that isn’t a load of horseshit, I don’t know what is. In fact, when I love, I expect the best in people. My expectations have always been too high; however, altering or lowering my expectations seems wrong on so many levels. So this is what I do lately: I accept people for who they are, but . . . if their thinking is radical and fundamentally flawed (in my opinion), I put a bit of distance between us and focus more on relationships where the people I spend time with are kind, empathetic, thoughtful, and reasonable.

Love can be tarnished or erased by hate and/or hurtful acts.

I realize some of what I write seems contradictory — human beings are one huge contradiction . . . aren’t we?

If you have found a way to cope with differences that can be divisive, please share your thoughts. Thank you.

I’m not poetically inspired very often these days; certainly not the activist I was in my early 20s. The number of issues which tear us apart concerns me. I find that it’s much too easy to just push away someone who doesn’t think the way you do. Stephen Fry was an outstanding debater and an awe inspiring intellect. If you have some time, check him out on Youtube.

Peace of Mind

When mercury's gone retrograde for what seems like eternity
Voices inside your head keeps interrupting your thoughts
Arguing about who said what to whom on the radio
And planes fly in and out of your personal air space

Breathe the quiet you long for
A moment to survey your power
Learn from tomorrow's mistakes; yes that's right (and left)
Be the child whose innocence kept you in slumber

Technically you're only temporary
You can delete, revise, redraw or backspace
Allow your emotional intelligence to rule your intellect
Eliminate the static before it eliminates you

There is a place they call nirvana
Tickets to and fro are gratis
Try too hard and you'll end up in limbo
Having peace of mind is yours for the asking



Soul Searching Is a Scary Business

But the Alternative Is Worse

How It Began

When things went sideways for me back in Brooklyn 10 years ago, I decided there was only one solution to getting back on track. I was determined to start taking better care of my emotional well-being with the hope that all else would fall into place.

There are a few things to consider when you decide to turn it all upside down for the sake of survival. For instance, will there be casualties; people in your life who want you only as you were – – even if that person wasn’t you at all. The fallout can be pretty ugly and may even set you back a bit.

A xanax prescription, numerous years of therapy, too much eating, drinking, a life coach, the advice of friends, and a couple of failed relationships, got me thinking: something had to change.

My Story

I was having lunch with someone I liked and respected in my new hometown of Portland, Maine. I had given up quite a bit in order to settle in Maine, however, in my mind it was either stay in Brooklyn and give up on being true to myself or leave a career behind for the unknown. There is a reason they say, “Never look back.” “They” being the people who always know better.

Once you make the decision to start anew, lamenting about the old is like picking a scab. You have to ignore the scab and let new skin grow.

Back to my lunch with the devil.

This person had been supportive of my new life until I questioned the life she decided I should live. A reality I didn’t realize at the moment was a life that would benefit and suit her. It took me some time to realize the lamb was a tiger in disguise. One of the fallouts of an unguarded perception of new people in my life.

I confronted the beast expecting to be bitten; instead, she did everything she could to convince me that her intentions were noble. I assure you, they were not. I got burned a couple of times as I slowly learned not to play with fire. I’ve since proceeded with caution, as I wait a bit for one’s true character to show itself.

Ways to Dig-In

There are a few housekeeping matters to attend to before you can embrace the business of assessing who you want to be versus who you are. Also, some matters to keep in mind:

  • Changing everything is probably not a wise move. There are many aspects of our lives we just need to learn to accept (e.g., aging).
  • Just saying I want to change won’t cut it.
  • You have to really want it. Being only partially committed means probable failure.
  • Have people around you who know about the change you want to make and will support you.
  • Celebrate the smallest achievements toward your goal.
  • Practice the change and forgive yourself if you fail.
  • If you can see it, you can have it. Before I moved to Portugal, I would envision my self-decorated apartment. In my mind, I could see myself slowly sipping coffee on my terrace. I wasn’t surprised when it happened.
  • Always be good to yourself. It’s an “I love you” and “you matter.” There is no one in the world more worthy of your love.

How Well Do You Know Yourself?

I have learned that objectivity is difficult when applied to oneself. It’s natural to want to think the best of yourself; however, the lens you see yourself through might not be clear or accurate. I have been known to ask friends questions with a preface they might be surprised to hear:

“I’m going to ask you a serious question and I need an unfiltered, honest reply. Donna, I’ve been wondering about my anger level lately, I think I might be overreacting at times and I imagine it could be off-putting; have you experienced this with me?” You will more than likely get a very direct and illuminating response. This is what you need from people you trust. At times, you may even get some suggestions for change.

Another method might be through therapy. My therapists conveyed thoughts in a gentle and helpful way. There have been many.

You could write a blog and ask for feedback. Just know that putting your truth in a blog can be brutal. I’ve has a couple of people tell me that they think I overshare. What you hear may not always be constructive.

Concentrate on self-awareness. Take notes and consider setting goals. Evaluate how well you are doing from time-to-time. Be honest with yourself, but forgive yourself for any transgression(s).

People tell me I was brave for packing up and moving abroad; I can tell you it wasn’t bravery at all, it was a decision that I am fairly certain, saved my life.


I promised myself that I’d stay put until my trip to Florida in March; I am keeping my word! It feels great to be grounded for a long stretch. A little like lockdown without having to stay in my apartment or wear a mask. It is my understanding that due to increased COVID cases, we may return to mask mandates. I think that would be the wrong way to go.

Sorry about the cheesy quotes, I can’t help myself.

Taking Care of Yourself Matters

“I have come to believe that caring for myself is not self indulgent. Caring for myself is an act of survival.” – Audre Lorde

Mind, Body, Spirit & Self-love

Self-loathing is no picnic and often not easily recognized by the loather. Hiding my sexuality for the first chapter of my life, marrying a woman, being a way too chunky teenager, having a psychologically abusive mother, being bullied by my peers, and failing at every sport I tried; all added up to a boat load of self-hate. Cornered in a world where a perfect appearance and one’s socioeconomic status was everything, I clawed my way into acceptance (with chewed off nails).

Looking back, questioning how I would make it out of my situation alive, hadn’t occurred to me. It was all about survival and a convincing facade. If I could convince people around me that I was someone they wanted me to be, I could fake my way into their approval.

It wasn’t until I failed miserably at marriage, that I learned I couldn’t keep it up forever. It was coming out of the closet, meeting mentors who genuinely cared about me, and having my best years ahead of me, that led me to believe happiness was possible; is possible.

I need to be clear that I do not believe that my life is any better or worse than anyone else’s. I’m fully aware that we all have troubles and worries, that is the essence of life. It’s all about how you navigate the bumps in the road. Sorry, I’ll be using a lot of metaphors.

The Mind — First you have to convince yourself that you can think on your own. You have to believe that thoughtful decisions lead to positive outcomes. You have to stop lying to yourself. You need to occasionally use your brain. Therapy and meditation helped me here.

Your Body — No self-help book will or can teach you how to love your body. The best thing you can do is accept the body you were born into and work like hell to improve it. I workout six days a week and I enjoy it immensely. I love it because I see upbeat and positive people first thing in the morning and because I know how good it is for my well being. I change up my routine so I don’t become bored. If there is no gym wherever I might be travelling, I walk. I do my best thinking while engaged in a rigorous physical activity. I try to stay off of my phone (texting and emails) I and I listen to interesting podcasts and motivating music.

When I believe there may be something wrong internally, I have it checked out by a doctor. Being fearful of a serious illness will not make it go away; if anything, it will only get worse and lead to something even more serious.

Spiritual Growth — I am not a religious person; however, I do consider myself spiritual; spiritual in the I belief that we are all connected in some way or another. When I say all, I mean all. Humans, other animals, fish, insects, trees, the stars, black holes, cosmic matter . . . all. The collective energy called the universe is an energy that is recycled and reintroduced in order to create energy for future use. Yes, negative energy exists — that is the yin & yang of this vast cycle we are a part of. Nature is the great equalizer here on earth. I know that some days are going to be harder; days where more energy is expended than taken in. Accepting this makes everything just a wee bit easier. Tomorrow may be more difficult or it may be harder, however, I rely on the balance of nature to equalize the flow of energy. I am fairly certain that when I have an opportunity to reflect on my life, I will remember continuous highs and lows that all add up to a life lived. I have the choice to create lasting memories which will hopefully make the not-so-great memories fade into the background — life lessons if you will.

The power of energy has is not fully understood. Working against that power (force) mostly gets you in trouble. More and more, I am teaching myself to move in the same direction, rather than swim against the current. We can learn so much from the flow of the universe. For me, being a spiritual being means listening to nature and those who understand nature. I am enough because I have play a role in keeping the cycle moving (as do you). If I work against that purpose, I am disrupting the natural flow of things. I am choosing a freestyle stroke in a powerful, turbulent river. I’m also fully aware that Kim Kardashian’s existence is not more important or powerful than my own — this goes for everyone else as well.

Loving Yourself — Well then, it stands to reason that if you spend time nurturing your mind, body and spirit, you will learn to love and appreciate yourself. The rewards that come from nurture are plentiful. Pause often in order to practice gratitude. There is good in most things; that which may be challenging, often leads to something good or better. You are right to think that it all sounds hokey and I am nothing more than a snake charmer; however, it is the simplest things in life that seem to provide the most illuminating answers. Life is complex, but if you proceed one step at a time, with thoughtful intentions, you’re less likely to fuck it up.

A Plan

Lately, I find myself choosing a quieter lifestyle. It’s not that I did all of my partying as a young man; I was always an introvert. I have stopped fighting the urge to go to bed early. I love drifting off on my sofa while a good film is playing. I love a good night’s sleep. I love getting out of bed while it’s still dark. I love the quiet of the early morning. . . coffee by my side. I love getting a headstart on the day. I love walking Paco at 5:00 a.m. without a leash. I love getting a lot of heat about this from nearly everyone I know.

What do I mean by “A Plan.” If you have dreams, you can’t just sit around waiting for them to come to fruition. I think grabbing life by the cojones is the way to go. If you fail, you fail. Get back up and try again. Perseverance, grit, desire, and a little bit of luck, will get you across the finish line. The greatest example of this in my life, is my Ph.D. Trust me, it’s not just smarts that gets you that piece of paper. You have to want it so badly that you know in your heart and soul that you cannot and will not settle for less. Most accomplishments take this kind of commitment; anyone who tells you otherwise, is lying.

Don’t look to others to bolster your pride and self-worth; allow it to come from within and celebrate who you are, every chance you get.


Life changes, the world changes, we change. You cannot say to yourself, well I made a big change 10 years ago, so I guess I’m good. Cher is my inspiration, she reinvents herself quite often; it’s the reason she’s still relevant at 76. Jane Fonda and Dr. Fauci are a close second. Role models work for me on many different levels. I hope to re-evaluate my life right up until the day that I die — a death that I do not fear. What I fear is inertia.


I struggle so much with spontaneity. I know from past experience, that if I change things up spur-of-the-moment, I often have a better time than if I stick with the same ol’. Routine is great most days, but sometimes we need a reboot; spontaneity can do that for us. I’m going to practice what I preach today.

Noted Progress

Parceling life up and looking back at decades, makes reflection easier. You have to be older in order to do this, explaining why youth seldom reflect on the past. When you’ve lived more years than you have looking forward, it’s easier to reflect.

What you see when you look back is up to you. Your collective memories are all a part of one huge pool. Bad memories are powerful and work hard being dominant, but you can push back just as hard. Allow the good memories to come to the surface by acknowledging them and celebrating them. My late night dancing days were extremely pleasant. These memories play a prominent role in my past because for me, they symbolize freedom, growth, and experimentation. In some ways, I believe that my identity was shaped on the dance floor. These memories serve to reinforce the good that can come from giving yourself permission to take risks, live in the moment, and feel — not as easy as it sounds. I work hard to peel off the protective armor I started wearing the moment my mother gave birth to me. It serves a purpose yes, however, it can also prevent us from the self-exposure necessary to feel. The deeper the cut, the harder the loss, the greater the healing, the greater the growth. The key is allowing it to happen. Denial, pushing it down, projecting, glossing it over; it eithers prolongs the pain or stops the healing. My scars are a reminder that I have healed. I wear my scars as badges and I take pride in the healing I allowed; knowing that it isn’t always easy to leave the scab alone.

Blog inspired by Lori Owens Kostiuk (click her name for website). Lori is doing some very significant work on the power of art and healing. Take a look.

Upcoming Travel

Between now and March 2023, I have very little planned. My sister and brother-in-law will be visiting from North Carolina in early November and I’m surprising them with an overnight trip to see the incredible Algarve rock formations (my sister has never read and will never read my blog, so she won’t see this; I love her nonetheless). A food & wine trip to Lyon, France with friends in mid-November and a weekend at the Spanish border in December. That’s it until March when I will be traveling to Florida for a week of curated memories; sharing a house with two of my favorite people in the world. Note: no trips added since my last blog and that’s on purpose.