2018: Your word is Intention

standard January 2, 2018 Leave a response

Intention is my word for 2018

Two years ago, still reeling from my father’s death and trying to put my life back together, I opted to give myself a break from choosing a single word to strive for during the year. That break stretched into the next year without me even noticing.

This year my word came to me as I was flying home from visiting my terminally ill mother. The trip to and from her house is pretty much endless. First you have to get to the airport. Then you take a first flight to somewhere in Europe. (My personal preference is to fly into Iceland. Because WOW is incredibly affordable.) Then you take a second flight to Paris. There you rent a car and drive the 2.5/3 hours to my mother’s house in the middle of nowhere France. It takes about a day and a half to go from door to door. The trip back is even worse because, thanks to the 9 hour time difference, you cram the whole trip into one simply endless day.

In short, all of that traveling leaves ample time for some deep, deep reflection. And watching a LOT of movies. Like a lot. Do you know how many movies you can watch in a 9 hour flight? It’s a lot.

So there I was, on my way home after spending a very peaceful five days with my mother and her husband, trying to pinpoint what had made that trip so much more pleasant than the last two I had taken to visit them. The location was the same. Her health was no better than it had been the last time I’d been to visit. If anything, it was way worse. Her mental decline over the last 6 months has been devastating, to say the least. I had no sisters or husband or kids to help buffer and distract from the illness that is rapidly stealing my mother away. And yet, I was flying home feeling oddly at peace.

In between movies, I came to a startling conclusion.

The difference? Intent.

I headed to France with the sole intent to spend a few quality moments with my mother. I didn’t go with the hope of fixing anything, or having a wonderful week, or even having deep meaningful conversations with anyone. Instead, I went with a totally open heart, intent on noticing the little good moments amongst the big sad scary stuff.

And I was rewarded. My mother and I spent long afternoons in the car, driving around neighboring towns. Her speech is confused and usually makes little to no sense, but I followed her instructions without worrying about the destination. Each day I was rewarded. One day she navigated me to a butcher. Another to a grocery store. The last to a yarn store because she had noticed me knitting the night before. We had a couple laughs and just enjoyed being together.

I didn’t try to hold on to the moments or control them. I just let myself enjoy them as had been my intent upon arrival.

As the miles between my mother and I stretched further and further apart, I thought about how I can’t actually control anything in my life. I can’t control other people’s health, my daughter’s anxiety, what jobs I get offered, or how my life generally flows.  What I can control is the intention that I bring into situations.

I can be intentional about the jobs and invitations I accept or reject. I can be intentional about doing things that make me happy. And I can be intentional about how go into challenging situations.

For years I’ve needed to just go with the flow and let the river of life take me where it wanted to meander. I’m excited to see how bringing a little intent to the mix changes things for me this year.

What's your word for 2018

*****

Did you get everything you wanted this holiday season?

No? Well, then, maybe it’s time to treat yourself to something special.

A WOW Air Review – Get the Lowdown

standard April 20, 2017 1 response

Please note: I am writing this WOW Air Review of my own volition after having experienced WOW Air at my own expense. 

WOW Air Review

A few weeks ago I got a call from my sister at 7 am that had me sitting at my computer 5 minutes later googling flights to Paris. From San Francisco. Leaving that morning.

Crazy, right?

Well, turns out, not so much. In fact, that’s how my love affair with WOW Air began.

I hadn’t even heard about Wow until that day. And yet, moments later I was booking a flight and getting ready to pack my bags.

Cost of the round-trip flight? Just under $500.

That’s right. I booked a transatlantic flight three hours before take-off and paid less than $500.

I have to admit that I didn’t waste much time questioning my luck. I booked, and hustled. In less than three hours I had to make childcare plans, prep school lunches, and pack a bag. It wasn’t until I was sitting at the gate that I paused to wonder if I’d gotten myself into a situation I was going to regret.

It’s one thing to fly a cut-rate airline when you’re going just a state or two away. It’s a whole other ballpark when you’re going to be traveling to the other side of the world and it’s going to take the better part of two days. That said, I didn’t exactly have a choice. Time was of the essence and I really didn’t relish the thought of shelling out $2k to fly a more “traditional” airline.

Turns out, I worried for nothing. Suffice it to say, I was so delighted with my WOW Air experience that I have since taken my whole family back to France with meWOW Air flights all the way!

I heard from a friend yesterday that it was hard to find a legitimate WOW Air review, so I’m sharing my experience with you all in case you’re intrigued by these ridiculously low prices and are worried you’ll be flapping your arms all the way to Europe.

The WOW Air Review: what to expect when flying WOW Air

1 – You get what you pay for

Everything on WOW Air has a price, from whether you can choose your seats to how much luggage you can bring with you. The price you see is the bare bottom price. Seat + personal item (aka purse or backpack). You can pay for each carry-on or suitcase, or you can “upgrade” to the other two fare levels (Plus or Biz to include the price of luggage etc.)  The four of us just flew to Paris and I purchased two “basic” seats and two “pro” seats so that we could bring two suitcases and two carry-on bags. It was perfect. (I did have to purchase my tickets in two different orders because I couldn’t select two different price points. I have a feeling this is a glitch that will be eventually addressed.)

You can purchase food and beverages on board for about the same price as on every other flight. (Pizza or sandwich for about $9.) Food was very adequate. Nothing is free. Not even water. They take all major credit cards. No cash.

2 – No TV screens or music

WOW Air is pretty minimalist, so no screens on the backs of the seats or music playing from your armrest. That said, you can rent iPad minis on board that come pre-loaded with a bunch of movies and games for $16. Considering the fact that on other airlines you sometimes have to pay $8/movie, it’s a deal and a half. Good movies too. With a few that are kid appropriate. Oddly enough, they seem to be partial to Benedict Cumberbatch movies, but who isn’t?

So far all WOW Air planes I have flown have had outlets at each seat, so no worries about running out of juice.

3 – Great staff

So far I have been delighted with the WOW Air staff, both at the airport and on the planes. They’re helpful, gracious, and polite. Way more so than some airlines I won’t mention. Plus, they wear uniforms that hail from the 1950’s and it’s beyond charming.

4 – They don’t mess around with carry-on luggage size

Every bag is carefully assessed when you’re checking in. Small “personal” items are tagged to go under the seat. Bigger items for the overhead compartment can be paid for, but must also meet weight and size restrictions. You will not be able to skate. If your bag doesn’t fit the bag sizer it will not go on with you. End of story. If your back-pack is too big, they will charge you. There’s something kind of nice about this no-nonsense approach to the whole thing. Maybe it’s my European blood, but I like a good rule enforcement.

5 – No boarding groups or such shenanigans

WOW Air boards planes on a first come first serve basis. (Except for families and people with special needs who are invited to board first.) They start boarding almost an hour before the flight takes off and, because they’re so strict about the carry-on situation there’s none of the usual overhead luggage drama that can sometimes make boarding so damn stressful.

6 – No first class – everyone in the same boat…er…plane

WOW Air considers all customers to be equal. So, good news, you can totally use the bathroom at the front of the plane! Need a bigger seat? You guessed it, you can buy one. Want to sit closer to the front of the plane? That’s right, you can buy that too.  Need extra leg room? Need I say it? Seat options can be found here.

7 – Iceland? Yes.

Every WOW Air flight lays-over in Reykjavík, Iceland. The Keflavík International Airport is small and somewhat reminiscent of a freshly built Ikea. There are limited options for food, but you can definitely find a couple sandwich options. There’s also a well stocked Duty Free store where you can purchase some Icelandic knits and stuffed puffins along with your booze and chocolates.

 

So, to recap, WOW Air is a minimalist airline that believes in only making people pay for exactly what they want. The seats aren’t overly plush, the offerings aren’t overly abundant, but for an incredibly reasonable price, you can fly to and from Europe quite comfortably.

Would I fly WOW Air again? I already have and am planning on doing so again soon.

Would I recommend WOW Air to a friend? Already have. And now I’m recommending it to you.

WOW Air Review

Please note: I was in no way compensated for this review. I am writing this of my own volition after having experienced WOW Air at my own expense. 

 

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Celebrate the Successes

standard January 6, 2017 Leave a response

There is a sign that lives above my desk that reads “Celebrate the Successes.” It’s something my sister once told me as I related to her how I was struggling with feelings of inadequacy and stagnation. About how life sometimes just feels so hard and how everything feels like just one long series of failures.

We had that conversation long ago, maybe last year, maybe the year before. I can’t remember, but the paper the sign is printed on is pretty tattered, so it certainly wasn’t recently.

And yet, today I need it more than ever.

Because life is hard, yo. It’s a constant struggle. And, yes, it still feels like one long series of failures.

I was going to come here to whine about just how hard it all is and how low I feel right now, but then the sign caught my eyes and I realized that maybe, just maybe what I need today is a moment celebrating the successes instead of going over the list of failures one more time.

  • I have work. I even enjoy some of it.
  • I’m successfully working from home.
  • The kids are having great years.
  • I’ve started working on a new novel.
  • I’m making time to make more family meals.
  • I’m making more time to walk and take care of myself.
  • I’ve cultivated and nurtured some amazing friendships.

When I stop to think about the successes in my life, both big and little, it’s like a weight lifts from my shoulders and the dark clouds over my head get a little less heavy.

It’s been a rough few weeks. So much angst and worry and sadness. So many burdens to shoulder. I know I’m not the only one struggling this month. I see it all over Facebook and among my friends. January is hard. Brutally, unapologetically hard. It’s good to stop and remember that finding a little light to make the darkness more bearable is within our reach.

The other day when I was organizing my office, I moved the signs on my wall around. I think I need to move this one sign back to where I can see it easily so I keep reminding myself that success lies everywhere and it’s up to me to look for it.

Celebrate the Successes

The woman I’ll become

standard October 28, 2016 Leave a response

I have this vision of myself, later at some indistinct time in my future, in a house with a yard. It’s a cozy house with lots of snug areas to sit, with a warm comforting kitchen that is more welcoming than functional.

The me that I imagine I’ll be then isn’t lithe, nor is she overweight, she’s an indistinct somewhere in between. She’s somewhat inspired by the maternal figure in Trixie Belden, or at least as I remember her, portly, busy baking pies and cooking for anyone who might be over, and also by other literary figures who have charmed me over the years.

The thing about this me of the future is that she’s secure in the knowledge that people love her exactly for who she is and how she makes them feel, and not because she’s dressed in a particular style, or looks a particular way. She’s just very comfortable being herself.

She putters. She wears flowy colorful clothing clearly designed for comfort and not for looks. She brews tea at all hours of the day. She hand-writes quotes and hangs them all over the place. She has notebooks stashed everywhere in case inspiration strikes.

She’s always ready to have people drop by for a treat, a cup of something warm to drink, a chat in the yard or in the cozy kitchen.

She’s got advice if it’s wanted and an ear if it’s needed.

I like to think that she’s a safe haven because she’s so secure in her acceptance of herself as she is.

Occasionally I see glimpses of this me I hope to someday become.

The handwritten notes are already populating my office walls. The tea is already a fixture.

wall-notes

It’s the rest that still eludes me. That feeling that I could wear anything that makes my soul feel at peace and not worry about what others might think or say.

Once in a while I spot an item and think, “I need that. I must have that. Because one day that’s who I’ll be.” Usually I demure. And sometimes I don’t.

Which is how I ended up ordering the one piece romper jumper thing that everyone was talking about one day on Facebook. It’s utterly ridiculous, and yet my soul cried out for it and my wallet didn’t balk at the $14 price tag.

The package arrived and sat untouched for over a month. I couldn’t bring myself to face the ridicule, knowing how much I would love having it on.

The other day, I finally found the courage to try it on. I swooshed around the house, loving the feel of the fabric flowing around my legs, relishing the utter freedom of the endless comforting material.

Then I saw my daughter’s face, half smiling/half afraid that her nutty mother might actually wear this thing out in public, and I changed out of my romper and tucked it away.

It’s ok. I get it, I really do. And I’m not entirely ready to be that person anyway.

So, for now, I’m happy to let it sit there, in my closet, waiting for the day that I’ll finally be that person whose self-assurance shines through so brightly that what she drapes over her body isn’t what people will see first.

And maybe on quiet days, it’ll come out to play.

In the meantime, I’ll smile at the knowledge that I’m not the only one who bought the romper while it was on sale. The Facebook frenzy about it is enough to tell me that I’m not the only one who dreams of one day being that self-assured woman.

I look forward to sharing a cup of tea with them in the not so distant future.

****

Please note, in the interest of full disclosure, you should know that the links above include my Amazon affiliate link. Should you click on them and purchase something like maybe a book to treat your inner child or a romper to tempt your future self, I’ll earn a teensy tiny portion of the sale and I will be endlessly grateful.