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My Vacation Was A Carnival Dream

I took my first real vacation of 2021 this past November. I was long overdue after not being able to travel in more than a year. I took an 8-day vacation on aboard the Carnival Dream Cruise Ship, with 3 stops in the Bahamas and to be honest, it was a little too long for my taste. I would have done 4 days nicely, but more than that I’m not so good. I get antsy for dry land and lots of sightseeing that I don’t want to have to cram into a matter of hours before the ship leaves port. But that’s my preference. There were hundreds of other passengers on board who would disagree with me.  

Aside from the number of days aboard the ship, there were major benefits. My stateroom included a balcony that provided beautiful views and significant peaceful moments. The meals were filling and plentiful – my choices were a freshly made spinach omelet, fruit, and coffee for breakfast, salads, sandwiches or tacos for lunch and for dinner, salmon or steak grilled to perfection, and sided with steamed vegetables. All the food was visually appealing and delicious to taste.

All that blue, blue water is…hypnotic and soothing.

There were plenty of activities to stay occupied while at sea including a casino, a variety of games, club karaoke, movies on deck to name a few. Our most memorable stop was in Ocho Rios where my son and I enjoyed a wonderful day at the beach. The weather was gorgeous, the sand gleamed like white diamonds, and the inviting blue water stretched for more than a mile. Still, that wasn’t the best part of the vacation.

The moment I stepped on board the Carnival Dream, I felt at home. From the staff who took care of my stateroom, who removed the tension from my neck during a massage, to others who served my meals at the restaurant and answered my questions at the help desk, they were by far the most memorable. The staff greeted me by name and treated me like royalty, everywhere I went. Even more impressive was their dedication to constant cleaning and taking extra measures to keep passengers safe. Staff always wore face masks, and even though I could not see their faces, I felt the warmth in their smile and know that I was going to be well taken care of.

We planned this cruise in 2020, with high hopes that the pandemic would be over by the time we were ready to set sail. It wasn’t, and we took every precaution to prepare and made sure to follow Carnival’s Covid protocols before and during the cruise. It was well worth the process, and we returned home healthy and safe.

With 2022 coming up, I’m already making plans for our next vacation. It just might be another cruise. A shorter one though, and earlier in the year. It’s just got to be near a beach. I’ll keep you posted.

As an independent travel advisor, I’m happy to help you plan your own memorable vacation. I love a great vacation experience and I want to make sure my clients have a great experience, too!

The Myth of Bringing Your Full Authentic Self to Work

I had the pleasure of talking to sought-after speaker and writer Jodi-Ann Burey for this week’s episode of the Business Communicators. We discussed, among other topics, what companies and business leaders can do, to enable their people to feel confident about bringing their full, authentic selves to work. Plus, Jodi-Ann’s TEDx “The Myth of Bringing Your Full Authentic Self to Work,” is a must-watch! #business #leadership #communicationstrategy

The Business Communicators

If you have not met Jodi-Ann Burey, you’re in for a treat. Simply put, she is a disrupter, speaker anda writer who works at the intersections of race, culture, and health equity.

Jodi’s TED talk, “The Myth of Bringing Your Full Authentic Self to Work,” embodies her disruption of traditional narratives about racism at work and has almost 1 million YouTube views.

Jodi-Annjoins Hattie Horn for an engaging conversation about her mission to disrupt “business as usual” to achieve social change; and, strategies companies and business leaders can implement that enable their people to feel confident about bringing their full, authentic selves to work.

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Getting Out Of My Own Way

Years ago I responded to a quiz in O (Oprah) magazine which asked the question, ‘What’s holding you back?‘  The majority of my responses revealed what I already knew.  A fear of failure.

Whether I’ve been procrastinating a long time or I’m just a late bloomer, the moniker is not as important as what it suggests.  Fear of what might happen had the ability to dictate how I approached, or in some instances, completely avoided potential opportunities.

As a teenager, I used to swim at a park pool in the summer.  Once I impulsively decided to try the high dive.  But when I climbed the stairs and walked to the edge, I looked down and froze.  Instead of jumping  into the cool blue water, my feet did an about-face and led me back down the stairs.  Mortified and embarrassed, I fled to the bathroom to hide until my heart stopped pounding.    That’s kind of how I felt when I started working as an independent consultant. Companies were laying of.  I had bills to pay and a burning question beating me on the back of my head: can I really do this on my own?

For most of my professional career, I had the safety net of a company and a steady paycheck to sustain me.  That ended in 2008 when I faced a difficult challenge and survived.  I have been reinventing myself ever since. (hence the Twitter handle my3rdact).  To make positive things happen, I need to get out of my own way, make different choices – in the people I surround myself with and the battles I believe are worth fighting.  It hasn’t always been easy to do; I’m a work in progress and each day gets better.

With each new venture, I gain the confidence to do what I advise others: be true to who I am, my talents and abilities to accomplish my goals, and take risks even though I’m not certain of the outcome.  It’s all part of a plan designed long ago, and not by me.

I don’t know what my next act holds, but there will be less hesitation when I’m faced with what I perceive will be a difficult challenge.  I’ll assess each situation and look for a positive opportunity.  So move move out of my way, far and doubt!  I have God and courage walking with me on my journey. It’s my time. 

 

With each new venture, I gain confidence to do what I advise others: be true to who I am, my talents and abilities to accomplish my professional goal, plan a dream trip and learn to take risks even when I’m not certain of the outcome. It’s all part of a plan designed long ago, and not by me.

Travel Blues

When was your last destination vacation? Mine was in 2019. It was a girls’ trip to Aruba with one of my dearest friends, and it was glorious. Four days of beach, blue water and blue skies, shopping, good food and great conversation while sipping cocktails beneath a big umbrella.

And like so many, my 2020 vacation plans were put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Staying home rose to new levels with the restrictions imposed on travel and businesses needing to curb numbers to significantly decrease the spread of the virus. It was a year of face masks, hand sanitizers and self-discovery.  While I didn’t go stir-crazy, I missed the fun of planning and anticipating the experiences created with a new adventure.

March 2021 marked one year since the COVID-19 pandemic began and that several vaccines have been rolled out across the world. I received the Pfizer vaccine and with the vaccination of millions to create herd community is needed for greater protection, I’m hopeful that my traveling blues will be cured by the end of the year.

A 2020 trip to South Carolina for an annual breast cancer walk was cancelled and is scheduled to be in Hilton Head this October.  My bestie invited my son and me on an eight-day cruise to the Bahamas scheduled to sail in November. I’m keeping prayers raised and my fingers crossed!

When you’re feeling comfortable enough to travel, where do you want to go first? And when you’re ready, I can help plan your unique travel experience.

And like so many, my 2020 vacation plans were put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic… It was a year of face masks, hand sanitizers and self-discovery.  While I didn’t go stir-crazy, I missed the fun of planning and anticipating the experiences created with a new adventure.

My journey to being content

I have lived in the same city and area, my entire life.  After college, I stayed in my parent’s house and after they passed on, I married, had kids and stayed. We moved only after I realized the idyllic childhood I enjoyed was not possible for my own children.  I won’t go into details, just know they aren’t pretty.

Before marriage and kids, taking off on a weekend whim with friends or staying up partying until dawn was the height of my early to mid-twenties.  Now, unless you count nursing a newborn at all hours of the night hanging out, this is as adventurous as it gets.  This was my choice and I was content. That is, until I wasn’t.

Over time, I lost my sense of fun and adventure.  I was working in a job, that after almost 19 years, felt stifling and no longer brought me joy.  Then suddenly, life and work were interrupted by a diagnosis of breast cancer.  After eight rounds of chemo, six weeks of radiation and a mastectomy, I was grateful to be alive.  After surgery, I had six weeks to recover at home and plenty of time to think about my life’s current situation and if I had the courage, what would I change?  The phone rang, and the conversation I had was the game changer that encouraged me to move on.

That was 10 years ago.  I’m in a good place and feel stronger than ever, mentally and physically.  I’m now a communication consultant, working on contract.  I have the opportunity to work with different industries and write for a variety of audiences and platforms.  It’s exciting to see them, and their people, collaborate to execute bold ideas to drive business success.  I’m challenged to step up my game.

After each assignment ends, I have to hustle for the next one.  The longest assignment was two years, and it recently ended when the company I worked for was acquired by another.  Am I worried?  Ten years ago, I would have been scared out of my mind.  Then I remember I have I come through worse. I’m still a mother, a wife, have my home and I’m still here.  I’m content.

Have you been at a crossroads in your life? What are the choices you made and why?

I was working in a job, that after almost 19 years, felt stifling and no longer brought me joy.  Then suddenly, life and work were interrupted by a diagnosis of breast cancer.  After eight rounds of chemo, six weeks of radiation and a mastectomy, I was grateful to be alive.

Green lighting a great story

Boardz Drag posterI love movies, especially those with a great script.   When I can carve out some free time, it’s spent at the movies or on my sofa watching television, transported by the story unfolding before my eyes.

My friend Shed has a wonderful, original story to tell, rich with complex characters and situations drawn from his personal experience  – as an officer of the law and as a father – that he’s working to make reality.  Boardz Drag is the story of Ricky Sims, a police officer who idolized his dad, Conrad who was a police officer killed in the line of duty. This story sounds typical, but it’s not.  However, it will be for the viewer to decide.  The objective, now, is to secure financing to bring this story to the screen.  Watch the teaser and tell us what you think.  Thanks for your time.

We Will Survive!

Cancer Survivors Tribute in the Houston Galleria Mall.

On Saturday, June 4, the Houston Galleria mall was mobbed – flash mobbed- by an explosion of  pink power as more than 100 breast cancer survivors, our friends and family members performed a dance tribute  to celebrate National Cancer Survivors Day.  I was in the mix dancing as disco diva Gloria Gaynor sang her timeless hit, ‘I Will Survive. ” 

Much of the love and gratitude goes to Houston philanthropists Lester and Sue Smith, whose organization Pinkwell.org    is dedicated to finding a cure for breast cancer.

It was an exhilarating experience to be among women like me, who are  not just surviving but loving life and beating cancer, one day at a time.  And the lyrics to Ms. Gaynor’s song will always be with me: ‘as long as I know how to love, I know I will survive. I’ve got all my life to live, I’ve got all my love to give, I will survive . . . I will survive.’

Click here to see Video tribute.

Getting out of my own way

Sometime ago I responded to a quiz in O (Oprah) magazine which asked the question, ‘What’s holding you back?’  The majority of my responses revealed what I already knew.  A fear of failure.

Whether I’ve been procrastinating a long time or I’m just a late bloomer, the moniker is not as important as what it suggests.  Fear of what might happen had the ability to dictate how I approached, or in some instances, completely avoided potential opportunities.

As a teenager, I used to swim at a park pool in the summer.  Once I impulsively decided to try the high dive.  But when I climbed the stairs and walked to the edge, I looked down and froze.  Instead of jumping  into the cool blue water, my feet did an about-face and led me back down the stairs.  Mortified and embarrassed, I fled to the bathroom to hide until my heart stopped pounding.    That’s kind of how I felt when I started working as an independent consultant. Companies were laying of.  I had bills to pay and a burning question beating me on the back of my head: can I really do this on my own?

For most of my professional career, I had the safety net of a company and a steady paycheck to sustain me.  That ended in 2008 when I faced a difficult challenge and survived.  I have been reinventing myself ever since. (hence the Twitter moniker my3rdact).  To make positive things happen, I needed to get out of my own way, made better choices – in the people I surround myself with and the battles I believe are worth fighting.  It hasn’t always been easy to do; I’m a work in progress and each day gets better.

With each new venture, I gain confidence to do what I encourage in others: be true to who I am, my talents and abilities to accomplish my professional goal, plan a dream trip and learn to take risks even when I’m not certain of the outcome.  It’s all part of a plan designed long ago, and not by me.

I don’t know what the next act holds for me, but there will be less hesitation when I’m faced with what I perceive is a difficult challenge.   The key is to keep moving and look at each situation as an opportunity.  So move to the side, doubt and worry!  I have God and courage walking with me on in my journey.

This is my time. I’m ready.

With each new venture, I gain confidence to do what I encourage in others: be true to who I am, my talents and abilities to accomplish my professional goal, plan a dream trip and learn to take risks even when I’m not certain of the outcome.  It’s all part of a plan designed long ago, and not by me.