Category Archives: Travel Diary

leave to live


LEAVE: “a period during which the usual routine of school or work is suspended” or “the approval by someone in authority for the doing of something”

LIVE: “having life”

This idea of ownership, of granting yourself permission to be the authority of your own life–is one of the hardest things to learn. From the Greatest Generation to Gen-X, we’ve been guided on how to live our lives through a series of life stage accomplishments and milestones. Most of the time that has involved a linear path from point A to point B to point C all the way on the journey toward death. (Morbid, right?)

Recently, those straight lines have shifted. They have become circuitous, even squiggly in nature. The rules, if they even existed have changed and the map to living a full life has expanded beyond your imagination. The freedom of choice can be exciting, scary, nerve-wracking and exhilarating…it allows us to do what we’re put on this earth to do, live. 

And that’s what it is all about: learning how to live a more enriched and fulfilling life, and in some cases that may involve learning to leave to live. I promise you that when you leave to live you take charge of your own existence and your destiny, and that’s definitely a goal to work towards.

Definitions for LEAVE and LIVE provided by Merriam-Webster.


everyday bravery

“There’s room for both of us.” This is what I’m telling Rocky as he tries to find space on my lap as I type. He was sitting in the chaise on the deck, nestled into the Mexican blanket I brought back from Cancun the first time I discovered the Mayan oasis. Now he is curled into the inner nook of my left elbow, his cerulean eyes quizzically looking in my direction.

Dusk, the sky is a faded velvet. It is so quiet up here and the breeze is heavenly, dancing around the copper chimes, brushing up against the clematis on the stairs. The rain is settling into a mist and there is a definitive feel of fall in the air. Something is rising, and not just in the atmosphere; it’s a changeling for all the things I feel internally. Change is brewing, I’ve felt the subtlety of what the newness could mean if I could just step forward. My current vocation is the last thread, the last anchor that ties me to the world where Dad was present. So many changes in two years time, it doesn’t seem very long at all, and yet f feels like a lifetime ago. The swirl of emotions from grieving is growing, surreptitiously deciding my future and all of it makes me feel like I have to be braver. Moreso than ever before.

Bravery is the act of being courageous; having courage, valor, intrepidity, nerve. True, there are more important things to fret about given what is happening in the world today but most of it beyond opinion is out of my control (racial inequality, gun control, and Iran’s nuclear powers). My greatest concern a call for bravery is a first world problem, and it’s not necessarily bravery that I am after but that last word on the end: “nerve.” That’s the one that resonates and calls to mind one of my favorite literary (and movie) characters from The Wizard of Oz–the cowardly lion.

Screen Shot 2015-07-26 at 11.31.35 PMOn their journey to Oz he is determined to acquire courage from the great wizard and upon arrival is surprised to find out he has been practicing the act of courage all along. “The true courage is in facing danger when you are afraid.” (Frank L. Baum)

Life’s greatest mysteries they are often resolved in the everyday act of living.

Image Source: Figment Studio/Etsy

my two year absence

A lot can happen in two years. A lot did happen in two years. There were a handful of hypnotic eye-opening experiences in India, as well as a a slightly disturbing observation in the duty free shop in Qatar. The stories start here. I came home with a new mindset and a plan to make some serious changes in my life. I adopted Rocky to fill the hole left in my heart from losing Tigger the year before. His arrival could not have been more serendipitous, one week later after an unbearably hot July my universe was shaken to its core when my father passed from this life to the next. Those stories are here.

Next came a year’s worth of weekends searching for a new home, and then this past March moving to a new neighborhood. Now almost 5 months in, my Saturdays are spent looking for furniture and sprucing up the deck. You can find out all about that here.

I’ve taken a very long hiatus from my writing and luckily that well is being replenished even as I type this “welcome back to me” post. In addition to ramblings about life and the occasional blast of poetry when the mood strikes that you’ll find here, I’ll soon be launching a new site, http://www.leavetolive.org — the content explores a new philosophidea (I just made that up combining philosophy + idea) of giving ourselves permission (aka leave) to live our lives.

more to come,

– a


unrequited undertow

swimming the action of propelling oneself in water by natural means using arms and legs, can also be used abstractly as both a negative representation of a sensation, where one is floating or reeling and a positive one where one proves to not go under and surmounts difficulties in their path. a lot of meaning for one word isn’t it?

swimming, i’ve been in and around water since I was a child. the ocean and its surroundings a part of almost every childhood memory. in each memory there is sun, sea, sand. the sun’s appearance dictating a Saturday beach outing where we would pile into the dusty green Datsun and drive east toward Rockaway. On longer weekends we headed west toward the Jersey shore. And during the weeks of summer vacation, my mom and I would travel by subway to Coney Island or by bus to where the end of Oriental Boulevard meets the sea.

Rocky shoreline of Orient Point, LI

It was the draw not only of the sun on the sea but the sun and the sand, and depending on what shoreline we found ourselves, each experience of the sand beneath my feet, defined by its texture, shape and size was like time traveling. From the bay shores of Coney Island to beginnings of the ocean near Riis. The eastern shores of Long Island where the granules near Montauk Point are slightly larger and mixed with ground seashells to the north shores of Orient Point dotted with shiny smooth stones that glimmer like black and silver diamonds on the horizon, to the white shores of the lido in Sicily where the best swimming holes to be found are nowhere near sand.

swimming, if one were to ask me I would undoubtedly claim to have been swimming since the very first moment my feet touched sand all those years ago. And that would be a half-truth.

At a young age, my Mom and Dad dutifully taught me how to swim in a seaside kind of way. They introduced the ebb and flow of the sea gradually, first building sandcastles and moats, then splashing in caches of water near the surf, slowly leading me closer and closer to the frothy water’s edge. With each visit to the beach we ventured a little further, and one day I learned to float, the next time the doggy paddle. I can still see their young faces full of pride, laughing. As I got older they flanked me on either side holding my hands, as we jumped over the crashing waves, eventually finding a spot where we cleared the sea floor enough to sail with the breaking waves body surfing along the surface. In this homegrown adventure I learned to swim.

And then one day years later on the beaches of Cancun, I unlearned how to swim.

It was a gorgeous day, my friend and I were staying at the Krystal Palace and after a day of touring the ruins made our way to the hotel’s private beach just steps away from the infinity pool. The sea was translucent and turquoise, the sky above us clear with rolling puffy clouds way, way off in the distance. The water refreshing and cool in the Mexican heat, there was no incentive to leave the water and so I lingered. Nearby a few other beachgoers were looking out onto the horizon, it seems they had spotted something unfamiliar. Upon looking over I saw it too, a cloud far off in the distance with what seemed to be a tornado like spout touching the ocean.

Example of water spout (c)http://myturksandcaicosblog.com

These funnel, or water spouts, as they are traditionally called, can induce storm like conditions and its advisable to not be in the water when first sighted as they can move swiftly. Completely unaware, I continued to tread water and swim, watching the water spout casually from my location, and was quite taken by surprise when the undertow shifted. Caught in a tumbling wave like a rag doll, I lost all sense of gravity, and emerged disoriented and shaken with sand burns on my skin, a torn bathing suit and a heap of sand in my hair.  I left that beach seemingly unscathed only to find myself weary of any undertow or swirling current. Since that day I rarely venture beyond my comfort zone, preferring my feet to touch the sea floor regardless of what beach I may be on from the frothy surf waters at Ditch Plains to the mild green seas of Antigua, Barbuda, Aruba and Puerto Rico.  This unrequited fear of the undertow has put a damper on any ocean side endeavors.

I finally decided enough was enough, a fear of the ocean is just not feasible for someone who loves the beach. There are so many things l want to do that involve the sea, like surfing and kayaking and even in my wildest fantasies I dream of selling off all my worldly possessions and buying my own private island.  I can’t do any of that if I’m too afraid to swim! And so I’ve enrolled myself in a crash splash course at the Y, a swimming boot camp if you will that  meets (1) hour a day, 4 days a week for a month straight. The instructors test you on your ability and place you in a group of students with similar swimming strengths. Then they teach you the basics starting with the swimmer’s form, or streamline position, and begin introducing you to each individual stroke, i.e., backstroke, freestyle, butterfly, et cetera.

Classes started last week, and I’m happy to say that I survived basic training. It takes some getting used to wearing a swim cap and goggles but it certainly makes for quicker, less invasive swimming. I would say the breath has been the hardest adjustment and a complete 180 after a dedicated yoga practice (in through the nose, out through the mouth); it’s no surprise really that I resorted to holding my nose all these years.  I can already feel the benefit in swimming as a form of exercise, and as one friend mentioned it’s the one sport where you use your entire body. My upper body feels more awake and open, and even though my muscles are sore from under usage, I’ve never felt healthier. I’ve also noticed a change in my diet where I crave protein-rich foods more than sugar/salt/starch.  And last but not least is the added benefit of sleep. After a full day at work, I swim vigorously for an hour, shower than relax in the sauna for a few minutes before heading home for a long uninterrupted slumber. A full night’s sleep is anyone’s dream.


green and yellow

Kiwi Lemon Sorbet

4 fresh kiwis, peeled and cut into small pieces
1/2 c. sugar
juice of 3 medium lemons
2 T. light corn syrup
2 c. ice cold water

  1. Combine kiwi, sugar and lemon juice in a mixing bowl.
  2. Cover and refrigerate for one hour.
  3. When ready to freeze, mash the kiwi to desired consistency; add corn syrup and water and stir until blended.
  4. Transfer the mixture to your ice cream maker and freeze following manufacturer instructions.

my favorite scoop

In my last post, I mentioned how I had plans to get back to my life and to all the things I love most, like making homemade ice cream.

A few years ago one of my dear friends, “Mon Frite,” introduced me to the wonderful world of homemade ice cream, a hobby she shares with her Dad. Almost every time she heads home to visit, she makes his favorite Maple ice cream. When she shared the simplicity of the process it seemed almost kismet that I should combine my love for ice cream with my love for baking. To help get me started, Mon Frite recommended I purchase an ice cream maker and suggested a recipe book or two to use as a reference.

Ice Cream is literally a frozen, sweetened cream (made from a combination of cream and milk with sweeteners and flavoring). Once you master the sweet cream base, everything else is easy, and the most fun part begins: experimentation, mixing and matching ingredients, and truly exploring the craft of ice cream magic.

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The following recipe and ingredients were inspired by using Ben & Jerry’s Sweet Cream Base.

Honey Vanilla Chamomile Ice Cream

2 c. 1/2 and 1/2
5-6 Honey Vanilla Chamomile tea bags (I used Celestial Seasoning)
2 T of honey
1 c. sweetened and condensed milk, cold

  1. Open can of sweetened and condensed milk and transfer to measuring cup. Set aside to chill in refrigerator.
  2. Pour half-and-half into double boiler and heat; whisk in honey and bring to simmer.
  3. Remove from heat and add tea bags; allow tea to steep for at least one hour.
  4. After hour is complete, remove tea bags and add in sweetened condensed milk to tea mixture. Whisk until blended.
  5. Transfer the mixture to your ice cream maker and freeze following manufacturer instructions.

the sixth sense: intuition

Sometimes I feel like I have extrasensory perception (ESP), a mild clairvoyance for finding things, things that are lost. Like keys, notebooks, metrocards, a charm bracelet, a ring. Things hoping to be found amid the camouflage of my belongings. Metrocards in jean pockets, books kicked under couches, car keys frosting in the freezer door.  Just this morning, as I walked out the door I realized my work ID had gone missing. After a 10-second frantic search with no immediate results, I paused trying to remember where I saw it last, like a futile game of hide and seek.

I try not to sweat the small stuff, the hiccups of inconvenience. I count to ten and take deep meditative breaths to clear my mind.  Sometimes this works, sometimes not. Most times I find my mind wandering, redirecting itself toward the mundane. Cleaning up cluttered counters, retrieving wet towels from the bathroom floor, hanging up clothes that find themselves on doorknobs instead of the closet. The big reveal: a bright orange lanyard branded my photo dangling from its loop.

These small moments of knowing without knowing make me wonder about coincidence, luck, fate–and whatever other word you might conjure. I don’t question the wondering, some things are just meant to be intangible. I leave the small stuff to itself and revel in its karmic beauty.

As for the big stuff, I don’t sweat that either…I know St. Jude’s got my back.