Why do we travel?

Here are more reasons than one person could ever need to travel, to see the world, to move beyond her comfort zone, to open his eyes to difference and to sameness. May one speak to you, even if it just encourages you to walk into a bookstore or a coffee shop that is new to you and begin a conversation with a person heretofore unknown to you (see how I've cleverly avoided the word stranger and all its negative connotations?). Sometimes for me the best traveling is simply opening up a new book and going on a journey with the characters, à la Anne Tyler's The Accidental Tourist. Happy Trails.

"It’s invigorating – If you are open to it, travel will simply make you a more well-rounded human being." 
Airtreks  Being open is the key to many locked doors.

"Unless you sit at a resort drowning your brain in frozen drinks, travel will teach you about the world." 
Nomadic Matt  If you are drowning in anything (alcohol, self-pity, food, TV), it's hard to learn.

"Love yourself whole-heartedly, especially in times of solitude." 
Thought Catalog To me this summarizes the gift, the self-care of reading and of traveling alone.

"Yet for me the first great joy of traveling is simply the luxury of leaving all my beliefs and certainties at home, and seeing everything I thought I knew in a different light, and from a crooked angle."
Back to Life, Back to Reality  Light versus darkness; it's all there, the history of everything.

"Traveling to places less fortunate then where I come from always makes me appreciate what I have more."
Live More Awesome  Sometimes it's in how you define fortunate though; sometimes people who appear to have nothing actually have everything.

"Travel, in other words, is a basic human desire. We're a migratory species, even if our migrations are powered by jet fuel and Chicken McNuggets."
The Guardian  I want to migrate somewhere much warmer than here.

"Travel gives you relief from everyday life."
Trip Logic  Sometimes travel helps me see the glories of my everyday life, too.

"Most people I know who waited to travel the world never did."
Goins, Writer  This includes most people, doesn't it? I don't have to see the whole world, but I certainly would like to see more. Italy is at the top of my list.

"Because you are afraid, and it’s always good to make peace with your fears."
The Art of Non-Conformity  The unknown is definitely scary, and so much of travel involves the unknown, even with itineraries and bookings and reservations. I look wide-eyed at the people who travel with none of these and just go.

"The world is a book and those who do not travel read only a page," said St Augustine. 
Lonely Planet  It's a mighty thick book, and it's time to get reading.

As Neil Young said, "Travel on."
Where will you go? http://googlephotos.blogspot.com/2011/05/google-photos-salutes-national-travel.html


Travel, or the need to step out of our self-constructed little boxes (like the Like)

I recently traveled by air three hours away, by feel a world away, for a week. Before I left I decided to go media-free, meaning I did not access my messaging systems or social media outlets while I was gone.

That's right: no email, no voicemail, no texting, no internet searches, no posting, no Likes, no work. And? It was anxious-making. It was disconcerting. It was awesome. In that order. I could feel my brain settling down, relaxing, ceasing its frenetic pinball-like frenzy of to-dos and must-sees, just as my body settled down and unkinked.

I could read a book without that skittering sound of mice on the move, that need to see what else is happening or being said or done. I could sit and contemplate the ocean without making a mental list of other things I should be doing. I could have a conversation with a family member without a ping or a ding of any kind. I could be glad in all of this.

It didn't happen instantly; it took a few days, during which I was a little twitchy, like someone in withdrawal, though from something so nebulous it can't be touched or even named all that well. The unfortunate part was that I only had a week, so before I knew it, I was back (see, I'm back). But it made me think.

What is the cost of all this frenetic activity we all engage in to be "with it" and "in it" rather than just being? Is this the root of modern stress, the need to constantly be doing and responding to doing? I live in the northeast, which is known for its chilliness, both of three of its seasons and of its people. I honestly do find people nicer in other parts of the country and of the world. I am not alone in this; this is where stereotypes come from, rarely from nothing. I wonder if I am nicer when I am elsewhere. Let me know if you see me, will you?

Photo by Charlotte Jane Feldman


'Tis the season after all, anytime

Whatever holidays you do or don't celebrate, in most books, including mine, 'tis the season of giving. But we can all give year 'round, especially when it's this easy. Here's a list of FREE gifts you can give your favorite authors any time of the year:

1. Add their books to your want-to-read list on Goodreads ( if you want, you can sign in with your Facebook account rather than setting up a Goodreads account); share this with Facebook by checking the box. You can also follow the author by clicking on her/his name to go to to the author page and signing up. You get fun announcements this way about Q&A sessions and other perks.

2. When you read an author's book, rate it on Goodreads and

3. Review the book on Amazon. It only takes a minute and helps a ton. You can write a review if you've ever bought anything on Amazon, not just a book, you can use a pen name, and it only has to be 20 words long. Easy! Reviews help more people find the books they want to read. If you are on Goodreads, you can put the same review there, too, for other readers to find.

4. Follow their blogs. Like them.

5. Vote for their books on Goodreads Listopia. Anyone can add any books to any list.

6. Share this post, or any post by your favorite authors announcing the release of new books, with your networks. Your friends will thank you for the great reading ideas.

These are the gifts that keep on giving and give you a gift in return--happy authors who will write more books for you to read. And a great new year to you and yours!
the gift that keeps on giving, Wikimedia Commons IMGstocks


The Nature of Resolutions

I've decided that for me resolutions are similar to giving things up for Lent: doomed to failure.

I recently watched the movie The Way, about a guy grappling with his son's sudden death by completing a quest that his son had wanted to accomplish. Now here is a seemingly impossible task (the man is ill-equipped in ways too numerous to mention, never mind the spoilers) that is in fact quite doable because of one thing: he is highly motivated and begins right away. 

That is my problem with resolutions and giving things up for Lent (is there a name for this? A penance? Something more specific? I should know this, but Google doesn't either): it is a directive that comes from "on high" rather than from within and so has little staying power. Why, if I am thinking about doing something, say training for a marathon or giving up a vice or being kind to animals or whatever, would I be any more likely to do it if I begin on January 1 (or March 5, Ash Wednesday next year) than if I begin today? 

If it's SO important to me, then I should--and will--begin today, right this very minute. And if it is not? Then it goes in the same bin as Never eat chocolate again, Stop with the sarcasm, and Single-handedly save the polar bears before they all drown. My resolution, my never-give-up, my plan today and every day: Do my best, leave the rest.

Polar bear not in favor of global warming from Wikimedia Commons