New Year New You

Oh my goodness! It’s that time of year again.  Time for a soliloquy. I like soliloquy rather than resolution because I reflect before I resolve.

Where have I been?  What have I learned?  What do I want and/or need to change?

Hmmmm, let me think…….

I’ve been to Egypt, Dubai, Croatia, Sheboygan, South Africa, Aruba, Brazil,  Denmark.

What I’ve learned along the way?

  • “There is nothing to fear but fear itself.” I went hang gliding in Brazil. The experience was liberating and absolutely breathtaking! I will add an adventure to my travels. Stepping out of your comfort zone will renew your confidence and perspective.
  • Sustainability is easier than you think for yourself and your country.  We’d all be better off for it.  In Denmark I visited a hotel that operates mostly on this principle.  From the design and construction of the building to the food.  Solar panels are built in, ground water is used to heat and cool the building, the wasted food, which there is a ton of at hotels, is used as compost in their organic farm, the country has the largest wind turbine plants in the world, 80% of the people bike and there are concessions for electric cars for 10 years! I will be mindful of the footprints I leave behind. I will use my towel more than once. I will use the toiletries until they are gone before getting new ones. I will take a walking tour or rent a bike for my health and the health of the environment.  I might even take a Voluntourism trip.  Might is the operative word. I’m a work in progress.
  • The middle east is just as diverse as any other part of the world.  Egypt is a mix of liberal and conservative Muslims but overall more liberal with ancient structures and history.  No alcohol is served outside of hotels and cruise ships while Dubai, UAE is far more conservative in Islamic practice but far more modern. Basically catering to foreign vacationers and alcohol is served at just about any establishment that caters to foreign visitors. I will not judge on outer appearances or what I’ve heard.  this is part of getting to know the locals.  You’d be surprised what you might learn about people.  It could confirm your beliefs or change them.
  • Dubrovnik is beautiful and very classic European. I’ve been pronouncing it wrong.  The emphasis is on Du not Brov. It’s DUbrovnik vs. DuBROVnik. It’s been just 20 years since Croatia declared it’s independence from the former Yugoslavia. And 13 years since Serbia occupied a piece of Croatia. Can’t believe it’s been that long. Time does fly as you mature.LOL
  • In Aruba everyone is affectionately called mi dushi, Papiamento for my sweet or sweetie.  Call someone Mi Dushi and they will love you for it.  It doesn’t seem to matter who you are speaking to.  We came upon a public official and our guide called out to her “hey mi dushi.” Pronounced dooshee. Hmmm, should we refer to our politicians as sweetie?
  • South Africa remains one of my favorite destinations.  It’s now on the list of emerging markets or as we call them in the industry BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China & South Africa).  I came upon a lot of nationals traveling and vacationing within their own country.  That’s a great sign. When I revisit a destination, I will try something different, visit a new place, meet new people.
  • Sheboygan was a nice getaway and road trip.  Sometimes you don’t have to travel far for a cultural experience.  Yes, I said cultural experience.  Each of our states and cities have their own culture.  Sheboygan is a quiet seaside resort town with a close knit community.  Lake Michigan is really an inland sea! This was my second deep sea fishing adventure but my first catch.  It was a five pound lake salmon.  They smoked it for me and mailed it to me. OK, we did not go out that far but it was far enough.  It wasn’t a thirty pound marlin but it was just right for me.
  • I gained 10 pounds last year after working hard to take off 50 pounds two years prior. The good news is that I’m already back on track. That being said, I know the error of my ways during my travels and will not consume every meal as if it’s a crucial part of my travels. When I’m just eating for sustenance I will do so mindfully and save the calories for the meals that really are crucial to my travels.
  • I work in the travel industry so this may sound funny to you but I will take a vacation. I haven’t had one in at least 4 years. All of my travels have been for work. You may not have sympathy for me but understand that what I do is work.
  • I will engage more with the locals. Maybe even invite someone to coffee just to chat and really learn about the country and the people. It’s interesting to hear what people think about their country, your country and the world. Especially what they pay in taxes.
  • I will say hello, please and thank you more and learn it in as many languages as I can. It’s fun and the response you get is priceless.

This is what I plan to do for the New Year and beyond. I hope that I make it such a habit that it will forever be a part of what I do.

What will you do?

Happy New Year and resolve to travel and experience!

Ja’Vonne Harley


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