travel

Temecula Toyota and Tranquility Our Weekend Getaway #Sponsored @ToyotaLatino #Prius #LetsGoPlaces

Posted on June 10th, 2017 by & filed under Blog Venture, Events, Everything Miz Meliz, sponsored, Travel

Temecula, Toyota, and Tranquility, Our Weekend Getaway

Let me tell you about my experience at the Temecula Valley Wine & Balloon Festival sponsored by Toyota Latino #LetsGoPlaces #VayamosJuntos…A huge thank you to Toyota Latino (check them out on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram ) for hosting me and Lito on this amazing weekend getaway and giving me the opportunity to review the Prius Four! Please see my disclosure for details on why I post articles like this on MizMeliz.com. It was my pleasure to share my experience with you, all opinions are entirely my own (with some input from Lito.)

I am excited about getting away for the weekend! Let’s go!

Temecula

It was time for a romantic weekend getaway! Lito and I have lived in Southern California all our lives. We have been married twenty-five years. Can you believe we have never been to the Temecula Valley? It is just a short three hour drive from our home in Los Angeles (depending on traffic) and we have heard about how amazing it is, but we had not been there. So, when we got a chance to get away for the weekend and check out the 34th Annual Temecula Valley Balloon & Wine Festival, it sounded like a dream!

Driving out to the festival felt like getting away from it all!

The Temecula Valley Balloon & Wine Festival is the perfect combination of many of my favorite things. Lito and I had a great time there! I felt like a kid when I walked through the gates! It was like a fairytale.

Taking the drive in the 2017 Toyota Prius Four was magical from the start. I had fun driving it. Lito took the pictures and we posted on Snapchat along the way. After a long day of doing errands around town, stopping at the dentist – which happened to be the only thing we couldn’t reschedule that day, grabbing lunch and making our way to Temecula, we finally were on the road to the festival. It was a long and windy road. (giggles) It was! Imagine it, a beautiful sunny and warm day, great music, a fun car to drive, my hunny by side and I am on my way to enjoy the best wine, listen to live bands (Bush, The Gin Blossoms) and see giant helium balloons light up the night!! It was a dream for me!

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If you have a chance to go to the annual Temecula Valley Balloon & Wine Festival, I highly recommend it. There is plenty to do there, even camping by Lake Skinner within walking distance. (Actual walking distance, the same as you would do from the parking lot – not hiking or having to take a shuttle, the campgrounds are right there.) I mention this because I wouldn’t have thought of a Balloon Festival/wine event as a family outing at first. However, there is plenty to do for the whole family. The festival part did not disappoint. The food and entertainment, craft fair booths, live music, and of course The BALLOONS would keep the kids happy and occupied while you taste wine and beer from the region to your heart’s content. Everything was clean, beautiful, well controlled, and very well organised.

The vineyards and estates that lined the road on the way to the festival were breathtaking!

There are two stages with bands playing almost non-stop over the three days of the festival. There are balloon ride packages available. There are wine tasting packages or you can have a single taste, all purchased separate from the admission ticket. There are plenty of options for meals. Make sure you have cash! Although most of the booths and vendors accept credit cards, the remote location has some limitations with internet connection. This made it difficult for the card readers to work, and the ATM machines also could not function in some spots.

Cheers!

I have to admit, I’m not that in to wine these days. In our younger days Lito and I did our fair share of wine tasting and enjoyed learning about wine. I can’t drink a lot of wine now because of dietary restrictions, or shall we say…lifestyle choices. I found it very easy to have a single taste while at the festival and there were volunteer stewards there to help me choose just the right thing. For my celebratory selection, I went with a peach champagne. It was c’est magnifique! If you are a wine aficionado, this would be a great place to try all the wines of the region in one location. Every winery in the area was represented. It was impressive. Check out the website for more details.

Temecula Valley Balloon & Wine Festival

37701 Warren Road

Winchester, CA 92596

Toyota

I was so excited to have the opportunity to experience the Prius Four – with an EPA-estimated 54/50 MPG. With advanced materials, an innovative design, Prius promised to deliver the perfect drive. It turned out to deliver much more!

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Even though I had driven the Prius all day on the way to the festival, it was on the way out of the parking lot that I really got acquainted with all the features this model has to offer. We sat in the car for over two hours as the thousands of automobiles were slowly ushered out of the multiple parking areas through that one windy road we came in on. We looked at it as a positive since we had a great vehicle that was equipped for this kind of thing, we were actually charging the battery as we sat listening to music, reading the manuals, and playing with all the buttons and dials! We didn’t have to worry about turning off the engine, wasting fuel, or putting out emissions. It was pretty cool.

Here are my Five Favorite Things About the Prius Four:

  1. It Feels Like a Car – I never drove a hybrid before this and it wasn’t at all what I thought. It felt like a car. It didn’t feel like an electric golf cart. It was sturdy, great to drive, it had power, I loved the steering and handling, and I felt safe in it. The doors are heavy, the base is solid. It did have that “whirrr” sound when accelerating like a ride at Disneyland, which was strange. I usually drive a Jeep Wrangler, so nothing about that sounds cute! I liked that this Prius did not need to be “plugged in” to charge. It was everything I would expect from a vehicle, with more ways to save energy.
  2. Light Leather Interior – Living in a part of the country that gets temperatures of 80-100 degrees most of the time, I appreciate a cool interior. I also love leather. The two together are usually a disaster on a hot day. Not so with the Prius Four – I imagine it was the color that made the difference. It was very stylish with white on black. The dashboard was very modern and state of the art – futuristic even! I liked the crisp angles and large lettering and numbers. The design was fresh, from the fabric, to the little touches of metallic edges infused into the design that gave it a retro feel.
  3. Blind Spot Assist – The design of the Prius Four creates a big blind spot and Toyota has a great feature that I was skeptical about at first. I like to look over my shoulder and see what is next to me and behind me. It didn’t take long to get used to the indicators on the side-view mirrors that let me know if there was something in my blind spot. That really helped.
  4. It’s Roomy – The Prius Four is a hatchback with lots of cargo space. It also has a lot of leg room and felt comfortable. It is a small, mid-sized car, yet I would enjoy having it as a commuter car that I could use for long trips as well as family outings.
  5. It’s Sporty and Cute! – Not just because the Prius Four that I reviewed was “Hypersonic Red” but the design is pretty cool. It’s sleek and sexy. The tail lights have a unique design. Lito called it my spaceship! We definitely enjoyed all the features the 2017 Toyota Prius offers!

Tranquility

 Toyota thought of everything when they treated us to this little getaway. We stayed at the Pala Casino Spa and Resort.

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After all the driving, balloons, and wine tasting, we were ready for some rest and relaxation! I’ve heard of some other Indian Reservation casinos in the Temecula Valley area before but I was not familiar with Pala. It was off the highway a bit, but that added to the adventure. It is a smallish hotel and casino and reminded me a little of “old Las Vegas.” Lito and I got some ice cream and walked around the gaming tables and slot machines after we got back from the wine and balloon festival. We thought about trying our luck. We ended up not playing because we really feel like winners already! We were very lucky to have this fun weekend together with all the activities, transportation, and lodging provided. We felt truly blessed. I didn’t want to risk losing any of that!

In the morning we walked around the beautifully landscaped grounds of the resort. We checked out the pool and cabanas. We took a little peak in the spa gift shop. I did a Facebook Live tour (see below) to share the experience. It was a very nice morning. I enjoyed my stay and would return to Pala anytime. The room was luxurious and spacious. Next time, I will try the spa services!

They have live bands perform in the center of the resort, as you can see them setting up in the video. This would be a great all inclusive destination for any occasion. It is especially nice because it is close to the Temecula Valley wine country and Oceanside, which is a beautiful seaside town in North San Diego County. We ended our trip with brunch in Oceanside and took some beautiful photos with the pier in the background. It was a great day!

Listening to ’80s music all the way home, played on Sirrus XM by Richard Blade, brought us back to our younger days for sure. The entire weekend in Temecula, with Toyota, gave us just the tranquility we needed to recharge our battery and enjoy the fun summer ahead!

Pala Casino Spa & Resort

Pala Casino Resort & Spa

11154 CA-76

Pala, CA 92059

A huge thank you to Toyota Latino (check them out on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram ) for hosting me and Lito on this amazing weekend getaway and giving me the opportunity to review the Prius Four! Please see my disclosure for details on why I post articles like this on MizMeliz.com. It was my pleasure to share my experience with you, all opinions are entirely my own (with some input from Lito.) I was under no requirement or obligation to post this on my blog, nor did I receive any compensation for doing so. I was invited to drive the 2017 Toyota Prius Four for one week. We were treated to an overnight stay at the Pala Spa and Casino Resort, received a gift of $150 in Visa gift cards for gas and expenditures and two (2) general admission tickets to The Temecula Valley Balloon and Wine Festival. #ToyotaLatino #Prius #VayamosJuntos #LetsGoPlaces 

 

A Classic Interview with Keith Hemstreet @GannonAndWyatt

Posted on October 17th, 2016 by & filed under #SPARKLE Tinsel Town Tonight Interviews, Books, Everything Miz Meliz, Travel

Meet author, Keith  Hemstreet and learn about his newest book, Travels with Gannon & Wyatt: Hawaii

 When I was asked to review Travels with Gannon & Wyatt:Hawaii  I thought, Oh cool! I would love to go back to Hawaii someday, it will be fun to review a travel book. I didn’t realize at first that I was being asked to review a young adult/middle school book. Yet, it still sounded interesting to me, and after all it was about Hawaii. So, I read on…

This and previous volumes in the series are written in the style of journals kept by famous explorers – both to engage middle graders in science and to make for a fast, dramatic read about the cultures. The stories set in Botswana, the Great Bear Rainforest, Egypt, Greenland, Ireland and now, Hawaii, share the experience of seeing these special places first-hand. Authors Patti Wheeler and Keith Hemstreet love to talk about why it’s so important for kids to learn about these places and people.

In Travels with Gannon & Wyatt: Hawaii, readers soon learn that the big island Hawaii has four the of five major climate zones on earth; that Mauna Kea, a dormant volcano, is both sacred and one of best locations in the world to view stars; and that the island is known as the bird-extinction capitol of world with 70% of its birds now extinct. It also quickly becomes clear how important the history, culture and language is to the Hawaiian people –and how that’s increasingly at risk. Hemstreet called Hawaii, “one of my favorite locations because of the environmental diversity and rich culture.”

He said, “In each book the main characters have an adventure with people from different cultures, who have different beliefs and lifestyles. We’ve also found everywhere we go, the indigenous people are talking about climate change and telling us what is happening in their part of the world. We aren’t looking to take sides, but to convey ‘this is what is happening, this is how the traditional inhabitants of this land feel about it, and this is how these changes may affect things long term.’ We do everything we can to share what we’ve seen and experienced with readers. In addition to the books, we have a website where we blog about our experiences and share our photos and videos. We also utilize social media to share news and run contests that include prizes from places we’ve been.

I was sold. Not only on the book, but on the inspiration of the authors. I wanted to interview Keith and Patti and learn more about what motivates them to use their talent and affinity for learning about cultures to make a difference in the world. I scheduled an interview through their publicist. I received the book, I read the first few pages and I knew – this is something special. Then I got this email from Keith – – my heart sank a bit. I am always disheartened when someone cancels. It took a lot for me to overcome shyness and I know most authors would rather be pulled apart limb by limb by wild horses than be interviewed on a live talk show. So I shouldn’t have been surprised when I received this…

“Hi Melissa, First, thank you for inviting me on your show. Unfortunately, I am just back from speaking at schools and libraries in Wyoming and feeling under the weather. In lieu of a video interview tomorrow night, is there another format we could use, possibly an audio interview (if my voice holds) or a guest post/text interview on your blog? In fact, audio and text are my preferred interview formats, so I would be happy to do either or both. Also, should you wish to offer a give-a-way to your audience, I’ll send send you a free set of our middle-grade adventure novels (there are currently 6 in the series).”

These books were a welcomed surprise for the library at Chaminade College Prep Middle School!

These books were a welcomed surprise for the library at Chaminade College Prep Middle School!

It is my goal to connect with people and to learn from them, and there are many ways of doing this. It doesn’t always have to be on Tinsel Town Live – – and what better way, what more inspired and enriching way – could I get the most out of an opportunity to have a guest post from a seasoned author than to have his answers in written form – in his own hand – I believe that was a pure gift.

I received Keith’s response today, the exact date he said he would send them to me. I am over the moon excited about sharing this classic interview with you. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I do!

Dear Keith,

Here are some questions I love to ask, and a few from a middle school student pal of mine…

What do you like to be called?

Keith Hemstreet
 
What do you most want to share about yourself with my audience?
I am a Floridan by birth and graduated from Florida State University. I now live in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado and enjoy hiking into places where you’re more likely to see a bear or mountain lion than another human being. 
 
What motivated you to reach this point in your career?
Since I was young, I wanted to be a writer. Reading and writing are two of my greatest passions. Over the years, I have taken on a variety of jobs that moved me away from full-time writing, but even then I’d wake at 4:30 a.m. and work for 2-3 hours on something  a novella, a newspaper article or blog, a screenplay. It is all I’ve ever wanted to do, but to do it well takes years and years of practice. Same goes for any profession. I have been writing for over 20 years now and I am still learning. Patti Wheeler, who had the brilliant idea to create a travel/adventure series for young readers, was the primary motivator behind Travels with Gannon & Wyatt. Patti and I work hard to make sure each book in the series is action packed, entertaining and educational. Hopefully, these books will be around long after we’re gone, and the idea that they could be provides added motivation to do all we can to ensure each story will be appreciated for decades to come. 
 
What inspires you?
First, my wife and children. A child’s sense of wonder is a tremendous source of inspiration for me. I wake each day inspired to do my best for my family, to create an environment that is loving, supportive, creative. I’m also driven by a desire to do something good for the world while I am here. To contribute. To leave it better off in some way. Travels with Gannon & Wyatt addresses this desire, as each book brings the magic of nature and distant cultures to the imaginations of young people and their families. The series subtly promotes conservation, diversity, and global understanding. We hope readers will embrace these themes and be inspired to continue on their own journey of self discovery.  
 
How do you relate to your characters?
There are parts of Gannon and Wyatt’s personality that are similar to my own. Patti’s, as well. Their interests, on the whole, are also similar. Specifically their fascination with travel, cultures, and the environment. There are few things as thrilling as exploring a place you’ve never been. The characters embody this excitement in the books, and Patti and I can totally relate. Truthfully, the fictional characters are the sort of teenagers I always wanted to be. Curious, smart, and worldly. Avid readers and prolific writers. Both Gannon and Wyatt, and key characters they meet in each location, are also driven to do right and have strong family values. 
 
Are the brothers real?
While all the characters in the book are fictional, the main characters, Gannon and Wyatt, are very loosely based on two brothers of the same names. They are Patti’s twin sons, and have traveled to all of the places we write about in the books. Patti was a flight attendant for 15 years, just like the mom in the book. One of the great perks of working for an airline is that you and your family get to fly for free. So, their family has been traveling for some time. It’s in their blood. 
 
Do you incorporate your own life’s experiences from childhood and from your own travels in your writing?
Yes, we do. We travel to each location to do some research before writing the book. We hope that our extensive field research will add authenticity to our books, and it’s not unusual for some of our own experiences to make it into a manuscript.  Especially if something exciting happens. We do embellish, so again, the stories in the book are fiction, but in some instances they are based on our own experiences. The rhino encounter in our first book, Botswana, was based on a frightening experience we had in the Kalahari Desert. Sorry, I won’t spoil it. 
 
What is the most vivid memory you have of your travels?
Staring into the eyes of a lion in Botswana that was resting ten feet away from me, or watching a glacier calve in Greenland and being horrified by the size of the wave that came racing toward our boat. Entering King Tut’s tomb in Luxor, Egypt, or seeing a Spirit Bear materialize in the Great Bear Rainforest. Crossing paths with crocodiles the size of dinosaurs in the Australian Outback, or our expedition to the top of an active volcano in Iceland, or casually strolling the streets of Havana, Cuba. All of these experiences are etched in my mind forever. And, of course, everywhere we go we meet wonderful people and make new friends. Also, returning home to my wife and daughters, wrapping them all in giant hug, that’s as exciting to me as the trip itself.
 
What is your favorite travel destination to date?
I have truly loved every place I have visited, so it is hard to say. There are three island nations I was especially enamored with and hope to return to with my family — Greenland, Iceland and Cuba.  And having the opportunity to travel through South Africa, Botswana and Zambia was the thrill of a lifetime. Ireland is also hard to beat. Italy, too, because of the people, history, architecture and art, not to mention the country’s food, which is my favorite. I could go on.
twgw-book-set-2
 
Why do you like to write?
Maybe it’s that writing allows me to use my imagination. It gives me the ability to create. With writing, there is a level of freedom and opportunity that is invigorating. Writing is all I ever really wanted to do. While it takes significant time and focus, it’s not really work to me. When I wake up in the morning, I can’t wait to sit down and start writing. 
 
What is your core value? When it comes to your passions and purpose in life?
Compassion. Acting with kindness and compassion in every day life. My wife and I always tell our daughters, the most important thing is to be kind. If you are a kind and caring person, a person who takes a genuine interest in the wellbeing of others, everything else in life will work itself out. 
 
Is there anything else you would like to share with me and my viewers?
Travels with Gannon & Wyatt has been described as a mix between The Hardy Boys and Indiana Jones, or Magic Tree House for slightly older readers. We intend to have a minimum of 12 books in the series, but hopefully we’ll have many more. Patti Wheeler and I speak at elementary and middle schools across the country, via Skype and in person. Teachers and librarians interested in a school or classroom visit can contact us through our website — GannonAndWyatt.com. Also be sure to follow us at Facebook.com/GannonAndWyatt
 
What promotion would you like to tell us about?
We are happy to give away a complete set of autographed Travels with Gannon & Wyatt books (there are currently 6 in the series) to one of your readers. You decide how to choose a winner, and we’ll ship a set of books to them.  [See details below on how you can win!]
 

These questions are from my friend and fellow blogger, Samantha, who is in the 7th grade:

What made you come up with the idea for Travels with Gannon & Wyatt?
Coauthor Patti Wheeler was a flight attendant for 15 years, so she and her husband traveled the world. When you travel, you learn lots of great things about the culture, environment, and wildlife of these places and Patti wanted to come up with a way to pass on all of that valuable knowledge to young people like yourself. So she and I started brainstorming and decided that a fictional adventure series would be the best way to do it.  
 
Is your book series about your own life?
No, although some scenes are inspired by our own experiences. We try to use a lot of what we see, learn and do while traveling in each book. 
 
What makes you use realistic places in your story rather than fictional places?
There are so many places on earth that are simply magical, as magical as any place of fantasy, if not more so. We want to bring the magic of these real places to young readers. There is a great big and wonderful world out there! We are fascinated by it and hope to capture a little bit of it in each book. 
Why did you put a page for notes in the back?
The stories are told through the journal entries of the main characters, Gannon and Wyatt. In part, this was done as a nod to the historic journals of famous explorers from the 1800s and 1900s. Explorers like Lewis & Clark. It was also done to encourage young people to keep a journal of their own. The lined pages in the back are for readers to write their thoughts or jot notes. When we speak at schools, we talk about the importance of reading and writing. The more you read and write, the deeper your understanding of the world, and the deeper you understanding of yourself. 

I can’t thank Keith enough for this fabulous insight into his and Patti’s process and for sharing his passion for travel and writing with me, Samantha, and our readers. I still hope to interview Keith and Patti on Tinsel Town Live – or perhaps, I will have a chance to meet them at school one day.

Connect with authors Keith Hemstreet and Patti Wheeler Here:

gannonandwyatt.com

facebook.com/GannonAndWyatt

youthexplorationsociety.org

Please comment with any questions you may have for the authors, or myself. Please share any story of your own travels and adventures with us! We would love to hear from you.

Keith and Patti would like to send you a gift! A winner will be chosen randomly from those who Tweet the message below between now and Tuesday, November 15th and will be announced live on Tinsel Town Live with Miz Meliz on Smiletime.

Save $100 on family-friendly Hawaii vacations with Pleasant Holidays – USFG’s new travel partner!

Posted on October 9th, 2016 by & filed under Everything Miz Meliz, Travel

Save $100 on family-friendly Hawaii vacations with Pleasant Holidays – USFG’s new travel partner!

I am so excited! I just learned that US Family Guide has partnered with Pleasant Holidays, a leading provider of package vacations. They’re based in the U.S. and have great deals on family vacations worldwide – Hawaii, contiguous United States, Canada, Mexico, Caribbean, Costa Rica, Europe, Tahiti, Fiji and more. They can also book complete cruise vacations with airfare, on-board accommodations, and pre- and post-cruise hotel stays for vacations where everyone can relax and enjoy.

pleasant-holidays-travelmap1-comPleasant Holidays is new to US Family Guide, but has been partnering with hotels and resorts for more than 55 years to get great offers you cannot book anywhere else. When you’re planning to explore close to home or farther away, make them your one-stop-shop for everything you need: flights, accommodations, car rentals, ground transfers, exciting activities and tours, and travel protection coverage to protect your travel investment (because if parenthood has taught us one thing, it’s to expect the unexpected). And unlike some other online travel providers, they have in-destination customer assistance should you need it.

They’ve currently got a great deal on Hawaii vacations that saves you $100 per booking. Select from 26 hotels and resorts on the four most popular islands: Oahu, Maui, Kauai and island of Hawaii. Explore the exciting sights of Oahu, including world-famous Waikiki Beach and historic Pearl Harbor. Watch the sun rise from the slopes of a dormant volcano on Maui. Snorkel, hike, kayak, surf, experience Polynesian culture and more. This deal is valid on new vacations booked by 10/30/16 for select travel through 6/30/17 that include round-trip airfare from the continental United States and a stay of five nights or longer at a participating hotel or resort. The $100 savings is per booking and taken at time of booking – no waiting! For more information or reservations visit www.PleasantHolidays.com, call 1-800-837-5154 or contact your travel agent.

Be sure to keep an eye on MizMeliz.com. I’ll be sharing more great deals for memorable family vacations from Pleasant Holidays soon!

What do Guys Want?

Posted on March 5th, 2015 by & filed under Affiliate Links, Discoveries, Everything Miz Meliz, I Love My LIfe

I am a People Pleaser. I want to Be Good at What I do.

So, I found out some interesting statistics about my blog readers. I was surprised (at first) to find out that more than half of the folks who stop by and check out my blog are men 25-45. I thought it must be because I put “Super Bowl” in the title of a recent post. But, then I looked at my Twitter and Instagram following, and I realized that I had actually reached a goal that I set a while back to even out the demographics of my online community. Up until then I had mainly corresponded with other female bloggers and life coaches. I have been writing things that would be interesting to – let’s face it – people like me. Yet, I had spent quite a bit of time of late engaging with and making connections with people in all fields and walks of life. So, it is time to find out…what do guys like to read? What do men want…from a blog?

I asked the men I trust most, the gentlemen in my life, to answer that question on Facebook recently. I got answers from my husband, brother, nephews, cousins, a close friend I have known since high school, my son’s godfather, my friend’s boyfriend.  I was quite pleased with the insights they shared. They were all very forthcoming. I got a little too much information even! But I can’t thank them all enough for helping me out and for their honesty and expert opinions. You can expect to see more of these types of articles on Miz Meliz. Because as a reflection of me, I am about all people. I am interested in you. I want to share what you like.

What do guys like, the results:

  • Sports, photography, Disney. I like tutorials and advice columns.
globetrotters and generals

I like going to and writing about sporting events

 

  • Motorsports (especially F1 and MotoGP), automobiles, gadgets, and RC cars. I want the latest information with links to related articles, even if they are old. Anything about music! Industry stuff, gear reviews, and interviews with artists. I especially love in-depth interviews — long-format, like in Rolling Stone, where the interviewer can really delve deep into the musician’s background.

ford ecoboost

  • I tend to check my local sports, for instance today I read a couple articles on the Dodgers Spring Training starting. I also read a couple different articles on the same subject in the LA Times paper. Otherwise when scrolling through a social network page like Facebook I will click on things of human nature, or more so human need. I’ll check out controversial issues whether political or moral (in my opinion). A headline can bring me in to a topic I may not usually click on, and it could cause me to pass over without a thought despite its content (which may be of value or interest to me). I hate when a site (especially ESPN and other sports) shares a headline and then the article has nothing to do with that. If I am picking a book to read I tend to go with either a biography or a Grisham type story. And one more thing, this tends to happen when I have just a few minutes to take a break, so the article that has the headline to bring me in for that moment and is the right length while I am surfing wins.
2012-11-09 06.25.46

My boys made me a sports mom

 

  • I scan the LA Times everyday for stories of interest, but most general news is rather boring. I usually just read the lead graphs, which is more than enough due to the inverted pyramid style of journalism. I enjoy analysis and commentary on stocks and the financial markets, sports, and travel. I’m also a sucker for restaurant and film reviews. And when I run out of real news, I read The Onion for a few laughs.

 

solita's Tacos & Margaritas, Valencia

solita’s Tacos & Margaritas, Valencia

  • I devour magazine content – my faves; Surfer, Surfing, Interview, Economist, Esquire, Bon Apetite, Cooks Illustrated, Luxe Interiors & Design, House  Beautiful, Dwell, Wired, GQ, Vanity Fair, Cosmopolitan ( the best “how to” regarding sex), Poets and Writers Magazine, Ski, Powder, Stand Up Paddle Board, Art News. And I like reading Christie’s and Sotheby’s luxury home listings. I like to read about things I am doing or things I want to do. I like contemporary culture travel, and adventure, interior design (a favorite hobby) and gourmet cooking (I am a self taught Courageous Gourmet. When I am reading novels I choose regional Mystery with gratuitous sex and violence. I also recently have embraced asking Google every question I have in my brain to advance my personal education about everything. Now you know way to much about who I am.
Yesmins Adventure 4

Yesmin and the Wall Family’s Whitewater Adventure

 

  • I usually read articles on the latest video game releases (including how the games are developed, if I’m really interested in a certain title) as well as biographies of musicians and actors I’m interested in (both old and new.) From time to time, I’ll also check out information about old gadgets, and how they’ve evolved/progressed into what we are using today.
2014-06-19 17.39.51

My friend David Covarrubias at Legacy FX

 

  • I’m always fascinated with our latest advances in technology and science. New gadgets are fine but bigger advances such as the stuff DARPA works on I always follow. New discoveries in science from small stuff on Earth to all our space exploration. I enjoy reading political articles as well if they have an interesting perspective on a topic. Movie articles also grab my attention. Usually they are in regard to news but sometimes I like reading an article that delves into a particular film’s intricacies. With all of these it’s usually the title that drags me in. It’s especially important when it’s on a bigger topic since I don’t always have the time to read it all. If the title and content is interesting I’ll save the page for later. I usually base this off of the first paragraph of the article.

winter-soldier-poster-no-mask

  • I like restaurant and travel reviews. Human interest stories sometimes , current events catch my eyes more. I definitely like outdoorsy type stuff & pics of nature.

 

Jonathan with his dog, Indy

Jonathan with his dog, Indy

I am friends with artists, writers, bloggers, marketers, social media peeps, entrepreneurs, podcasters, traditional media and public relations folks, bankers, athletes, coaches, teachers, students, technology experts, programmers, gamers….everyone. I love the moms and girlfriends that got me here. Especially the SoCal Lady Bloggers, Latina Lifestyle Bloggers, and the California Mom Bloggers. I wouldn’t be here, a writer, a life coach, a blogger, a podcaster – without the angels and spirits who lifted me up and showed me the way.

So, tell me my friends, what do YOU want?

What do you like to read about? When you surf the internet, or read the news – what are your favorite things to read? What do you enjoy reading about? What do you require in an article or blog post?

I Am Living My Travel Dream – Are YOU? #FVHTravel @FVHub

Posted on July 7th, 2014 by & filed under Discoveries, Everything Miz Meliz

I love to travel!

And I love to visit awesome attractions everywhere I go, every chance I get – – even in my home town!

I especially love sharing these experiences with my family.

Copyright: <a href='http://www.123rf.com/profile_avian'>avian / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

That’s why I became a contributing writer over at Family Vacation Hub.

It’s a great website that reviews vacation spots and attractions around the world with a family’s perspective.

Check out my review of my family’s trip to the Discovery Science Center in Santa Ana, CA.  MythBusters Explosive Exhibit

2014-06-14 10.52.18

The MythBusters Explosive Exhibition at the Discovery Science Center was a B-L-A-S-T!

 

Your Dream is Waiting For YOU!

Where will you find it?

Embrace Your Courage and Be a Traveler

Posted on June 14th, 2013 by & filed under Be Inspired, Everything Miz Meliz

This is about having the courage in life to be authentic and create sustainability.

What does it mean to have courage?  To be truly courageous?  How can I step out of my comfort zone and make a difference in my life?  Can I make a difference in the lives of others?  I want to take the next step. And the next one after that.  Are you ready to really break free and do something with your life?  I am!  How do we start?

Allow me to introduce you to some inspiring people who have shown how a little courage can transform not only their own life, but by sharing their stories and experiences touches the lives of countless others along the way.  At some point while reading this – click on this link – and consider helping to ensure that these stories get told.

http://mizmeliz.com

Here is What I Believe
In my heart of hearts I am fearless.  I am an adventuress.  I love to experience new things.  In my mind I believe I can do it.  I can do anything I set my sights on.  I am bold.  I am free.  Reality sets in.  I have to buy groceries.  I should do some laundry.  I am getting behind on my bills.  I need to exercise.  I digress.  We tend to slip into old habits and just do what we can to finish the week.  Who has time to make a difference?  Madonna.  She can do it.  She has time. She has resources.  Not me.
http://www.rayoflight.org/

Madonna’s Ray of Light Foundation supports organizations around the world working to promote peace, equal rights and education for all.

But, there are normal people, like me, who do amazing things and manage to still get their laundry done.  There are courageous, adventurous people who make a difference in the lives of others and are facing the same daily challenges that I face,  some much more challenging than mine.  They inspire me.  (Madonna inspires me too, she always has!)
“Help Humaira build her school! Education is not a luxury ! It’s a basic human right” -Madonna said at the Sound of Change concert in London on Saturday, June 1, 2013.
I may never have the intrepid boldness to take a stand, drop everything, and leave the country to help others – but I can support those who do.
My friend (and fellow blogger) nomadic minimalist, Raam Dev, suggests that we all come into this world a tourist.  The challenge is to leave an explorer.  When my son’s friend from school announced that he was going on a trip around the world with his family junior year, I was amazed and intrigued. I can’t even imagine how a person would start planning a trip like that.  I could see myself and my family doing it, but I shake my head in disbelief because it would be so hard to execute such a plan.  And the expense.  The thought of it is overwhelming!  I can only imagine the wealth of life experience my family would gain if we could ever embark on such a journey.  Mark and Carrie Pullen had this pearl of wisdom for their children after broadening their horizons for nine months:
“You can live any life you choose.” ~ Carrie Pullen
http://pullensgortw.blogspot.com/

The Pullen Family Goes RTW

Meet Jody Temple White. Meet her and her courageous family. If you have ever wondered what an ordinary person can do to make a change in the world, here is your answer.  There is a documentary in the works about this bold family and their courageous travel adventure around the globe.  You can help get it seen and help to inspire others.  The Courage Vibe is a movement.  It is inspiration.  It is about transformation.  It is about having the courage in life to be authentic and create sustainability; for ourselves, for others, for the World.

“When a seed of inspiration strikes, believe it is possible. It may take years to grow and become real, but some form of it is meant for you.” ~Jody Temple White
http://thecouragevibe.com/#

The White Family is Committed to Living a Courageous Life

How can I find the meaning in my life?

Be a traveler. 

What is the difference between being a tourist and being a traveler?  Ask Jody, John, Riley and Allison White. They realized and lived the difference on their trip around the world when they were enriched as a family while helping others as they went.  I often say I am an adventuress.  I am an explorer.  For now on, I consider myself a traveler.  I am on a journey.  It is the journey of my life.  I am not just visiting.  I am taking an active role.  I am a traveler not a tourist.

For the White family being travelers means living simply in each place they visit, immersing themselves in the culture, and meeting and helping people and animals along the way.  This experience has brought them joy and enriched their relationships with each other and is shaping their lives in a way unimaginable for most families.

“Be brave and face your fears. ~ Allison White

How can we find joy in helping others?  Who can we help?

Keep it simple. Think about what is truly important to you. What gets your heart beating? Living simply means getting along with fewer complications. What are the top things you could not live without? Doesn’t everyone deserve to have these things? What can you do to help make that possible for others who are less fortunate than you?

Think about what you love doing and who you love being with. What better way to express your love than to share that joy with others? How lovely it would be to help someone else to experience that joy. What a beautiful gift it would be to care about someone else’s basic needs.

What are you good at?

Are you skilled at something that you might take for granted that someone else might benefit from learning? What do you want to learn about? Sharing knowledge and learning from our experiences is an invaluable step in life’s journey.

I hear my fears saying things to hold me back. . .  “How can I possibly help when I need help?  My family needs help.  My life is hard.  I have health challenges. I am in debt. I can barely make ends meet. My family is not that supportive. I care about the world and I want to make a difference, but I am struggling right now.”

Life is daunting at times. If you make a list of all the challenges you are facing it would be as long as the list of things you would do to change the world. Life is challenging. Getting along in this world is hard. It’s scary. That’s why it takes courage to tackle these issues. Facing our fears, dealing with the obstacles, and being willing to make a change despite the challenges is why it takes bravery and fortitude to embark on a journey like this. Giving of yourself in service to others is a sacrifice.

Why should you do it?

Going outside your comfort zone is not easy to do! It takes commitment. Breaking free and making a difference in your life involves spirit. If you strive for a better life, a better human condition, if you hope to make the world a better place for future generations, or if you just aren’t satisfied with the way things are then it is time for you to make a change. You might find that in helping others, you can help yourself. The very act of making a difference in the life of another person may be the very thing you need to make a positive impact in your own life.

Doing this takes faith. Faith in yourself and your abilities. It takes faith in humanity and in the human spirit. I am not just talking about big round the world trips and building schools and digging wells kind of commitments. Any change you are willing to take to make a positive difference in your life takes faith. Faith is the belief of the uncertain. It’s what you know in your heart.

Making a leap of faith to break your habits and face your fears takes hope. Hope for a better life. Hope for a positive outcome. Having a real desire in your heart to do something new and to make a difference is having hope. It’s the inspiration, the drive, the catalyst that will see you through. Never give up hope. Any little thing you do is important. Everything you do is valuable. Everything you do makes a difference.

Embracing the courage to make a change in your life takes love. If you start with love, the possibilities are endless. It starts with loving yourself. Believe in yourself. You can do this! Love grows and continues to grow forever. If you have love in your heart you can do anything.

Transforming your life takes perseverance. It may not happen overnight. If you were to take a trip around the world, putting your life on hold for a year, giving up all of life’s conveniences and comforts, it would take a tremendous amount of planning, time, money, and support. Any change takes time to happen.

“…courage as a muscle that you can begin exercising and slowly strengthen over time.” ~Marquita Herald

http://mizmeliz.com

My Family is Always Ready for an Adventure of the Heart!

Thank you Dona Donato, and the owners and founders of Giggling Gorilla Productions, Inc. GGP is a company dedicated to creating media and live events that support enhanced living, wildlife conservation, sustainability and a holistic way of life.  It is because of  their belief in the courage of families who can make a difference that this blog post and others like it are being written.  With their help, millions of people will be inspired and hopefully donate to the Living the Courage Vibe documentary project.

 

“I truly believe that we all have this kind of courage and bravery hiding somewhere inside us. And if you just take the time to look, you will find that you do too.” ~Chris Lemig

If you want to read more about my adventures, click here:  The Next Step

Be an explorer of life. Be a traveler on your journey. Don’t just observe the world around you like a tourist. Get active and engage yourself. Immerse yourself along the way. Life is an adventure!

If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?

What would you hope to learn there?

Road Trip Survival Guide or The Next Step in the Journey

Posted on June 2nd, 2013 by & filed under Be Inspired, Everything Miz Meliz

I would love to share with you what I did to make my recent road trip with my family fun for myself and how our family survived driving over 2500 miles through Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and back to our ‘home sweet home’ in Southern California.

“Life incidents can have a significant effect on your states of mind. If something powerful happens then your belief in yourself is increased.”  ~Ken Ward, from Mind Mastery

Let’s recap: We traveled through Six States in Seven Days and I experienced Nine States of Mind in the Process.

I set out to share my experience going on a road trip with my husband and three teen-aged boys and explain why it was so worthwhile that I would highly recommend that you do it at least once in your life.  I ended up learning a lot about myself, my abilities, the unique family dynamics that I have taken for granted and how much it all means to me.

I wanted to parallel the “Six States” we visited with different “States of Mind” that one goes through when a) going on a road trip and b) making big life decisions like choosing a college and experiencing empty nest syndrome.  I did some research on the differences of feelings versus states of mind.  I had the idea when I realized that I had to be in a certain mindset to even tackle the concept of going on a road trip at this point in my life. Anyone who has been on a road trip knows what I mean.

There is a level of adventurism that is different when transporting oneself over long roads to get to a destination with many points in between over taking other modes of transportation.

There is a spirit of freedom that is involved.  A sense of anything being possible ensues.  I was in a special state of mind, going through cycles of many thoughts and feelings on my road trip.  I have held off completing the “saga” and writing the “end” of the trip for many reasons.

Now it’s time to look at the effect the many states of mind had on me and my family:

The States of Mind

I felt like I was in a State of Dilemma when I was making the plans to go on a family vacation with little funds and very little interest from the family in terms of what to do, where to go, and how and if we should take this trip at all.  Was it the right decision?  After all, our son would most likely choose a California school, but he had been accepted to three out-of-state schools.  Shouldn’t he at least visit them before he decided?  What to do?  What to do?

Even though making the trek and going on the long trip was a challenge it had many benefits.  We mostly looked forward to getting to visit our beloved relatives.  It is the one thing that we all wanted to do.  We all enjoy visiting New Mexico and had wanted to go there for a while.  We love everything about it, the hospitality of our relatives, the fun places to go, things to see, and especially the food we love to eat.

That is what made the trip worthwhile for the kids.  I wish we could have spent more time there.  The dilemma was in the work it took to make it all happen and the state of mind was a tough one because I added the stress of trying so hard to make everyone happy in the process.

Omens

Along the way, I observed some animals and birds that I considered to be omens.  You might think that is strange, but it is just what came to mind when I saw these things and it added to the drama of the experience for me.  When we were getting on the freeway for the first leg of the trip, I saw a black crow perched on a post on the corner at the on-ramp.  I thought it might be a bad omen and I prayed that we would have a good trip.  Later on after we had our first night in Nevada staying overnight with my mother in law, I felt better after seeing a doe running along the side of the road and that brought me a sense of peace.  On the way to New Mexico driving through Colorado Springs, I saw a band of wild horses running through a range.  It was quite a site to see and it was exhilarating.  It was another omen, it was a good feeling that something was happening.

wild-horses

I felt like the true journey was just beginning and that I was on special mission.  Through it all I felt like there was more I could be doing.  Until we got to New Mexico and we were on the third college tour.  Knowing that after this we could relax and just hang out with our family and then head home, we went to the gift shop.

Quote seen on a book in the New Mexico gift shop – after trying so hard to make everyone happy. . .

“If you want to be happy, just be.”   ~Tolstoy

Is it really that easy?  Can I just be?  Be happy?  Be content?  Be satisfied.

Just be.

Road Blocks and Obstacles

When things didn’t go well at the very start of the trip I felt like I was in a State of Despair.  I was trying so hard to get things to work out as planned and I had to push myself hard in many directions.  I needed to be assertive and calming at the same time.  I was under an incredible amount of pressure.  We had to be in Colorado at a certain time.  All the college tours were scheduled appointments.  We didn’t have any flexibility other than missing the tours and just seeing the colleges on our own.

It was interesting that the problems I had with Hertz were a matter of customer service and the failure of the company to meet my expectations.  I had set high expectations for myself in planning and executing this trip.  Hertz has a goal of providing a quality customer experience. My goal became to provide the best experience possible for my family. One thing I learned in this process was to expect the un-expected.  I also learned that even when there is no flexibility, I am still capable of bending.

My Measure of Being a Good Mom Depends on the Level of Joy Experienced by My Least Happy Child

Being in a state of despair led me to being in a State of Confusion since I was having to make so many decisions that affected everyone and I was dealing with different attitudes and hormones while trying to make everyone comfortable and happy. I learned a lot about being prepared and having faith, in myself, in my family in our own abilities, as well in that which we cannot control.

When things went according to plan, I was in the State of Relief.  This came about after being helped and receiving tender loving care and nurture from my mother in law on that first night.

I Can Always Depend on a Little Help From My Family

I relished in the comfort of knowing what to expect from our extended family.  I loved being able to rely on certain things.  I depended on it.  I knew this trip was about visiting colleges – B-o-r-i-n-g!! We didn’t have the money or time to go to an amusement park, zip lining, fishing or river rafting while on the trip. I needed to make the connections with family be the attraction.  They did not disappoint.  I was relieved and enjoyed being in that state for a while.  I think I am still there.  Our family is awesome on both sides!  The kids feel love and support from everyone.  We are truly blessed.  It’s never perfect, nothing ever is going to be perfect.  But we appreciate who we are and where we came from.

This is How I Made the Trip FUN for Me!

One of the highlights of the trip for me was getting my nails done by my cousin, Shauni.  She made a special appointment for me and while I was getting my nails done, her husband cut my son’s hair.  They have a great shop, it is a nail salon and barber shop called Cool Claws and Hot Heads.  Shauni has always made me feel welcomed and special when I am in town and it wouldn’t be a trip to New Mexico without a trip to see her.  What I love most about getting my nails done by Shauni, is the chance to have one on one time to talk and catch up girl to girl on what is happening with the family. She is a busy working mom like me and we are doing many of the same things.  We love to dish!

While we were there the whole family came over to my cousin’s house for dinner.  That was about 30 people!  I told the boys everyone would come to see them.  It is an amazing show of support and solidarity when four generations of family show up to see you whenever you are in town.  I used to think this kind of thing happened when my parents were visiting to show respect for them.  They were very hospitable and when people came to California to visit they would stay at our home.  I thought they planned these big dinners for special occasions.  I expected maybe a handful of the close relatives to come, but I was overjoyed that everyone who lived in town and could make it came over to greet us.  It is a big, affectionate, loving and supportive family.  The love is deep and strong.  We have been through a lot, we have lost a lot, and we celebrate with intention and gratitude when we are together.

Family support came in handy especially for our son in making his decision on what college to choose.  Everyone in New Mexico wanted him to choose UNM.  My cousin in Colorado, was encouraging about CUB.  But they all gave him such positive and nurturing advice.  They had his back and are proud of him no matter what he chose. It has to be his decision.  Having family support is invaluable.  I needed to be with them.  I needed a big dose of that strength and fortitude.  I think it will last for a while.

What Did I Learn From All of This?

The best take-away?  I wasn’t in this alone – I had lots of help, mother-in-law, husband, kids, cousins, friends.  I had the positive reinforcement that I needed. The purpose of the trip was to visit colleges and decide on which one our son would attend.  I tried to be positive and guide him in making an informed decision without making the decision for him.  It was completely successful on that front.  I give the other boys credit for hanging in there purely for the ride.  I think they got a lot out of it that will come into play later in their lives.  For now, they showed their support for their brother. They showed respect to me and their Dad.  The enjoyed the time spent with family.  I still have the feeling that I owe them one. . . but I can always fall back on the guilt trip of labor pains and dirty diapers!

One of my regular states of being is the State of Awe and Wonderment.  I am blessed every day that I can see the beauty in things.  This was particularly evident the day we drove through the many different terrains and mountains.  It was an amazing day.  The sky was so clear and I will never forget how perfectly beautiful everything was and how impressed I was with the way the scenery changed so rapidly.  It was like fast forwarding through my life.  I felt like I was fast forwarding through life the past few years.  Everything has changed so much since my parents passed on and my children have grown.  I just needed to catch up.  I was finally able to catch up on this trip.

Seeing the beauty in everything, I learned to appreciate nature and the feeling of being a small yet integral part of something so big. This became evident in my role in my family as well.

Some parts of the trip were heart-stopping and crazy and I found myself in a State of Excitement and Anticipation!   This was the case during our Wild Rocky Mountain drive on the way to Fort Collins, Colorado.  It was a quick ride much like the roller coaster of life with its ups and downs twists and turns, exhilaration, excitement, and even its let downs and disappointments.  Through it all we discovered the thrill of adventure and teachable moments.  I practiced patience and trust.  My husband was my hero and I was reminded why I love him so much.

At the pinnacle of the ride, at the top of the Rocky Mountains, I was immersed in a State of Fear. We were driving through a snowstorm in Vail, Colorado and even though I was terrified on the inside, I remained calm on the outside.   Our traverse through a difficult situation gave me the feeling of being able to conquer anything.  I gained self-confidence and regained composure and respect for my partner in life and our kids.  Our family as a unit stuck through it with grace.  Getting over the mountain, seeing what is on the other side, the roller coaster ride, the snowstorm,  are all metaphors for what is about to happen with our oldest son graduating from high school and going away to college, as well as our families adjustment to growing up and moving on in life.

Along the way I discovered a new mantra,

“I will wake to a new day.”  I will.  It is a new day.

Side Trips

After going through all of this I found myself in the perfect State of Enchantment and Bliss.  I was pretty proud of myself for pulling it off, being able to spend the time with the family and eating our favorite foods, and for making the most of the situation.  The good feelings started when we were in Boulder, Colorado.  After settling in to a wonderful hotel and relaxing a bit, my hubby and I went on a tour of the Celestial Seasonings plant.  It was the perfect place to unwind and re-energize!

Kicking back and hanging out in Boulder on Easter Sunday with the boys was another highlight of the trip.  I enjoyed walking around town looking at shops, and taking in the ambiance of the little college town.  The best part was going into the LUSH store and getting hand and wrist massages and learning about natural skin care products.  Luckily the pretty college student was more than happy to help me and the three boys!   I never get such great service when I go shopping alone.  Hmmm, wonder why?

IMG_8420

I think I managed to share with my family the best part of road trips.  It’s the fun spontaneous side trips that are meant to be enjoyed just for the sake of having fun. Driving into New Mexico, I took some awesome pictures of the beautiful evening sky and sunset.  For me, I had reached my destination at that point. That was a sight that I had on my list.  There is nothing quite like it.

In Summary

This leads me to where I ended up as a result of this undertaking, I am happy to finally reach this destination in the State of Contentment and Accomplishment.   It wasn’t enough that our son was accepted at a college and was making the decision to accept an offer with support from loved ones, but it was in appreciating each other in the process and learning how much we love our home and its stable environment.  We realized that appreciating the best qualities of each member of the family, recognizing that we take each other for granted at times, blessing the fact that we need each other and complement each other, loving the little things that makes us each unique and valuable is what we gained by taking this journey together.  It took going away to realize that.  To emphasize and instill that in the minds and hearts of my children meant the world to me.

It was worth every dime it took and every mile we drove to achieve that level of knowing and to settle in to that state of being.

I have always said if you can dream it, you can be it.  If you can imagine it, you can make it happen.  If you can see yourself in a place, you can go there.  This trip was difficult because we went to different places to “try them on for size.”  We went for the purpose of trying things out to see how it feels to be there, to see if our son could make a go of it there.  Trying new things was the name of the game.  We were breaking out of our comfort zone.  We were all imagining ourselves in a new place.  We were trying on a new learning environment and living space for our son and imagining a new family dynamic at home.  It became a new rung on the ladder of development for me as a mother and a wife, for us as a family.   I learned through this entire process that it is time to change my state of mind.  Now I know how to do it.  And I know what state of mind I have transitioned to.  I am not afraid anymore.  I am confident.  I know I am not alone in this.  I am compelled and excited about what is ahead.  I can do it.  I am open to new experiences.  I have grown up a bit.  It might not happen without bouts of dilemma and despair, fears and woe, wonder and awe, excitement and anticipation.  It will be with a sense of relief, love, nurture, accomplishment, confidence, grace and contentment.

This is who I am.  This is how I operate.  It is all part of the journey.  It is all part of a process. 

It is my time to shine.

photo by Melissa Reyes copyright 2013 http://mizmeliz.com

It’s still a long road ahead, but I am ready for wherever it leads!

More on the States of Mind

If you want to learn more about ‘The very important difference between a feeling and a state of mind,” Here’s a great excerpt from a blog called Positive Juice:

“Feelings are temporary. They change and morph both gradually and quickly, often without us even realizing it. States of mind, however, are much longer-lasting and pervasive. You could consider a state of mind to be another kind of feeling, but there is a very important difference. Some examples of feelings versus states of mind:

* Joy versus contentment. * Anger versus resentment. * Sadness versus depression. * Love versus being in love. * Envy versus jealousy. * Delight versus appreciation. * Embarrassment versus shame. * Sureness versus faith. * Annoyance versus exasperation. * Urgency versus desperation. * Acceptance versus resignation. * Disgust versus hatred. * Relaxation versus peace of mind. * Hope versus optimism. * Desire versus longing. * Fear versus paranoia.

Feelings are part of life, both good and bad. They happen whether you like it or not, and you have very little control over them. States of mind are very different. They shape your longer-term outlook about what you are [and aren’t] supposed to do. The secret is that, while you don’t have much control over the feelings you have, you do have the ability to shape your state of mind.

The negative feelings will happen; in fact, as feelings, they are beneficial to experience–because they pass and you often learn something from them or gain a sense of perspective. But when negative feelings like anger and sadness turn into states of mind like resentment and depression, you’re in trouble.

A lot of the time, you can see when the transition from feeling to state of mind happens. If you become angry, for example, and then for days afterward, you anger is provoked much more easily than usual… that anger is becoming a lingering state of mind–a generalized resentment. Folks who suffer from this resentful state of mind [and there are quite a few out there] are the kind of people who act as though they want everybody else to have as bad a day as they are having. Their state of mind heavily influences all their interactions, and they respond to others from a place of resentment.

Some states of mind can be very good for a while. Appreciation, for example, is a very positive state of mind to have. Contentment is equally positive. Remember, these states of mind influence what you project to others… so a good state of mind is an awesome way to tap into positive energy. But even positive states of mind are good to change once in a while. You don’t want to project appreciation when someone has just had something horrible happen to them, for example.

The more you get to know yourself, the more you’ll know when it’s time to change your state of mind. So…the $50 zillion question is, how do you change your state of mind?”

If you would like to read more about Miz Meliz, serendipity and being an Adventuress,

I invite you to read The Spirit of Adventure!

Our Wild Rocky Mountain Drive

Posted on April 17th, 2013 by & filed under Blog Venture, Everything Miz Meliz

Continued from . . . What Happens When a Determined Mom is in a “Road Trip State of Mind” . . .

Soon, I was in a State of Excitement and Anticipation

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Do you know that feeling in the pit of your stomach that you get when you hear the click of the seat belt as you are getting seated on a roller coaster ride?  You know, when you ask yourself, “Why am I doing this?” Will it be fun? Will it make me sick? Will it be worth it? Will it be. . . . oh . . . here we goooooo! And it starts. It is exciting.  Every breathtaking turn and each heart stopping plummet makes you smile from ear to ear.  Your screams are screams of delight! And when it is over, you wonder if you will have time to take the ride again.  You realize it was just a few minutes of joy.  And now, it’s over.  What’s next?  Well – this was nothing like that!

It started slowly, after hours and hours of driving through dirt dry desert terrain and long twisty mountain roads with nothing to see but a giant blue dome overhead and the far off promise of a horizon in the distance.  I kept thinking that in the near future we will get to our destination.  We will be sleeping in Fort Collins, Colorado tonight and in the morning we will be touring the campus that my oldest son might be calling home before long.  This might just be the first time I drive this road.  It might be the first of many times.  I was thinking about that when we started to drive up a long steady incline, through the foothills of a large mountain range stretched out before us.  It was like the long tall ascent of a big rollercoaster and the car felt like it was being pulled by cables, slow and steady, and I couldn’t see what was at the top.  My excitement was building.  I felt somewhat breathless.  That was probably my body adjusting to the altitude.  I took some slow steady breaths.  I drank some water.  I looked over the railing to the land below, and I saw a vineyard.  It seemed so out-of-place.  The only thing that looked alive and colorful was the sign for the vineyard, and the buildings, and billboards around the area.  Everything else was dry with just the hint that it had all survived the winter months and may be dormant just before Spring bursts through the vines.  I took note of the place, Grande River Vineyards, and considered it might be thriving the next time I come through here, perhaps in the Fall.  It might be worth a stop if we had time.  I closed my eyes for a while.  I repeated my mantra to myself, “I will be sleeping in Fort Collins tonight and I will wake to a new day!”

At this point my husband was driving.  He had taken over at the last gas station where we had stopped to fuel up and stretch.  I planned to drive longer, but he offered and I didn’t refuse.  I figured I could rest and then take over again in a few hours.  The next four hours of driving proved to be another testament of my husband’s stoic character.  Over the years he has been my rock.  He has the ability to stay calm and persevere through the most difficult times.  I have seen him run into a  burning building to fetch beloved items for my elderly aunt and give mouth to mouth and revive our newborn son – there is no doubt that he is an angel and a hero!  He has to be patient, calm and understanding with me!  I get nervous and I worry a lot. I have suffered from anxiety and panic attacks in the past.  I have had bouts of vertigo.  I love driving curvy roads that I am familiar with, but I get nervous and sometimes dizzy when driving through canyons where there are steep cliffs or long tunnels.  But I have learned to trust him and his abilities and boy was I glad he was driving at this point in time!

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We are Southern California city drivers.  We are used to rush hour traffic and freeways.  I shared my husband’s concerns of the hazards of driving in a snow storm with no chains, battling poor visibility, and dealing with the dreaded black ice.  This is the reason I pushed the kids to leave early that morning.  I wanted to get through this mountain range before nightfall.  I wanted to get to Fort Collins in time for dinner and a jacuzzi.  But it was about 6 PM and all I could see was mountains ahead and it was getting cold, cloudy and dark.

Driving Through the Rocky Mountains Was a Wild Ride through the State of Fear

We travelled from Henderson, Nevada through Arizona, Utah, and Colorado that day.  A total of 819 miles.  The estimated driving time was exactly 12 hours.  When we stopped for lunch in Green River, Utah, it was sometime around 1 PM.  We had 400 miles to go driving along Interstate 70 through the majestic Rocky Mountains.  We had already marveled at the breathtaking and gorgeous mountains and rock formations that we saw as we drove by Arches National Park and the Colorado National Monument areas. None of it was quite as exhilarating and exciting as driving along side the Colorado River through Aspen and Vail.  The curving roads around mountain peaks, the steady ascent into higher and higher elevations, the river rushing past us, the quaint snow villages with their elegant homes and lush chalet style cabins, all of it was straight out of the Travel Channel!

Throughout the entire trip, my very techie family referred to Siri on their iPhones whenever my husband would ask a question.  Where is the nearest burger joint?  Where is the nearest gas station?  “I wonder how cold it is outside?” My hubby would tease.  Even though he could see that number get lower and lower on the dashboard thermometer, one of the boys would ask, “Siri, what is the temperature outside right now?”  “It’s 38 degrees right now.”  Siri would answer. We knew the forecast in Vail was snow.  The weather was at the freezing point, there were dark clouds over head, and we were going up steep mountain roads.  It began snowing as soon as we reached the summit of the mountain in Vail.

At first they were just pretty flurries of snow flakes hitting the windshield.  We still had a light glow from the sky behind us and the mountainside looked so pretty with the tall fir trees lining the slopes covered with fresh snow.  Ahead it was dark and looming.  There seemed to be fewer cars on the road and at some points we were all alone.  As the snow started to fall all around us, I was surprisingly calm.  A part of me (I will admit, a huge part of me!) was all, “Yeah! I knew it would snow, take that Hertz! My husband knew what he was doing when he reserved this vehicle.” We were prepared for this moment.  Did we know what we were doing exactly?  Heck no!  But we had our safe roadworthy brand new Chevy Traverse All Wheel Drive and we were damned well going to need it for the next several miles. The rest of me was holding on for dear life and praying the Rosary in my head as my husband tried not to show any sign of fear lest he freak me out.  The next hour of my life was spent singing the soundtrack of Les Miserables with my sons in the back seats watching the original Superman on the DVD player with headphones on while I thought positive loving calm beautiful thoughts of kittens and puppies.

We followed another SUV with a Colorado license plate rather closely due to the very poor visibility.  I figured they must be experienced driving through this area.  My husband knows everything about cars and how to drive them and he is very skilled with using the proper gears and shifting at the right time . . . etcetera, so on and so forth.  He knew what he was doing.  But I felt his stress and concern.  It wasn’t terribly dangerous or frightening and we were very lucky that the snow although it was sticking to the ground, was not wet or icy.  We did not see any accidents or stalled vehicles.  It was just slow going through heavy snow over the highest point of the mountain and then a very long slow descent down down down on a curvy road until we made it to the bottom.  It felt like skiing down a black diamond run that you ended up on by accident when you are first learning to ski or snowboard.  There is only one way down.  We took our time and made it.  We were incredibly encouraging to each other through it all.  The boys were quietly enjoying their movie even though I interrupted them often with, “Did you see that? Look over there!”

Always the Adventuress, I loved every moment of this trip.  My teen-aged sons rolled their eyes.  To them, it was like you’ve seen one mountain, you’ve seen them all.  Overall it was impressive to them and they enjoyed it.  But I was taking it all in like I would enjoy a bouquet of flowers admiring each flower for its individual beauty and scent.  I loved that gorgeous drive and I hope to go back again, someday!

I will post even more about the trip, the college visits, the food, and what happened next in the coming days when we arrive in New Mexico. 

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What Happens When a Determined Mom is in a Road Trip State of Mind

Posted on April 9th, 2013 by & filed under Everything Miz Meliz

What happens when a determined mom, like me, gets in a “Road Trip State of Mind?”

photo by Melissa Reyes Copyright 2013

Let’s go on a road trip!

First, don’t mess with me! I am determined to make sure everyone has a good time and is comfortable. And I mean it! Hopefully, everyone ends up having a reasonably good time and no one gets hurt. Second, like most things in life, going on a vacation is a journey. Obviously! But it is a process. There is a beginning, middle and end. I have some experience at this, so I planned it all out and it went pretty well. Lastly, even though our lives were never truly at risk, any trip is about survival. Especially when a perfectly normal family unit is going to be cooped up for hours on end in close quarters. Here is how we all survived. . .

THREE TIPS that helped me to enjoy a road trip through SIX STATES in SEVEN DAYS with FOUR BOYS:

#1 Do everything you can to drive a big, comfortable, and reliable vehicle.

#2 Pack lots of water bottles, snacks, medicine and chocolate.

#3 Have a plan to make it fun, for yourself.

“Our life is composed of events and states of mind. How we appraise our life from our deathbed will be predicated not only on what came to us in life but how we lived with it. It will not be simply illness or health, riches or poverty, good luck or bad, which ultimately define whether we believe we have had a good life or not, but the quality of our relationship to these situations: the attitudes of our states of mind.”
― Stephen Levine, A Year to Live: How to Live This Year as If It Were Your Last

Yeah, we drove over 2500 miles in seven days. It was pretty hard at times and we had a blast at times. It was worth it, but it took a lot of planning and forethought to survive it. I would like to share with you why we actually needed to do it, how we actually ended up doing it, and why it was so worthwhile that I would highly recommend that you do it – at least once in your life! I believe in living life fully and making each moment count. I like to celebrate the milestones and create memorable events for my family. I became determined to take the task of visiting colleges and turn it into a vacation.

In the Beginning, I Found Myself in a State of Dilemma

We live in California and we wanted to take our oldest son to see three universities that he has been accepted to for the Fall. Two of the Universities are in Colorado and one is in New Mexico. We had a week off for Spring Break and a little savings to use for a trip. The money we had saved was not enough for all of us to travel by air and stay in hotels at all three locations, so we had to make some choices. I looked at it from many angles. I could afford to send my son to visit the schools if either my husband or I went with him, flew to Colorado and then drove to New Mexico and flew back from there. That was not only a hassle, but how would we decide who would go with him? Our first dilemma.

I soon realized that all five of us could go on the trip if we drove and stayed with relatives for most of the time. Since we have four drivers and lots of relatives in these areas, I thought – “Great, problem solved!” The best part being that we would get to see some of our beloved relatives and we were overdue for a trip to one of our favorite places to visit! I thought it would be a good experience for the younger boys to visit these colleges and see what they have in store for them down the road. Then I realized we don’t have a reliable vehicle that all of us would be comfortable in for many hours at a time. That’s the second dilemma.

I did a web search of hotels, rental cars, and driving distances and figured out a way we could manage this trip. I reached out to my relatives and confirmed that all five of us could stay with my cousin in New Mexico for three nights, the longest part of the vacation. My son and I coordinated the visits with the three schools and I worked out a schedule from there. I priced out the rental cars online and found a pretty good deal with one and my husband chose the type of vehicle he wanted to drive for the trip. I found some amazing hotels with great reviews in the vicinity of the two schools we were visiting in Colorado, and got awesome deals since I was booking far in advance and online.

I put together an itinerary, got someone to feed the cats and watch the house, and I set to work on creating a memorable experience for our family. It wasn’t until the day we left on the trip that I realized this wasn’t going to be as easy as I thought.

Photo by Melissa Reyes Copyright 2013

This says it all!

On the First Day, I was in a State of Despair

I know that sounds dramatic, but it certainly was an urgent and desperate situation! The whole trip I planned depended on the perfect vehicle. It had to be spacious and it had to be reliable. I have three teen-aged boys and my husband and I aren’t exactly “compact” so it needed to be comfortable. Since we are on a tight budget it needed to be affordable. We were going to be driving over the Rocky Mountains and snow was predicted on the days we were going to be there, so it needed to be an all wheel drive vehicle. Mostly, I wanted it to be perfect. I wanted my family to be comfortable. I wanted to make my husband and kids happy. They weren’t as excited as I was about taking this road trip!

I thought I found the solution when I went through Hertz. I did, but it was a very difficult and disappointing ordeal. The main reason it became so harrowing is the poor customer service we received when we went to pick up the vehicle. The car I reserved was not available and the substitute was not at all acceptable. I called twice in advance to see if the vehicle I reserved would be there and both times was told that it or a comparable vehicle would be there when I arrived at my appointed time. It turned out that the staff did nothing to honor that commitment. They accepted what they believed to be the closest thing and never bothered to notify me. When we arrived, my husband and I waited forty-five minutes before anyone could even help us and then we found out about the mini-van. My stress is beginning to elevate now just thinking about it. If it had not been that important to my husband, we would have driven that mini-van through the blizzard we hit in Vail, Colorado. But instead, I stuck my heels in the ground, we made some calls, we delayed our departure and we exchanged it at a different Hertz location within the vicinity. It took some work, actual work, on the part of the employees at Hertz, but they were in fact able to provide the vehicle that I reserved. I think it was a surprise even to them! We ended up in a brand new, just off the lot, the window sticker still attached, Chevy Traverse LT AWD. Exactly what I had reserved.

Photo by Melissa Reyes Copyright 2013

Crazy Car Rental Experience

I won’t go into details about the employees at Hertz and I would never name names, but they could stand to learn a lot about customer service, respect, common sense, courtesy and compassion, none of which was observed at either of the locations I had to interact with.

I must say that it all turned out okay in the end. The District Manager at Hertz did a lot to make it work out for us, but it is important to note that I had to really work hard to get what I wanted and I was not satisfied with my overall customer experience. Since Hertz claims their goal is “to provide the best customer experience possible”, they seriously failed to meet it. Eventually they discounted the rental, but I had to go through the corporate office by getting their attention on Twitter ( https://twitter.com/Hertz) and publicly proclaiming my dissatisfaction. If you know me, you know how extremely difficult it was for me to do that. I am probably the most positive person you will ever meet and it saddened me to complain. I was of course happy to get a discount, but what I am still waiting for is an apology and I would like to see the management take responsibility and show me how they plan to improve the service at my local office before I will ever consider returning to or recommending Hertz again. Service and reliability are extremely important to me. It was particularly challenging to remain calm and upbeat during this experience and it was vital that I didn’t get upset at the beginning of the trip. I had to use restraint to show my kids how I could take care of things without totally freaking out! I put myself under a lot of pressure to make this trip great and this was the very first step.

When we finally drove away and I was on the road for the first leg of the trip, I saw a black crow perched on a post at the freeway on ramp. I wondered if that was an omen. At that moment, all I could do was pray. I prayed that it would only get better from there. Thank God that was the worst of it!

If you like to read about travel disasters and conquests, visit this blog: http://elliott.org/ I will keep you posted on what I now call the “Hertz State of Despair.” I will recommend them if I ever get a note of apology and some clear perspective on how they plan to meet their goal of providing a positive experience for their customers.

That First Night, I Slept Soundly in a State of Relief

It was late. We were about four hours behind schedule. I had originally hoped to have time to have dinner with my mother-in-law in Henderson, Nevada on our first night. The boys were looking forward to hanging out with their cousin. My husband planned to meet up with his brother. None of that happened, but we were welcomed by my husband’s mother close to midnight when we finally arrived on her doorstep. Even though we said not to go to any trouble, she had of course cooked for us! She warmed up the food and laid it out on the table and we sat down to eat as if it were the normal dinner time. I knew if we weren’t there, she would be sound asleep! We felt at home and I relaxed for the first time in over 24 hours! We were safe and warm and comfortable.

The boys were aggravated when I told them that I wanted to leave at 5 AM. My husband was annoyed when he realized that we still had a 14-16 hour drive ahead of us the next day. No one understood that the first night was a mere “lay-over” and “rest stop” for what was to be the longest and most difficult, yet most beautiful and exciting part of our drive.

I planned that first night to be easy and carefree. I could depend on my mother-in-law and she came through with flying colors! This is a beautiful person who knows how to make the people she cares about feel special. If we needed it, wanted it, dreamed of it, she had it for us. I am not kidding! Sneezing? Is it allergies? She had a package of medicine for us to take. Forgot your tooth-brush? Here is a brand new one. Need snacks and drinks for the road? I bought extra. I made cookies. Take them. We hardly had room, but she filled the rental car with the essentials (most things I had thought of and packed already, but we graciously accepted anyway.) A roll of paper towels, a box of Kleenex. Even a pretty outfit for me to wear on Easter! She loves to give me clothes! I will probably be like that someday with my daughters-in-law! She got up early and made breakfast for us. She was at the door to see us off and wish us well.

At the moment we were about to take off, I really wanted to bring her with me! I needed another woman to balance out the hormones in the car. I could feel it already. It was going to be a bumpy ride! Me against the boys. They are easy going and good kids, but I am sensitive to their little remarks. I am a people pleaser and they never seem satisfied. If I plan ham, they want turkey. If I plan turkey, they want ham. You get it. They are gracious and sweet, but given a 50/50 chance to get things right, I always make the wrong guess. And there are three of them! The odds are stacked against me! Is that all in my head? If you ask any one of them or my husband, they will tell you, “Yes.” But think about it. Even logically, I knew that I needed to be at my most calm, best and easy going self to survive this trip. I think this is the first time ever I wished my mother-in-law was with me! I certainly wouldn’t have wished this experience on anyone else. No girlfriend could have taken it. I know I am in a “special mom place” when I am in the mother hen role. Since I no longer have my sister or my mom around to back me up, the only one who could have pulled it off was my MIL. Yet, would I come out alive after a trip with her and her grandchildren and son? Thankfully, I will never know for sure! But packed to the gills with chocolate, drinks, and allergy medicine, I knew I had everything I needed to make it through. Only five more states to go!

The Second Day I discovered myself in a State of Awe and Wonderment

We quickly drove through the dry barren desert area of Nevada and into Arizona in the first few hours of the drive. We spent most of the day driving through Utah. None of us had ever been through this part of Utah before. In fact, only my second son and myself had ever been to Utah. I went on a business trip to Salt Lake City once and my son had been to Park City with another family last Summer. So, this was very new and exciting. Driving through this part of the country is amazing and difficult to describe, but I will do my best.

We were truly in awe. The trek through Arizona was like being in the movie Cars. There is no doubt that the movie and the ride at California Adventure is based on someone’s travels on the very roads we were on. The rugged terrain, the mountains, cliffs and gulleys were crazy gorgeous, colorful, jagged, rocky and out of this world. It was a curvy, dangerous, and fun road to drive!

Everything seemed to smooth out when we entered Utah. The terrain was calm and the mountains were smooth and the lightly dusted mountain tops in the distance were soft and serene. It looked like someone had gone through moments before with powdered sugar and sifted it on the tops of the mountains that looked like giant mounds of lemon cookies. Then I began to notice that the shrubs and trees were getting bigger and the mountains were getting closer. We drove through them and it was no big deal. I thought, “Hey, this isn’t so bad. If this is the snow I had heard about, then we are doing great!” Little did I know!

The terrain changed drastically through this part of Utah. We saw every different kind of mountain that I could have ever imagined on this leg of the trip. They were all different sizes, shapes and colors. It felt like we went back in time. I imagined the dinosaurs walking over those giant rocks. I felt like we were on a different planet. The bright reds and coppers of the soil and the layers of rock jutting out of the ground at disturbing angles made me think of earthquakes and volcanoes. I had nothing but my imagination to keep me occupied during the long hours of driving in the middle of nowhere. For hours we saw nothing but mountains and sky. It was breathtaking. They are majestic. They are mystifying. They are high! The elevation grew with every mile. We are used to being at sea level! Before we knew it we were at the mile high mark. Over 5000 feet. And with each mile it got colder. I told the boys to bring jackets, none of us brought anything heavier than a sweatshirt! I think we had one coat between the five of us!

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We stopped for lunch at the halfway point at Green River, Utah. There was not much green and I didn’t see a river. It was dry and barren and barely anything in sight for miles. There was a stretch of road that was slightly inhabited. We stopped at a burger joint that would be worthy of a spot on the show, Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. We had green chile burgers and tater tots. It was delicious! I had a soft serve chocolate ice cream. We rested and the boys played ball in the parking lot. (Dirt road on the side of the building.) The boys play lacrosse and the locals were in awe having never seen such a thing. They were a hit!

As we made our way through Utah, we continued to see the most amazing views of mountains and scenery! Everything got bigger and bigger and I felt small as we zipped by in our “little” car. As we started to drive up through the mountains, around each turn I would notice we were driving higher and higher and there were more and more mountains. It seemed we would never get to the “top”. Around each bend there were more and bigger mountains to climb. Until we got to a point that seemed to be at the base of another set of mountains. Welcome to Colorado, the sign said! We were almost at our destination for the day! The time had changed and we realized we gained an hour. Were we an hour closer? No. In fact with the long stop for lunch and the time change, the time estimated for arrival to Fort Collins, Colorado was 9:00 PM.

When we finally did arrive in Fort Collins, with the time change accounted for, we had been travelling for 17 hours. technically that was just the first day! The boys weren’t too happy with me that first night! I haven’t even gotten to the part about the snow storm!

Read more about the trip in the next installment at Our Wild Rocky Mountain Drive.  Follow this blog to be notified when new posts are published or subscribe to the newsletter. If you are new here, please leave a comment and let me know. Heck, leave a comment anyway! I love to hear from you!

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Flip Flop Day

Posted on April 4th, 2013 by & filed under Everything Miz Meliz

I’ve been on a Spring Break vacation. It’s a road trip. Over 2400 miles in a week’s time. I’ll write all about it in the next few days. I saw this sign in Flagstaff, Arizona today. It sums up my feelings on most non-vacation days. It reminded me to be grateful for relaxation and easy going days! It made me realize how lucky I am to have fun in the sun, sandy beach, wiggle my toes kind of days.

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If you would like to take a rest and transport yourself on a mini-vacation, click here.

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