Copyright 2013 Melissa Reyes http://mizmeliz.com
Blog Venture, Everything Miz Meliz

Are Museums Fun? 5 Hot Spots I Visited this Summer in Los Angeles

I did not go out of town for a summer vacation this year, but I did have the chance to visit some of L.A.’s hottest destinations!  Here are some highlights of my “staycation adventures” . . .  5 Summer Hot Spots in Los Angeles:

Click on the name of each attraction to go directly to their website.

number 1The Getty Center, Los Angeles

I went to the Getty Center earlier this year for a Social Media Event.  On that day, my husband and I vowed to return and explore the amazing venue at length. My family remembered this when it came to making plans for Mother’s Day. It was a perfect idea. (Yes, it was a scorching hot day on Mother’s Day in L.A., thus the summer had officially begun for us!)photo credit Melissa Reyes copyright 2013 http://mizmeliz.com

The Getty Center is a great place to spend the day with the family, take in some local culture and have a nice meal.  We decided to join the Architectural Design Tour and the Garden Tour on this trip.  It was a lot of walking, but it gave a full scope of the history of the building of the Getty Center and the design of the grounds and gardens.  The same docent lead both tours.  She was quite knowledgeable and personable.

After going on both tours, we still had plenty of time to eat lunch at the cafe and visit some of the exhibits. All of my kids enjoyed the outing. They are teenagers, so I wasn’t expecting too much from them, but I found myself out of steam before they were! I have one son who isn’t into museums and reading as much, but he went along to be a good sport and spend time with the family.  I thought he wasn’t getting much out of it and would look back at it as torture, but recently he was able to recall terms that the docent explained to us in the tour.  I was so impressed that he was paying attention and retained that information even after a few months.  We put our youngest child in charge of taking pictures and that kept him busy and interested.  Our oldest is about to go to college and is studying architectural engineering – so this techie, artsy, place known for its innovative architecture was certainly the perfect destination for him!

See the mosaic gallery of pictures from my day at the Getty Center at the bottom of this post. 

number 2Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)

I found out through my Blog Venture buddy, Mary of Along Comes Mary, that admission to LACMA is free on holiday Mondays.  We wanted to go together on Memorial Day, but since that didn’t work out my husband and I made a date of it.  I visited LACMA a few years ago and saw the Tim Burton Exhibit.  That was something I will never forget.  I was so impressed with Tim Burton’s early childhood drawings and how those characters ended up coming to life in some of my favorite movies.  I have talked about the experience so many times that my husband was intrigued.  Besides going to the Getty Center, we haven’t been to many local museums together.  It is something we love to do in other cities while on vacation – why not enjoy some of the best museums in the world that happen to be in our own area!

It turned out to be the perfect date.  On a holiday Monday, there was very little traffic and for the price of parking, we enjoyed a few hours at the museum looking at the established and long-term exhibits.  Since contemporary and modern art is usually very high-tech and scientific, it was right up my husband’s alley.  I think his favorite part was the huge elevator, but he enjoyed most of the rooms.  While I enjoy sitting and looking at paintings and sculptures or people watching, my hubby likes to read all of the information posted about each artifact and view every documentary on the screens.  He can go for hours taking in all of this information systematically.  I like to soak it all in and look at the things that attract me.

We vowed to return to LACMA again because there was much more than we could see in a few hours.  However, personally I would not have enjoyed being there for too much longer.  I would rather return another day.  I would definitely benefit from becoming a member there!

number 3California Science Center

Since we had such a great time at the Getty Center on Mother’s Day and LACMA on Memorial Day, we thought we would try another outing with the kids on Father’s Day.  We decided on the California Science Center because my husband had been wanting to see the Space Shuttle Endeavor since it arrived in L.A.

This was an amazing experience!  The California Science Center has some wonderful exhibits and is free all the time.  It is home to the IMAX Theater and  the Space Shuttle Experience.  Both require tickets in advance which you can get online.  I enjoyed looking at the Space Shuttle and it was particularly meaningful to me since it was Father’s Day and it brought back fond memories of my dad.  He worked in the aerospace industry and was involved in early contracts for the Space Shuttle.  It was his pride and joy to have had a part in American history and he would have loved to have seen that exhibit.  I know he was proud of us for going there.

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I am not as in to seeing science exhibits as much as I am art and architecture, so I bottomed out rather quickly at this one.  My son, who was just ‘along for the ride,’ and I hung out together in the gift shop and at the cafe while the others fully immersed themselves in the experience.  When my youngest got bored, the three of us went outside and waited near the butterfly garden.  It was a beautiful day and if I had realized that there was a lovely park there, I might have brought a picnic, a blanket and a football for the boys.

There is so much to do in Exposition Park, you can definitely make a day of it.  Adjacent to the California Science Center is the Natural History Museum. . . we may be back for the next holiday!

number 4Griffith Observatory

For my sister-in-law’s birthday my brother planned a lovely afternoon at Griffith Observatory.  I am still not sure if he was riding our coat-tails on the idea of visiting our local attractions or if it was purely coincidence.  Nonetheless, I was excited by the notion of visiting another favorite L.A. destination.

We met at the Merry-go-round at Griffith Park and devoured the luscious pies that my brother had brought in his ice chest.  There are lots of picnic tables and large grassy areas by the tennis courts.  There is a little snack bar where the kids bought drinks and popcorn.  The majestic antique Merry-go-round is a Los Angeles treasure and tickets to ride it are only a few bucks. Parking is free at Griffith Park and it is just a little drive around the mountain from the Merry-go-Round to the parking area for the observatory.

photo credit Melissa Reyes copyright 2013 http://mizmeliz.com
The Majestic Merry-go-round at Griffith Park

The Griffith Observatory has been renovated since I was last there and I was impressed with the newest additions.  I was also relieved that the old favorites still remain and can be shared with future generations.  There is so much to see and do at the Griffith Observatory.  We explored the telescopes and the science and space exhibits.  Along the outside perimeter are plenty of photo spots to take pictures of the Hollywood sign, the Santa Monica mountains, panoramic views of the city and the observatory building itself.

Inside there are two theaters, the newest being the Leonard Nimoy theater and the Samuel Oschin Planetarium. Admission to the observatory is free, but tickets for the planetarium shows are $3-$7 and must be purchased at the ticket counter at the observatory.  We saw a show at each of the theaters during our visit.  The free show that we saw at the Nimoy theater was fun (funny) and informative.

number 5The Getty Villa, Malibu

For my birthday I decided to take the family to the Getty Villa in Malibu.  Well, I suppose they took me – since it was my birthday! I was there once as a child and I only remember a few details.  The thing that impressed me the most was the feeling of being worlds away, as if I were transported through time and space to a special point in history.  The Getty Villa was closed for a long time and since they built the Getty Center, I did not know what happened to it.  It has been renovated and is simply breathtaking!  I still got that feeling that I was transported to a special place and it was even better than I remembered it!

The villa itself is a beautiful specimen of architecture and design.  It houses an enormous collection of antiquities, sculptures and artifacts from Ancient Greece and Rome.  Anyone interested in history, mythology, art, design, archaeology or anthropology will love this museum and educational center.

There is a special procedure to follow in order to gain entry to this iconic California landmark and I observed it being strictly followed.  Admission is free to the museum but reservations must be made in advance to park there.  The fee for parking is $15 per car and each person in the car must have a printed “timed entry” ticket.  The nice thing about this procedure is the ease in finding a parking space upon arrival.  Even though we went on a busy summer weekend afternoon, I did not have the feeling that is was crowded.

We explored all the exhibits and wandered the villa and the grounds in a few hours.  It was fun and beautiful.  There are lots (way more than I expected) and lots of nude statues, so be prepared if you have children with you or that makes you uncomfortable.

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Plan to have extra time if you like to take pictures, there are so many things to photograph including many of the artifacts.  I took pictures of everything, even the tiled flooring.  It was different in every room and I loved taking shots of it.  Can you imagine?  Centuries old art all around me and I am taking photos of the floor!  It was fun! I did get in trouble for trying to get a shot of the visiting exhibit from Sicily – that apparently is a big no-no.  But they allow you to photograph practically everything else.

The kids are a little burned out on the “museum” thing.  But my husband and I have found it to be the perfect date for us.  We plan on going to the Reagan Library next!

So, what do you think? Are museums fun?  Have you been to any of these places while visiting Los Angeles?  Which is your favorite? Do you have any suggestions for other adventures in the area?  

Disclosure:  I love sharing my experiences and happily opted to post this piece for fun.  I do not represent any of the venues nor was I asked to write about them.

Number photo credit:  Image credit: wikki / 123RF Stock Photo

 

 

SCLBBUTTON

Be Inspired, Everything Miz Meliz

Road Trip Survival Guide or The Next Step in the Journey

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!

Everything Miz Meliz

College Decision Time!

The purpose for my family’s recent big road trip was to visit colleges. Since the decision deadline is fast approaching, now is probably a good time to share the details of the college tours we attended.

CUB 21

Over all, our son applied to eight universities.  His first choice from the start was San Diego State University.  San Diego State was the first college he visited and was seriously considering.  Lucky for us, our son decided early on what he wanted to focus his studies on and he determined his major before we began the search.  He carefully considered schools based on the programs they offered in his field, as well as location and what his friends showed interest in! He had a lot of support from his school and especially his counselors.

We were mainly interested in the Engineering Departments of these schools, with a focus on Construction, Civil, and/or Architectural Engineering.  We visited the following universities and attended their regular admissions tours:

San Diego State University

University of San Diego

University of California, San Diego

University of California, Santa Barbara

California Polytechnic, San Luis Obispo

Colorado State University, Fort Collins

University of Colorado, Boulder

University of New Mexico

Here are the photos from our favorites:

Colorado State University at Fort Collins

It is difficult to decide on a university to attend based on how it looks on their website, or on paper, or even based solely on a recommendation.  Every school is different and has its unique qualities.  Just like the students!  I think it is important that each student has the opportunity to visit as many colleges as possible, even before they are in high school, so they can get a feel for the place. It’s a good way to start imagining what college life is like.  If you can dream it, you can make it happen!

University of Colorado at Boulder

University of New Mexico at Albuquerque

After being accepted to five universities, my son decided on Cal Poly, SLO.  He liked it instantly when he arrived there for the tour.  It is a beautiful campus and it is a reputable school for architectural engineering.  He was honored to be accepted because he had been told how difficult it is to get in. It’s affordable within reason, and it is not too far away from home. But more than anything, he felt comfortable there and that is the most important thing.

California Polytechnic at San Luis Obispo

I am happy to give you my opinion of each school based on what I experienced.  If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask!

Do you want to find out what happens next?  The Six States in Seven Days Road Trip Saga continues in my next post:  5 Stops in a Culinary Adventure where I highlight some of the restaurants that I visited in on the road trip through Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona.

Everything Miz Meliz

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

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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Blog Venture, Everything Miz Meliz

Surrender to Your Inner “Cowboy” #BlogVenture

San Francisco, Here I Come!

“Adventure is out there, it’s heading our way So grab your scarf and goggles, let’s fly! I’ve mapped out our journey, we’re up here to stay. A sunset is our home. A moonbeam we will own. My Spirit of Adventure is you!”~Michael Giacchino

I was excited about my road trip to San Francisco for lots of reasons. I have had ‘Visit SF’ on my bucket list for a long time. I thought it would be with my hubby or even a trip with our kids – but I was thrilled to be going on a road trip with fellow blogger, Mary Lansing of Along Comes Mary!

The reason for this trip was a quest to meet and interview another blogger, Evan Sanders of The Better Man Project. He had just launched his book by the same title and invited many of his followers to a launch party in Palo Alto, CA over the weekend. It happened to be a free weekend for me and I thought I could take my son up and look at colleges along the way. As I began planning the little trip, I crowd-sourced the idea on my So Cal Lady Bloggers Facebook Group to see if anyone knew of a B&B or hotel that was blogger friendly, thinking I might get a good deal. I also contacted a relative that recently moved to a suburb of San Francisco and has offered me the use of her guest room. As I casted out my net, I snagged a few interested blogger buddies and a road trip/meet up was born!Blog Venture

The Spirit of Adventure

The spirit of adventure takes over in me when I think about travelling. I love exploring and letting vacations unfold. I like to have a light structure and be open to all the possibilities. I love meeting up with and visiting with friends and family along the way. When Mary and I set out, we talked and talked the whole way. We really got to know each other. One thing we have in common is that we take after our fathers. Our dads have always had the type of personality with which they made friends with everyone easily and always ran into people they knew everywhere they went. It was uncanny to my family that this happened to my dad on so many occasions. The same is true of Mary’s dad. It doesn’t seem like a big deal now when we are able to keep in touch with distant relatives and old friends on Facebook and with email, but long before that became an option – our dad’s had that friendly comaraderie with people all over the world. They left lasting impressions and their friendly and easy-going demeanor was always approachable. We both want to continue the tradition. We enjoy making friends along the way on our journey through life. Having the spirit of adventure and openness to possibilities running through our veins is one thing that made our spontaneous trip to San Francisco so much fun! This got me thinking. . . one of my core beliefs is based on being open to the possibilities that can be life changing—and believing that these possibilities may bring a greater sense of joy and fulfillment to my life.

So Cal in the Rear View

Cowboy-up

In Evan Sanders’ book, The Better Man Project, he mentions how he thinks he should have been born in the “cowboy era” when things were much simpler. He says, back then you could . . . “Jump on your horse and go. Didn’t matter where, you could just go for miles. If you needed to get away, there was always a new frontier waiting to be discovered. But most importantly, you could be at peace.”

“The cowboy symbolizes the free life, closely tied to the out-of-doors and nature. The impact of land, the grass, the rivers and streams and gushing springs, the color of the sky and the clouds, the climate and the weather, these things are characteristic of the real and the mythical cowboy cultures.” ~David Dary, Cowboy Culture

I had this “cowboy” feeling going on around the time that I heard about Evan’s party in Palo Alto. I felt the urge to go on an adventure and I wanted to get away. I felt a need to let go a little. Too much routine was getting to me. I actually went to Google maps and entered Palo Alto, CA. Where was it? How far a drive was it? What was it near? I checked my bank balance. Could I swing it? I had just told my hubby that we shouldn’t spend too much on Valentine’s Day and I knew a hotel or airfare was out of the question. But sharing the cost of gas and only having my own expenses to worry about was doable. The call of the road was beckoning me!Rainbow

Sometimes when I get this feeling, I will take a long drive by myself. I like to take the top down on the Jeep and drive up the coast. I will find a place to park and go for walks on the beach. Have a picnic. Shop. Explore. Alone. I like to get some solace now and then. Be introspective. Recharge. Listen to my heart. Let go. Surrender to the wind.

Bonding and Forming Lasting Relationships

This time, I felt like connecting with others and forging new relationships. I really felt a call to venture out to connect and reconnect with friends. I had the urge to spend a weekend networking and expanding my community. I was in the mood for “girl-time” and boy did I get it! I lost my voice from talking for three days straight and I enjoyed every minute!

I wanted to surrender and get away from the every day. I wanted to make the most of my time and have fun, too. I made my mission for the trip to use the time getting to know people and letting them get to know me. I opened myself up a bit. I actually enjoyed being me and I made the most of it. This was a chance for me to be the “pure me” – not the mom, or the wife, or the planner, or even the blogger. Just me and my rental car, my iPhone and my debit card! It was a blast!

I want to thank my husband and sons for being so very supportive of my ideas and my spirit of adventure. I know they all like to travel and would have loved to take a trip to San Francisco. They were very understanding of my reasons for my need to get away without them. We are a very close family but we respect the need to do things on our own at times. That goes for the mother, too! I am blessed!

Have a Hap-pea Day

It was a big risk! I went on this trip with someone I had only met a few times and barely knew. Since she is a blogger, I checked her out by looking at her online presence. I knew very little about Mary and she knew very little about me. There turned out to be a big age difference, but when we tried to guess each other’s age, the gap seemed much closer. This was a good thing. We found that we have much in common and we got along famously. We connected on many levels, but the most important factors we found to have in common is our love for blogging, our love of travel, and our love of 80’s music! By the time we arrived in San Francisco, we had eaten lunch at Pea Soup Anderson’s in Buelton, gone wine tasting in Solvang, searched for garlic ice cream in Gilroy, and become great friends!

Miz Meliz in BeulltonWine Tastes

The San Francisco Treat

We stayed at a wonderful new Bed & Breakfast in South San Francisco. Just kidding! We stayed with a family friend of mine (my husband’s cousin) and her husband and their two young sons. Their hospitality matched that of the best B&B’s around and we were particularly impressed with the wait staff. The cute little boys not only carried our bags, provided turn down service, brought us coffee and snacks, but also snuggled in bed with us! It was a heart-warming experience. There was a lot of trust, a – lot – of – trust with bringing a stranger along with me to stay in the home of a family friend!! That was the biggest risk of all. I thank my lucky stars that it turned out as great as it did! (I did have a back-up plan. It would have been costly, but if Mary and I didn’t “click” I planned on checking in to a hotel.) But, luckily, she fit right in and has become an extended member of the family. Our gracious hosts made their guest rooms comfortable and our stay was an A+ experience thanks to them!Our Hosts

Over the weekend Mary and I spent a significant amount of time connecting with friends, making new friends and interviewing bloggers. We also did some sightseeing. We went to breakfast at the Squat & Gobble in the Castro District and the food was amazing! We spent the afternoon taking pictures of the Golden Gate Bridge and driving around the city. We went to the Walt Disney Family Museum at the famous Presidio and we saw the Snow White Exhibit. Our friendship grew during this day as we shared these experiences together. Mary and I took lots of pictures and we were fortunate to be in one of the most famous cities in the world on a gorgeous sunny winter day. A few times along the way Mary asked me, “What do you want to do right now?” Which I kindly responded, “I’m doing it!” Truthfully, it didn’t matter exactly where we went to eat or what site we saw next – I was on a trip having a great time, making a friend and being one. That is all I wanted to do and I was so happy I got to do it!

Golden Gate Sightseeing Snow White and the Seven Oscars The Presidio

Palo Alto Party

Our host, Maryann, joined us as we headed to Palo Alto that evening to meet with two other blogger friends for dinner. Five ladies in a small booth at the well known old-time diner, the Peninsula Creamery was quite a sight to be seen! After dinner, we walked over to the Coupa Cafe for coffee. We talked and enjoyed getting to know each other even better over coffee. It was here that we experienced the “girl power” of a weekend get away! Blogger, Susan Cooper of Finding Our Way Now came to town on her own ‘girl’s weekend” with her long-time friend, Deborah. The two drove from Sacramento to attend the launch party.

Mocha from Coupa Cafe The Five Ladies The So Cal Lady Bloggers

Susan says that she is an adventurous soul. I was glad to get the opportunity to spend time with her. She brought her camera and tripod. She took lots of pictures and was quite interested in meeting Evan and joining in the fun. She made the trip seem like no big deal. It felt like it was what we should be doing. Both Mary and I have felt a connection with Susan via our blogs. It was nice to spend time together. We didn’t have to do much discovery about each other. We just “fell in line” in a conversation that seems to be forever ongoing!

“I find great excitement when taking a new path in a new direction, often offering new lessons to learn and share. I have learned that life’s lessons are just that… lessons that we must learn from, appreciate and share and most of all, remember to have fun along the way.” ~Susan Cooper

After coffee, we went across the street to the bar where Evan’s big party was taking place. We were on a quest to meet the writer and get an interview about how he went from blogger to published author. It was fun being at a party for someone having never met the guest of honor (except for via social media!) It was a fantastic party and a great venue. There was a big turnout for Evan’s celebration and we met some of his biggest fans, followers and even his family. Evan gave us a lot of attention and honored us for coming so far to meet him. The next morning, he gave Mary and I even more time to ask questions when he met us for breakfast to complete the interview. See my post Meet Evan Sanders.

Big Margarita Deborah Entranced Inspired Ivy Mary Listening Evan Sanders and Melissa Reyes

The Last Day

Sunday morning was spent hanging out in the kitchen of our host family and making plans for the day. It was a bitter-sweet farewell as we were just getting comfortable with our new found friendship with Maryann and Alec and their wonderful sons and we really liked being in San Francisco. I wished we didn’t have to leave so soon. One or two more days would have been terrific!

From the breakfast interview with Evan, we went on a side trip to Silicon Valley to meet with another blogger buddy. Our dear friend, Maribel of Stroller Adventures would have loved to attend all the activities in Palo Alto and San Francisco but she couldn’t coordinate it with her two small children in tow. I suggested that Mary and I meet her some place where the kids could have some fun while we have a chance to hang out together. The important part was to make a connection and spend time together. All the blogging and social media connections that we do could never measure up to a face to face meeting. Warm hugs, smiles and face time! Now Maribel’s kids call me “Auntie Melissa!” That is golden to me! It was worth the effort and all it cost was some time.

The InterviewOutside Peninsula CreameryMelis Maribel Mary

On the drive back to Los Angeles, Mary and I had ideas to stop at more places and have even more adventures! We would have loved to take a pit stop at the campy restrooms at The Madonna Inn that we have heard about or go wine tasting at the beautiful winery at Bella Luna in Paso Robles. We talked about sharing a sunset in Ventura with my good friend, Joy of Facets of Joy. We talked about other friends of ours that live in the Bay Area and how we could definitely take another trip together some day to visit them. We did stop for dinner at Woodstock Pizza in San Luis Obispo. It was the last leg of the trip. Mary had heard they had great gluten free pizza and they did! By this time I was tired and starting to show my age. (No, I can’t keep up with Mary!) Luckily she had the energy to drive the rest of the way home. I was sad that our little adventure was coming to an end. But somehow, it seemed like a beginning. Yes, it’s a new beginning! We will have more adventures together. We will call them our. . . Blog Ventures!

Woodstock Pizza

Surrendering

You don’t have to take a road trip to enjoy the feeling of getting away. You can make changes in your life by accepting it the way it is. Surrendering does not mean giving up… it is about acceptance. When you accept your life the way it is, you can free yourself.

“When you feel like you’re fighting your life instead of living it … clinging to the past … afraid of the future … not feeling what is in your heart … to put it simply, you feel stuck. When you can’t steer your life where you want it to go, don’t give up — learn to surrender.” ~Gary Zukav

Gary Zukav believes that surrendering is one of the most difficult things that you can accomplish in your lifetime. Surrendering is about accepting your life just as it is, without any resistance. When you resist your life, you resist what you can learn from it, and what you can gain from it. Open yourself to new experiences, open yourself to loving yourself in all experiences. Just the way you are.

Don’t Give Up

Surrendering is not what most people think. It doesn’t mean giving up — it means acceptance. When you accept your emotions and experiences, you begin to create a more powerful life for yourself. Surrendering doesn’t mean letting go of your responsibility. You must do your part — only you have the power to change the direction of your life.

Evan Sanders believes in never quitting. Evan says in his book, that standing for never quitting is a very measurable aspect of his life. He knows when he is quitting something. Not following through on commitments. Giving up. Giving in. He says he wants perseverance to be at the heart of his character. Love. Passion. Never quit.

I am so glad I took the time to get away on this Blog Venture! It was time to refresh, renew, surrender and open myself up to new things while accepting myself and what I am capable of doing. I hope it inspires you to be spontaneous and to enjoy the things that make you tick.

 

Read more: http://www.oprah.com/spirit/When-Life-Seems-Unfair/4#ixzz2DXxIX79l

The best things about you are there all the time!

http://rcgormangallery.com/editions/index/category:lithographs
Be Inspired, Everything Miz Meliz

The Most Amazing Tool in My Box: The Rosary

I love praying the Rosary and I have a stong love for the tradition of the Rosary in my family. A friend of mine recently told me she was going to pray the Rosary at lunch break, sacrificing her lunch time and fasting for that meal. She said she had a lot to ask for. I can relate. Can’t we all?

I read this “Beginner’s Guide to Praying the Rosary” on Catholicity.com this morning.  I was looking for a nice and easy guide to share on my blog.  I was taken with the fact that anyone can say the Rosary and you don’t have to be Catholic.  I have always wanted to share what I love about the Rosary with all my friends, but hesitated to do so because I felt it was “so Catholic.”  There are many “rules” that go with it, but the best rule is – there are no actual rules!  It can mean whatever you want it to mean.  Symbolic, or simplistic, it is a way to meditate and reflect.

Photo by Melissa Reyes Copyright 2012 "Lisa's Rose" aka Spiritual Rose posted in "The Most Amazing Tool in my Box: The Rosary" 1-24-2013 http://mizmeliz.com
Praying the Rosary is like offering a spiritual rose as a gift.

I must admit, it has been a very long time since I was in the practice of praying the Rosary regularly and with intention.  But I have always known that it is powerful, meaningful, worthwhile and something I can return to.

This is what I connected with this morning as I read about praying the Rosary:

Ask for big and small gifts. Be bold! In this sense, the Rosary is an exchange of gifts between friends.

It is widely known that Our Lady answers seemingly impossible intentions to those who are first beginning to pray the Rosary. This is her way of drawing you closer to Her and to Jesus. If you are praying your first Rosary, or returning to the Rosary after years of not talking to Our Lady, ask for something big, spectacular, “impossible.” She’ll often surprise you.

I believe in the Virgin Mary as a mentor of motherhood and womanhood.  The fact that she is referred to here as “Our Lady” is significant because she can inspire all women, all people, with the story of her life and the life of her Son.

Prayer and meditation play a big role in my life.  I pray in many ways.  I wish to share them with you now and then and would love to hear how prayer fits in to your life.

If you want to read more about Our Lady, check out my post on Fatima.

The Featured Image on this post is from the R.C. Gorman collection.  R.C. Gorman is one of my favorite artists and this particular picture is one that I love to use in prayer.  I feel that warmth of light shining on me when I pray. 

30 Health Blog Posts in 30 Days, Everything Miz Meliz

Spaghetti and Marshmallows: Post Thanksgiving Blues

Thanksgiving.  It was really great!  I enjoyed having the family meal at my home.  I loved cooking food from scratch for my kids, my husband, my brother and my sister-in-law.  I worked hard.  I spent too much money.  It was relaxing and mostly stress-free. After the meal, football, games, and naps, we went to see the film Skyfall.  I do not remember the last time we all went to see a movie together.  Watching a 007 flick was a perfect way to end a splendid day.

In the morning, I woke up thinking of the Madonna song, La Isla Bonita.  I actually felt like I had visited my “special place.”  Every single thing that we do this year is amplified in my heart as super special because it is a “year of lasts” for my oldest son.  He is a senior in high school and plans on going away to college.

Our Thanksgiving Day was so good. . .

“I prayed that the days
would last
They went so fast”

I was beat on Friday!  I was so tired and sore from the marathon cleaning and cooking the prior two days that I could barely walk.  Yet, I still felt good.  I was satisfied with how everything went.  I was looking forward to spending the next few days preparing left overs in creative ways and kicking back.  The main thing I had planned to do was not blog or spend too much time on social media and watch a few seasons of the West Wing.

Saturday I had a migraine.  It was horrible.  It didn’t keep me from doing anything I planned on doing, since I planned on relaxing anyway. But I did get frustrated that I had gotten off schedule with my meals, my medicines, and my diet restrictions.  I ate way too many sweets and too much of a lot of things that I should have eaten more moderately.  It was like having a hangover without having the fun of drinking any alcohol.  I need to plan to have more healthy snacks around for the days after a big event next time.  Next time.  That reminds me, the countdown to Christmas has begun!

Here is a little Anatomy Chart that I made, as suggested by WEGO Health’s 30 posts in 30 days prompt:

Property of Miz Meliz, #MizMeliz, http://mizmeliz.com Photo by Melissa Reyes Copyright 2012

One of the fun things that I want to remember about this Thanksgiving is the participation of all the people who read my “Thanksgiving Checklist” post.  It was nice to plan out some new traditions and talk about what things we like to do as a family.  My brother kept asking me, prodding me, “Is this it?”  He wanted to know what was the “one thing” that I would write about in my post Thanksgiving blog.  I did challenge myself to make one thing stand out, to make something extraordinary to remember.  Well, what I realized is that thing is different for each person.  For the kids, it might be that my sister-in-law managed to wow them with eight amazing pies (technically one for each person!) For me, it might be that I bought a pre-cooked turkey from Whole Foods and it was pretty darn good.  Or, that the no sugar added Cranberry Chutney and the Quinoa Pilaf that I made quickly became new favorites.  Or, that I wanted to have everything ready to eat and on the table by noon and my gosh – it was 12:01 PM! For my husband, it might have been his awesome carving skills.  For my brother, it might have been the phone calls he received from his children to wish us all a “Happy Thanksgiving!” I know one thing for sure, it was a really great Thanksgiving and I will always remember it. . . as my Isla Bonita!

To me, the Thanksgiving holiday is like a tropical getaway that I can always visit in my mind.  It has become a blend of all the wonderful memories, smiles, hugs, tastes, and smells of all the years combined.  I am so blessed!

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If you haven’t read the Checklist for Thanksgiving post, here it is:  https://mizmeliz.com/2012/11/16/miz-meliz-checklist-for-the-thanksgiving-feast/

Tell me. . . what is your favorite “go to” memory

of the Thanksgiving Holiday?