Travel Is Good For The Soul

Photo by Element5 Digital on

One day you’ll wake up and there won’t be any more time to do the things you’ve always wanted. Do it now.

Paul Coelho

This quote sums up my attitude about life in general.

Maybe I have this attitude because I had breast cancer in 2005. I thought my life was coming to a screeching halt. But life didn’t stop, and fortunately, I’ve been in remission for close to seventeen years. Yay!

After treatment, my only thought was, ‘let me live until the kids are out of high school.’ And a couple of years later, my musing went to ‘keep close relationships with kids and family,’ ‘learn how to write fiction,’ ‘improve health,’ ‘travel,’ and a few other specific ‘must do’s.’

All my future ideas are not ‘one and done,’ meaning they’re all a process. All of these nurture my soul and keep me hopeful.

The idea to become a published writer was a twelve-year learning adventure before a contract was offered. Today, I finished my copy edits and returned the manuscript to the editor. Another yay moment!

Now, I’m off to explore the following destinations on my travel list after a three-year delay because of COVID restrictions.

Traveling to other countries has always fascinated me. Maybe because I grew up in poverty and lived in bland government housing projects. The furthest I traveled before age eighteen was three hours away to San Diego, California.

I read many books as a kid and envisioned the places I read about: England, France, Spain, Mexico, and everywhere.

But, I worked a lot, mothered three kids as a single mom, and had neither the money nor energy to do any travel overseas until they were in high school. From then on, I was bitten by the travel bug.

Today, I’m leaving for Edinburgh, Scotland, Belfast, and Dublin, Ireland. We’ll travel by plane, train, and rental car. Meeting locals and exploring their part of the world is so exciting. I’m eager to walk through the Scottish Highlands and the castles and have a Guinness at a pub.

Photo by Miquel Rossellu00f3 Calafell on

I’m traveling with my sister, who revels in summer after a long school year. She’s the driver of our rental car through Scotland because her first car was an old stick-shift VW Bug. We rented a manual because it’s cheaper and we budget.

To tell you the truth, I’m concerned about her driving on the left side of the road. She says, “no biggie, I’m left-handed, after all.”

Uh, okay.

I read up on the travel books in honor of the big trip and even bought a selfie stick. I felt guilty about that purchase since I’m the person who complains when the youngsters whip out their sticks like light sabers at crowded travel sites.

But I’m tired of getting a travel shot of mostly my face and very little of the fabulous background. Hopefully, I’ll take a few great photos.

If you’d like to see a few photos of my travels and hopefully better selfies, click the Instagram button at the top of the post.

And if you have any travel tips for Edinburgh, Inverness, Glasgow, Belfast, or Dublin, let me know.

Until next month. Be well.


A Not Funny Thing Happened On Our Way To…


You know how when you fall, you get discombobulated? You stand up, but it takes a long minute or two to regain your equilibrium, not to mention the embarrassment. Such is what happened on our recent vacation.

This is the not funny thing that happened on our way to see the sea turtles:

There we were enjoying the turquoise waves of Laniakea beach, lapping at black volcanic rocks on the North Shore of O’ahu. We stopped to watch two huge sea turtles bask in the sun when a quick stop turned into a long ordeal.

Endangered sea turtles in Laniake Beach O'ahu Photo by Mona Alvarado Frazier
Kulihi, an endangered sea turtle-Laniake

We parked our rental car on the shoulder of a two-way road where several other vehicles were parked. Three hours later we returned to the car. I was starving, so we drove into the town of Hale’iwa, ten minutes away, to eat. “Pop the trunk,” I called out, ready to head into Killer Tacos. I stared at an empty trunk. No purses.

“Maybe I left it at the beach,” I said, although I know I didn’t take my purse out to the sand.

“Just get mine,” my sister said.

“It’s not here. Nothing’s here.”

Well, you guessed it. We were robbed. When we returned to the crime scene, we called the police. A woman approached us. Her car window had been smashed open. The take: a bag of wet water shoes and a towel. Us-we lost our debit/credit cards, driver’s license, cash, etc.

Luckily, we had our phones and began locking our cards online. While we were with the police, our niece took our phones and downloaded new cards into the Apple Wallet-a lifesaver. After all that, we received a sheet of paper with a police report number and advice to get to the airport extra early because we no longer had ID.

And then the charges on my sister’s card came rolling in. The first one was at a Long’s Drugstore a few minutes away. We drove there to check the dumpsters and surrounding area to see if our purses were tossed. At the least, maybe I could get my eyeglasses and ID back. Maybe my Costco and Barnes and Nobles gift card. Nothing. The only item I really needed was on my person. I was wearing my prescription sunglasses. Although, I’m sure I looked odd wearing those for the next five nights.

A few days later, we found out we couldn’t check into our next hotel without physical credit cards or IDs. They wouldn’t take Apple Pay or the photocopies of our IDs and passports. (Both of us had these uploaded to our computers and could access them on our phones).

Again, luckily, we were traveling with friends at another hotel, and they came over with their credit cards to secure our lodgings. Having my Kaiser Permanente card in my Apple wallet helped me get more meds at the local KP pharmacy, that and the police report.

I must say that TSA at the Honolulu airport was helpful and courteous. However, my sister and I were separated and taken to a supervisor, where we reiterated our story. They then asked us several questions. After TSA was satisfied that we were who we said we were, they went through our bags and waved us on our way.

Moral of the story: If you lock your purse in the trunk, make sure you know how to lock the rental car. The car we had didn’t automatically lock (like my sister’s personal car does). Better yet, leave one credit card along with your photo ID in the hotel safe and take a paper copy of your ID with you. Or take your stuff with you to the beach-which presents another problem.

Later that night, I remembered my word of the year, “Within.” After prayer and meditation, a quote with the word “Within” came to me.

quote on compassion, strength, courage, love is within you by Matt Hogan

I no longer experienced the disconcerting and unnerved feelings and enjoyed the rest of our O’ahu vacation.

The highlights were the Polynesian Cultural Center, Byodo-In-Temple, and Pali Lookout. (Click on my Instagram icon for more photos, and if you’d like to follow me, I’ll follow you, too).

After returning home, the Ukraine crisis filled the news. This reminded me that meditation, prayer, and self-care are a daily necessity for me and to limit information on TV and social media lest I feel overwhelmed.

I’m reminded that the International Red Cross and other long-standing organizations are ready and willing to assist the Ukrainian people. Here’s a list of sites to connect you.

Writing Life: 16 months to Publication

I received a three-page Excel sheet detailing all the “To Do” items before the publication of my YA novel.

First up was re-working my “sales hook.” The limit was sixty words. This is what I came up with, and I hope it’s enticing enough to motivate a reader to look inside the book:

She didn’t run because she killed him. She ran because she didn’t. But no one believes Juana, an undocumented seventeen-year-old incarcerated for her husband’s death. Amid the chaos of prison and her grief, she creates a garden in the yard—a safe space. A place where she gains the strength to take on the system before she loses her child.

What do you think?

Next, I need to develop my back cover. I have a 200-word limit there, but if you pull a couple of books off your shelf, you’ll see that most are in the 100 word range.

This month, I watched a couple of writing webinars on YouTube. The majority of them are free. For those of you who want to publish this may be helpful:

Best Practices in Marketing, Promotion, and Reader Engagement. by Author’s Guild.

Now, I must get back to cat-sitting my daughter’s fur babies and taking care of her 101 plants.

See you next month. Until then, take care of yourself.