Windows on the world

Arty colorful kitchen
Kitchen of the Airbnb with Yoshi and Yello

Yesterday was a long travel day. Longer than I expected. By the time we arrived at our final Airbnb we had been “in motion” for 8.5 hours. This included a ride to the train Doune station, a train ride to Edinburgh, a tram ride to the airport, some time eating lunch there, a short flight to London Luton, a train ride to the tube station. A couple tube transfers later, we finally made it to Canary Wharf, up three sets of stairs to a lovely and artistically decorated renovated warehouse flat here.

attract fun
mantra on the mantel of this Airbnb

Having been out & about among people for so long (and in such confined quarters on the tube) with people, I was feeling ready to shut out the world, not visit with our hosts. Hopefully they understood. My introvert self wanted to retreat, spend time alone or just with my husband. On day 13 of this vacation, I now feel relieved we will be going home tomorrow. I miss my own bed, our quiet townhome, our kitties who will no doubt be a bit miffed with us for being gone for 2 weeks.

every-moment.jpg
This applies to our trip.

I enjoy doing the Airbnb experience because it gives you a window on people’s lives in another part of the world. While I am not wild about the times we have had to share a bathroom (about half of the lodgings on this trip), I still think the experience beats staying in a standard, traditional hotel. You must read the descriptions carefully and the reviews to make sure a place fits your needs.

On the eve of returning home, sitting in this lovely apartment and enjoying some solitude, I would still do the trip this way. I may be a little more selective on locations, and try to stay at least 2 days (sometimes 3) in each, instead of the few where we only had one night en route. Given the limitations of not driving here, I would say I did fairly well.

I may have a little “armchair” sociologist in me, getting this window on another person’s life and home, getting fuel for my future stories and books I will write. And part of me enjoys the adventure of not knowing exactly what we will find each time. Not only do you save some money off the expense of regular hotels, but you also gain the benefit of receiving an inside look at some of the real ways people live.

I am taking home with me a treasure trove of new experiences, ideas, inspirations and some lessons as well. How grateful I am for all of it.

Cheers,

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

Unsung art
Unhung art from the living room of the final Airbnb in Canary Wharf.

 

 

 

 

 

Liverpool to Glasgow

Hiya friends,

We left Liverpool on Thursday to come to Glasgow, Scotland. On Friday we have a tour of Loch Ness, Glencoe and The Highlands scheduled.

Liverpool, England
Liverpool, England – taken Sept 12, 2018

I wish we had planned for more than one day in Liverpool. It was fascinating and a very picturesque city. We visited the International Slavery Museum. It was a sobering reminder of the history of mistreatment and dehumanization based on color and national origin.

I shall have more to say about that in the future but at the moment, I am suffering a little trip fatigue. Two long days of train travel and then being in charge of the tour and transportation set ups have left me a bit tuckered out on Day 8 of 14. Thankfully I think the “arranging” is mostly done. We have 2 days in this AirBnB so a little rest from luggage hauling.

I love travel, but all the decisions can be a bit taxing. Two long days of train travel in a row took more out of me than anticipated. At least Friday, getting to the tour company start is the only arrangement we have to make. With Uber restored on my phone, that should be do-able.

Happy Friday, friends! I will share some photos this weekend if we get some good ones.

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

 

Wellness Wednesday – pack your snacks

Hello All,

While I am traveling, I am reflecting on wellness practices that I use during my trips (anything lasting longer than about 3 days). In situations where you will be navigating time changes, or spending time on trains, where there is some schedule uncertainty, it may be wise to pack some snacks.

Pack your snacks
My packed snacks are on the bottom in Ziplocs. I also discovered the most excellent Sea Salt & Black Pepper cashews at the Tesco market here in Salisbury.

I am not opposed to some “trip fasting” when you don’t get to eat a meal at the usual time. We all carry more than adequate stores of fat on our bodies (at least most of the Western World) that we can survive many days (indeed weeks) without food.

However, given the uncertainty of meals and the fact that many train stations and  cafes are stocked with carbs and sugar or foods likely fried in trans fats, I like to have healthy alternatives stashed in my backpack. I like mixed nuts because they pack a lot of nutritional value in a fairly small space. I am not a perfect minimalist when it comes to travel, but they take very little space. A small handful of nuts can go a long way when you’ve missed lunch and are on a delayed train. My hubby notices that I can get a little “hangry” when it has been 5+ hours since I’ve had a good meal.

This is less urgent in recent years since I’ve typically fasted overnight for 12-14 hours,  and one day a week I fast for 16-18 hours by skipping breakfast on Saturdays when I attend morning yoga. My body has become sufficiently “keto adapted” that I do not typically have any problems with low blood sugar. However, it is the mental game sometimes, not the physical one, that can get us into trouble.

When traveling, your mind can be taxed to capacity, particularly if you are unfamiliar with an area. You have been calculating currency conversions in your head. Your train is late, so you missed the connection. Your wi-fi isn’t working on the train and you are running out of clean laundry.

Any of these circumstances are fairly benign. But added up, they can make you feel fatigued and cranky. So you do not need to add to the problem by yelling at your spouse or allowing your tension to boil over. Even if I never access my snacks on a typical travel day, just knowing they are there helps me avoid “famine brain,” which can stress me out unnecessarily.

Sometimes hunger is true and physical. It is best to wait for this physical signal in order to eat, if we do not want to add extra weight. Sometimes our hunger is actually more of a emotional issue. We may hunger for rest, or connection with our partners. Eating is the solution in these cases. However, for me, my primitive brain seems to do better when it does not have to work overtime to solve any scarcities.

Do you pack food for travel? What are your favorite trip snacks? 

cristy@meximinnesota.com

Together at Stonehenge
Photo of me with my hubby at Stonehenge on Sept 11, 2018. There is a fine cafe there with delicious steak pasties and cheese and onion pasties which we had for brunch before our tour.

Wellness Wednesday – overnight travel

Hello Friends,

Tonight begins our trip to London Heathrow airport from MSP.  I will write on the necessity of having a plan when you travel on overnight flights. It can be difficult to stay healthy and balanced when you are throwing your body out of its normal rhythm. But as a frequent flyer I have experimented with a few strategies that make it less painful.

The first bit of advice is this: If you can, try to go to bed early (1 hour at least) for a few days before your trip. Even if you do not drop off to sleep right away, you are allowing your body and brain to relax and get more rest. Stay off your electronics at night. Try reading an old-fashioned paper book, or taking a shower or bath before bed to help transition to sleep.

Getting extra sleep and rest before a trip helps you know that, even if you only get 3-4 hours of sleep (which I would consider a “good” amount for me), you have allowed yourself some quality rest in your own bed.

sleepytime.JPG
Celestial Seasonings

I like to bring some herbal tea on board when I travel overnight. I like Celestial Seasonings Sleepytime tea, since it is a nice blend of chamomile, spearmint, lemongress, etc. Generally airlines seem to offer coffee and tea, but they do not always have non-caffeinated options, so I bring my own, and they supply the hot water.

I have noticed that you are often served meals high in carbohydrates, flour and sugar. While partaking in a small quantity may be fine for you, I always bring little bags of mixed nuts with me in my backpack or purse. Protein and fat help you have less ups and downs in your insulin levels. I get less cranky when I have my own healthy snacks.

Airlines typically feed you at least every 2-3 hours, with maybe a 4-5 hour break during overnight flights. This can feel obnoxious if you want to go to sleep right away, and don’t feel the need to graze like a cow for the whole flight. It serves as a distraction for the passengers. My theory is the extra carbs put people into kind of a “spacey, dreamy” state that makes it easier for flight attendants to keep us calm.

I used to drink white wine with my dinner on the flight. But I realized it did not help my quality of sleep and I felt too groggy upon waking up dehydrated. If it helps you relax or you are a nervous flyer, it may okay. But be sure to drink lots of water or something else that hydrates you.  Alcohol has a dehydrating effect and planes dehydrate you more than you might expect. There is a reason flight attendants make a few extra rounds with water during the flight.

I pack my supplements of magnesium with me that I take daily anyway. For me, 400-600 mg of magnesium calms my nervous system and helps my sleep in general, so I am sure to pack supplements in a place I can access easily on the flight.

plane screens
Photo credit link

On the newer fancier planes, you will often find advanced video screens with a plethora of offerings of movies, t.v. shows, music and entertainment. While I often enjoy a t.v. show or movie while I am eating my dinner, I try not to overindulge on electronic things at night. Using an eye mask and ear plugs while others are staring zombie-like in front of their screens can be helpful when you want to wind down.

My final bit of advice if you want to wind down and calm your nervous system is to meditate. Nowadays you can find apps for this even on planes, or you can just sit quietly with eyes closed, relax your body and watch your thoughts. Notice the sounds around you, without judging them. I often practice loving kindness meditation. I offer kindness especially to myself and to strangers. “May you have ease of being” is a nice mantra.

Being kind and compassionate on flights, with yourself and others, goes a long way toward diffusing any frustration or impatience you may feel. Happy trails!

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

 

Happy Blogoversary!

Last Labor Day I started this blog, so I am celebrating a year of nearly daily posts (340+). I had no idea I would keep so faithfully to a regular schedule when I began. I also have to laugh at some of my posts in the first couple months- darn, those things were too LONG!! I barely have the attention span to read them myself!

Colorful Drinks Cinco de Mayo Wishes Instagram Post

To those of you who have read, supported, liked and commented: my sincere thanks! I continue to enjoy this journey with you. What a great privilege to have platforms like this where we can share our ideas and connect with others.

I look forward to seeing what the next year may bring. Hope you have a happy Labor Day (to those in the U.S. and Canada)!

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

 

 

 

Saturday Share – Lost and Found

Hi there, friends!

It is time for Saturday Share and this time, I want to share an author and a mini book review. Geneen Roth may be familiar to some of you who have worked through food issues. I was *wowed* by her book, Women Food and God: an Unexpected Path to Almost Anything. It is about the beliefs about yourself and how your relationship with food is a microcosm of your beliefs. Do you believe you will always have enough? Do you deserve kindness, forgiveness, and tenderness? Is food a stand-in for your need for love or affection?

lost and found
Photo credit link – Audible

About a year ago I ordered her audio book Lost and Found: Unexpected Revelations about Food and Money. In it she describes losing all her money in the Madoff investment scandal. She writes that food is microcosm for our beliefs, and how we approach money is also a microcosm of our beliefs.

It is an excellent book if you have ever wanted to think deeply about your relationship with money, and examine your beliefs and how they were developed. I have listened to the audio many times and done some work on this issue in coaching.

Many of us formed our attitudes about food and money when we were young. While it is not universally true, we often adopt food attitudes and behaviors from our mothers and money attitudes and behaviors from our fathers.

I am going into a period of transition, drawing down my savings while I move from a generously paid corporate job to freelance consulting. Now is a good time to get more conscious about money, and my beliefs and actions around it.

In general, I have an attitude of abundance, but I realize this can also make me a little careless with money. One of my beliefs is “there’s more where that came from…” so I do not tend to worry about it. I realize this reflects an enormous amount of privilege. With a good education and skill set, I can find work *somewhere* doing something.

Knowing where my money is going came up during a 3-week class with Women Venture on getting started with small business. Tracking my daily expenses felt impossible chore to me, but other women in the class (especially the Moms) had all kinds of strategies for tracking and budgeting.

So I am curious about your experiences, readers. What are your attitudes about money? Do you have systems that work well for you to track your expenses? Any advice on living with the ups and downs of freelance income? 

Thanks in advance for your insights.

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

 

Plummeting views – was it something I said?

Hiya WordPress peeps,

It seems a bit strange but I noticed last week that my overall views of my blog plummeted rather precipitously and suddenly around August 11th after some steady climbing in the last few weeks. At first I did not take it too hard – people are on summer vacations, after all. They have important things to do, and since I write for myself, I did not worry about it.

Then I thought: is this related to the policy change on Facebook, where there is no longer auto-posting enabled for our blog posts?

Being the stats-oriented person that I am and curious about this change, I opted to do a little research on this issue. I looked as the “referrers” to the page and realized that the number coming from FB is actually quite a bit smaller than from WordPress.

plummeting
Page stats for readership of meximinnesota blog

I also realize that when I am around more (and not traveling) I like to engage in more reading and commenting on others’ blogs. This is great for connecting with others with whom we share interests and passions. It also helps us discover new sources of knowledge and writers we respect.

I discovered that when I write short and concise pieces (less than 500 words), I get more views and likes. This is obviously related to our short attention spans and our expectation that blogs are short and to the point. It is part of this medium that we do not want to spend large amounts of time on any one “read.” I get that.

I know there are algorithms used by various sites in order to “serve up” content based on search terms and other sophisticated uses of SEO. So I am patiently deciding whether to put any thought into this, or just to let go. It may be that I discontinued the WordAds for a few weeks as an experiment. Maybe that affects view stats as well.

Seasons change, and priorities change. I love this medium for helping me hone the discipline to produce writing regularly, quickly and efficiently. And I love the connections I have made here and the community I have found. I shall let go of any “ego trip” around this blog and let it be what it is.

To those of you who comment regularly, thanks so much! You keep me motivated, and I am grateful for your support of my work.

cristy@meximinnesotana.com