Category Archives: Random Ramblings

2012…the end of the world as we know it?

Looking forward to more travel in 2012!

I ended 2011 celebrating with friends and my beloved (“husband” is just an inadequate word!), and began the new year with a 9:00am yoga class – perfect preparation for contemplating resolutions.

We’ve all heard the scary “end of the world” predictions for 12/12. I choose to interpret this as a positive thing.  If you believe, as Teilhard de Chardin, a French philosopher once said,  “we are not human beings seeking a spiritual experience, we are spiritual beings immersed in a human experience”, then maybe the “end of the world” is a metaphor for mankind waking up to that “reality”?

I am looking at 2012 as a year of rebirth for myself, for our society, and for world leaders. A time to throw off the shackles of F.E.A.R. – (“false evidence appearing real”, thank Tony Robbins for that one), and embrace compassion instead as our driving force.

“The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself” (F.D.R.),  and making fear-based decisions can easily become a habit. The media bombards us with messages designed to play on our fears – of losing, of missing out, of someone taking from us, of not having “enough”.  I’d like to suggest we all share one collective New Year’s resolution – to tune out all fear-based messages, whether they come from within or outside sources.

The sunrise of a new era!

“Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself, and that no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of it’s dream”. Paulo Coelho, one of my favorite authors.

My dream is for a world that lives up to it’s full potential, and I don’t think we have even scratched the surface yet!

Live Small, travel BIG, give BIG, fear not, and never let anyone, or anything, take your JOY away, it is only yours to give!



“Sunshine always makes me high”…

When you live in a resort town, everything revolves around the weather. In December, much energy is devoted to rituals encouraging mother nature to provide snow in time for a white (and ‘green’!) Christmas . When she doesn’t respond to our snow dances, well, people get anxious, and cranky. But, what are you gonna do? The weather is still something we cannot control. (Or, wait… do we control anything??)

As I took my lunch break today, I flipped on PBS and they had one of those pledge specials airing, you know, the ones we all love to hate, and would be loathe to admit ever watching… old John Denver concert footage. As I listened to “Sunshine on my Shoulder”, I looked outside at a glorious sunny day, and knew I needed to get outside.

Soaked up some vitamin D here for awhile

Off I went for a little attitude-adjustment hike around the neighborhood. I walked down to the lake and strolled the beach, end to end, stopping to try out every inviting spot to perch myself and enjoy the warm sun.

Nice of them to leave this chair out for me!







Merry Christmas from Lake Tahoe!


So, even though we have very little snow, and it doesn’t really feel like Christmas, I can’t complain. I have plenty to celebrate this holiday season.  And yes, John was a wise man, “sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy”!

The trampoline on a cat makes for a mighty relaxing perch!

Time to head East?

Ah yes, it’s that time of year again – “the holidays”.  I know some, (most?) of you are probably getting excited for the season, and may call me a curmudgeon, but the whole thing makes me cringe and want to leave the country. Oh, I am not immune to warm, fuzzy feelings when I hear certain Christmas songs, and I love a good party as much as anyone, but…

First, there is the unfortunate confluence of holiday “sale” ads with the election season barrage (a great reason to watch nothing but PBS for the next two months!) I mean REALLY, can anyone explain to me what value campaign ads offer society? What do we “learn” about candidates from thirty nauseating seconds of mud slinging? In my humble opinion, our country would be much better off if campaigning via attack ads was not allowed. (I believe there are other countries where that is the case?)

Second, I’ve never been able to figure out how launching the entire country into a two-month-long shopping frenzy honors the birth of Christ, a man who preached compassion and caring for the poor. Wouldn’t it make more sense if the season was all about feeding the hungry? Helping at a local shelter? Or taking a trip to a third world country and volunteering in an orphanage? Just think what a great family bonding experience that would be!

Velvet dress made by mama, with Rex. Aren't knee socks back in style?

I’m not sure how I came to be so annoyed by all of this. My childhood memories are good – I was an only child, and any relatives were across the country or in Europe, but my tiny family of three celebrated Christmas with a meaningful combination of European and American traditions. Mama & I baked German cookies, Papa strung colored lights on the house, I collected toys & food for poor families, friends stopped by for music, a chat and cocktails – it was all very relaxed. When I was 19, my father died of a heart attack while skiing, and Christmas became painful. I moved to Tahoe, and was happy to work the holidays.

As I got older, and watched my friends stressing out over shopping lists, and later my husband running himself ragged in the malls on Christmas Eve, I started wondering what is the point of this craziness? I am still wondering.

So, each year, as the holiday season sets in, I have an overwhelming desire to get on a plane heading East, far east, as in Asia, where Christmas is a foreign affair.

Unfortunately, or fortunately I guess, both David and I are way too busy to escape this year, so I’ll be here, with my fingers in my ears, chanting “la, la, la, la, la, I can’t heeear you” to all of the commercial noise. (I may also be caught singing along to my favorite carol, Adeste Fideles)

What do you think, has the commercialism and frenzy gotten worse over the last 20 years, or am I just a Scrooge?

Bah humbug, next year, we are off to parts unknown! 😉



9-11 epiphanies revisited…

9-11 left me questioning my life. I looked at my beliefs about people, the way I spent my time, the things I really cared about, and wondered “am I really making a difference?”. I always thought I was, but now, in a flash everything I was doing seemed trivial, exhausting, meaningless.

Nature always gives clarity

Mainly, I looked at my career – work I had so much passion for suddenly felt small, silly, even arrogant. What right did I have to be on TV? Who was I to tell people they should travel more? Why should anyone care what I think? And why beat my head against the wall?  Ever since we started Passport to Adventure, TV industry execs and “ratings data” had been telling us the American TV audience isn’t interested in travel. And now, just as our small band of world-wanderers was beginning to prove the powers-that-be wrong, this happens. (The 1990’s saw increases in the number of Americans traveling to “adventurous”, previously feared, destinations – it was an encouraging trend for us)

In the weeks that followed, like the rest of the world, I tried to get my head around what it all meant. What was true? How do we move forward? What can I do to help? Producing Passport to Adventure no longer felt right. I even wondered if I should pull it off the air – was it offensive to promote travel when our country was suffering?

Then, one morning, I had an “ah ha moment”. I realized that what I did was now more important than ever. Someone had to combat the images and fears bombarding us. A terrible thing had been done, by terrible people, but from my travels I knew that the world is not full of these people.

Travel taught me that the people in every corner of the world are far more like us than not – they are primarily kind & generous, they welcome travelers, and they want to be able to provide for their family, just like us.

Is she really so different from you?

I began thinking… the only way to stop the madness is for the people of the world to know each other, to see other religions and cultures as made up of fellow human beings, not as “with us or against us”. Even for those that don’t travel themselves, maybe a program like Passport to Adventure can help people understand each other? I know, it’s a big task, for a little show, but if we can affect one person, isn’t that worth not giving up?


I remembered a package I had received a few years before from an elementary school teacher in Brooklyn, New York. They had shown our China program in the classroom, then had the students answer some essay questions. When asked what they had learned from the program, one student wrote:

“I learned that Chinese people are not mean”.

And there were other similar comments. It was fascinating to see how early xenophobia can take hold. (Our new slogan? “Passport to Adventure – prying open one mind at a time”)

Ten years later, the same conviction still drives me, as Passport struggles through this tough economy, the shake-up of the  TV industry, and I look for the way forward. Once again I find myself taking inventory of what I value, what is important in life, and where we go from here. One thing I know for sure – I will continue my quest to know the people of the world.

Live small, travel BIG!


My summer “travel”…

As much as I enjoy writing, and sharing my oh-so-enlightening thoughts with all of you, I am a slacker blogger. (I feel much better getting that off my chest)  It is tough to find a better place to be in the summertime than Tahoe. After the “awesome” or “horrendous” (depends on your perspective) winter we had, I am really appreciating this “beach weather”. If Mother Nature cooperates, I can comfortably run around in my sarong and bathing suit for about 4 months, so I make the most of it – work, beach volleyball, outdoor concerts, the farmers market, and cooking keep me busy. I like to say “God didn’t make gorgeous sunny days for sitting at your desk, it is your DUTY to get out and enjoy the day, at least for  little while!”


Because I cherish being home in Tahoe, my travel during the summer consists of COOKING! When I get antsy for far away places, I dig up ethnic recipes, hit the farmers market, and transport myself via taste and smell – Indian & Thai curries, steak with roasted potatoes and arugula, Brazilian cod stew with coconut milk, Salade Lyonnaise with a farm-fresh egg on top (my healthy version, with peppered turkey), quinoa & grilled veggie salad, Moroccan tagine, “Caprese” pannini, salsa fresca, guacamole, fresh lime margaritas … those are just a few of my favorite culinary get-aways.

I keep my cupboards well stocked with exotic spices and I buy lots of fresh herbs at the farmers market. I’d share my recipes, but I typically just google the ingredients I want to use, pick a couple of recipes that sound interesting, and then wing it. (I take what I like from 2 or 3 recipes, I never follow one completely) The more specific and bizarre the ingredients you google, the better the search results. So hit your local market, buy whatever looks good, google, and get creative!

Let me know how it goes!

Bon Appetite!


Nothin’ left to lose…

“Freedom’s just another word for nothin’ left to lose”.

These Janis Joplin lyrics pop into my head all the time, (I have no idea why, I’m sure there is some deep subconscious meaning here) and they always launch me into a mental thrashing around of what freedom means to me.

Fire is a terribly frightening force.

A few weeks ago, I was woken up at midnight by pounding on my front door.  When I opened the door, there was no one there, but I saw flames shooting from the building 20 yards across the parking lot. As we all ran out into the street, the fire engulfed two condos, and before the fire fighters could put it out, 2 units were completely destroyed and a 3rd badly damaged. Thankfully there was no loss of life. It was very frightening. I did not sleep very well for the next two weeks.

After a fire, we all automatically begin making mental lists of what we would take with us as we flee. What I found very interesting about my reaction was that I began looking at everything I own more critically. I am definitely not ready to suffer losing everything, but I suddenly felt that 95% of my possessions had little real value to me. I was overcome by an urge to purge. To get rid of all of that stuff that was cluttering up my closets and shelves. One of my neighbors, who had lost everything, said “oh well, most of it was crap anyway”.  I knew she had suffered a much deeper loss recently, and I admired the way she was handling a second tragedy.

Even when we know too much stuff is oppressive, it’s so hard to get rid of it.  Fire does it for you, it cleanses the clutter, leaving space for clarity. I would not wish the trauma of a fire on anyone, but, in a sense, it must be very liberating? How freeing to have “nothing left to lose”! I have a new perspective, and inspiration to pair down to what I really value, in order to better appreciate what truly matters.

I’ll let you know if I can actually DO IT!  It will not be easy…

Live Small, Travel BIG!


Am I crazy, or are they?

I certainly don’t have the credentials to be blogging about economics (I was a stockbroker for 10 years, so I have a decent grasp of how the financial system supposedly works), but listening to politicians talk about how to stimulate our economy, leaves me pondering… I feel like they are missing the primary issue.

Lots of laughter in Vietnam!

“America is a consumer driven economy”. True, but what if Americans are changing? (isn’t insanity doing the same thing over and expecting different results?) And our politicians, promoting the status quo system, fail to recognize this? Maybe I am in “la la land”, but it seems to me this economic crisis could actually have a very positive purpose, if we don’t allow the “powers that be” to distract us from the valuable lessons we can learn here.

We talk so much about “security” in our country, yet we promote the thing that leads to massive insecurity – consumption as the answer to everything. Maybe Americans are beginning to consider the possibility that consumption of “stuff” is not the path to a fulfilling life?  Maybe they want to pay down their debt, forgo that kitchen remodel, drive their old car for a few more years, and seek enriching experiences – like enjoying nature, community service, voluntourism, and travel – as the new normal? And maybe the reason corporate America is not hiring, is that they see this new reality? I have faith that America can figure out how to prosper in a more sensible culture. That we can toss off the shackles of our addiction to credit. This paradigm shift may cause a slower economic recovery, and patience, but in the LONG TERM, we would be building a better, stronger, more “secure” world.



Live Small, Travel BIG…

Happy with what they've got in Cambodia!

There are many different ways to live this life. So many choices, that we often don’t even realize we are making.

Much of the way we travel through life, an expression of things we were taught by the experience we were born into, for better or worse.

Living “within your means”, to me, has always meant spending less then I earn. Early in my adult life, I realized that, above all, I did not want to become a slave to my possessions. Debt makes me nervous. This may not be the recipe for accumulating enormous wealth, but it lets me sleep at night. Isn’t it interesting that living “small”, or frugally, seems to be frowned upon in our culture? Or is it just human nature to want to accumulate?

As a kid, this would have been my dream house, I loved building forts and sleeping in them!

Society, media, government, all tell us that it is our responsibility to consume, acquire, buy more, and bigger. It is easy to rationalize charging it all on credit cards when we really believe we NEED all of these things. I somehow missed that part of the ‘how to be a patriotic American’ indoctrination. I am just not a big consumer. I did try it for a brief stint, but found it left me cranky. Buying is intoxicating, but the high wears off quickly, and I was left pissed off at myself for wasting money that could have been allocated to my next plane ticket.

My “Live small, Travel BIG” motto has not always been easy, I have at times questioned myself.  Do I lack drive, ambition?  Am I just lazy? Am I missing the boat by not taking advantage of “leverage”? (that oft-heard, cocktail party buzz word of the 90’s) For the last few decades, I watched people pass me by in the race to have a bigger house, newer cars, and more toys, and I wondered, why don’t I want all of that?

No garage to fill up with stuff!

Well, I am still not sure what made me a saver, not a spender, but I am damn glad I missed the “credit” boat! (That doesn’t mean I am completely immune, we have a mortgage, and I somehow managed to clutter our little condo with way more “stuff” than we need)

We have to discover our own path to happiness, and I do not presume to have the answers for the rest of you, all I know is that living a simple life that allows me to pack up and GO, is what fulfills me. Maybe, contrary to what has been drilled into us, it is an option for you too? I guess we just continue to strive for balance in our lives.

Recently, I have been feeling an even stronger urge to purge, load the backpacks, and wander the world for a few years. Watch for more to come on those plans! 😉