Travel Tips, Trends and Super Hacks

1

This post includes a few tips, tricks and trends to help you travel, wander and move about a bit easier and healthier.

Napcabs at the Airport – as long as they are maintained and sanitized, I am all in for a moment of quiet meditation at JFK.

Napcab2

Smartphone Hotel Keys – This can’t happen soon enough. How many times have you had to return to the front desk with a plastic card key that just didn’t turn that tiny light green?? Now available at select Hilton Hotels.

Hotel

A few more travel tips . . .

2real

JetLag Drinks

1Above creates drinks that will help people avoid jet lag. The brand’s products are available in refillable bottles and concentrates, which help to feed the body with six electrolytes and six essential vitamins to help the body naturally release energy. Available on Amazon JetLag Drink

1Above

LinkNYC is the ambitious plan to replace all of New York’s obsolete phone booths with Wi-Fi-broadcasting towers.

Wifi

and more travel hacks. . .3

My favorite Umbrella ever – covers you and never blows out in gusty Manhattan storms.

totes

Available here. . .  Totes Luggage Bubble Umbrella, Clear

And for sunnier days and warmer seasons – an awesome idea. Free public sunscreen. This summer the city of Boston installed sunscreen dispensaries at no cost to taxpayers, thanks to skin cancer organizations like the Melanoma Foundation of New England and Make Big Change.

 

 

 

 

Three Manhattan Favorites

In my other life, I might have been a great New York private tour operator. If you are visiting Manhattan, had enough shopping and eating and you’d like to explore by foot or bike, don’t you dare miss –

brooklyn-bridge-sunset-wallpaper-1-1Walking the Brooklyn Bridge

Finding the bridge, the entrance on both sides of Manhattan and Brooklyn and even the best locations for photos can be found in this amazingly detailed article from Explore Brooklyn Crossing the Brooklyn Bridge.

HighlineStrolling the High line

While the caretakers of everything at this incredible elevated park that sweeps Manhattan’s west side  do a pretty good job of keeping New Yorker’s and visitors updated about closings and new entrances and activities on their website: The Highline finding an entrance can be challenging.

highline

Check their calendar before you visit – so many fun things to do by season -from Tai Chi to Velvet Gloves Gentleman’s Boxing to Stargazing.  Pick up a salad at Sweet Green in NoMad at 1164 Broadway (near 28th Street) and walk west to 28th and 10th Avenue.

Central-Park-Aerial-View-WallpaperBiking Central Park

Warning, I was one of the first to sign up for New York’s Citi Bike Program, I don’t care if you are from Amsterdam, Paris or Copenhagen, do not ride the Citi Bike system outside of Central Park. You will be risking your life. In the park fine, out of the park, no. Got it?

With that said, short term Citi Bike memberships can be purchased by the day or the week here Citi Bike

citibike

There is a bike station at Central Park South and Grand Army Plaza. For Central Park Maps visit the Conservancy’s website Central Park Conservancy

Too Small to Fail

“Be the person with embarrassing goals and impressive results instead of one of the many people with impressive goals and embarrassing results.”

Today’s thoughts inspired by a seriously smart book:  Mini Habits: Smaller Habits, Bigger Results

Mini HabitsI travel to Manhattan for work each day (some people call it commuting). I intentionally take my travel to New York City each day and I view it as a big adventure. The big apple, right here in my own back yard, a playground that I get to rediscover over and over again. The dreaded 90-minute “commute” has become a part of a mindful and magical journey. Well, sometimes not that “magical”, but you get what you put into it, okay?

467a65572f527359c3eb3172dbb9b0b7Lately I’m very sad about the growing number of homeless men and women I see while I am walking downtown to my office from midtown to Soho. Counting 5, 6, 7 people per block, I thank God I haven’t become numb to this sorrowful situation.

A homeless man rests under a blanket while sitting on a bench in a New York subway station, Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2014. Monday night volunteers spread throughout the city to do an annual count of homeless people living on the streets. According to advocacy group Coalition for the Homeless, more than 50,000 people live in municipal homeless shelters, with thousands more living on the streets. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
A homeless man rests under a blanket while sitting on a bench in a New York subway station, Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2014. Monday night volunteers spread throughout the city to do an annual count of homeless people living on the streets. According to advocacy group Coalition for the Homeless, more than 50,000 people live in municipal homeless shelters, with thousands more living on the streets. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

I became angrier and angrier at DiBlasio, at the system, at the crumbling world economy. I thought about creating a video and filming what others may not see. Heroin addicts, veterans, the mentally disabled lying down on the sidewalk with cardboard as their mattress and torn blankets as their cover. But other than devoting time to volunteering at a homeless shelter, what can I do?

Well a dear friend had a wonderful idea that helped me the other day. Bring them lunch. Pack extra lunches to hand out to those who are hungry as I walk to work.

Kevin Raleigh, of the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless, works, Monday Jan 10, 2011, on homeless outreach trying to convince homeless to come in from the cold. Raleigh carries lots of gearÑjackets, blankets, socks, gloves and hatsÑbecause they are often unsuccessful at getting people to leave their camps, even in sub-zero temps. Raleigh gives a pair of gloves to D.J., a homeless man, who is known on the streets as One-Eye-Jack. RJ Sangosti, The Denver Post
Kevin Raleigh, of the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless, works, Monday Jan 10, 2011, on homeless outreach trying to convince homeless to come in from the cold. Raleigh carries lots of gearÑjackets, blankets, socks, gloves and hatsÑbecause they are often unsuccessful at getting people to leave their camps, even in sub-zero temps. Raleigh gives a pair of gloves to D.J., a homeless man, who is known on the streets as One-Eye-Jack. RJ Sangosti, The Denver Post

And so I did. I started with one sandwich yesterday. I am thankful to say that it was well received and I made a real connection with someone.  A older woman who thanked me. A soulful moment of compassion in a very crazy city.

Starting Small

This act of giving is not a new idea, but for months I was so concerned about the huge homeless problem I didn’t know where to begin. I got caught up in the amount of time, effort and energy it would take to do something, anything. Whenever we are trying to solve a problem that is bothering us this greatly we sometimes tend to get caught up in the enormity of it.

Perhaps you want to lose weight, hit the gym, save money, develop a new skill, invest in the market. My recommendation to you, is to start small, with mini-habits, that when practiced daily and consistently really do work.

Think about it, your goals may be too lofty and setting you up for failure. Yes it’s okay to dream big, but if you are having trouble failing, take this tip and advice from the author of Mini-Habits.

Some ideas . . .

Big Goal: Travel the world by the time your 30.

Small Habit: Begin by saving $10.00 a day by making lunch. Research the economical benefits of a round the world ticket. Read:  Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel

51da8C8qg-L“Vagabonding is an attitude—a friendly interest in people, places, and things that makes a person an explorer in the truest, most vivid sense of the word. Vagabonding is not a lifestyle, nor is it a trend. It’s just an uncommon way of looking at life—a value adjustment from which action naturally follows. And, as much as anything, vagabonding is about time—our only real commodity—and how we choose to use it.” Quote from Vagabonding.

Big Goal: Lose 25 lbs by your 25th birthday.

Small Habit: Start with 1 less teaspoon of sugar in your coffee each day. Start with a 10 minute walk around the block.

Big Goal: Learn how to code your own website.

Small Habit: Start with a 5 minute session of a  class each day on Lynda.com, or Udemy.com

Big Goal: 100 pushups a day by halloween.

Small Habit: Do one push up right now. Maybe two tomorrow. Grow slow. Grow slow and steady.

Big Goal: Write the book.

Small Habit: Write one true sentence a day. (a wonderful piece of advice from Ernest Hemingway.)

Break it down. Do it daily. Be consistent.

Looking for inspiration? Check out the author’s Mini-Habit Ideas Mini Habits

 

 

 

 

Biking through Bali and The Future of Travel through Space and Mind

 

baliI am currently researching and planning a trip to visit the best of Bali. I want to find the less traveled, secret and sacred places.  Oh what an adventure this will be.  95-miles-wide and located in the Indian Ocean, Bali is a part of the Indonesian archipelago known as the Lesser Sunda Islands north of Western Australia. I am sure one of the highlights of this trip with be a bike tour through the bamboo forests of Bali and have found Bali Countryside  offering what looks like amazing tours.

The Future of  Space Travel

spacex

In the meantime, I have been pondering the potential of space and mind travel – the last two frontiers of exploration. I’m currently reading and recommending Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future. If you are interested at all in space exploration, than I believe you will be fascinated by his mission to revolutionize space technology, with the ultimate goal of enabling people to live on other planets. For up to the moment news on his progress, follow space exploration @elonmusk on Twitter

The Creative Possibilities of Mind Travel

I became very curious about the idea of  creative mind travel this morning after reading this quote from John O’Donoghue’s book Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom
“No one else has access to the world you carry around within yourself; you are its custodian and entrance. No one else can see the world the way you see it. No one else can feel your life the way you feel it.”

Dance Trance, Strobbing Lights and Whirling Dervishes

derviches_tourneurs___whirling_dervishes_by_baleineau-d5lp1eyAll travel and stories start with an idea in our minds –  in the inner vast space of potential, limitless creativity. Now imagine taking self-exploration to the next level – tripping if you will, sans drugs, for mind expansion.

This is not a new idea at all. Psychologists and neuroscientists have been experimenting with stroboscopic lighting techniques to activate the pineal gland which in turn produces visions not unlike a psychedelic trip.

Entering a dance trance  have had many throughout time traveling into the spirit world. Native cultures such as the Australian Aborigines, African tribespeople, Sufis and American Indians have utilized the power of dance to make contact with the spirits as they enter a world of vivid color and surreal architecture and archetypes.

Those that practice insight meditation have reported experiencing hallucinations. From simple shapes and colors such as one might see on a low LSD dose to full on “out of body” experiences where entire characters and environments are formed and interacted within.

Interested in touring the deep vastness of your mind without magic mushrooms, microdots or black sunshine? You can read more in this article How to Hallucinate Without Drugs.

Adventure as a Mindset

To embrace the unplanned experiences and to fully appreciate the spontaneity of life is to believe the next adventure is about 5 minutes  away.

Happiness is a Skill, The Dangers of Impoverished Thinking and Coconut Muscle Mylk

bikeCall it what you will, bliss, contentment, excitement, enthusiasm, well-being, enchantment — happiness is a skill, a skill that needs to be trained and practiced daily.  My mind and body training includes a daily ritual (beginning around 5:30 am) of gratitude prayer, stoic philosophy studies, meditation practice, workout training (running, hiking, biking, swimming and high intensity interval training) and learning something new every single day.

Self- experiment for the day – to pay very careful, non-judgmental attention to the contents of my consciousness in the present moment. To watch my mind – to bring my soul into harmony with itself, and not let my purpose be out of tune. Seneca wisdom Letters from a Stoic (Penguin Classics) Why all this mind watching? Because it’s a over-crowded zoo in there.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset
Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Through the Lens of Thought
What lens are you using? The way we see and think about things is the most powerful force that shapes our lives. Any impoverished thoughts that are brought into our perception are like poison for the brain. This would be thinking that is deprived of richness or strength; thoughts that are limited or depleted.  Yeah, these thoughts have to go.   Inspired by the wisdom of  Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom

 

Lolas

Biking Plantation Run & Coconut Muscle Mylk from COMO Parrot Cay

Rode the sweet four-mile palm-covered path to the fresh coconut plantation on Parrot Cay. Yes they grow their own and serve it up for breakfast daily.

Coconut Muscle Milk

This delicious drink speeds muscle recovery by reducing inflammation and replenishing electrolytes and nutrients with 1 banana, 1/2 cup young coconut water, 3 slices of coconut meat, a teaspoon of cinnamon, 1/2 cup of almond milk, handful of flax seeds, 3 dates and a few cocoa beans. Blend and replenish.

On Exploration, Sailing and Wandering

 
  We cannot discover new oceans unless we have the courage to lose sight of the shore. -Andre Gide

Just as a goldfish remains small in its bowl, but grows when placed in bigger bodies of water, so will we. Here’s to embracing change. To forgetting about feeling secure in the pond you are in. 

In the words of Joy Bell, “Holding onto something that is good for you now, may be the very reason you don’t have something better.”

A person does not grow from the ground like a vine or a tree, one is not part of a plot of land. Mankind has legs so it can wander. Roman Payne, The Wanderess 

  

Dreaming Big, the Maldives and Shambala in Bali

bali-17-the-holy-water-15-728‘Man needs reckless courage to descend into the abyss of himself.” – Yeats

Somewhere along the line, over the course of a few decades – between paying the monthly mortgage, grinding through the 50 + hour work week, suffering through the daily three hour commute, sitting in front of a screen for eight to ten hours, my heart-felt dreams faded into the background and literally sailed off into the far-away sunset.  I’d forgotten how to dream. I became fearful of the “unknown”. I felt like I was leaning forward, tumbling into the fear of the future. 

No More Fear

Around this time last year, I reached a point. The point where my mind, body and spirit just said no to the manic attempts to run from my life and bury myself in work and possessions.

“A time comes when you know that you can no longer wallpaper your soul.”

This deep inner reflection takes rigorous daily practice, because if you are or were stuck like me, you need to unwind the tape and reverse back into your own true nature to discover the deepest natures of your fear. It’s a painful path and the self-delusion must cease to exist. Every excuse you make is nothing more than an attempt to justify why you are not doing what you truly dream.

Interesting side note: the phrase “do not be afraid” recurs 366 times in the Bible.  think about that.

What is truly important

After shining a flashlight in the face of fear I have discovered -what my heart really longs for is deep love, connections, peace-of-mind, serenity, calmness, security and freedom.

Now I know, one does not need to travel to find any of this, but re-igniting a sense of adventure  also helps set the course.

underwater-sculpure1So this is one of the reasons I yearn and plan to visit Bali and the Maldives. Yes they are on the dream bucket list and yes I am determined to visit, what I believe a place for a soul retrieval – a slice of nirvana – heaven on earth.

I’ve been inspired by others who have gone and have raved about the experience.

I’m just back from Como Shambhala Estate, and life has not been the same since. Spread out across the lip of the Ayung River Valley, about 10 kilometres from Ubud in Bali’s green hinterland, Como Shambhala is a silken, holistic health resort, one of the world’s finest, according to the arbiters of such places, a “Retreat for Change” by its own definition.

Bali and the Maldives. Mother nature provides the magic.

maldives-L-fzBFca

I would love to know, I am very curious, what does your heart long for?

Unleashing Your Best Workout Every Day

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset
Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Visiting Parrot Cay (paradise in Turks & Caicos) and staying on track with my exercise routine has been extremely challenging. Staying disciplined with so many options is not easy. Definitely a first world problem, but a dilemma just the same. I also look a bit intense (crazy) doing squats, sit-ups and push-ups on this beach while everyone else is strolling by occasionally bending down to collect a beautiful seashell.

I’m so determined at home, where I have a daily routine – Spinning class, hills to hike, weights to lift and dance classes at the Y. Here, I have to use my imagination while working out with the same intensity. Do I hit the beach? go for a swim? (knowing that this crystal clear water is not something I get to dive into every day), do I bike? How can I possibly go indoors to the gym? Absolutely no way. How do I know that I am exerting the same energy? It’s time to get creative and make this beach my workout playground.

Now, I know what I am committed to – sweating and measuring out 10,000 steps before 8:00 am (thanks FitBitFitbit Flex Wireless Activity + Sleep Wristband, Black) and at least 20,000 for the day,  coupled with a daily dose of High Intensity Interval Training, but the sun, the sand, the sea, is distracting the hell out of me.

Unleashing Your Best Workout Everyday

Inspired this morning by Todd Henry, an arms dealer for the creative revolution and author of  The Accidental Creative: How to Be Brilliant at a Moment’s Notice and  Die Empty: Unleash Your Best Work Every Day
These two books are definitely on my reading list.

During his interview on The Unmistakable Creative “Harnessing the Power of Your Authentic Voice“, Todd explains that in order to stay on track and successful you need to be decisive about how you are going to spend your time. Learn what to say no to is extremely important. If you are saying yes to everything you are saying yes to nothing.

When planning out a successful, results-driven, workout routine (and any creative project for that matter) you must set priorities using your finite resources (your focus, assets, time and energy).

Your focuswhat are you attempting to achieve? Your assetswhat tools do you have to work with? Your time  – how long do you have to workout/work/create today? and Your energyare you nourished? well-rested? ready to put in the time?

I’m very curious, what tips do you have for creating an intense workout routine while on vacation?

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset
Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

 

 

A Sky Like Mind, Active Abs and The Art of Slow and Mindful Eating

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset
Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

Have you thought about what pace feels right for you? At times I do have a need for speed and love the energy and creativity that feels supercharged in big cities like Manhattan. Right now, I feel the need to breath deeply, chill out and slow down to refocus. Not unplug, just down shift to first or maybe second gear.

Something clicked the minute I stepped off the plane at Providenciales. An assuring voice inside my head delivered a comforting message “a more intentional pace.” This slower island pace. Not the harried, brisk and hurried hustle of New York, but the more deliberate and intentional easiness, much like the gentle movement of the waves and soothing breezes of this island.  I am not describing a snail-like, creeping, lazy/boozy pace, but that of speaking, thinking, walking and working which is more conscious, considered and purposed. More thoughtful living. This is the pace for now.

And so it goes with meals, especially meals together. My memories of my youth bring me back to four hour dinners around the long outdoor communal table, under the grapevines, with my loud and excited extended Italian family. The never-ending conversations, the slow and relaxed experience of enjoying a meal together.

The Art of Slow and Mindful Eating begins with an intention to create an experience. Setting the mood, dimming the lights, selecting soft and slower music and smaller plates,  create an atmosphere for mindful eating.  Imagine setting a stage to enjoy and savor your meal. This mindful eating ritual can be extended to any meal – from breakfast to dinner. For more tips on mindful eating, check out Dara Rose, PhD, neuroscientist, foodist, author and the creator of Summer Tomato.

I start my meals by saying grace. Sometimes privately, sometimes with my family. Saying grace can transform a mere meal into an act of celebration, focus, and gratitude.

Listening to meditation talks from Tara Brach, I actually envisioned what she describes as “A Sky Like Mind“, a more expansive mind that allows me to open to the very healing, healthy and beautiful moment that is right now, this healing presence.  Tara’s podcasts and book, Radical Acceptance has really helped release the fear, worry and pain that stems from the mental swirl of anxious activity, the grasping and wanting that only proves to enslave my mind.

It is by meeting each moment throughout the day with radical acceptance for what ever is going on and holding those feelings that arise with a compassionate and open heart, a forgiving heart, this is feels like true freedom.

Reading
Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life With the Heart of a Buddha

Active Abs

With everything moving at a slower pace this week, I had the opportunity to try Pilates class for the first time. One of the slowest classes I have attended in a long time, a slight pick up from yoga, nothing about the Pilates Method is haphazard. The reason you need to concentrate so thoroughly is so you can be in control of every aspect of every moment.  The one reminder that I have walked away with today is Active Abs and focusing on my posture, especially when sitting at my desk for hours at end.  Two exercises to help you feel your abdominal muscles correctly.

Mastering Your Mind Part 2 with Charlie Bradford

enlightenmentI started this blog to connect with brilliant thinkers and doers like yourself with the intention of making new friends from all around the world. It’s been less than a month and I am excited to say, that it’s working. I am inspired by what I am reading and learning from so many of you.

I recently discovered, thinker, writer and modern day philosopher,  Charlie Bradford, author of Ensouling Potential. If you haven’t read Charlie’s work, I highly recommend you do. He is an authentic and insightful explorer of life and the bigger questions about our existence. You can follow Charlie on Twitter @CharlieBrad4ord

Charlie was kind enough to allow me to ask him a series of questions. Here, he reflects on my second one.

What authors, books and/or films have inspired you?

An important book for me, as it pertains to simplicity and minimalism, is ‘The Power of Less‘, by Leo Babauta. His book really helped me eliminate all of the non-essentials from my life, and adopt the minimalist lifestyle; which gave me tremendous clarity and a greater sense of inner-peace. This next book, in my opinion, is one of the best self-development books out there, ‘How I found Freedom in an Unfree World‘ by Harry Brown. Never before have I read a book that so clearly reveals the traps we all get ourselves into, and how we deny ourselves from living the life we know we’re capable of living.

For your reading and learning pleasure –

The Power of Less: The Fine Art of Limiting Yourself to the Essential…in Business and in Life

and How to Free Your Mind 
How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World. –

On the more Spiritual and Esoteric level, I receive great benefit from studying the ancient wisdom teachings, such as ‘The Tao Te Ching’ by Lao Tzu, ‘The Dhammapada’ (the sayings of Buddha), and other Philosophical and Metaphysical teachings regarding the hidden aspects of life. I really love exploring deep knowledge. The recent philosopher, Alan Watts, also had a profound impact upon my developing mind, as well as the philosopher and writer, Manly P. Hall, who spoke a great deal about our greater capacities, and the importance of becoming a living symbol of all that is good and right.

On Writing

When I first got into writing, I had two books to draw inspiration from: ‘If you want to write’ by Brenda Ueland, and ‘Ensouling Language‘ by Stephen Harrod Buhner. The latter being a more non-conventional, free-spirited approach to writing. Both were very beneficial in helping me find my voice as a writer.

If You Want to Write: A Book about Art, Independence and Spirit  and
Ensouling Language: On the Art of Nonfiction and the Writer’s Life

and Film

In terms of films, there are so many to draw upon, The T.V series ‘Lost’ made a huge dent in my life back in the day. I was really attracted to the journey of self-discovery that each of the characters were going through, and how each of them had an unfolding destiny within them. Three films that have served as inspiration in recent times, have been: ‘The Shift: From ambition to meaning’ with Wayne Dyer, ‘Living Luminaries’, which presents many great teachers. And I’ve also found the new movie, ‘Lucy’ to be very illuminating, as I can see where that film is coming from. All of these films and many others have contributed in some way to the unfolding pattern of my life, and I’m sure the same can be said for many other people too.

What books and movies have influenced you along your path? I’d love to know. Please share on the comment thread below.