Tag Archives world travel

Ain’t No Sunshine When She’s Gone

by Tuesday, September 6, 2016

As I lie in bed on a dark and rainy September morning, my two Boston Terriers by my side, I feel numb. Earlier today, while many moms and dads have sent their kids on the bus for their first day, back to school, the day after Labor Day, I sent mine on a plane to travel the world for nine months. Without me!

I knew this day was coming. Hell, if it wasn’t for me, I don’t think it would have ever happened? You see, I am in love with travel. This is something I passed down to my daughter.  Being able to travel the world, visiting exotic places and meeting people from foreign lands, for an extended period of time, is something that many only dream about.  Many, including me. Now, my daughter is living that dream. This is her reality and the thought of it is so surreal that it  gives me goosebumps just thinking about it.

I am over the moon with excitement for her, knowing that she is able to see the world in this unique manner.  This traveling style will allow her to fully immerse in different cultures, will expose her to new people, new foods and new traditions, in such a way that is very rare for a person to achieve on a typical two-week vacation.  The program she is traveling with is called Winterline Global Skills  This program has created an extraordinary hands-on approach to learning.  Therefore, she is not just visiting 10 countries, hitting a few tourists spots and leaving. She is visiting places such as Costa Rica, Panama, Germany, Italy, Czech Republic, Austria, India, Cambodia,  and Thailand and while she spends time at each location, she will be learning 100 new skills as her journey progresses. The thought of how such experiences will positively impact her life in so many ways makes my heart sing.

So why am I so sad then?

After returning from the airport and driving up my driveway the first thing I see is her car with her Winterline bumper sticker proudly displayed on the back of her beat up Lexus RX300 SUV, that used to be mine, and used to be nice, but through the years it has aged, as did she, as did I. Thoughts ran through my head, “That car will no longer have Maddie coming and going in it”. “That car won’t move for months on end.” “It may even still be there when it snows and she still won’t be back!” My heart pounded and my eyes filled up again, right when they finally dried up from my drive home. “Take a deep breath Jess. She is going to be okay. You are going to be okay. She is so happy and that makes me so happy!”

But I’m going to miss her.

I proceeded to walk into the house, greeted by my fur babies, that thankfully “will never leave me”, I thought to myself,  and then saw her shoes by the doorway. I tried to ignore them looking at me, as they whispered, ” She is gone. It’s time to let her go.”  I contemplated on going in the kitchen for who knows what? I wasn’t hungry. I wasn’t thirsty. I decided to instead to go upstairs and lay in my bed. I did wake up at 3:00 am to drive her, so I was really tired, but in reality, it was more a feeling of loss than fatigue that I was feeling.

I made my way up the stairs with Gabby and Bernie following close behind and in my peripheral vision I saw her clothes hanging to dry on the railing from the night before. ” I don’t know why she washed them if she wasn’t taking them?” I thought, “but if I don’t put those away in her room after they are dry, they won’t be touched or worn by her for at least three months, and by then, the shorts, crop tops and rompers won’t be in season. “

I need to get away from her stuff. At least for today anyway. I don’t dare go near her bedroom although I project images of myself laying in her bed on days I’m missing her.

My husband knows how hard this is for me, so in between his jobs he came by the house to check on me and to bring me a pumpkin spiced iced-coffee from Dunkin Donuts to cheer me up. It did temporarily. He knows that I am genuinely so excited for her, but have to transition to the empty nest stage of life. He also knows that this will be especially hard for me because she is “my person” and he isn’t even remotely jealous in that fact. He thinks we are clones, especially when we sweet talk him into things. We always eventually get our way with him, but I know he secretly loves it.  I wonder if now I won’t get my way without her added persistence? She is good. Really good, but  I digress.

He is a man a few words. He shows his love by his actions and has a hard time expressing his feelings verbally.  Before she left he wanted to add patches to her backpack of all the places she has already gone.  This is something we talk about on every trip we take.  We buy the patches, intend to put them on when we get back home, but never get around to actually doing it.  His goal was to have hers complete by her trip.

It started out rough. Some of the places we visited, we didn’t get a patch, so he ordered it from Amazon Prime. (I love Amazon Prime btw! You can get virtually anything!)  We were waiting for them to arrive and it was getting very close.  Then, the patches we thought were iron-on were actually sew-on. Trying to sew these heavy-duty stitched patches onto a nylon Northface backpack seemed nearly impossible.  It was a grueling nightly task that he would make his chore for a week or so until it was complete, finger pokes and all. This was his way of saying good luck and a send off gift, “Brice-style”, not to mention the hefty contribution to this Gap Year he made. She loved it!


Maddie at the airport with her backpack adorned with country patches on her way to her Gap Year

It’s now the afternoon and I’m still here on my bed writing my thoughts as I hear my dog loudly snoring next to me. As I finish off the last sips of my melted down, now less sugary, pumpkin spiced iced-coffee, I allow myself a day to mourn.

Today, I am mourning the end of her childhood.  I am mourning our times chatting all night about all the drama at her school. I am mourning the unbearable wake-up calls for her before school meetings for FBLA.  I am mourning seeing her pretty face smiling at me as she walks in from wherever she was that day.  I am mourning the nights I couldn’t fall asleep until I knew she was home safe.  All these things and more, will no longer be.

However, tomorrow, I will be celebrating her journey into adulthood. I will be celebrating the amazing experiences she will have exploring the world.  I will be celebrating all of her accomplishments.  I will be celebrating the obstacles that she has overcome.

I will be celebrating HER.

As a mother, letting go is hard. So hard. But when you know that by doing so, you are giving your child wings to fly, it’s all worth it. This is what I believe that being a good parent is all about.  You can love them, nurture them, teach them, guide them, and hope you’ve done you’re best. BUT, you have to let them go. If you’ve done well, they will never forget where their nest is.


The first group has arrived in Colorado!






by Monday, June 20, 2016


This is that time of year when parent’s of seniors in high school start thinking about how it will be when their child goes off to college in the fall. Being a mom of a senior who is taking a different route, I’m in quite a different boat than most. I’m a gap year mom. I not only have to feel the empty nest stage that we all experience when our kids go off to college, but I have the extra unknown of where, what and how my daughter is doing while traveling the world, on a gap year.


We have selected an amazing program through Winterline. This gap year program has the students visit ten different countries and learn 100 new skills.  The itinerary of the destinations and planned projects they will be involved in look so well thought out and over-the-top awesome! However,  there may be times, due to weak wi-fi, or her being in a remote location, or the time change being so different, that I won’t be able to hear from her on a daily basis, as I’d like to. (kidding, not kidding)thewanderlustyogi.net

We have talked about her possibly taking a gap year off and on throughout her senior year, but we couldn’t find a program that had what she was looking for.  I even wrote an article about this, mainly due to the fact that when we talked about this to others, nobody we knew had done this, and many we knew, had never even heard of such a thing, nor understood it.  I wanted to explain what a gap year was and why it offers some genuine benefits for young adults.  Australians and Europeans have already embraced opting for a gap year-long ago, and has reaped its many benefits.  (Here’s the link: the benefits of taking a Gap Year )


In the fall, we did the traditional college tours and she applied to five schools. She got accepted into many, but not into her top choice.  This only made her start looking deeper into researching gap year programs.  “Maybe this was a sign and meant to be?”,  she thought.  She didn’t want to settle for a college and spend all that money on a school she wasn’t completely excited to go to, not to mention, her wanderlust was calling.  She wasn’t even sure of what program she wanted to apply? She went from thinking she wanted to do fashion, then considered business and marketing, now she is interested in global business and non-profit work.  Who knows what it will be the next week?thewanderlustyogi.net

For these reasons and more, it seemed like taking a year off to explore the world and learn new skills, might give her the time and self-awareness she needs to make these major life decisions. She just wasn’t ready yet.  Some kids know from the time they can talk what they want to do for a job.  Some kids, even adults, change their mind constantly. I’m guilty of this myself, but when you really contemplate that a seventeen year old has to decide their lifetime career choice at such a young and complicated age, its pretty crazy to think.


That’s when we found Winterline.  She couldn’t stop thinking about world travel and wanting to be able to do it before she has all the responsibilities of a job, bills, a car, an apartment, etc. Adulting is hard! She knew this and knew if she waited, she might not have the time or funds to do this after college.  She felt as though this experience would not only benefit her in so many ways, but it would give her a starting point to what kind of impact she wants to make in this world. This was it! After many long discussions, our family all felt it was a perfect plan for her, and knew she would thrive in this unique, alternative experience.thewanderlustyogi.net

She began the rigorous application process with Winterline.  She went through all of the steps; writing essays, Skype interviews, getting recommendations and sending her transcripts, to finally get accepted to this competitive program.  She also was awarded scholarships for video and blogging.  You can follow her travels on her YouTube channel: Maddie Meets the World



Now that I am officially a Gap Year Mom, I don’t know what I’m feeling? I am so excited for her to be able to have all of these experiences, but also know I will worry, a lot, and will miss her profoundly.  How I choose to manage these emotions and feelings is to blog about it.  I figure this is way to get things off my chest; the good, the bad, the ugly. In addition, I think this may be a great resource for other moms/dads who are considering letting their child go on a gap year. I wish I had something like this to read right now. Although I did meet a Gap Year Mom whose son just got back in May, that gave me her card and offered for me to call anytime for advice.  We are a rare group of parents and need support, lol.


My plan is to blog about what she is doing, which from the itinerary, looks amazing! For example; she will get scuba certified, Thai massage certified, be building a house, learn to sail a boat, learn to make a Bollywood movie, study mindfulness and meditation for a month, take driving school at BMW, learn robotics, work on a farm and many other unbelievable things. I also will give you feedback of how things feel back at home in her absence and how I cope with it.  I plan to interview her dad, her brother, her friends and possibly other gap year moms and dads.  Furthermore, I have two potential planned visits with her. The first one being in Costa Rica, during her first semester, which my husband and I already had to re-visit to finish his dental work.  (Here’s the link to that story:

How I Saved $7,000 For Dental Work in Costa Rica

The second one will be during her last semester, where I plan to visit her in Spain. I’ve always wanted to go, now, what a better excuse than this? Maybe even one of her friends can join me? That’s  not for a while so I’m not sure what will exactly happen, but the plans are in the works.

I hope that my Gap Year Mom series will not only help me, but others too.  It also will be a great way to look back on this amazing life-changing journey for my daughter Maddie, but will also be a life-changing journey for me too!

She leaves in September, so watch out for updated posts to follow. If you are interested in her sending you a post card from one of the ten countries she visits, leave a comment with your address or email me privately at strikeaposeyoga@gmail.com and we will pick one randomly per country.thewanderlustyogi.net

Changing Career Paths at 40

by Monday, October 5, 2015

Motivation Monday

Have you ever had one of those days where you were feeling particularly inspired?  I had one of those days, today. I woke up like any ordinary Monday. First, I had to make sure my daughter was up by 5:30 am. I had to make her breakfast and pack her lunch, let the dog out, and made coffee for my husband who would be getting up and hour or so later.  So far, sounded super boring, I know. So, what made me feel so inspired?: Changing my career at 40. 

I stopped and reminded myself that although I do have to do the everyday mundane activities like everyone else, I was thankful that I decided to take a huge leap of faith and change my career at 40. Most people would never do such a thing. Fear being the biggest factor. I chose to face my fear and try to live the life I have always imagined. The risk was worth any outcome and I wouldn’t have to live with the regret of giving up on my dreams.

After the two of them had left, and I started to drink my first cup of coffee, I logged into my social media and was looking to see what would peak my “travel interests”  today.  I got a message.
The message was with a link attached, with the title, “Top 10 Hottest Women Over 40”  written by Jeannie Mark of Nomadic Chick (www.nomadicchick.com). I quickly opened the link and started to read it. It wrote about women travel bloggers who are over 40 and “hot”, but most importantly, elaborated that they were all finding their passion at 40, or older. I was on that list!

(Here is the link to her article: http://www.nomadicchick.com/10-hottest-women-40-years-old/)

Who I was ?

It was funny and nice to be recognized in that way. Ironically, I was just thinking about this in the last few weeks. Not that I was a hot 40-something year old travel blogger, but who I was as a travel writer and what my brand was all about?

I wanted to micro-niche my blog. I am learning that this is important. I was trying to figure out who my audience was and/or who I wanted them to be?

So, I started to narrow it down to what I wanted to talk about through my blog. Yes, of course I wanted to talk about travel (in a travel blog), but that was too vague.  I knew I had to include my passion for yoga and teaching worldwide at yoga retreats, but also wanted to include my age, and what came with that lifestyle and travel style. I may not be a, partying until 2:00 am, at a hostel,  type of traveller, but that didn’t mean that my type of travel couldn’t be just as fun for me or someone my age.

Who I was NOT?

In my short career as a travel blogger, I’ve learned that there are thousands of 20-year-old old backpackers, writing blogs about their nomadic lifestyle, and I love them all, especially my young hippie friend Monica, from www.globe-trottica.com,  who just left today with a one-way ticket to Bangkok for her SouthEast Asian adventure. I am so excited for her and can’t wait to follow along with her travels (you should too).

But I wasn’t that. I couldn’t just get up and leave for an undetermined time period, “See ya, hubby,  see ya, kids, see ya pup!” However,  that didn’t mean that my travels were any less than amazing experiences for me. They were just different.

Who I wanted to Inspire?

Okay, so I was a wife, a mom and a yoga enthusiast in my mid 40’s who loved to travel. I didn’t really think college kids were going to be too interested in the things a middle-aged yogi was into? They may? But I seriously doubted it. I wanted to connect with other women or men my age, who also loved yoga and traveling, but had obligations that may limit the amount of time and/or money that could be used for trips. I wanted to be able to help other moms, dads, middle-aged, yogis, and others, to be able to find awesome trips that could be done on the cheap, short in length, and without losing the value in visiting particular locations.

My “micro-niche”

So I created my new website name: The Wanderlust Yogi. I thought it kind of summed it up. I had a wanderlust for exploring the world and was a yogi.  I maybe should have added,  The “Middle Aged” Wanderlust Yogi?  Nevertheless, I realized my micro-niche was decided. I figured that I may have something here. I rarely saw that many older girls or moms, writing about their world travels, especially yoga moms.

In good company

Then this morning when I read that message, I realized I was wrong.  There were a lot of us.  Maybe not as many as the younger versions of us, but by all accounts, there were more than I ever knew of.  I became aware that I was  in a very special group of females.  Most of these women that were, also on “the list”,  didn’t only have the age-factor in common, but they all had that desire to change their lives, by following their passion, no matter what the naysayers said.

Some of these women had great careers and owned homes, (that they gave up), some were married, some were single-mothers,  but they all were fierce enough to just go for it and follow their passion, no matter at what cost.  Many people (especially women) would not be that brave, but these women were. I wanted to be like them and now, after reaching my 6 months post, leaving my 9-5,  to pursue my dreams, I was on my way of doing just that. I was even told I am one of them. What?

Find your own path

This was who I  was and who I wanted to inspire most. I may not be a New York Times best-selling writer, but that was not my intention.  I’ve gotten critiqued for my writing skills, judged on my opinions and looked down upon for my choices, but none of that mattered to me.  Living my passion was what I believed  I should be doing. If people didn’t  like it, they didn’t have to. I wasn’t asking for anyone’s approval.

Inspiring others to find their path

Last night my daughter and I were discussing her future goals and what interested her. She loved travel, like me, but was gearing towards a business major.  She was talking about “micro-niching” her goals as well. She decided she wanted to do something on a global scale, possibly starting a non-profit, and then something totally clicked. She too, was finding her way, her “micro-niche”, of who she wanted to be and what she wanted to give to the world. I was so glad she was finding this at 17 and not at 40 like me, but even with that said, I wouldn’t have changed a thing.

Reading the Signs

While I wrote this today, I received a text message from my daughter, telling me about a motivational speaker named Mike Smith, that spoke at her school today.  She told me how inspiring his story was.  To summarize :he was a skateboarder who didn’t have any direction and then slowly found his way, started a non-profit organization through his passion of skateboarding, and now is a hugely successful motivational speaker and philanthropist.  It seemed unbelievably coincidental that this speech was what she heard today, of all days.  (Check him out: www.mikesmithlive.com)

We both felt like today the Universe was helping guide us towards our goals. Changing career paths at 40 was something that I knew I had to do. The signs were always there, but I was too afraid to take action. Until now. If you really pay attention to when the Universe is speaking to you, it will show you the way.  Are you listening?






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