Archive | Curiosity

The Joy of Meeting an Airplane Named Chuckie

I had admired her from a distance, lusting after her and her sisters through various photographs I had seen over the years. Coming face to face with her was a defining moment, though and I believe it was then that the feelings of lust Chuckie1became the beginning stirrings of love in my heart.

In thinking about that moment, I believe that the erotic scent hit my nostrils before my eyes could gaze upon her and seductive curves.

There she was, right in front of me: an operational B17 Flying Fortress named “Chuckie”.

Of the 12,726 B17’s manufactured between 1935 and 1945, only twelve have been lovingly restored to be in the condition to fly.

The smell that sent my olfactory glands into a twitter was the combined scent of oil, high octane aviation fuel and waxed aluminum….climbing inside the nose of the plane and putting myself into the position of the bombardier was exciting…and then moving into the cockpit where the navigator, pilot and flight engineer worked was close to orgasmic.

When it gets down to it, I’ve always loved history. The lives of Henry the VIII and Abraham Lincoln were equally fascinating to me, but nothing held my interest like the stories of World War II. After my divorce, I realized I need to cultivate some new interests. My love of history soon fell prey to the seduction of the Warbirds of the 1940’s turned to lust and a bit of an obsession.

Yes, I said the “o” word: obsession, but perhaps a better word would be passion.

My exploration into the aviation of World War II was something I could really sink my teeth into. I discovered Aviation Museums where the stories I read about suddenly became something real to me as I found these Me_in_Florida_P51remaining aviation marvels just waiting for me to connect with – and admire – them.

With friends, I began to plan weekend getaways centering around the chance to gaze upon the polished aluminum and bubble canopy of a P51D Mustang or khaki painted B25 Mitchell.

Nothing spoke to me, though, like the sheer power of a B17.

The best collection of planes I had the chance to gaze upon was in Polk City, Florida at the Fantasy of Flight museum.

During that visit, I realized that all the other women on the tour were tolerating the trip because their husbands wanted to visit while I was drinking in every moment. Part way through the behind the scenes tour, I realized that some of the men were watching me more than they were listening to tour guide.

I couldn’t tell if the men on the tour were watching me because the level of my breathing, flush faced and dilated eyes reminded them of a woman in an orgasmic state, if they were staring at my cleavage, or if it was the shock that I knew the difference between a Rolls Royce and a Pratt & Whitney engine.

Amused at their distraction, I soon forgot them. I became lost in my lust for polished aluminum, camouflage paint, Chuckieand the seductive sweet spot where the wing merged with the fuselage.

In my obsession….er…..research….I learned that those old engines have to constantly drip oil to be lubricated enough to work. Dry engines can be the death of a vintage engine just as much as dry cuticles can be the end of a successful career in hand modeling.

I still recall that first visit to Chuckie seven years ago on a hot Texas day. All four of the beautiful engines were dripping oil into bright yellow barrels, which told me that the engines were functioning. I could actually run my hands along the polished aluminum and get a close-up look at the repaired bullet holes.

JB_roadsidestop_florida_jan2015I’ve been lucky in my quest to connect with Warbirds over the years.

JB has a deep love for aviation history and it isn’t unusual for us to pop into a tiny museum that houses one plane or spend the day immersed in history we can (almost) touch.

And though I’ve visited with hundreds of planes, I’ll always remember the enticing scent of airplane wax, oil and aviation fuel on that hot summer day.

The joy on the day I met Chuckie.

Photos all by author: #1 – Chuckie in 2007, Me in Florida with a P51 Mustang in 2007, Chuckie in 2010, JB in Florida at a roadside museum in 2015

Of Note: Chuckie moved to the Tillamook Air Museum in June 2013.

About the Author – Debra Smouse

debrasmouse200x300 I’m Debra Smouse, a self-admitted Tarnished Southern Belle. I can help you detangle all your clutter, fall in love with yourself and your life, and unleash your inner sex kitten.

My truth? In order to live life the way you were meant to, you must fall in love with the day-to-day activity of living.

I spend my days writing and working with people who want to change the world, beginning with themselves.

Want to bring your dreams into your reality? Snag my FREE EBook You Can Achieve Your Dreams: There’s Still Time in 2015

A life coach and writer, me and my Gypsy Soul have stopped their constant roaming and have settled down in Dayton, OH where I share life’s adventures with the Man of My Dreams.

Get Social with Debra

facebook Twitter Pinterest Instagram-logo



Continue Reading

The Tunnel by Christa Gallopoulous

image by Christa

She wandered through the immaculately manicured gardens that day, late in the afternoon when the summer sun had heated the pathways and burnt away the morning fog. With the broad stone walls of the old castle beginning to throw their shadows on the roses, the lavender and the blown open poppies, the light reflecting off the stones crunching under her feet was almost otherworldly.

As she went, staying on the paths to avoid interrupting the business of the honeybees, she wondered. About who had placed their feet, one after another, on these carefully laid out corridors over the hundreds of years they had been maintained. About the weddings and the funerals held in the grand building – and who had found their way to the gardens with a cigarette, or perhaps a lover. About who had decided to harness nature in this way, so fastidiously grooming what the true spirit of the natural world would have thrown about far more loosely. There was no place for willy nilly here, no matter how many loose, illicit affairs -business and personal – may have begun within the ivy covered walls.

She wondered too, about how she would go about incorporating the gifts these summer days had given her so generously into her own life, back in the city. How could she take the freedom she’d found, the release from all she’d believed about herself, the extraordinary knowledge that she was revered rather than reviled? How could she become herself, once and for all, truly and well? These endlessly glorious days of summer had taught her lessons she’d never be able to forget, had changed her in inexplicable ways. She was changed, or perhaps a changeling still.

The light continued to dim, and as the sun sank in the sky, the answer became clear. The vivid green of the tunnel called to her, the transition to the brick tunnel illuminated at it’s end. There is was, lit up just for her.

The only way out was through.

About the Author & Artist – Christa Gallopoulous

Christa_G_bioChrista Gallopoulos is usually found with a camera, paintbrush or pen in hand, taking in the beauty of this world and transmitting it back out through words and images- on Facebook and Instagram among other places!

The author of “All Better Bye and Bye“, to be published in 2016, she is an inspirational writer, artist, speaker and mentor, encouraging people to dive into the sacred act of transforming their lives and celebrating the joy of living fully and well. You can find more of her work at

Get Social with Christa

facebook Instagram-logo



Continue Reading

Summer Camp by Amy Tingle

CampI never went to summer camp as a kid. So I created the summer camp of my dreams when I grew up.

I dreamed of a huge light-filled studio bursting at the seams with art supplies. I dreamed of cartwheels and hula hoops and swinging until my feet no longer touched the ground. I dreamed of color – crayons, paint, markers, felt, bins of beads and googly eyes and tiny embellishments, paper in all shades of the rainbow.

I dreamed of a secret nook where I could hide out and read a good book. I dreamed of scribbling my thoughts on paper. And I dreamed of looking in the mirror and Camp3loving who I saw.

In 2010, I created what I had only seen in my dreams for girls ages six to twelve in my hometown of Nutley, New Jersey.

I “borrowed” a studio in a friend’s home with wooden floors and windows fifteen feet high and a screen door that looks like it was built for giants. I filled it with art supplies and I flung open the door and began the creativity and self-empowerment camp I had always dreamed of attending.

Camp2In 2013, my partner, the poet, Maya Rachel Stein and I refurbished a vintage caravan and filled it with typewriters for writing secret thoughts or stories or poetry and a bunk for curling up on with a good book. Every summer girls fill the lawn turning cartwheels and spraying liquid watercolors on brilliant white sheets of paper and they hang their wishes from trees.

We roll out our yoga mats and learn how to hold poses without trembling. We meet artists who share how they get to do what they love. We laugh. We experience frustration and anger and disappointment and we learn how to deal with it all. We are independent and creative and brave. It’s exactly like I pictured it. It’s exactly what summer should be.

About the Author – Amy Tingle

amytingle_bioAmy Tingle, is the co-founder of Food for the Soul Train with her partner, Maya Stein. Food for the Soul Train is a mobile creativity company based in Nutley, NJ. Their mission? To bring creativity to communities everywhere via their vintage caravan, nicknamed MAUDE (Mobile Art Unit Designed for Everyone).

Amy and Maya design creative and collaborative environments, online and in person, which help children and adults to build self-confidence, harness their imaginations, practice problem-solving, and bridge differences through the joy of self-discovery.

us 'n Maude 2They are passionate about playful investigation; summer camp for girls is just one of their many offerings. A spring cycling and creativity retreat for adults is another. They dream up – and try to carry out – as many creative projects as they can fit into a year!

Amy is also, among many things, a human being, the mother of two teenage boys, a visual artist (her most recent work includes a series of collages born during The 2015 100-Day Project), and a lover of words, magic, kindness, and a ninja poetess.

Connect with Food for the Soul Train and Amy online as well as on social media.

Get Social with Amy

facebook Twitter  Instagram-logo



Continue Reading

For the Love of Gardening by Reese Ryan

Summer has never really been my season.

Sure, as a kid I played jump rope and hop scotch. Blazed a trail down the street on my Big Wheel. Had a fling with a playground swing or two. Rarely were such outdoor summer adventures my idea. Either a well-meaning adult sent me outside or a neighbor kid asked me to come out and play.

I preferred to stay inside to engage in the activity I loved most–reading. In my experience, reading and the great outdoors didn’t mix very well. A conclusion I arrived at after getting bonked on top of the head by a stray kickball while sitting on the sidelines with my face buried in a Judy Blume book.

Of course my kickball disaster wasn’t my only hang-up with spending summer days outdoors. There was the dirt that made its way into every crevice; the “fresh” smell I reeked with after venturing outdoors; the blood-sucking insects that considered me something akin to prime rib; and the unwanted, long-lasting tan.

Needless to say, my idea of a perfect summer day was a day spent at my local library checking out the maximum books allowed.

Had I married a fellow book nerd, by now I’d probably require a portable IV drip of Vitamin D and melt like the Wicked Witch of the West when forced to encounter the sun. Fortunately, I married someone who loves summer and the great outdoors. For the past twenty-six years he’s been coaxing me out to play in the summer sun.

Slowly I’ve learned to enjoy the outdoors.

Hiking, biking, swimming and kayaking have all become favorite activities. Still, l prefer to do most of those things in spring or fall. My true appreciation for summer didn’t come until this year, when I ventured into gardening.

I love farmers markets and the taste of fresh-picked fruit and vegetables during the summer. I expressed my wish to grow my own veggies to a gardening enthusiast friend. She encouraged me to give gardening a try. After all, she reminded me, we’re in the age of YouTube, where you can learn just about anything you need to know.

So, I went for it.

I watched videos on creating a raised bed garden, and my husband was kind enough to build me one. Then I went about purchasing plants. Lots of them. More than I should have planted in the space. Creeping plants that, unchecked, will happily take over your garden.

In a few short weeks my tiny plants grew considerably. After several weeks the tomato and cucumber plants produced flowers. The basil and thyme grew like crazy. I had plenty of parsley, thyme and rosemary.

Before long, several of my plants began to produce fruit. A fact that amazed this indoor-loving, city slicker. Soon I was sipping mint tea and munching on organic cherry tomatoes grown in my own backyard. I was the summer-lovin’ queen of my own little world. I even considered getting a tiara and sipping my peppermint tea in tiny teacups with my pinkies raised.

Then the bottom dropped out.

Or rather it rotted out. My lovely beefsteak tomatoes grew big, but then the bottoms suddenly rotted. I took to the all-knowing interwebs and discovered that it was a physiological disorder called blossom end rot, caused by a calcium imbalance in the plant. The emergency treatment was a cup of milk around the base of the afflicted plant. A later addition of crushed eggshells gave the plant needed calcium, rectifying the problem.

I encountered a few other problems along the way: splitting and cracking tomatoes, leaf spot and plants growing so wild I felt like Indiana Jones hacking my way through the jungle. Each problem was quickly identified and resolved via a few mouse clicks and the generosity of experienced gardeners who happily share their knowledge and wisdom with fledgling gardeners like me.

Despite doing just about everything wrong, I’ve managed to reap a steady harvest of fresh fruit and veggies. Several nights a week I cook something that features tomato, basil, rosemary, cucumbers, peppers or some of our other garden fare.

Cooking and eating food that I’ve grown makes me giddy with delight. I presented my first cucumber (the odd-shaped, creepy-looking, but delicious one pictured) to my husband with the same pride I displayed when I made a misshapen ashtray of clay in grade school.

Maybe it didn’t look so pretty, but it got the job done.

Through the experience of gardening I’ve developed a deeper appreciation for the earth, nature, the myriad of bugs that still find me utterly delicious. And for summer. The lovely season that made my garden possible.

For me, gardening is no longer a hobby. It’s an essential part of my daily life. Like cooking or going grocery shopping. It’s a part I just happen to enjoy very much.

Okay, maybe summer is my season, after all.


About the Author – Reese Ryan

ReeseRyanBioReese Ryan is an author of multicultural romance novels and women’s fiction. She serves as the current president of her local Romance Writers of America chapter.

Reese writes sexy, contemporary fiction filled with colorful characters and sinfully-sweet romance. She secretly enjoys torturing her heroines with family and career drama, reformed bad boys, revealed secrets, and the occasional identity crisis, but always rewards them with a happily ever after.

When she isn’t writing or working in her garden, Reese designs handmade jewelry and creates handmade and hand-embellished journals for her shop, Sinfully Sweet Handmade.


Get Social with Reese

facebook Twitter Pinterest



Continue Reading

Forever Changed

From the moment I learned that words created sentences which led to paragraphs which led to stories, I was hooked reading_little_womenon books. Thanks to my mother’s love of books as well, new books always made their way into my hands.

The tales of Dick and Jane soon led to Little Golden Books and it wasn’t long before I graduated from I Can Read to the mysteries of Nancy Drew and the adventures of Cherry Ames.

My reading world shifted when my thirst for more propelled me back in time to four young ladies coming of age during the Civil War. For the first time, a book made me shed tears upon the typewritten pages.

Yes, I’m talking about the unfolding of the lives of Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy March and Louisa May Alcott’s classic story Little Women.

Before I explored the world of the March sisters, books told me stories. Little Women transported me to another place and time. I wanted to be friends with Laurie and find a way to make Beth healthy. I understood Meg’s desires to be seen as a real lady. Though I knew I should have disliked Amy, I really wanted to sit beside her and comfort her when other girls made fun of her.

louisamayalcottAnd, of course, I wanted to create like Jo March.

Little Women opened my eyes to bigger stories and complex characters that longed for – and created – different ways of existence. Upon reading Little Women, I learned the books didn’t just entertain me; they moved me emotionally and allowed me to see the world through the eyes of the characters.

From that point forward, when I opened a book I wasn’t a little girl in her room in Mansfield, Texas; I was transported to other places and times. I wasn’t limited to being an unsophisticated girl in a small Southern town, I could be anything…anywhere.

I had forgotten about the world of the March sisters until I began researching places to visit in and around Boston.

As I looked at the details for visiting Minute Man National Park and seeing the place where the Revolutionary War began, I discovered that I could visit the place where Louisa May Alcott wrote the book that shifted how I saw the written word.

Visiting Orchard House became my top priority for exploration for my solo explorations.

Standing in the bedroom of Louisa May Alcott and looking out the window next to her desk, again I am forever changed.

orchardhouse_arrivalI fall in love with May Alcott for her desire to bring beauty to her family and believe that Amy is a mere shadow of her namesake.

And I understand Louisa in a way I never could as a girl. Her love of words and the desire to bring her family out of poverty by using her innate talent is incredibly admirable. Could it allow me to see the work I did during my gypsy years to keep my family afloat in a different way?

I am reminded that the words we read have impact upon us now, thirty years from now and a hundred years from now. And that the pursuit of our desires is beyond what the moment gives us; it clings to us for all the days of our life.

“Far away there in the sunshine are my highest aspirations. I may not reach them, but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in them, and try to follow where they lead.”
–Louisa May Alcott

Continue Reading

A Single Summer Day from Cami Flake

We begin the day…


We share a smile…(and a Coke)


We share a little laughter and a lot of fun…


We fall in love…and marry our best friend…



“Like we could be a thousand miles apart and I’d still know you were there.”
–Pete Hautman

About the Artist – Cami Flake

Cami_Flake_BioI’m Cami Lenox Flake: open-minded, openhearted lover of beauty in all forms and proud mama to my sweet little boy who fills me up every day with his curiosity, his humor, and his unbridled enthusiasm.

I am a freelance videographer, a lifestyle photographer, and a visual storyteller. My work is about movement, light, color… and heart felt connections.  I believe photography is about letting go of the rules and being open to the beauty in front of you.

You can find me online at and in Mill Valley November 7th-8th, 2015, co-hosting Eat, Play, Sleep, a delicious weekend of pampering and play, with the lovely Sue Ann Gleason of Chocolate for Breakfast and Conscious Bites Nutrition.

Get Social with Cami





Continue Reading

Mermaid Child by Melissa Bartell

“We all come from the sea, but we are not all of the sea. Those of us who are, we children of the tides, must return to it again and again, until the day we don’t come back, leaving only that which was touched along the way.”
– from the movie Chasing Mavericks

My first memories are of sea and sand and salt.

lighthouse_james_butler_flckrcreativecommonsWhen I was a baby, foghorns sang me lullabies and my nightlight was provided by a 60,000 candlepower fixed-white light beamed from a tower, and visible 15 miles out to sea.

I could swim before I could walk, and before I was seven I was an expert in swimming out just far enough to find the warm current, sweeping my arm to make jellyfish float away, and body surfing into shore without ending up rolling in white water.

I flew in the water.

I believed in mermaids.

(I’m pretty sure I was one.)

When I was five, I was ripped away from seagulls and sand castles, and relocated to the middle of the country, where I traded my tail for feet and learned to walk on land.

I learned that I could almost fly on a sled or bicycle, and I fell in love with ice skating on frozen ponds, and watching Dracula-style lightning send its electric fingers to tickle the mountain tops.

But every summer, I would go back to the beach, to the lunches that included chilled paper napkins wrapped around tuna sandwiches. To the old merfolk who had helped to raise me. To sweet corn and luscious tomatoes and ‘put a hat on so your scalp doesn’t burn.’ To sun and sand and salt water.

My moisturizer was Sea & Ski.

The scent of Noxzema was my perfume.

I would spend my days going from the beach to the pool to the cooling arc of the sprinklers keeping the lawn green, to the beige bathtub in the pink-tiled bathroom that always smelled like Nina Ricci bath powder, and the water that was always deep enough to cover my toes.

I’m an August baby, born in the heat of summer. A fire sign who gravitates to water.

(Well, they do say that opposites attract)

I am most creative, most musical, most interesting, most free, most open, most me, when I’m immersed.

Eventually, I began to shed my childhood.

My mermaid tail disappeared, not all at once, but in bits and bobs. A scale here, a seashell there.

I grew older. I started developing. I stopped arguing with gravity and flirting with surface tension.

I lost the knack of riding waves.

I stayed on solid ground.

I was happy, but pieces of my heart and soul were…parched.

Fast forward a couple – few – decades.

I’m still landlocked, but I’ve reclaimed my fins and shiny fish-scales.

lake_mermaid_flckrcreativecommons_by_soozwhiteI spend summer afternoons in the pool, and winter evenings in a soaking tub full of aquatic-scented bubbles.

I leave my hair in braids for days on end, and unwrap them to find a riot of curls – no perm required.

I visit Mexico, and learn to shuffle my feet beneath the water.

(I step on a ray, even so. Both of us are startled. Neither of us is injured.)

I take a boat out to see grey whales, and when I touch their suede-wrapped gelatin bodies, they blink their heavy-lashed eyes at me, and we recognize each other as kin.

The foghorns sing their lullabies only in my imagination, now.

I walk on land, I sing in the shower, and I buy Noxzema just so I can open the blue glass jar and breathe in the scent of menthol and camphor.

I still believe in mermaids.

(I’m pretty sure I am one.)

My tail is only visible when I’m in the bathtub.

But my mermaid child-self swims on.

Images Via Flckr Creative Commons: Lighthouse by James Butler | Mermaid of the Lake by Sooz White

About the Author – Melissa Bartellmelissabatellbiophoto


Writer, book reviewer, voice actor, dog-lover, and bathtub mermaid, Melissa can be found at her her website ( or her book blog (Bibliotica).

You can also listen to her podcast, “Bathtub Mermaid: Tales from the Tub” at Bathtub Mermaid or on iTunes.


Get Social with Melissa

Twitter Instagram-logo



Continue Reading

The Scent of Summer (and Basil Pesto) by Katrina Kittle

There is something about a July morning that takes me straight back to childhood summer vacations from school. I lime popsicle flckr creative commonsget flashes of my childhood self: scraped knees, skin “brown as a bear,” hair bleached from the sun, lips green from homemade lime popsicles, that glittering promise of every summer morning.

What triggers all these memories? The fact that summer smells so good. Truly—scent evokes more memory than any of our other senses…and the summer landscape is a poem of aroma.

Try this: go outside, early, when the dewiness of night helps intensify all good smell.

The fresh cut grass. Honeysuckle. The cloying old lady perfume of lilies. I touch the herbs in my garden—the tingly sparkle of mint, the bright breeziness of cilantro, the sneeze of dill. Brush up against a warm tomato plant and it releases a sharp perfume that should be bottled for First Aid in the grey month of February.

Peel a peach, warm from the sun, and try to decide which is more delicious: the smell or taste. Can you even differentiate between the two?

Move through your day and notice the uniquely summer smells. The hint of coconut in sunscreen. Pool chlorine. Even the touch of sun left in your glowing skin. A grill firing up. BBQ. Charcoal. Rain on garden dirt. Wet grass. Gardenia in the soft evenings when fireflies appear. Citronella. Campfires.

The more in touch we are with our senses, the more we are fully inhabiting our lives. Summer is the smell of promise and free time—when we remember simpler times, we’re more inspired to re-create those feelings in our present day.

One aroma rules over all the others in my opinion, however. The gorgeous, bright kelly green basil plant. Basil almost laughs with an aroma that is the epitome of summer to me. I always grow an abundance of basil, so much that I sometimes simply pick it as the most cheerful of filler (and aromatherapy mood lifter) in fresh cut bouquets.

My favorite thing to do with basil is of course to make pesto—to use on pasta, in omelets, in risotto, for grilling salmon and chicken, to spread on panini sandwiches, to dollop as a garnish on gazpacho…you name it. There are few things that can’t be made happier with some basil pesto. Here’s my favorite recipe. If you make it, promise to savor the scent of each fresh ingredient…and to breathe it in before you bite. Enjoy!

basil pesto in food processor creative commonsPESTO RECIPE

Blend the following in a food processor:

  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 Tablespoons walnuts (or pine nuts, or pistachios)*
  • clove garlic**
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan***
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 cup BASIL leaves packed tight

*Oh, come on, only 2 Tablespoons? I always put in a wee fistful.
**Seriously? One clove? There’s no such thing as too much garlic, in my opinion.
***There’s also no such thing as too much cheese. Ever. But save some to sprinkle on top, along with toasted pine nuts.

Images Via Flckr Creative Commons: Image One by Kayla Casey  | Image Two by Becky Stern

About the Author – Katrina Kittle

KatrinaKittleBioKatrina is a novelist, with four books for adults and one novel for tweens, her most recent titles being The Kindness of Strangers and The Blessings of the Animals—all redemptive stories that deal with issues of social justice.

Katrina teaches creative writing workshops from the third grade to retirement communities, focusing on craft and motivation (and is especially good at jumpstarting stalled writers).

In the Dayton-Cincinnati area, she teaches regularly for Word’s Worth Writing Connections and online through OnLiten ( ). She also offers manuscript consultations through Write Sisters Consulting. Katrina has always loved telling stories in any medium, and because of her extensive background in dance and theatre, she is a firm believer in both honoring an apprenticeship and caring about craft.

She lives near Dayton, Ohio with her wonderful fella, and their sweet beagle and odd cat; has a thing for goats, gardening, and going barefoot; and is totally addicted to coffee, pedicures, and movies. You can find out more at


Get Social with Katrina

facebook Twitter



Continue Reading

Because My First Love Was Travel

If I were to think about love in how it relates to boys, I’d have to say my first crush was on the little dark haired boy travel_mapsnamed Donald that I wanted to sit next to in Vacation Bible School.

But that wasn’t my first love. No, my first love was travel. I discovered that deep within me, I had a Gypsy Soul.

Summer vacations ignited my imagination, piqued my curiosity and stoked my passion for experiencing new places. Though we took two vacations that began at DFW airport, the typical mode of transportation was my mother’s Oldsmobile.

My parents would begin to talk about “where to go” and before you knew it, they’d have the big road atlas out on the kitchen table plotting the journey and estimating where we’d stop each night. Then, my mother would pull out the hotel catalogs and begin looking for either a Best Western or Holiday Inn along the way to our final destination.

Then her phone calls would begin: calling the desired motels to see if there was a room for four and making neat notations in a spiral notebook of our reservation confirmation along with the pertinent details, like Exit Number and the like.

Vintage Holiday InnAs she chose our place for the night or week, I always asked: “Is there a pool?”

Back in the 70’s, we didn’t have GPS or Google Maps. We didn’t have cell phones or the internet to assist us. It was up to my folks to figure it all out and then create handwritten itinerary.

Vacations always began the same, too. We’d be told to pack and gather our car games and, in my case, books. My father would come home from work on a Friday and at dinner we’d talk about getting up super early so that we could beat the traffic. We’d get in our pajamas and get ready for bed.

Then, as it began to get dark, my father would invariably say: “Okay, everybody, let’s load the car and get some miles behind us!”

We’d grab our suitcases and our pillows, load the trunk and soon would be making our way to the interstate. I was always too excited to sleep much, but within a half hour both my mother and sister would be asleep. I would lean up in that space between my parent’s seat and quietly talk to my father or watch the road ahead.

I know he wanted to get started, and if we were driving at night, my mother wouldn’t scold him for speeding. And, for anyone that’s driven across West Texas, you know there isn’t really much to see between Fort Worth and Amarillo.

By the time the sun was rising, we’d be pulling into an IHop or Roadside Diner either at our first planned point of interest on the trip. If we were lucky, we’d be able to check into the motel, where my father would catch a nap and mother would take us out to explore.

I spent most of 2006 to 2010 traveling for my business. I call those my Gypsy  years, but they go back to those first memories of loving travel, even when being on the road for twenty straight days became tiring.

DrivingMiss DaisyThese days, when JB has a business trip, I often tag along. I love my home and daily life, but the lure and love of experiencing new places is still deeply entrenched in my heart.


The way I plan travel now in all honesty isn’t too terribly different from my folks.

We pick a destination and after a little research, I look for hotels. Gone are the catalogs and they’ve been replaced with searchable websites, but the concept is really much the same. If we’re staying in multiple hotels, I create an itinerary in Word and include all of the hotels vital information and our reservation number.

And sometimes, the night before a trip, I wish we could get in the car and get some miles behind us.Instead, I impatiently wait our agreed upon time to leave, which is usually governed by flight time.

Yes, most of the travel these days is via airplane, but sometimes, we take a little road trip. We’ve gotten quite creative when a trip collides with deadlines.

No matter how we get there or where we go, though, I still have deep affection for that first true love: travel. My gypsy soul still thrives on the experiences of different places and the promise of adventure.

About the Author – Debra Smouse

debrasmouse200x300 I’m Debra Smouse, a self-admitted Tarnished Southern Belle. I can help you detangle all your clutter, fall in love with yourself and your life, and unleash your inner sex kitten.

My truth? In order to live life the way you were meant to, you must fall in love with the day-to-day activity of living.

I spend my days writing and working with people who want to change the world, beginning with themselves.

Want to bring your dreams into your reality? Snag my FREE EBook You Can Achieve Your Dreams: There’s Still Time in 2015

A life coach and writer, me and my Gypsy Soul have stopped their constant roaming and have settled down in Dayton, OH where I share life’s adventures with the Man of My Dreams.

Get Social with Debra

facebook Twitter Pinterest Instagram-logo



Continue Reading

The Wise Choice…by Bill Hughlett

Summer Love Bill H 1

“Excellence is never an accident. It is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, and intelligent execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives – choice, not chance, determines your destiny.”

About the Artist – Bill Hughlett

bill_hughlett_bioBill Hughlett is a CFO by profession and photographer by passion.

His award-winning work has been featured in Alaska Airlines Magazine, shown in Washington galleries, and graces many homes and offices around the country.

Together, Bill and his wife, Kayce Stevens Hughlett, create unique workshops that incorporate photography and writing with deep listening and personal awareness.

Their dream is to travel the world offering their gifts to others.

Witness more of Bill’s Work at

Get Social with Bill




Continue Reading

Powered by WordPress. Designed by Woo Themes