Traveling Alone Isn’t For Sissies

IRELAND 2016

This quote is from Hope Floats (the movie) but instead, in the movie, the line is “Dinning alone isn’t for sissies.”  Agree, doing anything alone, for some people, can be hard.  But I crave time alone, I need it to recharge, to think, to clear my head.

I took a trip to Ireland last fall, all by myself (gasp) and it was wonderful!  I have never traveled alone to another country but I have traveled to Europe a couple times prior.  I did get some lectures about traveling alone but, if you know me, I am very responsible and I am aware there are risk.  I never wrote down my experience but did share pictures on Facebook and Instagram.  But when I was asked why I wanted to go to Ireland, my response always was, “I want to see the greenest green and the bluest blues.  I want to be inspired and see colors, buildings, eat good food and learn about Irish culture.”

I did just that; I saw the most beautiful, vibrant colors, greenest grass, amazing historical structures that were 1000’s of years old, learned about Irish history and culture, and much more.  What I liked best, is that I was on my own time, doing what I wanted, when I wanted.

I traveled to Glendalough, to Belfast (Northern Ireland, technically part of Britain), to the Powercourt Estate, Wicklow mountains, Dublin castle, parks, castles, churches, all sorts of museums, etc.  I was so enchanted by the culture, traditions, and the charm of Ireland, that I can’t wait to return!  The people were always helpful and kind; travel was easy and the cities are easy to get around in; prices were reasonable, maybe even cheap to compared to other European countries.

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Below are a few things I learned about traveling alone:

  • Don’t live in fear: however, use common sense. I choose not to spend my evenings in pubs and bars.  When I read about Irish culture, there are common hours of the evening where groups of young men and women will go out for drinks.  Even through this wasn’t far from my hotel, I didn’t feel comfortable going out, around the bar scene at night by myself.  There is also lots of small, dark allies/roads in the city due to the age of the city.  I didn’t think it wise to walk around at night let alone down these allies. But all in all, Dublin is pretty safe.
  • Dinner for one: I ate alone which I have no problem with. I usually carried a book or reading material with me to keep me busy.  I would usually have a drink or wine with my meal.  Then I would head back to my hotel before it got dark.  But you can’t be afraid to dine alone.  Enjoy your meal, enjoy your surrounds, etc.
  • Plan your day: I got so much bang for buck because I am so type A. I had pre-bought my tour tickets, and had each day mapped out.  I did leave spaces to go get souvenirs or go walk around a park.  My phone keeps track of my steps and I walked over 10 miles my first day there.  I covered the town!  But that leads to the next point.
  • Know the lay of the land: get your map situated, note the streets, understand your directions because you’re off a little with a new place. I wanted to be familiar with how the roads went.  In older cities, roads don’t run straight.  This helped me plan my days if I could map out how I was walking somewhere.  I always wanted to be to the point, that within 2 days, that I didn’t need a map to get around, so I looked less like a tourist.  Also knowing how public transportation works is important (mostly bus and train in Ireland).

The last point I would make is to embrace the country and culture.  Go with an open mind and ready to learn and soak up the experience.  I wanted to grow from this trip and I did.  I can’t wait to return within the next couple years.

 

Do I need a side hustle?

 

 

With the New Years’ and buyer’s remorse as credit card bills roll in from December purchases, the need to look for more money making opportunities is at the top of the list for many.  Pinterest has a million and one posting about side jobs for anyone looking for part-time work or for stay-at-home parents; make $40,000 a year with a blog; make a quick $100 doing side jobs; start making $200 a week taking surveys, etc.  The list could go on and on.  Many of these opportunities are not legit and are completely unrealistic.  I have spent about 12 hours’ worth of research, digging, and reading about many of these wonderful opportunities and here is what I learned:

DO YOUR REASEARCH: Go to the company website, read about the company, how the company works, how payment works, what it takes to actually make money.  Many of these sites look to build their own email list, newsletter list, contact list, etc.  Therefore, as you put in your information, including your address and email, you now end-up on their mail list for everything and anything and without a job. 

TRAINING: If a company really wants you and needs you, there should be some form of a training.  If there is no training, and all website just ask is for your info, there is a pretty good chance there is no real opportunities with that company.  There should also be more of an application process.  Not just asking your personal contact info and magically, you are being considered.  If the company and position are legit, there should be some form of a hiring process and training (an investment in you as their employee).

COMPETITIVNESS: Some opportunities are very competitive such as research assistances, proof readers, editors, freelance writers, etc.  These opportunities take more than just saying to yourself, “I like to write” or “I love to write”.  You have to be a very, very strong writer and editor.  You also have to pass a number of writing and research related test.  Some of these test can take hours to complete.  If you want to head down this path, make sure your writing skills are spotless; that your editing and grammar skills are perfect; and that you have the writing skills needed they are requesting. 

DOES IT REALLY PAY? Well some yes, and some, no.  Or it takes you completing 32 surveys before you make your first $5.  Is it really worth it?  Is it worth your time?  Many side jobs want you to complete so many task before you start accumulating money/payment.  There are many reasons for this; they want to see if you are serious and want to see your quality of work; if you are going to stick with it; and some are just trying to get you do to work without paying you much.  Make sure you research the company, app, job, etc. before you sign-up and see if what others are saying about their experiences with these companies.   

TRANSCIPTIONIST: This is probably one of the most popular, do at home, positions.  However, you do need to be trained and you do need to invest in equipment (such as laptop, software, foot pedal, Wi-Fi, etc.)  I have had to hire a transcriptionist before and it is hard to find a good quality transcriptionist.  If you have the time to commit, the money to invest in the equipment, and are a pretty fast typist, this could be a very good side hustle for you. 

I really would like to find a legit side hustle for 5-10 hours a week, to make $150-$200 a month.  I have applied, tested, researched, read, and repeat.   I will let you know what I find and what works for me.  I assume everyone’s skill set, time, and need to make money, etc. are different.  I will keep you posted on my journey in finding the right side hustle.   

 

Are We Over Medicating Our Kids?

As I was helping check kids in for a summer camp, I noticed the line for the nurse continued to grow longer and longer.  Even after we were done checking in around 250 kids (ages 9-12) the nurses line was still 30 people deep.

Each one had a zip lock bag with not one, but two or more medications.  In the end, the camp nurse mentioned that almost 50 parents dropped off medications that day and most were wanting their children to have at least 2 different kinds of medications to treat the same illness (for many it was sinus or allergies).  She shook her head and said it was too much.

I am sure if I asked any school nurse, I will get the same response.  I hate giving my kids medication of any kind.  My youngest went through 6 antibiotics as an infant fighting off horrible inner ear infections in 6-8 months.  Each one had different side effects and he became immune to most of them.  Not a good experience.  Permanent ear tubes fixed his inner ear infections for good, not the medications.

Then you have some parents who try to get their children on medication to help them focus better instead of providing discipline and structure (or what we call parenting).  But on the other hand, I don’t think that a majority of parents truly want to medicate their kids but they get frustrated with the situation, can’t find help or support, then turn to medication as a last resort.  I also know there are children who truly need medication to cope with learning and social challenges. 

What I find the most problematic is what are we teaching our children about medication and pill use?  In a day and age where drug and pill addition run rapid, why are so many youths on pills/medication?

I have entertained answers for parents and friends from time to time in the politest way I can.  Most of the time, they smile and say “oh its just allegories” or “he/she needs it to focus” but I don’t think very many parents are thinking of the patterns and examples they are setting for their children in how they consume, use, and possibly abuse medications.  Help me understand why a child with little to no illness, in good health, active and engaged, needs medicated or needs more than 1 medication to function? 

Function: what a word.  Many adults believe they cannot function without medication and their children watch the adults around them popping pills as they are lined up in pill boxes across the kitchen counter.  Then raise children to who then pop pills.  Did you know that it was reported in 2015 that 20.5 million Americans, ages 12 and over, reporting having a substance use disorder (reported by the American Society of Addiction Medicine, 2016 Opioid Addiction Facts and Figures at http://www.asam.org/docs/default-source/advocacy/opioid-addiction-disease-facts-figures.pdf)

 Raising kids in a pill culture is challenging.  Children should be taught to respect and use medication in a responsible way, not abuse it.  If you are a parent who has to take a number of pills for health reasons, talk to your children about what you are taking and why.  Share with them how they can AVIOD being in that same position and share with them the cost of medication (OMG a small fortune for many).  Help them understand the implications and correlation between healthy choices and healthy lifestyles equal (for most) less medical challenges.

Help your children understand the pros/cons of medication use.  I hope that the nurse’s line at camp, someday, will get shorter.