Day 50: Ambien Dreamliner

The highlight of day 50 of the Nowhere To Be Project was packing for Australia. We leave tomorrow for a week and are so excited to be celebrating my daughter’s 23rd birthday together in Sydney. I lucked into really cheap airfare with United airlines (under $700 round trip). We are rather concerned about the length of the flight, 18.5 hours. That is a really loooooooooooooooooooong time to be confined to an economy class seat. I have been checking my email incessantly hoping for an upgrade opportunity from the airline, but so far it has been radio silence. Therefore, I plan to take the fear and dread into my own hands with the help of my favorite traveling companion, Ambien.

I use Ambien solely to fall asleep on long haul flights and it usually works quite well for about six hours. With over 18 hours to fly though, it could get dicey. I’m planning on taking it mid-flight. That way I’ll have six hours of flying, a nice six hour nap and then another six hours of flying. We’ll be traveling aboard one of the new Boeing 787 Dreamliners and I’m hoping that the name alone will lend itself to the hypnotic power of my traveling aid. I’ll be sure to let you know and promise to report back tomorrow as Day 51 of the Nowhere To Be Project will largely occur at 35,000 feet;).

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Day 49: Nil Per Os

Day 49 of the Nowhere To Be Project was all about preparing. It wasn’t the fun type of preparing, like preparing for a trip, preparing to get a puppy or preparing to eat. The last one stings a lot because the preparing I’ve been doing is for my biannual colonoscopy and endoscopy tomorrow. I have a genetic condition called Lynch syndrome that requires more frequent cancer screenings, so this is old hat for me. The prep for these tests means that I’m limited to clear liquids for today and half of tomorrow. The intense hunger I’m feeling reminds me of a much younger, much sadder, version of myself.

From the ages of 19 through 23, I struggled with anorexia. My life (and family) had been very out of control for as long as I could remember and eating (or a lack thereof) was pretty much the only thing I could control. I was obsessed with perfection in life and for me, that correlated with my number on the scale. I exercised to excess and filled myself with water and one to two cups of dry air-popped popcorn to stave off embarrassingly loud hunger pangs. That life was a living hell and the only thing that cured me was an unexpected pregnancy that made me realize that my body was no longer my own to abuse.

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This piece of art struck me on a recent visit to Dallas because I related to the flawed thinking. Why do we think being thinner is the answer?

The hunger that I’m experiencing right now feels especially raw because it me reminds me of what I put my younger self through with all those years of senseless starvation. There was no end to the hunger and the sad reality was that self-deprivation did not mend the issues that led me to that horrendous place. I ended up studying and researching eating disorders in graduate school. I later educated others about them as a professor of psychology. I have always been forthcoming about my issues in an effort to help and support others. If you are struggling with food and body image issues, seek help now. Not tomorrow. Not next week or month. Right now. The National Eating Disorders Association is a wonderful place to start: NationalEatingDisorders.org

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Day 48: Daytrippin’ in Boulder

Day 48 of the Nowhere To Be Project was spent in Boulder, Colorado. Boulder is about a two hour drive from my home in Vail. The Drive through the mountains is so beautiful that the hours fly by. Boulder is primarily known as a college town. It also happens to be a dining and shopping paradise with an undeniable hippy vibe. There are also several cool camping sites, so I’ll definitely return in the RV and plan to stay for a few days next time.

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We dined al fresco with my pooch at Japango, a cool Asian restaurant with many vegan options. I had the soba noodles with vegetable tempura. YUM! My fellow diners went with the Bento boxes (one salmon and one teriyaki chicken) and loved them. The standout of my meal was the Rosé Sake Sangria. DOUBLE YUM!

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After lunch we walked through the busy outdoor pedestrian mall of Pearl Street. The street is peppered with street artists and both boho and upscale shopping options. I lucked into several treasures in a fair trade shop called the Boulder Artisan Store at 1123 Pearl Street. All the items appear to be one-of-a-kind are handmade by global artisans. The other standouts were an indie bookstore and a vintage record store.

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It was a warm and sunny day in Boulder and we wish we could have stayed longer. If you find yourself in the area, be sure to make time for Boulder. You will absolutely love it!

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Day 47: Undeniably Pretty

I went to see the new comedy film “I Feel Pretty” on day 47 of the Nowhere To Be Project. It was really, really funny. Amy Schumer was hysterical, of course. The laughs went much deeper than her comedic talents though. Most women, no matter their size, shape or appearance, can relate to the insecurities faced by the main character, Renee. In the film, it takes a blow on the head to twist her self-doubt into abundant confidence. As a result of the concussion, she is no longer able to see her perceived flaws. Instead, she sees herself as beautiful for the very first time and this changes everything for her. The reality is that her appearance never changed, but her attitude and behavior did. She became confident, capable and accessible because she saw herself as more valuable and this changed the way people responded to her.

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Undeniably Pretty

There is a scene early in the film where Renee stands in front of a mirror and glares at herself with disgust. Most of us are guilty of paying much more attention to our physical flaws than to our social, emotional and spiritual strengths. There isn’t a person on earth who lacks unique gifts and we should spend more time celebrating them. For some reason, it is easier to see the good in others than it is to feel self love. There is a line in the film where Renee wonders what life is like for those who are “undeniably pretty”. The truth is that we are all undeniably pretty in some way. Just imagine what you could do if you could only see the good in yourself.

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Day 46: May the Foam Be with You

Foam was the focus of day 46 of the Nowhere To Be Project . Nut milk foam, that is. Since going vegan, I have tried countless nut milks including almond, cashew, hazelnut and so on. I know that many people are switching to nut milk to cut back on or fully eliminate dairy and most have decent flavor. The main drawback of nut milk is that it usually doesn’t offer that heavy creamy texture of whole cow’s milk or half and half. This has been a struggle for me because I like heavy foam in my coffee each morning. Even with an industrial milk frother, I’ve not had much luck achieving that coveted deep foam with nut milks until now.

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My perfect cup of coffee with steamed frothy almond milk and freshly ground cinnamon

Three Trees Organic Almond Milk is a game changer. I tried the unsweetened vanilla flavor for the first time last week and have already purchased it again. I was a bit hesitant at first because of the price ($7.99 USD at Whole Foods). This is double the amount that I usually spend for nut milk, but I was still chasing that elusive froth and foam. The vanilla bean specks visible throughout the milk sealed the deal and I tossed it in my buggy. At first taste, the milk was thick, creamy and bursting with rich flavor. Best of all though, when steamed and whipped, it produced the deepest most luscious foam I have ever had!  I can honestly say (and I have certainly not been compensated in any way by the company) that this is the best nut milk I have ever tried and will remain a loyal customer. Go try it! You will not be disappointed!

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Day 45: Somewhere Between Too Much and Not Enough

On Day 45 of the Nowhere To Be Project, my husband and I spent the beautifully warm and sunny day in the cute little mountain town of Frisco, Colorado. We wandered through an intriguing thrift shop where I scored two vintage albums. We also stopped at a cool bookstore staffed with a gaggle of senior ladies knitting to the tune of their own gossip. Over lunch at the yummy Butterhorn Bakery & Cafe, we excitedly discussed our upcoming travel plans. We head to Australia in a week and then we’re hitting the road for months to wander through the U.S. in our RV, so there is tons to banter about.

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Our view at lunch certainly fed the wanderlust!

As I slurped a delicious Florentine soup and he chomped on a sandwich made with a fresh baked jalapeño corn bread, we pondered our growing anticipation to hit the road. We have been home for just a few days and already we’re itching to go again. Some of our friends think our jet-setting lifestyle is odd. Some have said we should be saving more than spending. Thankfully, we both agree that we’ve hit a sweet spot in life. In terms of travel, we teeter somewhere between too much and not enough and it is splendid. We agree that now is our prime time for travel. The kids are gone and we’ve closed the door on our careers. In many ways, we’re just at the beginning. A new and thrilling beginning.

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Day 44: Hit Me, Baby, One More Time

Day 44 of the Nowhere To Be Project was all about the 90’s. My daughter has been relying on public transportation for the better part of two years. She recently got a job that was out of the bounds of the county bus. Mommy to the rescue! I told her that I’d buy her a very used car for the work commute. I’ve been looking here and there for a month and finally found the one for her, a very well-loved and cared for 1997 Toyota 4Runner. The car is a mere two years younger than she is, but she absolutely adores it!

It’s Britney!

After going with her to the DMV to obtain the title and license plates, we went to have extra keys made. As we were walking in to the hardware store I asked her what she’d like to name her new ride. She thought for a moment about the car’s age before exclaiming, “It’s Britney!” I loved seeing her sense of humor and genuine delight with the well-worn wheels. We placed the finishing touches on the car with four golden unicorn stickers on back window to further personalize the new-to-her 4×4. There’s really nothing quite like your first car, no matter how used it happens to be. Britney it shall be.

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Day 43: If You Give a Mouse a Vegan

On day 43 of the Nowhere To Be Project I had breakfast at a local restaurant, Northside Kitchen in Avon, Colorado. It is a popular spot in the Vail Valley, particularly with the locals due to the decent food and reasonable prices. My meal was alright, but it was what happened next that has me reeling. As I was calculating the gratuity for my server and signing the check, a mouse dashed through the restaurant and over my feet before holing up underneath a booth. I was so startled by the little critter that I uttered an audible screech. The restaurant was pretty dead at the time and no one really seemed to notice the brouhaha. I sat for a moment pondering my next steps.

Mouse House???

I eventually decided to quietly mention it to my server. After catching her attention, I explained (in a whisper) that a mouse had just scampered through the restaurant. I whispered because I didn’t want to shame the establishment or alarm any of my fellow diners. With a knowing and completely unsurprised look she said, “Oh, yeah. Can I offer you a free doughnut for your trouble?” I had noticed the doughnuts when I came in, mostly because they were sitting out uncovered on the front counter. Needless to say, I declined the doughnut and began wondering how many mice friends might be in the vicinity waiting for their free doughnut.

A Feast Built for a Mouse?

I left feeling conflicted. I mean, mice are nice, but they belong in forests, not in kitchens! I do not want to be the one to report the rodent problem to the health department. Wouldn’t that make me a mouse-killer? At the same time though, the staff at Northside Kitchen clearly know about the issue and yet they continue to operate. Is there a humane way to get rid of rodents? What should I have done? What would you have done???

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Day 42: Grease the Wheels

Today, day 42 of the Nowhere To Be Project, was spent orchestrating the shift from winter to spring in our mountain home. It is finally time to drag out the patio furniture and begin planting the flowers that will color the summer. Vail mountain officially closed to skiers yesterday and everyone in town is feeling as if spring is finally official. Sadly, the seasonal workers who tend the mountain and care for the many guests of Vail are mostly on their way out of town. I doubt they really want to leave, but really aren’t given much of a choice.

It Takes a Village

The seasonal workers who operate ski towns are lured with the promise of a free ski pass and an epic mountain life. Needless to say, these workers are extremely under appreciated. They work long hours for meager wages. They serve a very demanding clientele (of course they are demanding, they pay $200 a day just to ski!!!). The luckiest employees may obtain housing in town, but pay astronomically high rents to bunk with three, four or even five of their counterparts. Most are forced to live on ramen noodles and peanut butter because they have very little money left after paying rent. Other than the ski pass, they receive very few (if any) benefits as seasonal employees. When the mountain closes, they’re unemployed until June when summer operations begin. This is the norm for many in the hospitality industry. Not surprisingly, turnover is very high in this field. Burn out is common.

My professional knowledge of industrial organizational psychology tells me that happy employees bring higher profits. Why doesn’t Vail Resorts see this? If employees knew that they’d have a free meal during their shift, they might be more willing to patiently deal with difficult guests. If they were guaranteed affordable housing, they might feel more invested in the community (e.g. rent should be no more than one-third of monthly wages). If they knew they could see a doctor when they are ill, they would not end up missing a week of work with an untreated cough or cold.

These problems are glaring to me as someone who lives in a resort town and travels incessantly. I try to grease the wheels somewhat by overtipping hard-working hospitality personnel when I can. The responsibility should not lie with the guests, but in many cases it does. Remember this the next time you encounter a helpful restaurant, hotel, resort or theme park worker. Some employees may not be able to accept tips, but they would most definitely benefit from a good review or positive feedback to a supervisor. Feeling appreciated is a powerful predictor of performance. Spread the love!

Thank the Staff!

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Day 41: Equine Energy

On Day 41 of the Nowhere To Be Project I was stopped in my tracks by a photograph. The photo appeared in Martha Stewart’s Wedding magazine. It was taken at country singer Kacey Musgrave’s wedding and featured her horse adorned in fresh flowers. Evidently, he was a part of her wedding party. How could a wedding court be any better than that? The photo now graces my refrigerator as a life goals motivator.

My not so subtle message to the universe 🙂

I have always wanted a horse, but have found way too many practical reasons for not getting one. In the spirit of the Nowhere To Be Project, I am officially done with being practical. There is a horse rescue in my area that I follow. I am currently sending equine energy out into the universe with hope that the right rescue horse finds me. I might just borrow Kacey’s idea and drape him in flowers…every single day for the rest of our lives.

***Blogger’s Note: Martha Stewart is my BFF, but just doesn’t know it yet, lol.

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