The Tipping Point – Can We Change Stigmas?

I’m halfway done reading Malcolm Gladwell’s book The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference, and it is blowing my mind. I just read Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking by Gladwell the other day, which in itself is a mind blower. These books are just making me think so much!

For those of you have read this, I’ll briefly recap some of what Gladwell talks about. For those of you who haven’t read it, you definitely need to read it! Tipping Point is all about how there are certain small things that happen that “tip” a whole bunch of things over the edge, resulting in some mass action. He talks about Paul Revere’s midnight ride and how successful it was because of Revere’s power as a Maven of information as well as a Connector because of his personality. This means that Revere was more successful than someone else in that position because he had what it took to take a lot of small noises and movements and transform it into a movement.

Gladwell also talks about the power of Sesame Street and Blue’s Clues in creating “sticky” information for children who learn from these programs in different ways because of their ability to create an educational virus. Meaning that they were extremely successful programs because of how they approached the material and how they communicated it.

Finally, Gladwell talks about the power of context. This is the section that spoke to me the most because of my interest in taking down stigmas against aging, especially in the U.S.

Once you understand that context matters, however, that specific and relatively small elements in the environment can serve as Tipping Points, that defeatism is turned upside down.

Gladwell is talking about the importance of environmental contexts in shaping how we interact with each other and how our personality/character changes according to our environment. This got me to thinking about how do we translate this to a world focused on providing better services for older adults? What is that environmental context?

I get the sense that the context that non-older people interact with older people is a huge determinant in how we feel about said older people. Generally, we see old people as people in nursing homes or in wheelchairs. We see them as frail, unable to perform simple tasks, outdated, out of touch, foreign, etc. This list goes on and on. When we see people this way, in a negative environment, we then have a negative impression of them.

So, to change how we see the people, we have to change how we see the environment. Or we have to change the environment itself. This means that we have to make areas surrounding older adults attractive and pleasant. I think this would help everyone have better thoughts of older adults, including those older adults themselves.

Where do we begin? Media? Marketing? There are attractive retirement communities and exciting looking housing units. We have to make these people seem accessible and relatable. How do we change perspectives, and where do we begin?


The American Way of Life – People on Public Assistance

The following blog post is more of stream-of-consciousness blathering, but I’d like to think that some of what I say is probably the truth. After all, this is all from my life experience, and I think that counts for something!

I get tired of seeing all of these stupid e-cards on Facebook and around that say stupid stuff:

Then there are the ones that counter this:

My conservative friends think that it is O.K. to assume that everyone who is a minority or who is a single mother shopping at Walmart is on welfare. They also assume that it’s O.K. to talk negatively about these women because they just sit around all day in their pajamas, popping out babies, hanging out on their iPhones and wasting taxpayer money.

I find a lot of things wrong with this. Some things that contribute to this misunderstanding: classism, racism, sexism, ignorance, soapboxing, misunderstandings of true welfare, financial instability, corporatism, mainstream media and much more.

My rant

First of all, how many of you have actually sat down and had a conversation with a woman on welfare? I can say that living in the South, 99% of the white people or middle to upper class people around me had never had a conversation with  women on welfare, or oftentimes people of color. You maybe talked “at” someone, but did you ever sit down and have a conversation with them as an equal? Most definitely not. So, first things first, you don’t know what you’re talking about. You don’t know these women’s lives. You don’t understand what has happened to them to make them be in this position.

Yes, maybe they are on welfare, with children, walking around in pajamas, with a cell phone and not working. Did you ever think of how that person got there? Maybe when she was 16 years old she got raped by her uncle or by a friend of her brother who didn’t bother to use a condom. She didn’t have health insurance and her family was religious, so she couldn’t abort the baby. She had to take care of the baby. Then it happened again.

OR maybe a young girl who was discriminated against in a mostly-white high school dropped out to have a child. And because she was uneducated (because no one ever gave her a chance), she ended up having to work low-wage jobs at $4-7 and hour. Unable to afford to take care of herself or her newborn on that money, she sought out public assistance. All of her friends in similar situations told her that she should have more children so she could get more money to pay for her kids, so she could live. Maybe she lives in a place where white people won’t hire people of color.

If you’re being discriminated against and it’s near impossible to get a job but you have to support your children, then what other option do you have to provide for your family? Other than prostitution or illegal activities, which some people resort to doing.

You blame these women for being on welfare and not wanting to get off of it, but think about their lives. Would YOU hire a black woman over a white woman? Are you inherently racist? Are you conditioned to thinking that black people are lazy so you’ll never hire them? Are you just ignorant of the institutionalized racism these people have faced since slavery and before?

How can you blame someone for something that they can’t control? How can you blame them for seeking out the only viable option to survive and to provide for their children? If you had a chance to take your tax money and put it towards helping other people, would you consider putting it towards an educational fund? No, probably not. If you had a choice, your racist self wouldn’t be interested in that. Taxes are the only way some people would ever give to another ethnic group. This would never be a conscious decision.

NEXT – while you’re busy watching Fox News spout lies about our black president Obama (THANKS OBAMA), you begin to internalize all of the half-facts that permeate the airwaves. You see your friends and others on social media complaining about welfare and the cost it has on our lives. You complain that public assistance is bloated and so wasteful. But, then you don’t realize that the media is promulgating half-truths and no one is able to counter them as widely and loudly. Six companies own nearly all of the media enterprises in our country. Six companies run by rich white dudes who have an interest in keeping people of color down. Do you think they get upset when lies are promoted on their media? Probably not. This goes back to the missing link between knowing and talking to a welfare recipient and just regurgitating bullshit that you see on Facebook and hear from uneducated, racist people in your life.

If you have never talked to someone on welfare without having a stick up your ass, then you haven’t seen the full picture and therefore your opinion is unbacked.

Do the research yourself. A 2013 study reported that:

Data from the U.S. Census Bureau and public benefit programs show 52 percent of fast-food cooks, cashiers and other “front-line” staff had relied on at least one form of public assistance, such as Medicaid, food stamps and the Earned Income Tax Credit program, between 2007 and 2011, researchers at the University of California-Berkeley and the University of Illinois said.

With minimum wage really low, considering the massive inflated costs of things nowadays, even people with jobs still have to get onto public assistance because it is impossible to live on $7.15/hr with no medical benefits. People work two jobs and have no time for their families. They can’t afford trips to the doctors, so they wait until the last minute and go to the ER. They face problems all of the time in being discriminated against.

You act like people on welfare want to be at the bottom of the food chain; like they want to be hated. Do you think that it is human nature to not want to provide for yourself? We still all believe in the American Dream, of making our lives better and reaching some goal. But when some of us have literal walls blocking our ways to even get started on that, sometimes we can’t manage and just give up. We become part of the system because we have to eat, as do our children.

End of rant

I know that this is going to be considered an angry, progressive, unfounded rant. I get that. I didn’t do all sorts of research on this. I am just going off of what I know about people on welfare and people who talk shit about others on welfare. If you want to complain about your taxes, complain about the fact that megabillion dollar corporations operate with massive amount of risk and have no sense of patriotism to the country that has allowed them to thrive. Think of the wasteful amount of money spent on the wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan. The Defense budget that builds planes that cost millions of dollars to make that they don’t even end up using because drones do a better job. We are not really that vulnerable as a country in terms of defense. We ARE vulnerable in our culture though. When a majority of the wealth is held by 5% of the population, and people are constantly struggling to make ends meet, then is our sovereignty as a country threatened. We’re threatened by ourselves. We are the ones who are allowing this to happen, and the more we put people in cages and ridicule them for not being able to Houdini their ways out of there, the more we are destroying what it means to be American.

People on welfare are not the problem here. The problem is that we are not unified as a country, and we are allowing the capitalist ideology take over our sense of community and human identity. We are putting people aside in search of the bottom line, and we are failing miserably to pull ourselves out of debt as a country.

I digress. But another point is that there are more white people on welfare than there are black people, so don’t just stereotype everyone on welfare. #TheMoreYouKnow.


I guess the point of this ranting blog post is to encourage us to think about the cause of our problems and not the people are are affected by the problem. Picking on people who are on welfare is not going to change the structure of welfare.

  • Fighting racism and classism is a first step. These are humans who are trying to survive. They are not some subspecies of human, although some extreme racists may see it that way.
  • Instead of looking at the person on welfare, look at the policy that makes public assistance happen.
  • Talk to someone on welfare, understand their needs and wants. There is a human behind that stereotype.
  • Blame the system and not the people affected by an unfair system.
  • If no of this is appealing, then keep it to yourself. Or admit you don’t know it all. There’s no need to feel threatened. If you don’t like where your taxes are going, stop paying them. Protest. Or lobby to have tax reform. Don’t just complain about something that you know very little about. That just shows ignorance and hatred.

Further Resources:

Legacy, the documentary.

“Who benefits from the safety net?” NYTimes.com



I guess I am a runner…perhaps a crazy one

yacht club runningPeople have always thought that I was weird for running when I’m drunk or have been drinking. I used to run in D.C. all of the time. I would be in the U Street area and my other friends would be in Dupont Circle. I could A) take the Metro and spend 35-60 minutes waiting. I could B) take two buses to get down to Dupont plus walking. I could C) take an expensive taxi or Uber ride. Or D) I could walk/run there.

I usually chose to run because it was, to me, the most efficient way to get there. It may not be the most normal way to do it (it most certainly isn’t, actually), but for me it was fun. I was totally fine running barefoot, in flats or in heeled boots (sometimes) to my destination, oftentimes with a nice buzz aiding my efforts. I did this all throughout D.C. (mostly in the “safe,” well-populated areas), and I have done it a couple of times here in Cambridge/Boston.

One of my favorite times to run is in the morning or the evening in the dark. I feel like I’m all alone and running in the stars to some faraway galaxy. I don’t have to worry too much about what other people think of me when I run by them because they don’t always see me.

Of course this isn’t the safest thing to do in the city. Obviously I know that. But, I like to take risks and figured if I was running most people would have to stop and think about messing with me, and by then, I would have already flown by them. The most interesting thing about my night runs were the odd stares I get from people while I’m flying by, grinning like a fool. The wind blows through my hair as I run, and I feel alive as the alcohol-buzzed blood flows through my veins.

With drunk running, I get to my destination in no time. I get some exercise to burn off those beers I just drank. And, I get to do what I love – running at night. Seems like a win-win to me. As I mentioned, this isn’t the safest thing to do. But, if we spend our time just worrying about safety all of the time, we forget that we can enjoy ourselves living somewhat on the edge.

I just finished reading ultramarathon guru and legend Scott Jurek’s book called Eat and Run which is about his life as an ultrarunner and a vegan/vegetarian/raw foodie. He talks about runs being for people to escape worries and thoughts for the alternative of being present in their lives and in existence. One with the body and the mind with not a care in the world other than the basic essentials.

I love this philosophy of running and it makes sense. Coming off of my first marathon, I still have that runner’s high and that sense of tranquility of the long run in my mind. People think I’m crazy to have done 26.2 miles, just as people thought that I was crazy that I used to run randomly at night. People say “I would never do that. I could NEVER do that” about running in general, let alone night running.

But, as Jurek points out in his book, running, especially ultras (think 100+ mile runs), makes people realize something about life – it is all about the way you do something not the end result. For me, running is a means and an end but it is mostly about a journey. It’s the sense of being a basic part of nature and doing something that your body loves to do.

It’s amazing. I really have become a running convert. I used to run many years ago when I was a child, but then I broke my leg and had various surgeries and problems with my legs and was afraid to run. Coming back into it the past year and a half has reawakened a sense of longing and joy in me that I have only found recently in Bikram yoga.

So, for all of you people out there who think runners are crazy, you’re right. We are crazy. But you wanna know what else? We’re crazy happy most of the time and we get that way by putting ourselves on our feet and going. Life IS about the journey and we should spend our time enjoying and doing rather than worrying and thinking too hard.

Go for a run and just keep going. Don’t stop after one attempt. When did anyone get good at something after one shot? Open your mind and enjoy.

Maybe you’ll catch me night running sometime when you’re out on a weekend.


26.2: I’ve got the magic in me

As some of you know, I recently completed my first-ever marathon during the Walt Disney World Marathon 2014 weekend. I finished the 26.2 miles in 4 hour, 9 minutes, and 7 seconds. I finished in 2319th place overall, 637th place in the female category, and 118th in my division 25-29 year olds (I think). (See my breakdown in the picture here.)Image

There were apparently close to 26,000 people racing in the marathon with 7,000 or so people running what was called the Dopey Challenge – 48.6 miles of “fun” over the course of four days. A 5K (3.1 miles) Thursday, 10K (6.2 miles) Friday, half-marathon (13.1 miles) Saturday, and a full marathon (26.2 miles) Sunday. I wasn’t feeling that “doped” up to attempt that on my first long-distance race. 

Race day was Sunday, January 12, and I could not be more anxious or nervous. I think that was the most nervous I have been in the days prior to the race than I have been in everyday life in probably 10 years. For some reason, I had many doubts and little worries that were floating around my head making my heart race, my blood pressure rise, and my brain act like it was on Adderall (as the effects of that drug have been described to me by friends who have used it, not from personal experience). Sleep was not in my future nor was relaxation in the twelve hours prior to the race’s start. 

But, despite my jitters and anxiety, I was fairly confident that I would be able to complete this race. Why? Because I had spent nearly seven months preparing for the race, mostly mentally. I signed up for the race back in April 2013 before I moved from D.C. and left my job. I had just completed two half-marathons and thought that I would be able to successfully complete a full marathon, with proper training. I ramped up my workouts from September through December to prepare my body for the stress of running for four+ hours straight. I was biking, swimming, doing some strength training, and most importantly, running. 

There was one thing, however, that happened that was the root of my anxiety. Right before Thanksgiving I ran the longest distance to-date – 16 miles out and back from Cambridge. I ran with a pack on and a water bottle in-hand. I stopped occasionally to refuel with some candy and to stretch my body a little. But something happened in the last few miles as I was pushing myself back home – my foot began hurting and my knee began hurting. All on my left side. As most runners do, I pushed through the pain and kept going until I had reached my goal. But as my body came down from that run, I knew something was wrong. In the days that followed, my knee began hurting, and I couldn’t straighten it or bend it all of the way. Something was wrong with a tendon behind my left knee. I had to stop biking to work; I had a limp; I spent my nights studying with an ice pack wrapped around my knee. I took a full two weeks off of exercise hoping to recover. (I later surmised that this injury was due to the having the wrong type of running shoes that caused me to under-pronate.) 

I was signed up for three consecutive races in the first three Sundays in December, a 5K, half-marathon, and another 5K. Because I had rested for at least a week, I thought that I would attempt to run with a brace and see what happened. The first 5K was on Dec. 1, and I made it a mile before my knee started throbbing and giving me wincing pain with each step. I walked the rest of it. I didn’t even look up my time. I realized, with worry and sadness, that I wouldn’t be able to do the half-marathon the next weekend. I was afraid that I wouldn’t heal at all.

Two more weeks went by, and I tried to do another race. Another 5K, the Jingle Bell Run. This time, feeling fresh with my rest and my new knee brace, I ran the race and managed to get a PR for a 5K – around 23:19 minutes.Image

I was back. 

Over the course of the next few weeks, I started biking more, and I threw myself into the pool and onto a treadmill. I needed to keep my cardio up even if that mean that I couldn’t use my body as much as I wanted to use it. I came to Florida on New Year’s Eve with a mere 12 days until the start of my race. I came to relax, to acclimate and to prepare.

Luckily, in the two weeks before my race, my knee felt almost normal in a fancy brace my mother bought me. I was spending enough time in the pool and on the recumbent bike that I was able to put more mileage on my body and to keep up the cardio. Despite all of the training and reading and motivation, I was still petrified that I wouldn’t be able to finish my race. But, I have enough supportive and loving people in my life that they all reassured me that the fact that I was even considering doing a marathon was something braggable enough. And if I pushed myself I could succeed if I had the right attitude, didn’t give up, and listened to my body. 

And that is what I did. 

Sunday morning at 3:30 a.m. I got out of bed, made myself some breakfast, chugged a Gatorade, and made my way to the race start. Walking around the parking lot in Epcot, I felt the air buzzing with excitement. Tens of thousands of people had prepared for this day, and I was not alone. Standing in my corral doing some light stretches, I raised my hands with excitement when the emcee asked who was doing their first marathon. A couple of people around me waved their hands too. I was most definitely not alone. 

“It’s only a race. It’s only a 10 miler, a 10 miler and then a 6.2 miler. Or, it’s only a half-marathon followed by another half.” I tried to break down the race to a digestible size. It sort of worked. I think the thing that kept me most present in the moment was the fact that I had to pee like a racehorse. The immediacy of having to go to the bathroom quelled my nerves and encouraged me to go out with a pop when the fireworks shot out over the start line. 

“Find the nearest bathroom and go!” I shouted to myself (internally).

I ran through mile one with my corral cohort and saw my salvation in the first few portapotties. Jumping into the first open one, I took care of business and then got right back onto the race course. From there the most exciting, fun four hours of my life began. 

ImageRunning through WDW in the early morning with thousands of others is one of the best ways to do a first marathon, in my inexperienced but enlightened opinion. Why? Because, when you’re running through the Magic Kingdom or the Animal Kingdom and finishing under the great Spaceship Earth at Epcot, you’re running through one of the magical places on earth. And you’re not alone; you’re experiencing it with thousands of others who are taking in the same magic you are.  

While I won’t say that it was easy to run straight for that long (I had my share of cramps and aches and pains), I will say that it was the most magical experiences of running that I had yet. And, I can’t wait to do it again. 

Maybe I’ll feel “dopey” enough to try the 48.6 miles next year. Let me know your thoughts and if you had a similar first marathon story to share!

 I’ve got the magic in me.



Old People Rock: Thoughts on aging in the U.S.

By 2030, nearly 20 percent of people in the U.S. will be aged 65 years and older, according to the Administration on Aging. Isn’t that crazy to think, when you consider that in the 1950s life expectancy hovered around 70 years of age?

aging stats

Figure 1 – this chart shows the large increases in the older population from 3.1 million people in
1900 to 35 million in 2000 and projected to 92 million in 2060.

It is remarkable to think about how large the percentage of the population older adults will be in the semi-near future because this is relatively new in our lives. Humans do live a long time, but not in great numbers, at least in history. There are centenarians (100+ years of age) and supercentenarians (110 years) scattered around the world, and it is always interesting to find out who the oldest person is in the country or world (Misao Okawa in Japan is almost 116 years old). Imagine – in 1950, being 70 was considered to be at the end of your life, waiting to die, withering away to nothing.

File:Gertude Baines turns 115 2.JPG

Gertrude Baines from Los Angeles turned 115 on April 6, 2009. She passed away on Sept. 11, 2009. (Lady Whistler)

Now, I know plenty of 70 year-old people and older who are living vibrant lives, perhaps even more so than when they were younger. Eighty-two year old Ed Whitlock just ran a marathon the other day under four hours. I don’t even think that I can run a marathon under four hours, and I’m a 24-year-old training for one! Many people are finding the time in their lives to finally do what they want and exercise and eat healthfully, because they want to extend and fully enjoy this time of their lives.

People start over at this age. They are widowed and get remarried. They divorce or are widowed and decide to finally follow their hearts (perhaps towards homosexual relationships – like the movie The Beginners). Much and more is happening in the lives of older adults as they realize that being over 65 years old is just the beginning of a new phase of life.

While it is true that people who live longer are living healthier lives, there is a discrepancy in who is actually living this long. See information from the Administration on Aging below:

In 2011, 21.0% of persons 65+ were members of racial or ethnic minority populations–9% were African-Americans (not Hispanic), 4% were Asian or Pacific Islander (not Hispanic), less than 1% were American Indian or Native Alaskan (not Hispanic), and 0.6% of persons 65+ identified themselves as being of two or more races. Persons of Hispanic origin (who may be of any race) represented 7% of the older population.

Only 7.4% of all the people who were members of racial and ethnic minority populations were 65+ in 2011 (9.2% of African-Americans (not Hispanic), 5.7% of Hispanics, 9.8% of Asians and Pacific Islanders (not Hispanic), 8.4% of American Indians and Native Alaskans (not Hispanic)) compared with 16.7% of non-Hispanic whites.

(Based on online data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Population Estimates and Projections.)

I work at an adult day health program, which is a phenomenon in itself that is fairly new to the United States. At this program in southwest Boston, a majority of the participants are minorities or the less-favored “people of color.” Boston itself, is predominantly white. It makes me curious to see how the makeup of this day program, which provides health support and socialization opportunities for people 65 years and old (and people with developmental disabilities), represents, or fails to represent the population.

My question is: are people in the program just representative of the neighborhood, and there are other adult day health programs in the area that cater to higher percentages of non-Hispanic white people? Are white people living healthier lives because they have better economic opportunities? Those enrolled in the program here are generally all funded through Massachusett’s health care – MassHealth. Some pay on their own, but at $70 a day, that gets expensive.

When I worked at a nursing home in Elmira, NY, a majority of the people there were white, yet there were still a disproportionate number of non-whites in the facility despite the population of the county being around 20 percent. It would seem that those who are living older longer are living healthier lives than their counterparts in the 1950s, but is there an unfair advantage for white people in the country to live healthier lives well into their nineties?

My 93 year-old grandfather lives in a community in Citrus Heights, California. That’s just outside of Sacramento. The people who live there range in ages from 70s – 90s (perhaps even 100s). I don’t think that I have seen any minorities who actually live there. Nor have I seen many in the senior living areas in Pompano Beach, Florida where my aunt and uncle in their 60s and 70s live. I do believe that there are minorities in the older adult population who are living just as healthy lives as white people, but I wonder if they will get equal play in the considerations of how we address the issue/reality of our aging population in the U.S.

I want to believe that we stop looking at people as their races when they are older and see them instead as valuable elders in our communities. I would like to know more about minority aging in the U.S. and see what sort of things are proportional (non-race specific) and disproportional (race and class specific) in the policies and infrastructures that address the aging population. It would be interesting to see what information I can find.

In the meantime, I wanted to poll my readers to see if anyone had any thoughts on the aging process.


Why I took time off before grad school (part one)

I’ve been on a hiatus from work and from adult life for the past three months. I am currently enmeshed in grad school life at Boston College, which has been a hard adjustment. The past two years at my job have been emotionally-trying, career-furthering, and an OVERALL enriching experience (though you wouldn’t know from conversations with me about it in the past year). Despite also working at a restaurant part-time and having a really busy life, I still didn’t actually have to stay engaged at my job all day long. That’s what’s changing now. Grad school is hard! It’s so much reading! Although I only have five classes, once a week, I still have 100 pages per class each week to read. I have to work 16 hours a week at a grad assistantship (where I actually have to do work), and I have to work in field placement twice a week 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Plus, I have to either commute via public transportation 50-60 minutes each way, or I have to bike through the elements 30 minutes each way.

Needless to say, I am in a stressed-out zone as I’m trying to get used to a new city, new schedule, future career plans, current career plans, and mental overload. This overwhelmed experience is the exact reason why I took off the months of July and August to travel around the U.S., and even the Caribbean, to enjoy myself and to switch gears before school.


I got to visit my high-school friend Sarah in St. Kitts and Nevis where she’s attending veterinary school at Ross University. Such a beautiful, amazing 10-day trip with my friends Allison and Sarah and Kenzie (Sarah’s dog). The picture above is me climbing a palm tree. I got nervous and fell shortly thereafter.


Looking at the volcano that is Nevis. The water was so beautiful an clear. I tried out snorkeling for the first time amidst rocking waves. This freaked me out a bit. Too much dependence on breathing out of my nose. I think I had a panic attack the first time, but the next time I tried it during a catamaran trip, I was a pro. Image

I’ve always wanted to get one of these underwater shots. Sarah and I spent forever trying to do this. I think she didn’t successfully get a good pic of herself because I was too busy having a panic attack to focus the camera in the right direction. Luckily for me, she got a good one of me, though my pursed lips are kind of odd.


Allison and I dominated the mountain. This is on the south side of St. Kitts where the beaches are. They’re very secluded and beautiful. We got to spend some time all alone on these gorgeous beaches. They are building more big name hotels on the island, so I can imagine that the island is going to be a LOT more popular in the years to come. I’m glad that we got to see a mostly unadulterated version of St. Kitts and Nevis.

ImageHappy July 4th a.k.a. U.S. Independence day! Allison and I got to take a catamaran cruise all day. We went snorkeling, saw a shipwreck, had some delicious food, drank TONS of Rum Punch and got sufficiently wasted. Made some new friends. Basked in the sun. And thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. Surprisingly we made it to the evening festivities with these lovely Ross students. Though we didn’t last long as the brutal day of drinking in the sun caught up with us before we could really see fireworks and such. But, I don’t regret a moment!


This is during the second sweatiest, most strenuous hike of my life. The first one was in Ghana when we went to the Wli waterfalls. The payoff for this trek in St. Kitts, however, was great. A few hours from our start, we successfully arrived at the top of the inactive volcano and got to eat lunch overlooking the inner rim of the volcano and the pool of water found at the bottom. Then we got to go check out the surrounding islands from our amazing vantage point. Hellllooo West Indies!

Overall, my St. Kitts and Nevis Caribbean experience was unforgettable. Though at times we were crowded in the studio apartment (no complaints though) thanks to my friend Sarah being awesome and offering to be our host, guide and chauffeur (thus saving us BEAUCOUP money), we all got along swimmingly and had an amazing vacation that made it hard to return to the States.

But return we must, and while Allison and Sarah had to get back to the real world of routine, I got to continue traveling. My next stop was northern California to see the parents. I went out there to check out the Redwoods National Park, Napa Valley, Arcata, Mount Shasta, the slums of Folsom, the airspace between Sacramento and Napa, Lake Tahoe, etc.


Lake Tahoe! So beautiful in the winter yet even more so in the summer! The hot, dry, altitude makes it a big change from the blustery winter, but the cool, crisp waters of the glacial lakes in the area definitely are an oasis in northern California. We got to visit with friends and family and catch up on long-lost friendships while making new ones. My mother and I Stand-Up-Paddleboarded (SUP’d) which was great. I jumped off a 30-foot cliff that I thought was MUCH shallower. And we got boozy and enjoyed exchanging stories about my mother’s colorful past and my colorful present (like mother like daughter!).

I recommend everyone visit Tahoe at some point in both the winter and summer (and anytime really). It’s a truly beautiful place, and I’m glad my parents live fairly close!

This is just a taste of my summer travels to whet your appetites. I will be back shortly with part two of the summer! (That’s the part that gets Southern, down and dirty, and extra fun.)