More Excited Today Than First time...I CAN WRITE MY NAME

I can't really recall the first time I learned to write my name. I'm sure there were high fives, and all the accolades a 3 or 4 year old could handle. However the memories are not mine, just the faint ones of bystanders who are no longer of this earth so I can't even get a play by play.

Yup, if I wanted to know the feeling or perhaps obtain it once more, well it's up to me. Traveling is my time to be brave. To try the things I've always wanted to but a bit apprehensive to do so. A time to pull a NIKE and 'Just Do It"...and that's exactly what I did.

I love travel. I used to like it because it gave me the opportunity to find the perfect gift for just about everyone under the sun. It also increased my baggage fees. This trip I've decided to spend my money on learning and adventures. This way I could use my knowledge and make handmade authentic gifts.

Japan's class of choice was a calligraphy class...where I learned how to write the symbol for "Spring" and "Sakura" (Cherry Blossom) as it was that time of year. I don't believe I could have picked a more beautiful time to be in Tokyo if I had tried. The blossoms were in full bloom last week, the weather was PERFECT on all the days I had planned outdoor activities, and the food was delicious. Best week ever. Besides the two symbols I also learned how to write my name. Believe me, I have never been so giddy with delight when my instructor...stood over me and said "good job. Good FIRST try" ...it was then where I started to feel the heat of the Japanese. Trying would only get me so far. I would have to DO.

I googled and googled until I found the website Veltra, I did not have a problem with their services however after my dealings with services like these I always recommend to save money book with company direct. This tour is ran by True Japan Tour. My instructor for my private was a strong and silent type: Mr Hideki Shimizu who was everything I would expect from my instructor: patient, kind, judgemental and pushed me because he KNEW I could do it. He was perfect. He and his assistant(Ms. Yuri ) taught me how to grate and grind my own ink, as well as how to use already prepared ink, the size and width of my brushes, the grade of papers etc.

I did not take many pictures as the setup reminded me of a class/learning experience nor did I feel as if it would be appropriate. The class was an hour in it's entirety. The beginning was history of calligraphy both Japanese and Chinese as the symbols we used came from the Kanji. And a brief overview of the history of the calligraphy, then about 30 min writing my name, and the symbols in both Japanese and Chinese, and then I was given a piece of hard cardboard with gold trim...and I made my masterpiece:

My full name along side the symbol for spring (top) and Sakura/Cherry Blossom (bottom)

My full name along side the symbol for spring (top) and Sakura/Cherry Blossom (bottom)

It's time...it's time!!! Let's go see the world! But, before you go...

Every time before I leave I feel nothing, except maybe angst. Did I pay my student loan? Forward my mail? Call the banks? Etc. At times I actually forget this is actually FUN. 

While I am not a fan of checking a bag for me it has become a necessity when my trip is over a month and covers various climates. Most of the time I am team carry on only. 

Also comfortable yet casual is what I find helps me get through my travel, and layers. Lots and lots of layers:  

 

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This look is easy, chic and fun. Basic Michael Kors black pant, H&M tank top, Jones of NY black sweater, Calvin Klein light jacket, purplish blue shimmer scarf (great for covering arms and head when going into temples) picked up in Thailand for 390 Baht (about 11$ usd) and my new Obsidian black Tieks.  some simple jewelry and I am ready to fly. And don't you dare forget the compression socks for flights over 5 hours. It's not a "rule" or anything but I've found my travel experience a bit better because of it. 

Just be clean, comfortable and considerate. Leave the graphic tee's, flip flops and nail clippers in your packed suitcase.  

As for me...almost time for wheels up on my next new adventure. I'm going to a place I love as well as three NEW countries. 

I look forward to sharing the adventure with you.  

See you somewhere in the world  

xo

K

Source: http:/

Mexico City ... Yesteryear Flashback of elegance and decadence

As an effort to begin writing more, I decided to try something different. My screen saver changes daily. And I've decided that for now..every 2-3 days I will blog about the trip or event of the photo. (always with a travel tip/angle)

Today's cover photo is the reason for this post. It's J and I at a Mexico City Hotel playing in the elevator. I loved this hotel. It was all the rage as the James Bond film "Spectre" had just premiered early Winter 2015. The opening scene was filmed just to the southwest of the Zócalo. at the Gran Hotel Ciudad de México, With Art Nouveau stained glass, beautiful and crafted vaulted ceilings and an ornamental delight for the eyes, and so worthy of its name, it transports you to a loss era of beauty, fashion, plush and lush. The devil is in the details.

(hint:Just click on the pic to see the gallery of 8 hotel pics)

 

 

 

LOLA...2017 is coming and it's gonna be EPIC

Well 2016...was one heck of a great year, mixed with some sorrow. However 2017 promises to be epic as I have a HUGE stateside adventure planned...that will include my sissy, and two uncles. I don't know how this will work, so I'm thinking a lot of booze and prayer.

However, I can't just say goodbye to 2016 without remembering how much fun I had and how much of the world I need to see...from the coast of Africa to Asia and behind. Enjoy!

Press Play and see 2016 and some of the places we've seen

Time to Get Real: My Experience Being a Black American Abroad and At Home

For the last few years I have been able to travel the world with basically NO issues whatsoever...what makes me sad is times are a changing. I only hope I am ready for the mental energy that seems to be zapped from me on a daily basis.

I now live in world where hate is not only tolerated but embraced as "Trump America Now" where Muslims are being profiled, women are losing their rights over their productive system with no real discourse for the MEN, who more often than not leave the women. They don't have the shame or stigma of an abortion. I guess only the female part is needed to conceive?  I'm perceived a "bad" person due to the color of my skin, so whenever I left the states I always had a wave of relief come over me because in most countries the president of the United States (Barack Obama at the time) was a highly revered man. People who couldn't speak English knew the words "Obama" or "Barack Obama" and would just give me a smile as to say "hello and welcome".

Under the Trump regime which has been less than 2 weeks. I get the usual questions "Why do you stay" "Is he really that bad" or my favorite "we didn't think the US would be as stupid as the Brexit" (no offense just citing what I've actually had said to me) Now with a Muslim ban it makes America come across as racist and elitist. Therefore, no one has blamed me abroad as they see by the color of my skin I am one of the persecuted people. However then someone usually asked me the dreaded "what are you question" and I reply "American"..then it's the "I know but what are your roots? Where did you come from?" THIS question breaks my heart EVERY SINGLE TIME...as I am a black/negro/colored/nigger American...a descendant of slaves on one side and a freedman on the other but since most (and my people) were brought over as slaves the slaveowners (the white men) destroyed ANY AND ALL paper trails of my people. So much so we will NEVER find out exactly where we are from. Granted with AncestryDNA and AncestryandMe123 I have a general guide of what more than likely is my home area....but the region I'm given is so extreme that is will cost me literally thousands of dollars as well as numerous hours. Where most people can just go ask their grandparents. Is it fair? Is it right? Is it just? NOPE...it just is.

There is so much more to say, and even more to write but I just can't because the overwhelming weight of it all. The daily fear of death or retribution for speaking my mind, for daring to want equality, to have the audacity to ask for the same amount of pay as my white co-workers. I literally found out that another female in my department at one of my jobs (who is no longer at the company) had less experience than me but was making $10 more an hour so 80-100$ more per day. That made me angry and sad..because I have to be happy with what I'm given or I just might not get that. This is my reality.

At least in Europe (especially the UK, Barcelona, Amsterdam) as well in the bigger cities I was treated with respect. Something that was so foreign to me that at first I didn't even know what to call it , except I knew folks were nicer to me there than in my own country.

I really didn't want to ever bring politics to LOLA but in these days and times it is a part of my life, A HUGE part as is LOLA. So in the end ...It just will be this way, because this is my "normal"

Traveling Solo...You take the Good and the Bad

All my life I've been waiting. Waiting on my parents to take notice, waiting on my friends to invite me to the beach or anything to do with water, waiting to hear about this or that job...but constantly waiting. Then my father died in 2013...almost 8 years after my mom. She was 50 and he was 62. I was in my 20's when mom died, 30's when daddy died and I refused to not live my life on my terms in my 40's.

At first I asked friends to go, I even offered to buy my sister a ticket. I had plenty of "I would like to BUT..." I no longer have time in my life for "but" and decided to just do it. Life is too short to wait for others.

Real talk, some places are NOT for women traveling alone...a prime example are extreme Muslim countries/Arabic countries. Hell in even the moderate ones like Casablanca, Morocco I was treated as less than. I felt almost invisible but not as the men made it known that I was not welcomed. From the staring to the blatant cab driver director yelling in PERFECT english no less to his Arabic brothers "HELP OUR ARAB BROTHERS FIRST. Not American and NOT women" I would have been mortified but I was prepared. But no matter how ready I thought I was ...it still hurt a lot. As I'm used to traveling in Europe where I felt free. More so than in my own country. Now don't get it twisted...I am NOT saying don't go there, I AM saying be careful and better for women (in my opinion) to have a male travel buddy.

Now Asia, I believe you can handle on your own. Well SE Asia as I have been to parts of Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and others without incident. Had a blast and some great shopping and massages. Definitely do it, especially if you have an adventurous palate. LOVE LOVE LOVE.

My favorite, especially as an BLACK American female is most parts of Europe. For once I know what it is like to be considered a "person" in the United States. While Obama has been president everyone has been kind, always wants to chat and every place I have been has been pure joy. Truth, since the 45th elect has come into play: I've had sympathy from the UK, people in Amsterdam have asked me to "just move here" and a man in Italy actually cried and asked if there was no other place I could go. So there's that.

Goals for 2017- finish my list with South America and "perhaps" Antarctica. I literally can NOT stand the cold but to get so close to all 7 continents...well I'm just not sure what will happen. Nonetheless, I am super excited to see what the future will bring.

Remember, never wait on anyone to write your story...get out there and start writing it your own damn self.

Happy Trails

Kit

Lisbon is for Lovers...

I had a wonderful time in this beautiful city. It was absolutely magical:

This was my first Christmas abroad and on my own, and I met some really nice people, one amazing man and much much more. I never want to stop traveling, because for me THAT is when the magic happens. When you are in a different place, but still feel at home.

 

Traveling During the Holidays

Ok. let's face it...NO ONE wants to travel during the holidays.If you are like me you don't like the hassle nor do you like the novices/amateurs flying. You know the ones, the people who stand in line talking about whatever nonsense until it's their turn THEN they begin to scramble for their paperwork instead of being ready.

I don't want you (my loyal LOLA reader) to be one of the amateurs we laugh about...so here are a few tips to help you "be prepared"

1. A Pen. A writing instrument can be more important than gold during your travels. Whether using it to finish the latest USA Today crossword or for my favorite use...FORMS and arrival cards. Pack it now, thank me later.

2. A FOLDER OR FILE with itinerary. Yes I know it can be a pain, but it will safe you time in the long run. Especially with international travel. When you are de-boarding a plane in most countries you have to fill out an "embarkation card", and it is TONS easier when all the info is available at your fingertips.

3. A carry on with your essentials. I don't care how many times you read this on my blog and others...HEED MY ADVICE...all it takes is one incident of lost luggage.  Better yet...pack LIGHT.

4. CONNECTION is key. Stay in the loop.  Grab the latest travel apps before you leave home. Flight Status gives you real-time updates on delays, baggage numbers and more, and GateGuru gives you approximate times you’ll spend in security. Decided to ditch the airport, and get on the road? Find the cheapest gas and cleanest bathrooms on the road with GasBuddy and SitOrSquat.

5. Pack some snacks. Seriously, no one likes a Hangry traveler

6. Choose wisely...the day you travel. The actual day of the holiday (Thanksgiving, Christmas, or NY Day are the better days. less traffic) Also, try to either, as early as possible (ie FIRST flight out) or late in the day. The middle is NO Bueno.

7. Breathe. You wouldn't think you need this reminder but trust me on this.

Happy Trails

K

 

2016...The Year in Review

Well gang, it has been almost a year and I think it may be time for a new look. A revamp if you will. I like the direction that LOLA is taking but I don't LOVE it. However, like a good LOLA woman...I have a plan.

Soon I leave for a new adventure...destination/Continent #1 (of 3)...where the wanderlust began: Europe, but this time an entirely new and different country.

Stay tuned for new and exciting adventures.

LOLA loves the holidays

Time to Go...

The hate in America seems almost insurmountable at times, and I am scared. So much so that I am taking actions to make my second home, my new home :Amsterdam. I have so many thoughts, and fears. I have always been an artist, a creative...how will I truly make money? Will I actually be able to make it happen? Can I and WILL I be approved for a visa? An Immigration lawyer is expensive but to make it legal I will do what needs to be done.

Currently I am abroad but dread returning home because even in NYC the hate is so tangible you can taste it in your throat, squeezing the life from me at every moment. I will miss the states but as I've said before...in Europe I have been alone AND sad but never EVER scared. I just don't have it in me to fight anymore. I just want to be free. Many have said I should stay and fight. Fight for my place in the world, in my country but I DON'T WANT TO FIGHT...I want peace. However the only way for me to have peace at this point is to shut up and accept the hate, and even then that doesn't guarantee me peace, or even a life. They (Police in particular) have shot and killed more black women and men in the last year and I only anticipate the numbers to rise. And why should they stop...they know and HAVE gotten away with it many times over. Granted not all police are bad, but...

Please God let this Visa process become a bit easier. And give me the six months I need to get my house, money and affairs in order because Lord knows...it is TIME TO GO!

London, and Scotland and Ireland...oh my!

The problem with travel, blogging, working and having a startup is that something always lags behind. Sad to say recently this has been my blog, my life, my new normal.

Time is something I am learning that there is never enough...never enough time to go see one more site, never enough to get to the airport, never enough when finally letting go...there is never enough time. But you can prepare. However that is not my strong suit.

So much is going on in this country right now. It makes me scared. Scared for the path we are heading, and scared for my life. Daily I walk a bit more alert to my surroundings. If I see police I cross the street as I don't want to even be in the way if they have to chase down an actual criminal. Sometimes, the fear is so overwhelming I need to escape. Luckily, I can work just about anywhere, I have a passport, will travel.

This time it was London, Scotland and Ireland...it was beautiful:

A week in the UK and all became right in my world once more. It was like a mini reset button. And with this year's election...I NEED it.

Frogs and Kisses

Kit n Lex

 

Movara Fitness and Weightloss Resort ...here I come

Well the time has come for me to check out another idea for my LOLA ladies and well other folks in general. I will try to post daily if I'm not too tired but if you take a look at a sample day. MOVARA is NOT a game. It is a health and fitness resort (and yes sometimes I will refer to it as Fat Camp, but that is MY CHOICE and my words),as this place is much more than that.

As you can see it is a LOT of hard work. Early am hikes for 2-2.5 hours, followed by breakfast, then class or lecture, then lunch followed by more classes. A total of 6-8 hours of exercise per day. WOW!

A day in the life at Movara

A day in the life at Movara

I'm exhausted just looking at the schedule. The check-in was relatively simple. I spoke to the reservationist (Nancy) as well as the owner (Guy) and after talking to them and some of the clients I knew this was the place for me. It offered everything I could possible want in a fitness vacation. Tons of hiking, prepared meals and a workout plan that encompasses dance class a few times per week. Perfection.

The program officially starts tomorrow so I thought I'd share the layout of the campus. When I first arrive all Isee is a fleet of Movara vans. I found out these vans are used in the morning to take us out to the mountains for hikes, as well as field trips to the grocery store (where we learn label reading and healthy shopping), and to my favorite place TARGET!!!!

The hiking vans

The hiking vans

Next up the initial weigh-in and before pics. I've decided not to post those as I'm waiting to the end as this camp is not only about weight lose but changing ones mindset when dealing with food as well as getting healthy. This place has everything a person could ever need EXCEPT caffeine. There is no smoking, caffeine, or alcohol allowed on the premises. So my Gin and Tonics will be a thing of the past for the next few weeks. And I'm actually ok with this...who am I?

Next up a tour of the facilities :

The dining area where we can eat inside or dine al fresco even on the couch. Everyday there is a menu board with foods of the day as well as calorie count. And we have weekly cooking classes so I learn how to make all the delicious meals.

The dining area where we can eat inside or dine al fresco even on the couch. Everyday there is a menu board with foods of the day as well as calorie count. And we have weekly cooking classes so I learn how to make all the delicious meals.

Next up my bedroom. Movara has two rooming options ...you either can share a room with a savings of $600 per week. They are hotel like in looks but the beds seem pretty comfy:

The bedroom...as you can see Lex has claimed her spot.

The bedroom...as you can see Lex has claimed her spot.

After I got situated and laid down a few minutes I knew I had to see the place where the work (torture?!?) would be had: The Gym, Aerobics Room, and the Court.

The torture chambers... or the Hot Body Makeover Rooms as I like to think of them.

The torture chambers... or the Hot Body Makeover Rooms as I like to think of them.

There is a lecture hall, business center, as well as a rec room with a pool table and tons of games. So one can never get too bored. And if you do get bored it's because you didn't work hard enough because you should be tired:

Business Center, Rec room and lecture hall

Business Center, Rec room and lecture hall

Movara can be considered costly but the staff is first rate and they always seem to find ways to help those who may not be able to do it otherwise, and there are even programs to take out a loan. As well as incentives for those who need to stay longer. I've met clients who are staying 10, 12 even 24 weeks. This is a commitment. Many think it's expensive but not as expensive as tons of medicines and hospital visits that could be in my future. Remember that HEALTH is WEALTH. And without your health, all the money in the world doesn't matter.

Please follow me over the next few weeks as I invite you into my world of fitness at Movara. Clink on the link at the top of the page to go to the website to see cost, pics, success stories and more.

Oh and by the way they have a FULL SERVICE spa right here on campus so someone is always available to massage out those kinks and soreness as well as apply a coat of polish to the nails and tootsies. Can you really ask for anything more?

Time for me to go take a nap, tomorrow is a BIG day as Monday is assessment Hike day so they know which would be the best group for you. Movara is like the best parent you could ever have, they want nothing but the best for YOU, and make certain your needs are being met. And if the program is too hard or you need an adjustment they help, and not leave you to flutter in the wind. I haven't been here long, but I do know I already love this place.

Later taters,

Kit (and Lexie too)

LOST IN THE WILDERNESS

Hey friends...I've been away for a few days. I'm currently in Utah shooting a film, as well as checking out a few places for hopefully LOLA getaways in the future...and guess who is going domestic? That's right ...yours truly. I still will be focusing on Amsterdam, however I want to expand to various US cities in unusual places like Utah, Seattle, Portland, Chicago and somewhere on the east coast. Still in the air about that location.

Today was my late day on the set. I'm in lovely Ivins, UT and the scenery is absolutely stunning.

Snow Canyon State Park- Ivins, UT

Snow Canyon State Park- Ivins, UT

Isn't it breathtaking? So breathtaking that I got lost and was scared for my life. I think the movie 127 Hours played over in my head at least a million times.  I walked around FOREVER, then it started to rain so I took cover in a rock enclosure. 127 HOURS had become my life, and all I could think is "Please God let me keep my limbs" . Reception was spotty at best but I was soon able to get a call into park officials and send them pics of the things were around me.

They found me within20 minutes maybe less..definitely faster than Domino's delivery. Once I had been saved...well I needed a pic of course.

Wilderness Woman

Wilderness Woman

At first I swore I would never attempt hiking again, then after thinking about it a few hours I've decided to fight this fear. I'm going ALL IN, and signing up for a hiking retreat. Why? because if something scares you then you have to face it head on.

THAT'S how a LOLA woman does it! Wish me luck.

xo

Kit

Fear...of water, flying and more, however JUST KEEP SWIMMING!

Fear...I am afraid of anything, everything and NOTHING; all at the same time. Moments creep up on me and I wonder: am I doing the right thing? , How am I going to afford this? Am I crazy for thinking a travel adventure company for women could work? And so on and so forth.

But then I remind myself to do NOTHING, just breathe. Get through the moment. It feels as if some moments are a lifetime, but they too pass.

Personally, I detest long flights, water vexes me, have no use for repressive heat OR so I believed until I chose Asia for my destination de jour. After catching a great break on Qatar Airlines I was off for almost three months to see the undiscovered...I traveled all over parts of SE Asia and Australia.

First and foremost, I do NOT like to fly. Mainly because I feel it is a waste of time. I mean I'm just in the air. I can't control anything on a plane. I can't even backseat drive and tell the pilot to "watch out" I feel powerless.  However, Qatar made me forget all about that:

Second, I was terrified of water; now thanks to a lovely Aussie I am over that fear. I made a new friend in Thailand who was a behavioral specialist as well as former lifeguard. In the beginning, I didn't want to even get in the water, by the end I could doggie paddle.

 

Last but not least, I HATE the heat. I don't like being hot and I believe that air conditioning is the best invention EVER. PERIOD. THE END. So to exist in 100 degree heat and even (GASP) exercise.

 

One night in Thailand I was feeling VERY alone and homesick. And I thought of the movie Finding Nemo. Especially the part where Dory told Marlin that when you don't know what to do you "just keep swimming, just keep swimming, just keep swimming. swimming. swimming" and that's what I do.

I know how I want the game to end, I just don't know the path yet. And that's Ok.

Been Around the World and It Was Cheap too...

Ok, I KNOW I need to blog a hell of a lot more. And starting today I plan on getting back on track at least once a week. Forgive me, however I have been traveling a lot this year. I have many NEW and EXCITING adventures planned over the course of the next year from Africa to hopefully Antarctica. I can't really stand the cold BUT I want to hit all seven continents.

Many have asked me how I afford to travel. First and foremost...PEOPLE WILL FIND A WAY to do what THEY want to do. Period. The end. Granted, I don't own a home, heck I no longer even have a lease I just sublease and move every few months. It can be stressful, but the travel makes it worth it. When I decide to settle down, I'll get a lease and live somewhere for more than six months at a time. Another method is travel groups/clubs. I am a member of various travel groups on Facebook, Twitter, WhatApp etc...and I get deal alerts. I've gone to Thailand and have a ticket booked to South Africa that cost less than a domestic ticket to my home state. All because of a fare special. And because of one of my groups I've made some connections with different airlines, pilots and such, so now I have a few companion passes to use if I ever NEED to get somewhere but can't.

2016/2017 is going to be THE year of adventure and travel. If all goes according to plan I WILL hit all SEVEN continents. Wish me luck.

Happy Travels to you

K

Thank You Hong Kong ...I DO Count

Sad that it takes going to another country to feel as if you matter. In NYC, I go thru life feeling very small at times, almost insignificant. Maybe it's because I am overweight, maybe it's because I am female, maybe because I'm black...however I feel like it's all three and perhaps even more. It's not a defeated or defeatist attitude, it's just my reality.

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