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My First Blog Post

No one does me better than me

Loneliness adds beauty to life. It puts a special burn on sunsets and makes night air smell better.

Henry Rollins

It seems like an appropriate first post for my blog would be all about me being me, right? I know there are already plenty of blogs and articles and such that talk about learning to be you, learning to enjoy your alone time, embracing doing things solo, etc. Everyone has their own story, and you chose to read my blog, so you are stuck hearing a piece of mine. My me being me story starts long before a few weeks ago, but since this blog was officially born in the rainforests and little towns in Costa Rica, that trip is where I shall start.

In May, I went on a cruise with a friend/coworker of mine, my birthday twin, to celebrate our birthdays. It was just a short, four day cruise that left out of our local port (how lucky are we to have a local cruise port, right?!), and was a great opportunity to see if we could handle traveling together. While I am rather laid back and get along with most anyone, I am also hyper, and spontaneous, and sometimes make questionable decisions, so I’m not an easy person to travel with. We had an amazing time and made some great friends, and decided that we needed to plan another vacation together. Thus the Costa Rica trip idea was born. Then another friend wanted to join (a friend who happens to have traveled quite a bit in Latin America, and who speaks fluent Spanish…how convenient), and one of my best friends from back home wanted to join as well. The four of us would make a great group, and would enjoy the adventure and spontaneity of the trip I was imagining, so hell yes!

As trip plans progressed and I tried to nail down details for various locations and activities, all three had to back out for various reasons. Nothing was officially booked, because far ahead planning isn’t my gig, but I was mentally already in Costa Rica, so it was momentarily frustrating and disappointing. I wanted to go to Costa Rica, but is it safe to be a single female, traveling alone there? I haven’t really traveled in Latin America. Maybe I should just go to Europe because I have traveled there and driven there and am comfortable there, and can visit friends. My mom (yes, I’m in my 40s, but I love her and don’t wish to cause her any more duress than I do by simply being me already) is the original Safety Sally, and is going to fucking freak if I make a trip like this alone. My time off was approved, the trip was budgeted for, I needed to plan something! I don’t just want to travel, I NEED to travel. Traveling is my sanity.

Then I remembered that I love doing things by myself. I go out to dinner alone. I see movies alone. I go to the beach alone. I love me time more than most anything. Why would I not make this trip alone? I have traveled alone before. Okay, so I don’t speak Spanish (I can order a beer). And I have heard the roads in Costa Rica are terrible (I grew up on the backroads of Northern Michigan. Can they be worse than that?). And I have heard that your bags can get stolen on the public busses (shit gets stolen out of the fridge at work, for fucks sake). And I have heard…blah blah blah fucking blah. Since when do I fear fucking anything (except snakes and bees and getting down from high places)? Since when do I not do what I want to do, when I want to do it (even when there might be consequences)?

About a week before my not planned trip, I threw a toddler style fit (I couldn’t do this when I was a child because aforementioned Safety Sally was also the 2nd meanest woman in the world, 2nd to my strong, beautiful grandmother…so I make up for my lack of tantrum throwing now), complete with stomping my feet and throwing myself on the couch, because, I WANT TO GO TO COSTA RICA…and then I bought a plane ticket to San Jose, and I booked an AirBnb for the first of eight nights that I would be there. And I assumed I would figure the rest out as I went. And I did.

I have had a lot of fantastic adventures with a lot of amazing people, but this was, far and away, the best vacation of my life. Equally important as “uno mas cerveza por favor” (one more beer, please), I learned how to say, “soy alérgico al coco” (I have a coconut allergy), and I tried what every local suggested. I fumbled through some really poor attempts at Spanish that were nonetheless appreciated by the locals. I stopped at slightly shady looking places (don’t tell my mom, please) because I just knew they would have good food and cold beer. I ate foods when I had no idea what the hell they were, because I’ll try anything once. I hiked miles and miles of beautiful trails alone. I drove all over the country. I GOT TO SEE A SLOTH UP CLOSE (I may have an obsession with sloths)!!! I had my feet in the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea…on the same day. I made friends with tourists and locals.

I made a change of no plans and gave birth to this blog. I did what I wanted, when I wanted. I made spur of the moment decisions that I didn’t need input from anyone else to make. I laughed at my own jokes, and at my silly mistakes. I spent so much time in my own head that I discovered some fantastic places in my own mind that I didn’t even know existed. I embraced everything, especially myself and my alone time. I had the time of my life just being me.

Why the hell does everyone wait on someone to go with them or do something with them? Why does everyone get shy about being themselves? For all the good, the bad, and the ugly, I am me. If you don’t like it, I give zero fucks. I will continue to be unfiltered, unapologetically me. This blog will contain all kinds of travel tips and fun shit, but it will always have my over exclamation pointed (I’m sure that’s a real, technical phrase), bolded, capitalized, italicized, sweary (fuck you, it’s a word), hyper style that every person who knows me can hear my voice in as they read. I will continue to make questionable decisions and figure it out as I go.

I know this life isn’t for everyone, but I hope with this blog that I encourage even just one person to fully embrace the you that you are, and to live life on your own damn terms!

This is just my first post, and I am just figuring this whole blog thing out, so who knows where my mind will lead it. There will be lots of travel pictures (and surely pictures of my many failures) when I figure out what the hell I’m doing. Subscribe below to get notified when I post new updates.

Breaking barriers and crossing borders

I have found out there is no surer way to find out whether you like people or hate them than to travel with them.

Mark Twain

Greetings readers! My apologies that my posts have been few and far between. I’ve been on a ridiculous work-a-thon to pay for all my planned adventures. I’m currently writing you from somewhere between Fraga and Zaragoza, Spain. I’m headed to Madrid with plans to see the city tomorrow before I begin my journey back to Miami.


It has been an interesting week of fantastic sightseeing, beautiful drives, great food, grand adventures, and getting to know a new travel partner. It isn’t like I picked a stranger off the street, I have known the guy for three years. But there is knowing someone and then there is traveling with someone. We’re talking about how someone responds to google maps freezing at the worst time, and when five animated Spaniards are yelling at you (in Spanish which neither of you speak) when your car is stuck between buildings in an alley getting to know each other. The how you act when you are hangry, or accidentally drunk, or when you both forget to pin the location of the parking garage getting to know each other. The how you respond when a monkey jumps on your back getting to know each other (true story, literal monkey on the back, not figurative). It’s the, and don’t ask me how in three years this barrier hasn’t been broken, we have never pooped or farted when the other is around getting to know each other. In the larger picture of a long standing not relationship, it has been a test of wills, stubbornness, patience, sanity, and most of all, humor. We’ve snapped at each other (a first for us), and been a little pissy here and there, but we have also laughed…a lot…even about the not so good moments (after a few hours of recovery time). Honestly, we haven’t killed each other yet, so I’m calling it a win.


I don’t pretend that I’m an easy person to travel with. I’m not saying I’m a high maintenance, demanding bitch. In fact, I’m quite the opposite! I’m laid back almost to a fault. When I’m traveling alone and shit goes poorly, I shrug my shoulders (maybe throw a mini tantrum) and move the hell on. I roll with whatever comes my way. This is much easier to do when you‘re alone and you don’t have to consider the feelings and sanity of the other person. It’s also different when the other person has really only seen you at your emotional best for years. I have discovered that said travel partner is much better than I at being quiet when angry. I’ve also dug deep and found a shut-the-fuck-up-and-don’t-be-reactive side to me that I didn’t know I had, and has been, might I add, very effective. It’s allowed us to get through the few super stressful moments of this trip without any huge blow ups, and has also provided a lot of laughs after the fact. Look at me, all being a grown up!!


I can’t wait to get home and get a few posts and a handful of pictures ready for your amusement. For now though, there are tapas to eat and sangria to drink for another day and a half!! Salud!!

A fate worse than dating??

Not everyone who is single is lonely; not everyone who is taken is in love.

curiano.com

I recently had a night out with a good friend of mine. She’s a lot like a younger (albeit more responsible) sister, and though she is younger we’ve both been through some shit. We had a low key night out of people watching, a drink or two, a little dancing, and fending off drunk men half my age. We spent a lot of time talking about the current state of our personal lives, and that has led me to ponder whether there is a fate worse than dating? 

I think most of us have been at the crossroads in life where our choices are to: 1. Stay in a relationship with known flaws, 2. Be single and alone, or 3. Start dating again. I believe there are positives and negatives to each. 

Staying in the relationship. Examining your existing relationship is like diving headlong into the slippery slope of is this enough, is this what I want, is he/she the right one, is he/she being honest with me, am I being honest with myself? Now if you are like me and at the point where I am in life, you choose the super slow roll approach to a nonrelationship because it allows you to avoid real commitments that make you break out in a sweat and get twitchy as fuck. I try not to examine things as deeply as most because I prefer to just let them develop at the pace of a turtle crawling through quicksand. If you don’t push the commitment thing, you won’t be forced to formally commit, right? Are things perfect? Well of course not, nothing is perfect. Are there a few things that are frustrating? Of course there are, but are they really so frustrating that you are ready to tackle the alternatives? The big question I ask myself is whether the flaws of a current relationship are in any way harmful or hurtful to me? Do they make me question my self-worth, my values, my principles or my sanity? If the answer is yes to any of those, then it’s time for me to move on. If the answer is no to all, well then, do I really need to consider the alternatives…

Being single and alone. To some people, the idea of being alone is terrifying. I am not one of those people. I like to travel alone. I have a roommate for financial reasons, but I am super content to live alone. I go out to eat or do things alone. Single and alone isn’t an ugly, scary place for me. I am content to be in my own world, in my own head, with my own thoughts. It is fine in my world, they know me, love me, and accept me there. I do realize that the single life can occasionally be lonely, but I would rather be lonely alone than to be lonely in a shitty relationship. And when I am single, I get to make decisions that are all about me…except for when Rupert, the naughty rescue dog, makes decisions and then we go with what he wants because he really is the boss of me. But there are times when a concert, a sunset, or a trip would be more fun with someone else, and then you are sitting there thinking about the two other alternatives… 

Start dating again. I am not going to lie. I am lazy as shit when it comes to the idea of meeting new people and dating. I won’t say that I will tolerate a lot of bullshit in a relationship because I’m kind of an asshole and will find almost any excuse to bail. But I also don’t want to do my hair and makeup, pick out an outfit that makes me look my best, and put on a fake smile and make small talk. I hate dating. I can’t stand the what do you like to do, do you want children, where do you see yourself in five or ten years bullshit. I have no filter and zero tolerance for games, and dating is one giant game. 

Oh, and let’s talk about one of the worst parts of modern dating: online dating. I don’t care which site you use and whether they are designed for hookups or searches for everlasting love. From Christian Mingle to Tinder, dating sites are cesspools of horrible spelling and grammar. I can rule out 99.2% of all eligible men based on the number of run-on sentences and inappropriate use of the words there, their and they’re. Someone once asked me if I was willing to pass up on the possibility of true love because of grammatical errors, and my emphatic answer is absofuckinglutely! Everyone is attracted to different things, and I happen to be attracted to intelligence (wrapped in a smoking hot, amusement park of a body, please). For me, the intelligence package comes complete with the ability to spell, form complete sentences, and know when to use your and you’re (and to not ever use “ur”). 

Of the remaining 0.8% who understand grammar, I speak for a significant number of women here when I say please, for the love of all, do not send dick pics. I don’t need to see a video of you masturbating. You aren’t going to get nudes of me or a video in return. You want to see me naked? Work for it, you lazy little bastard. 

The other difficulty in dating, for me personally, is my love of the grey area. I don’t want a serious relationship, and I have no desire to get married again. I’m not jealous or needy and am more often accused of being indifferent. I want someone to travel with (but not all of my trips, because I like girl time and I LOVE solo time). I want someone to watch football with and go out to dinner sometimes. But I don’t want to live with that person or have them in my personal space all the damn time. There’s this beautiful little grey area between friends with benefits and relationship that is a comfortable space for the loyal but commitment-phobic individuals in this world. Unfortunately, those individuals are few and far between, so then you’re back to those other two options…because is there really a fate worse than dating? 

Ways to piss off an ED nurse

But did you die?

Unknown

To fund my travel, I work as an emergency department nurse, a job which comes with endless stories of its own. I often hesitate to tell people what I do, or what department I work in because the inevitable questions arise. “What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever seen? You must see a lot of gross or crazy stuff, right? What is the strangest thing you’ve ever seen someone have in their butt? Is it like Grey’s Anatomy? Do you pee on the jellyfish stings?” I could go on and on with the questions, and could go on even longer with funny stories. But let’s talk about the bulk of what actually happens in an American emergency department. 

Contrary to popular television shows, rarely do you work with a bunch of McSteamy or McDreamy doctors. Rarely are nurses or residents going rogue and doing crazy procedures. Mostly we take care of things that don’t need to be seen in the emergency department. Mostly we are wait staff and abuse victims for entitled assholes. We don’t love people or want to save the world. Don’t get me wrong, I actually love what I do, and I think that shows in my nursing care. But I fucking hate people. There are kind, grateful, and truly sick patients that need to be there, but as a rule, stupidity keeps me employed. 

Here is a little tip of the iceberg list of ways people irritate the shit out of ED nurses every damn night (or day, it happens during the day too, but when you’re stupid at three in the morning, you are a special kind of stupid because you actually got out of bed in the middle of the night to be stupid). This list is in no particular order, because the level of annoyance is dependent upon the shift…and sometimes the way you smell. 

***Warning: this post will be very sweary and judgemental because these are topics that get ED staff heated, and you deserve our swearing and judgement if you do these things.***

1. You didn’t medicate yourself. The idea of not medicating so we “can see how much pain I’m in” is the dumbest fucking thing I have ever heard. I don’t have a tool to measure your pain, so it is subjective anyway. And why are you fucking seeking treatment for something you haven’t even tried to treat yourself. Make every ED nurse and doctor everywhere feel better about caring for you, and at least take a damn tylenol!!! 

2. You didn’t medicate your child for their fever. Seriously…not medicating your child so we “can see how high her fever gets”? If your child doesn’t have a 103 degree fever when they come to see us because you have them motrin 1.5 hours ago, I know it is because you medicated them, not because they didn’t have a fever. Quit making your child suffer, you asshole.

3. You didn’t medicate your child because he/she “won’t take medicine”.  Do you think we have a magic fever wand to take the fever away? Seriously, what exactly do you think we are going to do? We are going to medicate your little monster. As a parent (years ago of an extremely strong willed, demon spawn toddler who hated taking medication) and as a nurse, I can tell you that I have never lost this battle. Be a damn parent and medicate your crotch goblins. 

4. You use the words, “I usually have a really high tolerance for pain.” Please just stop right there. No, no you don’t. If you are using that phrase, you really don’t. Just stop. 

5. You scream, yell and moan loudly.  Is that noise making the pain go away? No, it’s not, so shut the hell up. It isn’t making the pain better, and it is disruptive to the actual sick people that can hear you three rooms away. If you think your loud noises are going to make us move any faster or go beg the doctor for yet another dose of pain meds, you are sadly mistaken. 

6. You ask us to use a butterfly IV.  I know this is going to come as a giant surprise to most, but the “butterfly” IV you are referring to is made for a straight stick (a blood draw), not an IV that has to stay in place. Butterfly IVs do exist, but they are more expensive so very few hospitals have them, and using them is about the experience and comfort level of the nurse using them. Furthermore, they make butterfly IVs in 18g (big) and 24g (small), just like traditional IVs. A butterfly has nothing to do with the size, or what we need to accomplish, so quit asking. 

7. You start your story in triage with, “four years ago I had…”  You can stop right there, and let’s try this again. We don’t care how relevant you think your extended medical history is, when we are triaging you, we ask about what is going on right now that brought you to the ED. When we ask you to stick to right now, if you want us to be super annoyed, be sure to say, “but I need to give you the full history so you understand.” If we feel we need information about your hernia operation in 1967, we will ask. Otherwise tell us what symptoms you have right now and save your too long story for the doctor (who also probably doesn’t want to know, but doesn’t have 14 more patients waiting to be triaged. Besides, it’s funny when you do this to the doctor and they then understand what took us so long in triage). 

8. You come in with vomiting and ask us for something to eat/drink.  Hey genius, you just told me you haven’t kept down “anything” in three days (by the way, your labs have determined that was a lie), so how about we treat that before you eat that burger, fries and soda that you made your family member stop for on the way. If you can even think about a burger, you aren’t sick enough to be in the ED. 

9. You say “I haven’t had anything to eat or drink all day.”  It is one in the morning. What the fuck do you people do all day that you can’t take a sip of water or a bite of toast?!?! And why is this suddenly my problem? Do you realize that the person next door has a blood pressure that is about to be non-existent? I don’t care if you are hungry. No, really, I don’t care one bit. 

10. You act irritated when I interrupt your phone call to provide care for you.  Oh, I’m sorry, were you here to make a $5,000 phone call, or for me to fix your suuuuper serious medical issue that required an ambulance ride to the ED at 3 a.m.? And definitely tell me that your pain is 10/10 whilst posting selfies on your Instagram of you in a hospital gown. Newsflash: if you feel good enough to take a selfie, your pain is NOT 10/10. I will also recommend to the doctor that we change your order for pain meds to something that won’t make you sleepy so that you can continue your social media coverage of your visit. 

I could seriously make this post pages and pages long, but we will start with just that. If you are an ED nurse, I invite you to add your favorite anger issues below in the comments. Sign up below to follow my blog and be notified when I post, as I am sure there will be plenty of ED “fun” in the future.

Tattoos, Bikinis, Beach Bars and Semi-Adulting

Adulting is soup and I am a fork.

Unknown

I had my kids fairly young (early 20s), and spent my 20s and 30s raising them. I mostly did this as a single mom, but somewhere in there, I threw in a marriage and all kinds of other adult responsibilities. I put my solo life on the backburner, and poured myself into being a working, cooking, cleaning, organizing, bleacher sitting super mom. Okay, so in all reality, I was probably more of a barely controlled chaos kind of mom, but they grew up into beautiful, intelligent, responsible adults anyway, so I did something right, dammit! I don’t actually recommend the have your kids early while you don’t have your shit together and struggle for many years method. There is a lot of bullshit that you could save yourself from if you get a career, have some kind of financial stability, etc, then have your kids. But my mom will tell you that I always preferred the long way around, so that’s what I did. 

Fast forward through all of that, and you’ll currently find me in my 40s, finally out of the frozen tundra of Michigan, and soaking up life in the sunshine state. When my kids left the nest, I suddenly realized I could go where the sun shines. I could go to the places I wanted to go and do the things I wanted to do. Holy shit, I could be me again! Don’t get me wrong, I am so happy to have raised two wonderful children, but it’s me time bitches! 

Some people cry about turning 40, but friends, this shit rocks. I do what I want, when I want, and how I want, and I’m still healthy enough to do it. No one is the boss of me (okay, maybe when I am at work, and I can barely contain myself there), and I only answer to a slightly psychotic, but completely adorable rescue dog (okay, maybe he IS the boss of me). I would like to say that my 40s have made me a responsible adult, but in all reality, I am mostly clinging on to the honorable mention award in adulting. It’s like being an adult, but adult lite. 

When I first moved to Florida, I had a friend from Michigan who also relocated to the same area, and we became roommates. Having a roommate as an adult was a strange concept at first, but we got along great and had a lot of fun. My son put it best when he said, “I see you two living together being a lot like a college frat house, except you have some adulting skills, like doing laundry, paying bills and making coffee.” If those are the conditions of adulting, then hell yeah, we were adulting the shit out of life! I had the fun of a college student, but made enough money that I didn’t have to eat ramen noodles, and could drink top shelf liquor. I am living the college party years I didn’t really get to live when I was younger, but on a slightly more responsible scale…I said slightly. 

Rupert, aka Roo, Roo Roo, Roo Bear, Roo Monster, Roo Roo the Rescue…the real boss of me

Florida’s gulf coast has given me some of my favorite things, right down the road from my house. I have white sand beaches to relax on, saltwater and sea spray to make a mess out of my hair, and the sound of the waves to soothe my soul. The sun shines all the time. I get to sweat most days of the year, and am cold very, very few of them. Seafood is plentiful and fresh. People are friendly and smiling because they don’t live under cloud cover most of the year. 

Sunset on the Gulf Coast
My happy place

And beach bars are so much fun! I can hang out on the beach most of the day, then bring my mess of a sand and salt covered self to a bar, wearing a bikini, cover-up and flip flops, and order cold beer and people watch. I get to meet people from all over, and amuse myself with how people act when they are far away from home. I get free drinks by saving people thousands of dollars in emergency room visits by telling them what to do if they have an unfortunate meeting with a stingray. There is always live music, and the atmosphere is happy and laid back. I have perhaps left my dignity behind a time or two, but I have zero fucks to give because I was having fun, and that makes it a fun choice! 

Speaking of beaches, let’s talk bikinis. I’m 40-something, and I am not a fitness model by any means. However, I am also not mistaken for a manatee who washed up on the beach. I fall somewhere comfortably in between enjoying healthy food and working out when I can, and loving craft beers and tacos. I spent several years of my married life wearing mom suits to the beach, hiding and being embarrassed and insecure about the extra pounds I had gained. Looking back at those pictures, I think, “holy shit, girl, you look like you just gave up on life with that suit”. So I found bikinis I was comfortable in, and in my own mind, I rock them. I feel confident and as usual, I give no fucks about what people think of me. There are people who look far better than me on the beach, and there are those who probably feel the way I did ten years ago. I am not necessarily where I want to be in my fitness level, but it sure feels nice to feel confident in my own skin. I wear cheeky bottoms all the time, and you can kiss my exposed ass cheek if you think I am too old or chunky to wear it.

You know what one of the cool things is about living where you can expose skin most of the year? I have some awesome ink, and I get to show it off! I waited until I was in my 30s before I got my first tattoo…a small piece on my ankle to show off my achievement of running a marathon. My ex-husband wasn’t a fan of tattoos, so after my separation and divorce I had one of my signature foot stomping, “I do what I want” toddler moments, and got 3 more within a year. Then when I moved to Florida and discovered the hospitals didn’t care if your tats were visible, I got serious about getting some bigger artwork. I found an amazing artist, let him have creative freedom, and ended up with a gorgeous half sleeve that I absolutely love! Not surprisingly, the sleeve is a story about travel, independence and change. It’s about the steps it has taken me to get where I am at, and the roads I have yet to travel. Could I end up with a job where they need to be covered again? Yeah, it’s possible. But I don’t care. Some people spend money on artwork that they only see when they sit in their living room. I take my art everywhere with me, and I love it! I intentionally buy clothes that show it off. I paid for great art, why should I not show it off?

Photo credit and ink credit to the amazing artist and friend, Litos, at Forbidden Images

So that’s the start of the story of my semi-adulting life. I wear bikinis, sometimes I drink too much, I get new tats when I feel like it, I hang out in beach bars, and I have a roommate. I make fun choices! I live life on my own terms and I do what makes me happy. If you are reading this and thinking, “shit, I’m jealous. I want to live where I want and do what I want,” do not give up hope. Keep focused on what you can do to build the life you want, even if it has to be down the road a bit. Love yourself and wear your bikini, even if you are still working off that extra damn ten pounds. Be silly and adventurous, and start living life. Fuck adulting, it isn’t fun; just work on that honorable mention in semi-adulting.

When you are adulting so hard your kids give you the honorable mention award

8 Days of Pura Vida (Part 1)

Traveling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.

Ibn Battuta

In my earlier post, Pura Vida, I talked about general travel information from my trip to Costa Rica. In my next couple of posts, I will break down the trip by location and talk about what I did, what I saw, what I ate, and what my favorite parts were. I will give some advice on what I would have done differently, what I’m glad I brought with me, and what I wish I had time to do. I’ve already plugged mytanfeet.com but I will say it again: they are seriously the go to site for everything and anything Costa Rica. They live there, and I was a tourist for eight days, so I highly recommend using their site to plan your trip. I’m usually good for the “what not to do” and the amusing shit. They, however, give you valuable information there and here you get my craziness.

I spent a total of eight days in Costa Rica, and as I said in part one, planning isn’t my strong suit. The ‘what and when’ was a day by day, often minute by minute decision. Day one consisted primarily of the flight into San Jose, and the drive to La Fortuna. The drive was scenic, all paved (a rarity in the country), and pretty easy compared to the drives I did the rest of the week. I had chosen an Airbnb just outside of town, in a local neighborhood. As with every place I stayed, it was spotless and equipped perfectly for what I needed. There was a shared pool where I stayed that was a little chilly, but felt great after hiking in the heat. 

My first view of Arenal Volcano as I drove into La Fortuna

Here are some of the spots I hit in La Fortuna, and a little about each: 

Downtown. I recommend taking the time to walk around a bit, meet some shop owners, and wander the garden at the center of town. Everyone was friendly, and the locals made good suggestions. Soda Restaurante Tico Organic made a delicious breakfast that had fruit so fresh that my melon hating self was eating and enjoying fresh watermelon.

La Fortuna WaterFall. This is a must! Save the money and do this without a guide. I went alone, and was perfectly content and do not feel that I missed out on anything. The water was chilly, but it is one of the few waterfalls where you can get in the water near the base and swim. Follow the water down and around the corner for a more relaxing soak, and to watch the fish swim. I took water and a light lunch, which I recommend doing. You can enjoy the scenery while you eat, but be prepared for the shit ton of steps you have to climb back up when you are ready to leave. 

Sloth’s Territory. If you know me, you know how obsessed I am with sloths. A few miles outside of La Fortuna is a small, family owned and operated farm. The owner’s son, Jason, also happened to be my Airbnb host. The family will hike with you around their farm and help you spot the wildlife that lives there. My guide was a wealth of information about Costa Rican wildlife and made some great recommendations about where to go and what to do. We spotted several two and three toed sloths, a Rufous motmot, a poisonous blue jean dart frog, a large and a creepy snake (“no worries” he said, “she’s a nice snake”…sorry but there is no such thing as a nice snake in my book). We also saw numerous ‘jesus christ’ lizards. You know… the cute little guys that stand up and run across the water on two legs and make you go JESUS CHRIST. At the end of the hike they served cold water and a big plate of fresh fruit on their patio.

Restaurante La Rana Roja (Red Frog). This was an easy walk from where I stayed. I went with whole tilapia that was recommended by the staff and, just like the atmosphere and the service, the food was great. This is where staying outside of downtown pays…you get to experience the local places.

Red Frog Coffee Roaster. Okay sit down, this is going to take a while! I can’t say enough about this place. The typical breakfast is a must while you are in Costa Rica: scrambled eggs, tortillas, rice and beans, a wedge of some delicious cheese, fresh tomatoes, pico, and fried plantains. At Red Frog, their typical breakfast is the best, and they serve it with a side of “tico sauce”. I don’t know what the sauce is, but it was delicious enough that I probably would have bathed in it. That wasn’t even the best part though. If you refer back to my part one post, you’ll hear about my history with coffee. This is the place that fully made me flip. While I was eating, I watched as one of the staff there roasted coffee beans, ground fresh beans, and made each cup of coffee fresh, using a pour over. I was initially concerned about the lack of flavored creamer, but guys, this was the BEST cup of coffee I have ever had!! They sell their coffee beans there in the restaurant, and the gentleman there was very knowledgeable and helpful in selecting the roast he thought I would like most. You can be sure that I have several bags in my kitchen currently, along with a brand new pour over system. This place is an absolute must when you go to La Fortuna! 

Mistico Arenal Hanging Bridges Park. There are a ton of guided things you can do in Costa Rica, but having a guide at all of them is cost prohibitive. While I’m normally pretty independent in my adventures, this is one place that I recommend booking a guided tour. The place is large and the rainforest growth is thick, so without trained eyes and ears (and an entire network of guides that communicate through WhatsApp about where things are currently being spotted), you will probably miss most of what you are there to see. Our guide, Julio, was entertaining and incredibly knowledgeable. He was the one who taught me my most important lesson in Costa Rica: don’t touch…anything!! Seriously, friends, just keep your arms and feet inside the vehicle (your personal space bubble) at ALL times. Grabbing trees, plants, leaves, and even those nice concrete handrails that look like wood, in Costa Rica can have consequences way worse than what your mother ever threatened. We saw first hand how tarantulas and snakes can be hanging out inside a large flower, on the other side of a handrail, or on a tree at hand level, and you don’t even see them. They are there looking for bugs, frogs, etc, but if you grab them, they aren’t going to be pleased. One of these snakes was an eyelash pit viper. It wasn’t much larger than a pencil, but their bite can cause massive tissue necrosis, leading to loss of a limb, and even death. Let me say it again for those who weren’t paying attention the first time: don’t touch or grab anything!! I’m a giant sissy about snakes and I really like all of my limbs, so I took this advice seriously during my entire trip. 

During the walk at the hanging bridge park, we saw a variety of birds, bats, dart frogs, a cool, yellow snail, several eyelash vipers, giant butterflies, a pair of owls, a couple of sloths, and a male howler monkey. Julio did a great impression of female and baby howler monkeys, as well as a male howler impression. This would prove valuable later in my trip, preventing me from all out panic in the middle of the night when I heard one. Having a guided hike early in your trip will help you to know where to look for critters on your future hikes, and they do a great job at Mistico. The hanging bridges are pretty and the views are nice all over the park. The cost of the tour was completely worth it, and one I would recommend. 

Arenal Volcano National Park.  After the guided tour at Mistico, I felt comfortable doing the volcano park unguided. Entry into the park wasn’t that expensive, and there was lots of parking available. It rained a good part of that hike, so climbing up the lava flow trail was a little slippery, but take the time to hike this leg of the trail. It was by far my favorite hike! The view of Arenal Volcano and Lake Arenal, even if it was largely covered in fog, is completely worth some slipping, sliding, ankle twisting, and climbing up and across the lava rock. I hiked the rest of the trail at about the same pace as a few other people, and we pointed out whatever we saw to the rest. We spotted two different types of toucans, various other birds, and a ton of monkeys. At one point, the monkeys started to surround us and come lower into the trees near us. I joked that they were surrounding us to stage an attack, which brought a round of nervous laughter, which followed with, “oh shit, that’s not funny, they might be,” looks. We decided not to chance it and moved on shortly after. Make sure to take the loop to see the Kapok tree while you are there. 

I wrapped up La Fortuna after hours of hiking in the volcano park, and set out for Bijagua. My intent was to drive there, and hit the Rio Celeste Waterfall trails first thing in the morning. If you’ve read how this blog started, you already know that it was a lovely restaurant, Moya’s Place, in Nuevo Arenal, and their delicious sangria that made changeofnoplans official! Stay tuned (and follow) for my next post to hear more about my time in Costa Rica. If you have specific questions, please don’t hesitate to ask. I am happy to share information to give you as amazing an experience in Costa Rica as I had.

Forever Isn’t For Everyone

Just do what works for you, because there will always be someone who thinks differently.

Michelle Obama

So I’m in my 40s and I wouldn’t say I’m single, but I wouldn’t say I’m in a relationship either. I have a thing. I have a situationship. I have a guy that I really adore. Something different than a friend with benefits, but also something kind of like that. I don’t know what it is, but it works for me. I often get asked if I have a boyfriend and I say no. I am not saying I’m single and free, I am just saying there isn’t someone in my life with that particular title. And before you ask, I have no idea what he calls me, nor do I really care. 

I am genuinely perplexed by the need for a label, a title, and a set definition of every relationship in life. Why can’t I just have a thing that works for me right now? Oh wait…I can. I do. I have a thing, and it works. If it stops working, then I guess it will be time to move on. 

So many people are obsessed with the idea of forever. They want a forever home, a forever person, a forever life. Not everything lasts fucking forever. You outgrow a home, or it’s a damn money pit, or you lose a job and can’t afford it, or you get a better job and want a bigger one. The same goes for people. Sometimes you outgrow another person. Sometimes you can’t afford it – be it mentally, emotionally or financially. Sometimes you just want a better one or a bigger one (tee hee, she said bigger one). Sometimes what worked for you at one point in your life just doesn’t work anymore, and that is OKAY!! I think the important part is recognizing when it has hit that point, and then having the strength to walk away. 

I am sure if I posted this on my Facebook or Instagram, I would have an entire clan there to heat up my ass on how young people just don’t try anymore. We don’t work hard at relationships anymore. Our grandparents didn’t really like each other for 40 years and they still stayed together, blah blah blah. I am sad for those who have stayed in an unhappy relationship because that’s what they thought they had to do. On the flip side, I also have friends who were high school sweethearts, and they have stuck it out and made it work, and they are genuinely happy. Some of their parents were high school sweethearts that are still together and happy. I respect and admire the relationships they have and how they have worked to keep them strong. 

But here is the deal: forever isn’t for everyone. It works for some, and some are great at it. Some of us just don’t care about forever things though. The idea of a forever home makes me shudder. The idea of living in one place forever makes me twitchy. The idea of staying in one job for the rest of my career makes me want to cry. And while I absolutely adore the man in my life, I don’t know where it will end up, and I am comfortable with that. If things continue to work for us, and he stays in my life for the rest of my days, well then color me fucking surprised. I don’t know if he is Mr. Right or Mr. Right Now or Mr. Right For A While, and I don’t really care because it works.

I am sure a psychologist would have a field day with me, but I am comfortable with my thoughts and feelings on life, relationships, and happiness. I am happy with having a whatever it is with the sexy, strong, sweet, smart, funny man that puts a smile on my face and a tingle in all my other places. I feel safe because I am never pressured by him to slap labels or rings or whatever on it. I love that he isn’t bothered by my extreme need for independence, and that he is okay with my strong personality and ‘no fucks given’ attitude. While I currently can’t imagine not having him in my life, there is nothing more unsettling to me than the thought of either of us settling. Everything works for us now, but if someday it doesn’t, I hope we will always have the insight and the openness to go our separate ways.

For my forever kind of friends and followers, I am happy for your forever, and please know that I respect you for your foreverness. For my works for now friends and followers, I feel you and I respect you. We take some shit for not being forever people, but I hope you keep doing what works for you, and not what others think you should do. I realize my drummer has a different beat, and I am okay marching to it (or more likely, marching off beat), and I hope you continue to do the same…until it doesn’t work for you anymore. 

Why I travel

Wanderlust consumed her; foreign hearts and exotic minds compelled her. She had a gypsy soul and a vibrant hope for the unknown.

D. Marie

I have an “embrace change” tattoo on my upper arm (ironic, I know, since tattoos are rather permanent). I love change. I am addicted to change. It isn’t about bigger, better, or more to me. I am not searching for a mansion, complete with a big yacht and a rich man (although that would certainly help fund the travel). I am not unhappy with my life, nor am I content with life. It’s about what is new, and different, and exciting. It’s about what the next adventure is. If I could change homes, and countries, and languages, and careers, and most everything about my life every 30 days, I probably would. That isn’t a realistic option however, so in order to feed my change addiction, I travel. 

Some interpretation of “no regrets” may be one of my next tattoos, because I don’t want to live with the regret of not having done something. I want to see all of the places, try all of the foods, and experience all of the things. I want to absorb a bit of every culture I encounter, and then share it with everyone. I want to take lots of pictures and write about all of my travels, so that I can go back and read the stories and laugh about them. I want my kids and my future grandkids to have a record of the things their crazy mother/grandmother has done, so they can laugh at them later too. I want to inspire others to go out and explore the world.

I don’t travel to check things off a bucket list. I travel to immerse myself in a world other than my own. I like to go to the places the tourists don’t go. I want to leave a bit of myself behind in every place I visit, and come back home a changed person every time. I constantly crave the way traveling ignites my mind and feeds my soul.

My travel addiction includes every part of the journey. I love the time and effort spent on researching each trip I take. I work best under pressure, and while it can be stressful, I actually enjoy the last minute panic packing. I almost always leave late to get to the airport, skid in on two wheels, sweat about making it through security fast enough, and sprint to my gate to make my flight. I stress friends and family out with my last minute style (not many like to travel with me because of it), but it is part of the thrill of the trip to me. 

I love the pressure of booking places to stay at the last minute, hoping that I can find something available in the price range and location I want. I love the “oh shit” feeling when what you thought was booked falls through, and you have to start all over again. When I am in a new place, I enjoy getting lost and making mistakes. I love the good roads, but more memories are made on the shitty roads. I love most of the food I try, and at least enjoy the experience of trying new things when I don’t love the dish. “One bite is polite,” is a rule I live by when I travel, and I have instilled this into my kids as well. 

I love the sites, the cities, the villages, the countrysides, and the people I encounter. Almost everywhere I go, I fall in love with a little village along the way that makes me never want to leave…at least until I need to travel again. 

Pura Vida

If you read my intro and my first post, you already know that this blog was born in Costa Rica, at least in concept. Since this is, to some extent, a travel blog, I figured we should probably talk about the country that gave me the final kick in the ass to start my blog. I am certain I will say this about another country in the future, like I have said about other countries in the past, but Costa Rica…Costa Rica was the best!

Pura vida, directly translated means pure life, or simple life. It isn’t just a tourism catch phrase; it is the lifestyle of Costa Rica. It’s a common greeting, but also a reminder to relax, to breathe, to let go of your stress and be grateful for what you have. It was a constant reminder for me to enjoy every moment of my solo adventure. While I couldn’t see everything I wanted to see, or do everything I wanted to do, pura vida was my reminder to enjoy what I had time for. It was a wonderful reminder to enjoy my alone time and embrace fully being me on this trip. The people were so, so friendly and welcoming, and not in that we want all of your tourist money kind of way. Even the tourists I met, which I typically avoid when I travel, were friendlier and more likeable.

I did a lot of research before I went on this trip, and I recommend anyone wishing to travel somewhere new do the same. I can give lots of recommendations and advice, but ultimately it comes down to finding what works for your travel style and your interests. I used multiple websites and blogs to gather information for this trip, but mytanfeet.com was my hands down favorite. From what to pack, where to go, things to do, what to be aware of, mytanfeet was the most current and comprehensive. I can’t possibly be half as informative, so I am not going to try. What I can do is give you the perspective of a female, solo traveler in Costa Rica, and the perspective of someone whose traveling style is, as the blog name indicates, a change of no plans. I will try to limit this post to some basic information, and talk about specific places and activities next time.

You don’t have to speak the language. Like I said in my previous post, I don’t really speak Spanish. I understand some, and I can use a few basic phrases. I am not sure why this became such a concern for me prior to this trip. I moved to Norway for a year during high school and had pretty much only mastered saying ja and nei before I arrived. I have been to Spain, France, Belgium, Greece, Switzerland, Puerto Rico and Mexico, and I don’t speak any of the languages. Costa Rica is filled with American expats and tourists from all over the world, and the majority of the Ticos I encountered all spoke English, so my concerns were ridiculous. And the Ticos were so kind about my fumbled attempts at Spanish, and honestly seemed appreciative that I was at least trying. I can find a bathroom on my own, and as long as I can tell them I have a coconut allergy (seriously a concern when you travel in tropical locations, and coconut makes your throat close), and ask for another drink, I decided I was doing okay. I did make it my personal goal, however, to learn enough Spanish to comfortably travel through Spanish speaking countries in the future.

The roads suck, drive anyway. After much deliberation, I decided to save myself a lot of lost hours sitting on a bus, pulled up my big girl panties, and rented a car. When they are paved, they are really well paved, but probably don’t have shoulders or guardrails. The drivers are bat shit crazy, and you might as well throw everything you learned about traffic laws out the damn window, because no one is following them anyway. Be prepared for dirt roads that make Northern Michigan’s roads look like smooth, newly paved racetracks. The potholes are sometimes big enough to swallow your little rental car. Miles into a dirt road, in the middle of nowhere and for no apparent reason, you might encounter a stretch of perfectly paved road, but don’t get over confident because it might end half a mile later. I don’t regret renting a car for a moment though. I got to see so much of the country that I wouldn’t have seen had I taken a bus everywhere. When I got to an area, I preferred to park the car and walk as much as possible, but the ability to go where I wanted, when I wanted, was right up my alley. The views while driving were incredible! It was worth every penny of the rental fee. Be aware that the rental car/insurance situation is complicated in Costa Rica. I recommend reading all of the information on mytanfeet.com about this, and going with their recommended company.  

The showers aren’t always hot. This certainly isn’t the first place I have traveled where the temperature or pressure of the water are unreliable and often nonexistent. I have a lot of long, thick, wavy to curly hair that can quickly turn into a tangled, almost dreaded, mess. It requires lots of water, lots of shampoo, and lots of conditioner. Taking showers in places where warm water and good water pressure are lacking aren’t particularly fun, but I consider it part of the adventure. That being said, dry shampoo and spray detangler are highly recommended.  I also recommend a package of baby wipes because when you just can’t mentally handle another cold shower, a good baby wipe whore’s bath is a life saver after a long day of hiking.

The drinking water is safe. No need to worry about buying cases of bottled water or filtering everything. I have a bacteria hating GI system that starts to panic and evacuate at the mere thought of going back to my Amish ex-mother-in-law’s house for dinner, and I was able to drink the tap water everywhere I went. Costa Rican’s are far more environmentally conscious than the average American, and they really appreciate you drinking the tap water, reusing your plastic bottles, and recycling everything. You are visiting their country, please respect it.  

The food is delicious. Be open to new foods when you travel! This is one of my biggest pet peeves with tourists. Don’t go to a tropical place and order a cold-water fish like salmon. Don’t order chicken fingers like you would at home. For the love of all, you aren’t there to experience your own damn culture; you are there to experience the local culture. Avoid the tourist trap restaurants. Ask a local where they would go out to eat on their day off. In Costa Rica, be sure to eat at a soda. They are cheap, give you more food than you can possibly consume in one sitting, and are delicious. When it says typical, order it. Stop at a roadside stand and buy some of the local fruit. You will probably need the help of the locals, or need to search online to find out how to eat some of it, but it is worth it.

The coffee is out of this world. So I started drinking coffee when I was about to turn 40 because I felt I had to do adult things at 40, and let’s face it, adulting sucks. Coffee drinking is adult, right? Okay, so truth be told, I drank flavored creamer with a splash of flavored coffee. I jokingly say that I like my coffee the opposite of my men; I like my coffee white, weak and sweet. Over the last few years I have tried to drink less creamer and more coffee. I was convinced that I wouldn’t be drinking any coffee in Costa Rica because they probably wouldn’t have my favorite Italian sweet cream everywhere. But I followed my own advice and tried the local coffee. Many places make each cup fresh, using a pour over system, and holy coffeegasm is it amazing! I’ve now changed my coffee preference (when made with freshly ground beans and with a pour over) to liking my coffee exactly like my man: dark, smooth and strong. Bring an extra bag or save a few pounds in your luggage to bring home coffee beans.

See both coasts. The country isn’t that wide, so make a point of seeing both coasts. I had my feet in the Pacific in the morning, and the Caribbean the same evening. Depending on what your interests are, you may prefer one side over the other. I’ll talk more in a future post about specific places, and while I liked most everywhere I went, I was a bigger fan of the Caribbean side. There was a chill, island, Jamaican kind of vibe that I absolutely fell in love with.

Safety first. This paragraph is for my mother, to let her know that I really do consider safety whilst making questionable decisions. Seriously though, safety is a huge consideration when traveling as a solo female. First, I never once felt unsafe in Costa Rica. I mean, the driving was crazy, but I never thought my safety was at risk anywhere I went. That being said, there are certain precautions I take when I’m out and about (piss off, I know those who know me just read that as oot and aboot) alone. As shocking as this may be, I drink very little when I am out or traveling alone. I like to be in control and 100% aware of my surroundings, so a drink or two with dinner is about my limits. If I want to drink more, I do it back at my AirBnb. I save directions to and from places before I leave, just in case I can’t get a signal or wifi, or can’t remember my way back. I send my family texts regularly letting them know where I am, where I am going, and my estimated times. Yes, I know they are really far away, but at least someone knows my last location. On that note, I have my location turned on in my phone, with access granted to just a couple of key people. Oh, and I am sort of armed with a weapon. I have found a wine corkscrew to be a great security device that I have never had to use. If you check a bag, you are golden. If you carry one on, throw it in, and worst case scenario, it gets confiscated. You can easily find them at most markets for a few dollars when you arrive to your destination, and then just leave it behind at your last AirBnb for the next guests. It isn’t necessarily going to save your life, but it fits in your pocket, and will gouge an eye and give you a chance to run. And let’s face it, there is always an emergency bottle of wine that needs opened…or is that just in my world?

Avoid resorts and big hotels. Once again, are you really there to hang with tourists? You shouldn’t be. Immerse yourself in the local culture! Get an AirBnb in a local neighborhood. Ask your host where to go and what to do. I have met so many cool people, received so many great recommendations, and saved so much money using AirBnb. I prefer to use super hosts, and I read reviews. Beware of places where every review is a perfect review. I mean, think about it, people are assholes and find anything to bitch about. Every place cannot be perfect every time. Eventually someone is going to complain about an ant on the counter or a hair in the shower. If absolutely no one criticized anything in 256 reviews, it’s probably bullshit (personal experience from a single freaky experience in Houston, but that is for another post). The AirBnbs in Costa Rica were very inexpensive, and the cleanest places I have ever stayed. Keep in mind that the location is tropical, and homes are built differently than places here in the US. So if you see a giant bug, this isn’t the end of the world, it is just life in that climate. Get rid of the bug and enjoy your stay!

Go hiking. I can’t stay this enough, because the hiking in fantastic. I hiked in every location I went to, and not one of them was a bad hike. Some were more spectacular than others, but all of them were great. I’ll go into more location detail in a later post. I wore my Keen sport sandals with the closed toes for pretty much all of my hikes and they were the best things ever. I went during rainy season, so many of my hikes were wet and muddy. My Keens dry so much faster than hiking or running shoes, and I easily washed the mud out of them after my hikes. They aren’t high fashion, but they work great.

Bring tech fabric everything. Seriously, rainy season is rainy. And when it wasn’t raining, it was hot and humid. I only brought a couple of outfits that were not tech fabric, and I should have just left them home. Tech fabrics are easy to wash out in a sink, and they dry faster both on and off you. The moisture wicking is important when you are sweating off the body weight of your first born while hiking in the heat. And there are great layering options in tech fabrics. If you really want to be pretty when you go out once or twice, go ahead, bring a dress. But just so you know, dresses come in tech fabrics too! Personally, I hiked enough almost every day that I was too tired to be fancy when I went out for dinner, and most of the local places I went to eat were very casual.

Rainy season is great too. Yep, I got rained on a lot while I was hiking. The wet roads slowed the driving down a bit. But it was also sunny a good part of every day. The rain forest and the cloud forest had an almost mystical feel that made the hiking even better. There were a few things I did not get to experience because of the weather, but overall, I thought visiting during rainy season was beautiful. And it was cheaper! Next time I will probably go during a more dry time of year just to see the difference, but I have no regrets about being rained on in Costa Rica.

In one of my next few posts, I will give you a list of the places I went, and what I thought of them. My plan is to post every Monday, which is a little ironic considering this entire blog is based on a change of no plans, but that’s my goal. The blogger community says that is the best way to do it, so I will try. Then again I never really have been very good at following good advice. You can also follow my blog to be notified of new entries when I post them.

Welcome to changeofnoplans

Who I am

My name is Eryn. I live in Florida, and work as an emergency room nurse. I grew up in rural northern Michigan, and during my junior year of high school, I did what everyone thought I was crazy for doing, and went to Norway on an exchange year. That year abroad shaped me in more ways than I imagined possible, and instilled in me a need for travel, for experiencing other cultures, and for meeting people different from myself.

I took a long hiatus from significant travel when I had kids in my early twenties. My kids have now grown up and moved on to their own life adventures, which has left me the time to set out on more adventures of my own. I have fully embraced my independence as an empty nester, and have decided to leave the nest as often as possible to fulfill my ever present need for exploration and adventure.

How changeofnoplans started

I finished my masters degree, and as a graduation present to myself, went on a solo trip to Costa Rica. As I was driving around the country and hiking through national parks, I had plenty of alone time to think about the current status of my life, and about my future. While hiking at Arenal Volcano National Park, I had the fleeting thought of blogging.

I’m not sure why, but my numerous failures and foibles, my generalized ridiculousness, and my honesty about all of it, are entertaining to others. For years, friends and family have told me I should write a book. Anyone who knows me, however, knows that my attention span and commitment to things (or lack thereof) doesn’t allow for writing and publishing a book. And again the idea of blogging crept into my head, and suddenly seemed like a more achievable goal than writing a book…and less of a terrifying commitment.

On my third day in Costa Rica, I was driving from La Fortuna to my next destination of Bijagua, and I stopped in the town of Nuevo Arenal for gas and a bite to eat. I had been hiking all day in the rain, and driving for a while in even heavier rain. I was wet and hungry, and I just wasn’t feeling the drive to Bijagua anymore. I ordered a glass of sangria, and thought, “change of no plans, I’m staying in this town,” and suddenly it hit me. Change of no plans…it’s the way I live my life, it’s the way most of my life has went, it’s the way I like to vacation…and it’s the perfect name for my blog.

About changeofnoplans

The intention of the changeofnoplans blog is to discuss travel, in the way that I enjoy traveling. There will be an emphasis on being a solo female traveler, as that can present a host of unique challenges. As the name of the blog denotes, I am not big on planning, so travel tips on how to “wing it” will be plentiful.

This is my first attempt at blogging, and like my mind, I am sure it will be full of rabbit holes of ridiculousness that you must embrace your inner ADHD monster to follow. There are already a host of non-travel related topics swirling around in my overly active mind. Hang on, bear with me, throw your hands up in the air (because keeping your hands inside at all times is just too limiting), and enjoy the ride!