Learn at least 3 new Classical pieces on the piano. (0/3)
Work on learning at least 3 of the modes. (0/3)
Listen to 5 classical pieces. (0/5)
Earn at least 20 CMTE’s (continuing education). (0/20)
Write at least 3 new original songs. (0/3)
Complete at least 6 training programs (1/6)
Home and Organization:
Finish staining the deck.
Wash windows and glass doors in the house.
8 areas to organize (1/8)
Game nights once a month (3/12)
Make a home video
Provide at least 3 meals at the Ronald McDonald house. (1/3)
Volunteer at the soup kitchen at least once
Eat at at least 8 new restaurants. (2/8)
Make at least 6 new international meals. (0/6)
As you can see, I’m really behind…It’s been awhile since I’ve been this unmotivated to work on any of my goals. The beginning of 2018 has not been great for me, but I’m hoping that the weather breaks soon and helps me move into better days…I have been focusing on doing more for myself and I have started working on my music more and this has helped some. Hopefully things turn around soon!
Yep. You read that right. The title of this post is “Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Use a Travel Agent.” Being a travel agent, I believe that most people can benefit from using a travel agent when planning a trip. That being said, there are times when not using a travel agent is worth considering.
If you don’t plan on actually booking with a travel agent, please don’t waste her time. As much as I love to book trips for people, I am almost always upset when I spend hours planning a trip for someone and that person books the exact same thing themselves. We aren’t paid to do research on a location only for that person to go out and book it themselves. I personally understand why someone would book a trip on their own if they are saving a significant amount of money, and that’s why I don’t usually mind to price check something for someone if it’s something I can do quickly, but if you are going to book on your own regardless, please don’t waste someone else’s time.
If you are working with a travel agent already, it’s not a good idea to have another travel agent working on the same trip. This means that one of them is wasting their time. This kind of thing has happened to me before and it’s frustrating.
If you’ve already booked your trip and want to know things like the cheapest way to get around the city or how to get the best deal on a tour. It’s ok to ask if an agent knows something about a certain city. I personally am always happy to help out if I know the answer to something, but I don’t feel like it’s my job to help someone figure out the cheapest way to get from one place to another when they haven’t let me book any part of their trip.
If you are already on a trip that you have booked on your own and something goes wrong, there is probably not much a travel agent can do. It is not a travel agent’s job to dig someone out of a hole somewhere (figuratively speaking, of course) if the agent didn’t book your trip. If there is a hurricane, I’m going to be spending my time figuring out how to get my paying clients on a flight off the island and there won’t be much I can do for someone who needs help figuring out flights that they’ve booked on their own. At this point, you are better off calling whoever you booked your trip through.
So when is it a good idea to use a travel agent?
…When you legitimately want good value for your money. Travel agents are typically pretty great at finding the best deal for the money you are willing to spend on travel and sometimes it is cheaper than someone could find on her own. We have different places we can search for the best value and we often have a network of other agents with which to consult about options. If you want to be sure to find the best match for you, consider booking your next trip with a travel agent.
A lot of people like to go to the beach for summer vacation, but there are lots of options for people who aren’t into the beach and want to stay in the US. Here are some options that are not too far from us here in the midwest!
Though there is a beach near Savannah, you could spend all your time in Savannah and not even miss the beach! Savannah has a lot of historic sites and you could spend hours just strolling through the historic district checking out gardens, mansions, and monuments from the Civil War era. Paula Deen’s restaurant is there and if you are into the supernatural, Savannah is said to be very haunted and has a lot of ghost walks and haunted tours for you to choose from. There are also some great pubs to check out in the evenings. Eric and I visited before we had kids and spent an entire week exploring the area…we loved it!
2. New York City
It’s not hard to find something to do in New York City. There are tons of sites to see, such as the Statue of Liberty, Times Square, Ground Zero, and Central Park. Or you can check out the different neighborhoods or take in a Broadway musical or a play. We haven’t personally been there yet but it’s on our list of places to see sooner rather than later!
3. New Orleans
I visited New Orleans over spring break one year in college. Like Savannah, it is known for its hauntings, but there are also many more options here. Take a cemetery tour, check out the French Quarter or the Garden District, or stroll down Bourbon Street in the evenings. And don’t forget a late night stop at Cafe du Monde for your beignets!
Gatlinburg can be a little cheesy on the strip, but try breakfast at one of the many pancake houses and check out the oddities at Ripley’s Believe It or Not. Then, spend a few days hiking in the Smoky Mountains. You can even rent cabins nearby if you want something other than a typical hotel room.
5. Washington, D.C.
The nation’s capital is a great educational experience, especially if you have kids old enough to understand what they are seeing. Lots of things to do here are free, including the Smithsonian museums. I highly recommend the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, but make sure you are emotionally prepared for it the day you go. I think it’s a must for everyone at least one in their lifetime, but it’s not for the faint of heart. If you want a break from D.C., you could spend a day in nearby Alexandria (Virginia) and check out the historic district for something a little different.
People are currently planning their summer vacations, and a common question I get has to do with where to go if you want to go to an all-inclusive, but you’re on a budget.
First, I want to say that all-inclusive resorts are the way to go if you want to relax, lay around, and not do much of anything. They are the ultimate haven for people just needing to get away from life for awhile. That being said, they are not all created equal. You do get what you pay for, but there are moderately-priced resort brands worth checking out if your budget has a limit.
All-inclusive resorts are generally found in the Caribbean. Contrary to popular belief, there are no true all-inclusive resorts in the United States. You do have to leave the country to get to what you are imagining when you are thinking of all-inclusive resorts. Many islands offer these kinds of resorts, including the Cayman Islands, the Bahamas, St. Lucia, Aruba, and Antigua. However, the main three that are the most cost-effective and easiest to get to are Jamaica, Mexico, and the Dominican Republic. (For the record, I do know that Mexico is not an island, but they do have some great all-inclusive resorts!)
So how do you know which one to visit? Here are some ideas to get you started…
Parts of Mexico do not have the best options for beaches. Some tend to have a lot of seaweed and rocks that impede the view, but there are some stretches of beach that are really beautiful, so be sure you know what to expect if you go.
Mexico is probably the most cost-effective and there are resorts both near and far from the airport, so you have a lot of options.
As far as sightseeing, Mexico has a lot of adventure parks (think Xcaret), snorkeling opportunities (Cozumel is supposed to be wonderful!), and lots of options to see amazing ruins like Chichen Itza and Tulum.
Jamaica has a special place in my heart, as it is where we spent our honeymoon. We visited for our 5th anniversary and then again over our 11th anniversary. The main area for resorts are Montego Bay (which is where most people would fly into), Negril, Ocho Rios, and the South Coast if you are staying at Sandals South Coast. Negril, Ocho Rios, and South Coast are approximately 90 minutes from the airport.
Those sound like long transfers, but they are worth it! Negril is known for it’s beautiful beaches and Sandals South Coast has a long beach that is not in the middle of town, so only guests from the resort are hanging out there.
I was recently in Montego Bay. We stayed at Secrets St. James, and while the beach there was small, they utilized the beach area they did have and there were some really beautiful spots to relax.
Excursions include Bob Marley sites, hikes and trips into the mountains, and Dunn’s River Falls in Ocho Rios. There is also the bio-luminescent bay near Montego Bay
Punta Cana has some beautiful beaches. Many water excursions are offered, such as snorkeling and swimming with dolphins. The food isn’t as great as resorts in other Caribbean countries, but there are some very affordable options in the Dominican Republic. We spent 7 glorious nights there a year and a half ago, and we were perfectly happy to just lay on the beach, drink in hand.
Another perk of Punta Cana is that there are several options near the airport, so you don’t have to wait long to start your vacation!
If you are still planning your summer vacation and would like some help, make sure to contact me!
Most people have very self-explanatory careers, but my career in music therapy is not one of them. We celebrated World Music Therapy Day last week, so I thought I would write a short post about what it is I do, as it is one of the things in my life that I am most passionate about.
I find that people fall into one of the following categories:
1. They have never heard of music therapy and never even knew it was a “real” career.
2. They have heard of it and think they know what it is, but really don’t, and trying to convince them otherwise is like taking candy from a baby.
3. They think I am still in school (because this couldn’t possibly be a career) or that I volunteer my time (because, again, this couldn’t possibly be a career).
4. They actually know what music therapy is and how it works and they are actually correct in their thinking. (This doesn’t happen very often in my experience!)
One of the most common questions I get is “What is music therapy?” It’s actually a loaded question, because music therapy is so broad and there are so many populations we work with and settings in which we work. Someday, maybe I will write another post explaining exactly what it is I do, but for now, I thought I would tell you what music therapy is NOT.
1. Music therapy is NOT entertainment.
2. Music therapy is NOT just for musicians.
3. Music therapy is NOT a music activity facilitated by a volunteer.
4. Music therapy is NOT an opportunity for clients/consumers/patients to perform.
5. Music therapy is NOT about performance or the finished product.
6. Music therapy is NOT the same as music education. The person receiving music therapy may learn about music but that is not the primary goal.
7. Music therapy is NOT facilitated by just anyone with a musical background.
Stay tuned to find out more about what music therapy actually is!
I’ve mentioned it before, but this time of year is really hard for me. For whatever reason, this particular year has been even moreso. I don’t know exactly why that is. I’m sure part of it has to do with the fact that we missed our wellness weekend we had planned for January, and I am convinced that in previous years, this is what has kept all the negativity at bay for me. But it is what it is.
About a month ago, I heard about a song that is so relevant to me this time of year, as I’m sure it will be to many of you. Save Myself by Ed Sheeran is worth listening to at least once. It is a reminder to me that sometimes I do need to step back and think about my needs instead of putting everyone else first all the time. Being a mother, this is difficult, and of course, we cannot always take a break from our duties as mothers, but it is so important that we find a way to make some time to take care of ourselves.
It seems so easy at the time to cope in ways that are unhealthy; so many people turn to drugs or alcohol to try to help themselves deal with things. Or sometimes we don’t deal with them at all. Instead, we shove our feelings into a bottle or under a rug, thinking if we hide them they will go away. Unfortunately, they don’t go away and eventually they will resurface and we will still have to deal with them.
I know it is so hard to do…this making time for ourselves. But we are worth it.
1. I want to book an all-inclusive resort in the United States.
For whatever reason, there are no true all-inclusive resorts in the United States. At least, not the kind most people think of. If you want an all-inclusive, you need to look in the Caribbean, like Jamaica, Mexico, Punta Cana, etc.
2. I don’t need travel insurance.
Travel insurance is certainly not a requirement, but you will wish you had purchased a policy if you end up getting sick out of the country or if you have to cancel because of an illness or death in the family and you lose all the money you spent on a trip because you can’t go.
3. Cruises are cheaper than resorts.
At first glance, cruises appear much cheaper than other vacation spots, but keep in mind that most of the prices you see do not include the port fees and taxes or the gratuities. Also, drink packages cost extra and are not cheap. In addition, if you want to do anything at the ports, the shore excursions cost extra. This is all before considering getting to the port as well, which will most likely include at least one hotel stay, if not more, if you live further away and choose to drive instead of fly. It’s not impossible to do a cruise inexpensively, but things can add up quickly!
4. I can get a better deal online.
You may be able to get a better price online, but you get what you pay for, and not all of them are legitimate. It is possible to get a good, legitimate deal online, but it does require some extra time and research to make sure you are getting what you are expecting. I have heard lots of stories about people who booked online, only to find that the hotel door didn’t lock or the room wasn’t clean. If a deal is too good to be true, then it probably is.
We have been to Europe 5 times and have traveled through numerous countries. In this series, I want to share our first impressions of the cities we have visited.
Tarifa is a small town on the southern tip of Spain. Most people probably haven’t heard of it, but it is a great place to stay if you want to visit Gibraltar and/or Tangier. There isn’t a lot to do there, compared to other Spanish cities, but it has a kind of “edge-of-the-world” feel to it, especially when you’re able to see the coast of Africa in the distance and the point at which the Atlantic and the Mediterranean meet.
There are a lot of cool restaurants there and they have some things worth seeing, like St. Matthew’s Church, as well as a beach, though it is really windy there. Actually, it is supposed to be the windsurfing capital of the world! The views in Tarifa are also pretty amazing!