ANNOUNCEMENT: TRAVEL PLANS FOR REMAINDER OF 2017

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Everyone who knows me can shout to the rafters that I love to travel, and they would also say that I love to travel internationally, in particular.

However, 2017 holds a combination of domestic and international excursions. In the earlier part of this year, I had the pleasure of visiting Atlanta (hadn’t been there since 1984) and San Francisco/Berkeley, California.  These were exciting trips that allowed me to spend time with family and old friends.

I am equally excited about my upcoming trips that will occur  September through November 2017. They are:

  1.     Seattle, Washington (visiting family and friends)
  2.     Reykjavik, Iceland (home of the Blue Lagoon)
  3.     Sydney, Australia (1st trip was in 2015)

Stay tuned for additional details, chronicles of these visits and loads of pics.

Where are you traveling next?

I’M BACK!

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Well after a brief hiatus from writing weekly blog posts, I am back and ready to write, again!

I wish I could say that I’ve been veging out and staring off into space, but that’s not the case.  I’ve been busy — very busy, and as organized as I am, I can only juggle so many balls at one time.

It’s not easy holding down a full time job (a demanding job, I might add), building a thriving entrepreneurial venture, traveling, planning outings and excursions  maintaining commitments with friends and family and trying to get some relaxation time in so that I have enough steam to keep going.

So to get back into the swing of blogging again, I am keeping it simple — I am posting this wonderful pic of me, along with my wonderful cousins during our trip to Atlanta.  The occasion was a fun filled “Cousins Weekend.”

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Eight of us descended on our Atlanta based cousin and her husband to visit the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, take in the movie “Hidden Figures, sing along with Roy Ayers at The City Winery, grab some delicious meals at various restaurants and even worship at a Spirit-filled church.

It was the type of weekend everyone owes themselves.

Thanks for sticking with me; I’m glad to back in the Blogosphere!

THINGS I CANNOT TRAVEL WITHOUT!!

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In this three part travel series, we have looked at some ways to identify budget airfares, and we’ve looked at a cadre of economical accommodation choices.

In the last of this series, I want to share some things that I just can’t and will not travel without. These items provide great comfort to me while traveling, and when I’m packing I get a kick out of including them in my suitcase and knowing that I am going to feel secure with them while I’m on the road.  So here goes!

A GREAT PAIR OF WALKING SHOES!

You will never catch me without my Riekers. This shoe is heaven against concrete. They are stylish, come in a variety of colors, and they seem to match any outfit (minus ones that need heels). I purchased my first pair in 2015 when I visited 11 cities in France. Two months afterwards, they remained glued to my feet while trekking through Sydney, Australia.

They aren’t cheap, but I have learned that if I’m going to put out good money on anything, it might as well be on a solid pair of shoes — Riekers it is!

A SET OF PACKING CUBES

This is another travel goodie that I can’t be without. Coming in a multitude of colors (I have the lime green set), this nugget makes packing not only convenient, but fun also!  I have a a set of three — one cube accommodates my underwear, socks, pantyhose and pajamas; another cube accommodates all of my tops and blouses; and one that I can use for all of my bottoms.

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I’m even able to squeeze in a toletries bag. Life is easy on the road with these babies!  Once I get to my hotel or Airbnb, I just place the three cubes in the drawers and pull out what I need daily.  My cubes are manufactured by ebags.

TRAVEL BLANKET

Talk about comfort — my Flight 001 Travel Blanket is perfect for when I get a bit chilly on the airplane or on a tour coach. It feels wonderful — its lightweightness is perfect, and it comes in its own pouch for easy transport.

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IPOD AND SONY HEADPHONES

I have loaded my iPod with a variety of jazz, classical and r&b — anything from Nina Simone and Ella Fitzgerald to Alicia Keys!

Additionally, when I use my Sony headphones to listen to the wonderful array of music, I experience a quality of sound like no other. They make especially long flights (like my flight to Sydney, Australia in 2015) most enjoyable.

TRAVELON CROSS-BODY BAGS WITH RFID-BLOCKING CARD AND PASSPORT SLOTS

Now THIS is the piece de resistance! I am able to carry a bottle of water, my wallet, tissue, writing pen and throat lozenges. There is a slot for my passport, and there is even room for my Samsung smartphone.

LUGGAGE SCALE

My Digital Luggage Scale comes in handy and keeps me from paying over the top luggage fees.  My scale is a life saver, and both American Weigh and Samsonite have nice ones!

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CANON EOS REBEL T5 DSLR CAMERA

During my many years of traveling, I have used a point and shoot camera or my Smartphone’s camera.  I have been pleased with how my pics have turned out, and others have commented on what nice pics I take.  This past fall, I enrolled in a photography course that taught me just how much more I could do with a professional  camera, so I invested in  Canon EOS Rebel T5 digital camera!

Although I have been taking photos galore, my trip to Australia in 2017 will be my first trip where I will use my DSLR.  I can’t wait to share the outcomes with you!

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SAMSONITE STRYDE HARDSIDE GLIDER LONG JOURNEY (WISHLIST ITEM)

I don’t own one yet, but I promise you — I’m going to get this one! It’s roomy and perfect for housing packing cubes while still leaving enough room to pack other items.  It spins nicely and will glide alongside you as you walk.

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It also comes in a medium and carry on size.

Needless to say, I am inseparable from my iPad, which also allows me to read a book that I’ve downloaded through my Kindle App.

These are just small samplings of what makes me happy on the road.  What travel comforts can’t you live without?  I’d love to hear from you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

RECAP OF QUARTERLY ACTIVITIES — THIS I DO FOR ME

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Since my last quarterly recap, I have been ultra busy.

Here’s what I’ve been doing:

THEATER, PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT, TRAVEL, OUTINGS, BOOK LAUNCHES AND BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT, Oh My!

  •  I and a group of friends took in “Leavings,” an   outstanding theater production written by playwright Gail Parrish!  This is one of those works that have you immersed in deep thinking long after you’ve seen it;
  • Attended Chicago’s Steppenwolf the play “Fundamentals.”  This work humorously examines the world of Upward Mobility for women;
  • I enrolled in a six week photography class offered by Blue 1647, a tech and business incubator program dedicated to increasing the number of tech savvy people of color; our instructor, Amber, quelled my fears and emphasized how important it is to let my personality come through my work. I now feel more confident, and I look forward to utilizing what I’ve learned.
  • After running a contest on Facebook where the winner had to guess my favorite American city, I and winner Twanda Gates, took a Helicopter Tour of downtown Chicago. The prize was sponsored by Mighty Mongoose, a company that specializes in curating exciting outings in big cities like Boston and Chicago.  Rotorzen Helicopter Tours was the operator;

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  • THIS…I…DO…FOR…ME (TIDFM) celebrated its first year anniversary in August 2015. It’s hard to believe that an entire year of fun and growth has gone by;
  • Artwork and graphic design were created for an imminent TIDFM T-shirt (to be unveiled in early 2017).  Also, a logo was created;
  • I announced TIDFM’s 2018 International Excursion to Athens, Santorini and Mykonos, Greece!

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  • I attended the book launch and release party for new author  Marilyn D. Willis’ book “Winning Through Early Detection and the Beauty Behind It.”  I am convinced that this book with save lives and inspire women to live their best lives despite a cancer diagnosis;

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  • Most excitingly, I created a group for over 200 age 50+ women. The goal of the group is to uplift, share successes and remind this age cohort that there is still plenty of beautiful life to live and EXPERIENCE!
  • I booked a January 2017 trip to beautiful Atlanta, Georgia. I will have the pleasure of spending The Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday weekend in King’s hometown with 10 cousins for our annual “Cousin’s Weekend!”

I am so excited about what is in store for TIDFM.  I look forward to continuing to share this journey with you.

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NOTE:  Do you have suggestions for a TIDFM outing or activity?     Please feel free to email me any ideas at robin@thisidoforme.com

TRAVEL TIPS SERIES: PART 2 — STRATEGIES FOR FINDING AFFORDABLE ACCOMMODATIONS

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NEW BLOG POST!

Now that you have some ideas about the various ways to travel to your destination via assistance from various airline/flight hacks, let’s explore the multitude of ways to secure affordable accommodations.

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I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to not to be tied in to staying in one type of accommodation. Here are a few:

  •  Airbnb, HomeAway,VRBO — as part of the “sharing” economy, these three peer-to-peer online home stay networks are wonderful ways to experience a destination as if you are at home.  They come in the form of private homes, condos and apartments — fully furnished! I have used both VRBO (Vacation Rental by Owner) and Airbnb in cities like New York City, San Francisco and Boston). They are even available for international destinations. I plan to rent one the next time I travel to Paris or London.  To secure, you merely have to check availablity, place a deposit for the dates you desire, and look forward to your adventure.   I find that I prefer these arrangements over hotels, not so much because I dislike hotels, but because I get to cook my own meals in a fully stocked kitchen, launder my clothing and relax in a homey environment.  They are equipped with towels, pots/pans, wifi, and modern appliances. There are a variety of price ranges depending on the pricing assigned by the owner.  I’ve stayed in high end ones, and I’ve stayed in ones that were more economical — all were class acts. Payments are made online. Please visit each entity’s website for more information.  Below are pics from an Airbnb in New York City.
  • Hostels — this arrangement is often more economical; here guests can rent a bed (dormitory style), share bathrooms, and there are usually common area lounges and kitchens.  Unlike hotels, hostel rates are incredibly lower than hotels, and in many you can find book and music sharing  programs. It’s very communal, and opportunities to meet, socialize and hang out with other hostelers is very prominent. If you are one for privacy, you won’t find it in a hostel. EVERTHING IS NOT FOR EVERBODY. I’ve done it once, and although I have met and maintained relationships with some great people from Malta, Sweden, Canada and England while staying at a hostel in Paris, I probably won’t do it again — only because I am past dormitory style living. However, if you are on a tight budget and don’t mind communal living and interaction, this arrangement is a viable one. Additionally, there are systems in place for securing valuable items.  Many even provide airport shuttle services, along with internet lounges and a means for booking city tours. Despite the age old stereotype that hostels are best suited for students, and nomadic types, there are high end hostels and ones that offer private rooms (albeit at an additional cost).  Be sure to check out Hostelworld.com  Below are pics of a hostel in Bangkok, Thailand.
  • Couchsurfing — I must admit that I have not experienced this one first hand. Every time I vow to try it, I chicken out! I can’t seem to muster up the courage to sleep on a total stranger’s couch.  However, a couple of friends have couched surfed, and they found it safe and convivial. Although a guest could conceivably stay on a host’s couch, private rooms in homes are often provided.  One of the most attractive features of Couchsurfing is that it is free; there is an annual membership fee, however. If you have a skill or talent or other interests, these can be shared, also, with your host.

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If you still prefer staying in a traditional hotel, I strongly suggest that you make arrangements through booking.com, a great site!  Whenever I have used this site, I have had pleasurable results.  For example, for an overnight layover in Dublin, Ireland, I booked a room through this website, and I landed a beautiful room in The Clayton Hotel (really luxurious) for a mere $79.00.  When I arrived — super exhausted, I might add, the hotel agent kindly informed me that the Clayton was providing me with an upgrade to a suite.  When I asked him how much it would cost, he gently replied “courtesy of us.”  Needless to say, I’m going back to Dublin soon, AND I’M STAYING AT THE CLAYTON!

CHECKOUT THESE WEBSITES:

airbnb.com, couchsurfing.org, hostelworld.com, homeaway.com, vrbo.com

NOTE:   Stay tuned for Part 3 of this series where I will talk about tips for “Traveling Comfortably.”

 

 

 

TRAVEL TIPS SERIES: PART 1 — Strategies on Finding Affordable Airfares!

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If you’re hell bent on traveling the world in the same old way each time you do it, these tips may not be helpful to you. What I’m sharing here is for the OPEN-MINDED traveler that is willing to explore different and unique approaches to travel.

Although I have experienced travel where I’ve stayed in top notch hotels, ate numerous gourmet meals and taken my share of spacations, I am equally at home in an AirBnB, where I can prepare my own meals and still have very nice amenities at my fingertips.

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What I would like to share with you over the course of several posts, are travel tips that allow you to travel economically thereby allowing you to maximize your dollars!

So let’s start in this post by examining a number of ways to secure deals on your flights.

I strongly feel that being flexible and not relying on one mode of securing flight arrangements, no matter how it has worked for you previously, opens you up to the best opportunity in the moment.  For example, I once found a round trip ticket to New York City for $150 USD inclusive of taxes and and all typical fees! How?  That time through a travel agent.  Ironically, that same trip was pricing out at $100 more not more than a month later.  The next time that I needed to book a trip to NYC, I searched for another travel arrangement through Travel Zoo.  Although the cost was more expensive than the $150 ticket I secured on that first example I spoke of, it was still less expensive than the instance that cost me an additional $100.  This time it cost me $177.00.

Another tactic in your air fare search arsenal is to keep your ears and eyes open on special and often unbelievable deals that the airlines offer.  For example, recently Southwest Airlines ran a 72 hour promotion for its shortest routes in the United States.  My cousin got her ticket for NYC to Atlanta for $104 round trip!  Although I purchased my ticket prior to Southwest’s special promotion, I was able to find a great deal for $222 by going directly to Delta’s website!

What about International flights? Well, I needed to get to Madrid back in June, and I found one hell of a deal from Chicago to Dublin to Madrid on Expedia for $893.72.  For this flight, I had a seven hour layover in Dublin (going to Madrid), and although I had a 17 hour layover in Dublin (on the return to Chicago), I had enough time to experience some of this fun Irish city! I met some great people, hung out on O’Connell Street had had a fantastic meal, along with  beer at a local pub — The Temple Bar!

This mini excursion gave me enough to know that I would like to return for a longer visit. I have never had a layover that long, but I made the most of it by not spending it in the airport.

Dublin has a wonderfully vibrant airport with over 200 businesses, eateries, chocolatiers, perfumeries and designer stores.

NOTE:  Literally two minutes ago, a notification from TRIP Advisor came up n my feed informing me of an airfare for $734 from Oakland to Madrid (as you have probably guessed, I love Madrid)!  Now that is a deal.

CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT FLIGHT RESOURCES

The following are search options that I have not only researched when looking for a good fight price, but these sites have produced for me some results at wonderful prices:

Fareness.com — Where should I go in April for the best flight destination?  This site offers a wide range of destinations and travel periods (e.g. check where to travel to from October to February) and receive immediate results highlighting the lowest air fares. Then you can build the rest of your vacation based what is most economical for you versus making that decision based on locale only;

Yapta.com — A very underutilized resource — tracks pricing for millions of flights worldwide allowing you (like Fareness.com) to first pick a travel spot, then creating your activities around that.

The Flightdeal.com — Targeting flights to cities that are six cents or less per mile — Chicago, Seattle, NYC, Baltimore, Philly, D.C., Portland, Boston, Los Angeles and San Francisco!

Airfarewatchdog.com — The airlines reduce airfares daily, but they don’t advertise them. This site notifies you of fare glitches and/or bargains.

Expedia.com — I have had really good success with this site.  If you don’t mind layovers (sometimes long ones), Expedia can become your best friend! You can find really good deals, and you can access by internet or telephone agents.

In summary, here are the things you must be willing to do to snag great deals:

  •     Search Often;
  •     Sign Up for Email Alerts;
  •     Use Twitter;
  •     Use Priceline for Last Minute Trips;
  •     Combine Two Separate Fares Versus Booking One Fare (can be cheaper)

To utilize my consulting services on economical trip planning, please contact me at robin@thisidoforme.com

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Wanna Join Me in Greece?!?!

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As you all know, I love to travel! So, I’m letting you in on a little secret today!

This…I…Do…For…Me is announcing its 2018 International Excursion (its back to Sydney, Australia in 2017) to Athens, Santorini and Mykonos!

The beautiful aspect of this adventure is that airfare is also included, making this one of the most affordable international offerings that you will come across.

There are only 14 slots available, and as I announced this dream vacation on my social media platforms today, five slots were immediately taken! Don’t think too hard — JUST GO!

If you are seriously interested in seeing stunning Greece, please contact me at 773/759-1374 for information on cost, payment plans and a detailed itinerary.

OPA!

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SOUL SOOTHING ACTION BY KEEPING THE HOMELESS WARM AND SECURE AND REPURPOSING THROUGH ART

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NEW BLOG POST

Below highlights how Musa Macenyane soothes her Soul by making hats and mats for the homeless.
For as long as I can remember, I have been a crafter. I was always looking for a new project, new craft or a new creation. In 2010 while working in corporate America, I began to look at waste and think “how can I create something from all of this waste?” I began to look at everyday items in a new way.  I began ‘repurposing’, creating creations from everyday items. I began making coasters from cardboard, bags from plastic grocery bags, and jewelry from various paper products. Utilizing my craftiness in a new way was exhilarating.

Then in the fall of 2015, I saw a news story about a lady who was feeding the homeless in Humbolt Park out of her own kitchen. I was amazed by this sister’s spirit of service. I reached out to Carol Boyd of Humble Heart and asked what I could do to help. She said whatever assistance I could provide would be greatly appreciated.

I knew I couldn’t feed the homeless three times a week like Carol did, but I could craft. So I started on my “Hats for the Homeless” project. Last winter, I made 35 hats and donated them to Carol to distribute while she was in the park feeding. Once I started, I couldn’t stop. I began using my crocheting plarn (plastic yarn) skills to create mats for the homeless to protect them from sleeping directly on the ground. In the spring of 2016, I, along with a group of Sistahs, who wanted to make an impact on the lives of others, organized a purse project to distribute hygiene products to our Sistahs affected by homelessness.

We filled over 40 purses with hygiene products, and Carol was able to distribute to the ladies on the street. Currently, I am again in the throes of the Hats for the Homeless project. This year, my goal is that with the help of my happy hookers (crocheters) and chicks with sticks (knitters) we can make 100 hats to donate to Humble Hearts.

I continue to craft and create gift items from repurposed materials, but serving others makes me tick. I enjoy utilizing my craftiness to serve others. Crafting to serve is what I do for me.

Musa is a social worker and dedicated and creative crafter. She is the owner of Chiseko Artistic Endeavors, a company dedicated to crafting through repurposing. 

THIS…I…DO…FOR…ME MONTHLY PHOTO CONTEST!

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So here we go!

This…I…Do…For…Me (TIDFM) wants YOU to submit a photo for its monthly “Photo of the Month” contest, and we will post the month’s selection on my blog http://www.thisidoforme.wordpress.com

 

Criteria:  The photo should highlight some form of caring for others, self-care or care of the environment.  Caring is the central theme!

After the twelfth month, we will select the photo of the year, and the winner will receive a $100.00 card from the contest’s sponsor!  Contest requirements will be shared later.

We at TIDFM are excited because the world needs more CARE and CARING, and you can show it how its done!  We look forward to receiving your photos

I’M NOT OLD –I’M JUST GETTING STARTED!

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NEW BLOG POST!

Let’s face it, once you reach age 50+, all types of beliefs and images crop up about the exciting part of our lives being over, dead, kaputz.  However, it is at this stage of my life that I, like so many other women at this point, feel more alive than ever!

I feel truly free to try new things without worrying about their outcome!  I can do something for the sheer enjoyment of it, and as soon as I scratch it off my list after completing it, I feel confident and emboldened to add to the list and sample something else!

My daringness extends even further!   Trying new recipes –Italian, Mexican, Thai and even Vegan!  Through cooking I get to expand my creativity and expand my horizons about other cultures, and when I actually get to travel to a country where the recipes emanates from, I am on cloud 9!

I’m also taking a photography class with a group of young women half my age — there are days where I walk away feeling empowered, and there are days when I ask myself during the class “why am I here?” or where I swallow a regular dose of “I’m too old to get this.” However, I put my big girl panties on and keep it moving.  I won’t give up, I tell you!

Over the past year, I’ve created a new business that serves women age 50+. This endeavor allows me to bring all that I’ve learned, experienced, seen and dreamed about to others to share.  I’m not focused on being perfect, but on perfectly expressing myself for my own fulfillment.

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I’m traveling more now than at any other stage of my life! Sometimes I think “you should have been doing all this whirlwind travel in your twenties and thirties!”  Then I take a deep breath and add more countries and cities to my list. I’m just getting reved up!  Croatia, Prague, Maldives and Tanzania– all places now on my list once I turned 50+!

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I now think with greater clarity; I express myself in a firm manner, and I feel at a much deeper level — all of this after I turned 50.

I am engaging in new things all of the time, and my excitement when planning new experiences is unparalleled.  I get extremely enthused when I think about all the new possibilities for my life.

I only hope that after reading this, you are also propelled to live your life OUT LOUD!