Wanderlusting: Drop Dead Gorgeous Hotel Pools Around the World...

A quick google search will turn up lists everywhere touting the "top infinity pools", "the most luxurious pools", the "most exclusive pools", and even the most photogenic pools in the world. At the moment, I'm reading (perhaps the more appropriate phrasing is "ogling") Dream Pools: Enchnating Pools of Italy's Emerald Coast. And as you might imagine, it's making me rethink everything I'm doing with my life and pulling out my copy of Tim Ferriss's 4-Hour Work Week (essential reading, by the way). But for today we're just looking at a few stunning images of what I would label as some of the most beautiful hotel pools in the world. Of course, I'm packing my imaginary bag quickly. Won't you join me? 

WHAT TO PACK? ONLY THE ESSENTIALS





What's coming up next week? Book reviews. Three of them as well as a closer look at what I'm crushing on right now. In the meantime, have a great weekend and get out here and LIVE. 

Wanderlusting: Daydreaming of Parisian Cafe Life...

May your day be colorful, serene & filled with luxuriously sweet surprises.

{photo credits 1 // 2 // 3 // 4 // 5 // 6 }

SHOP THE PARISIAN VIBE




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Wanderlusting: Puerto Rican Cravings on a Cold December Day...

It was bound to happen. Cold weather was going to descend upon Texas sooner or later. Cloudy days, frigid temps and long dark nights are taking their toll on my otherwise cheery mood. The solution? Plotting and planning an exotic getaway. Today's online exploration takes me to not-so-far-flung Puerto Rico. Swaying palms, sandy beaches, fresh cuisine and no passport necessary. It's hitting all the high notes for me and I'm already imagining myself enjoying surfside yoga by morning and long dips in the pool by moonlight.

Wile my husband shows no signs of cabin fever or wanderlust, I suffer greatly from both. Constantly. Thus the need for today's virtual vacation to the sandy beaches of this island paradise. The Ritz-Carlton is a safe bet when venturing to new destinations, and this one in San Juan looks like a seaside paradise as I write this on a chilly Dallas morning. Ready to pack a virtual bag with me? Let's go... 

WHAT'S IN MY VIRTUAL CARRY-ON



{images via KiwiCollection & JetSetter}

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Wanderlusting: West Coast is the Best Coast...

Normally my wanderlusting posts are reserved for exotic locales and destinations that require a passport. But right now I'm in a Laguna Beach state of mind and have my sights set on a West Coast escape that meanders up the picturesque coast. Those of you who've stood on the craggy rocks in La Jolla or seen the to-die-for vistas from Geoffrey's in Malibu know what I mean. Cali has the lock on natural beauty and the power of the Pacific. 

So, where to stay? I do love luxe hotels, so it's no surprise I'm loving Pelican Hill and a handful of other comparably impressive resort-style accommodations. Also, the girls will be in tow, meaning a family-friendly stay is a must. L'Auberge Del Mar is always my go-to stop in Del Mar. But as we head up the coast to Malibu I realize I've stayed with friends there, not in hotels. So those airbnb and home away spots start standing out. Choices, choices. 

The best part of this type of trip? Every roadtripping on Highway 1, the most dreamy of "woah, look at that!" drives. So hearing my own thoughts echoed from the back seat of a sweet rental is going to be well worth the airfare from Dallas . 

Now... what to do? Well, that's a matter of preference. For me it's all about getting outside and soaking in the view and the sunshine. Golf is a huge draw for the men, for the girls...? We love ti all. Spa days, chilling in a cabana and of course,  plunging your toes in the sand as the sun sets. Few things compare to strolling the local scene and window shopping between iced coffees and fresh food on gorgeous restaurant patios. 

So... you can expect to see a few more posts as I plan this mid-summer getaway to the Golden State. In the meantime, let's pack our imaginary bags... shall we? 

WEST COAST STYLE = BEST COAST STYLE




The mood? Totally low key. Effortless. Comfortable. An off the shoulder dress here, some espadrilles there. Add a hint of gloss, a light misting of sunblock, a shimmery bronzer and pop on your hat. Boom. Outfit done. 

West coast may catch flack for being casual, but in summer I see no reason to deny them that right. Frankly, I think we've all adopted a more laid back approach to fashion in recent years. SoCal natives have simply been ahead of the curve. 

So... where are you going this summer? 

Wanderlusting: Why the Best Time to Go is Now...

Let's face it: you're not getting any younger and they still haven't invented a way to stop time. Both are disappointing to say the least. What isn't a let down, however, is this amazing spinning ball we live on. It. Is. Amazing. There are islands to be visited, galleries to be discovered, infinity pools to be enjoyed and culinary-meets-cultural experiences to be had all over it's watery surface. 

Your job - scratch that - our job is to go exploring and enjoy every bit of this incredible planet while we're here. Yes, I actually believe it's something we should all feel compelled to do. For me (and others like me) the desire to travel is like an unquenchable thirst. A thirst so dire and palpable that there is only one cure: to go. 

Before you go raising objections, let's get this on the table: it needn't be wildly expensive to go to Mozambique, Morocco or Monte Carlo. Take for example Matt Knepes. He's carved out a niche for himself via his popular How to Travel the World on $50 a Day and the accompanying Nomadic Matt Travel Site.

What makes this budget travel guru unique is that instead of telling you to hoof it and find a hostel, he'll reveal how to use the established travel system to land yourself squarely in a posh hotel for a veritable bargain. Hint: you'll want to leverage sites like Airbnb and consider the art of house sitting to snag a chic abode while enjoying a city or location. While he does offer insights for solo travelers (those for whom hostels might be appealing), he dives in to seek solutions for families, couples and passport-wielding females.

What you spend in time learning a few insider tips you'll surely save in dollars (or Euros, as it were) once you take the plunge. 

Another modern travel pioneer is Scott Keyes. Scott, 28, gained notoriety for leveraging the art of gaming the airline industry and maximizing those miles programs. How savvy is he, you ask? He has flown to Milan for $130, gone to the Galapagos Islands for $45, and visited Norway and Belgium for around $350 instead of the typical $1,000.

Thanks to mastering the ins-and-outs of numerous loyalty programs, he's been to 30 countries — this next trip will make that count 42 — and flown 354,000 miles or roughly 14.3 times around the earth. Why do we love him? Because he wants to share this information with all of us via his e-books and widely publicized tips. I've bookmarked his story (link above), and I suggest do too. Guy has figured out "the art of the spend" using his 25 credit cards. Note: he is NOT racking up debt and has actually improved his credit throughout this incredible process. 

Taken one step further: San Francisco-based Jay Meistrich did the math (I mean that quite literally) and realized it was actually far more affordable to live elsewhere while he developed and launched his startup business. The Silicon Valley tech entrepreneur gave away everything I owned, and moved into a 40 liter backpack. He traveled to 45 cities in 20 countries, 3 Disneylands, and 1 "bunny island" all while working 50 hours a week building and launching his startup. His total costs were less than just the rent in San Francisco. Granted, he has no family, but there are many lessons to be learned from his travel-thirsty exercise. I have several times proposed this concept to my husband and once (oh, once) I had him almost convinced it was possible for us. Alas, he does not suffer from wanderlust at all and perceives viewing the world as "nice, but not necessary" to a fulfilling and healthy life. Yes, I cry a little inside every time I read these inspiring tales of those possessing globetrotting bravery that flies in the face of convention. Can you tell? 

Need more motivation to get up and go? Travel+Leisure offers 40 excellent reasons to drop that nasty Facebook habit and start staring at the sunset in a new destination. There are cobblestone streets to be walked, windows to be shopped, lobbies to be lingered in, rooftop bars to be enjoyed, horizons to be seen, balconies to be discovered, people to be met, winding roads to be driven,languages to learn and museums to go see. GO DO THOSE THINGS.

May we all live long, bold lives that allow us to explore all that we thirst to discover. 

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Wanderlusting: Every Voyage Begins with a Single Step...

I've been reading a lot more lately. Not books... but blogs, forums and lengthy facebook posts exploring the motivations of blogs, bloggers and online publications in general. After reading through old conversation threads and participating in new ones I found myself doing a bit of soul searching. Why on earth do I blog? What are my motivations? 

Frankly, I do it because I enjoy it. I do it to sort out and explore my thoughts, to document and share my personal journey, to push myself to grow, to remind myself to pull my head out of the sand and TRAVEL. To perhaps maybe inspire others to stop settling. I do it because I feel deeply compelled to put this content out there - for me and for perhaps that small handful of people who enjoy a swift kick in the motivational booty now and then. I do it to inspire both you and myself. 

The most beautiful aspect, however is the interaction and connection with people. Over the years I've built great relationships on and offline with so many of you. It's the bright upside to blogging (and Twitter, Facebook & Instagram). It's the relationships that grow that make it so fun. When they morph into real life girlfriends it's so much sweeter. 

My weakness as a blogger is this: I don't carve out much time to study blogs. I do love reading posts via facebook when the title or the author catches my eye (Erin's captivating content always woos me), but by and large I'm authoring what I hope is original content inspired by my present life, my present interests and my present outlook. 

The motivation: to express what inspires me and to perhaps inspire and connect with you. 

In life it's a poor idea to compare yourself to others.  I hope you feel the same internal cravings for personal achievement and realizing your personal best that I do. The desire to develop ourselves, to bloom into our individual personal best versions of ourself is, I hope, a universal crazing. If a post or a series of posts can spark something in you and encourage you to raise your personal standards or goals so that you can reach your highest personal potential... that's beautiful. 

So I hope you enjoy reading simply because you enjoy reading and connecting. If I inspire you to buy the ticket, take the ride and escape any negative lifestyle ruts then I'm thrilled. If a post is in any way a catalyst - even for myself - to shake things up and reach for the stars... this entire seven+ year process of blogging has been worth every moment. And it is. especially when you share your great selves with me. 

I urge you to explore magazines or pinterest to identify some far flung place you've never been but always dreamed of visiting. Does Paris call you? Cambodia? Thailand? Portugal? Some remote surfing destination on Australia's coast? Then it's time to go. Begin planning that trip. Begin ACTIVELY making plans to get there. First with a cursory look at things to do and then with a more specific plan of where you'd like to stay and your ideal activity list once there. Buy the ticket. Take the ride. Make it happen. Life is fleeting, and you'll regret not going. 

So tell me... where do you want to go this year? What do you hope to achieve during this year? Will you visit Sicily and start your business? Will you finally enroll in that art program you've been considering? Will you finally open yourself to truly loving someone? Will you bravely begin your journey towards healthy living? I hope to see you GO and GROW this year. I hope we all decide to be bold and take that first magical step towards our best and brightest future. 

Thank you for reading. Thank you for emailing. Thank you for simply being you. I appreciate it so much! 

Wanderlusting: I Still Dream of Venice...

I miss Venice. I miss it a lot. It was my very first overseas destination and it was so beyond the realm of my comprehension that I could not quite grasp its awesomeness (in the truest sense of the word) until I had left its watery environment. Venice is a one-of-a-kind city that you will carry with you for the rest of your days. It is enchanting, it is magical, it is mysterious and it is undeniably romantic. 

We stayed right on the grand canal and our room was everything you could hope a Venetian room would be. The walls were lined in silk brocade that matched the heavy drapery panels. The furniture in our suite was ornate, gilt embellished and gorgeous. Our windows had these amazing shutters that flung open to reveal the bustling water taxis and passers by just outside. Adding even more of a thrill, our shower ALSO had a very large window overlooking the canal. Hello, Italia! 

We enjoyed that sweet city for three or four delicious days. Stopping to see the "must-sees" along the way (St. Marks, The Rialto Bridge and others) we still had time to enjoy getting lost and finding our way in the network of narrow passages. I can honestly still remember it like it was yesterday, and often in fall my mind wanders back the constant sound of water lapping against the building foundations. 

Never mind that the whole of the city stopped for an interminably long siesta every day. It gave us time to discover new areas and old churches and all but ignored frescoes on chapel ceilings. It gave us the opportunity to sip espresso overlooking the Palazzo. It provided the time to find ourselves in this enchanting European gem.

If there's one place I can't wait to go again - especially to have my little girls marvel at its uniqueness - it is Venice. It is one of the few destinations I can think of that cannot be overhyped or accurately described. Regardless of how grandly I describe it you will still be filled with marvel and awe when you stand over the waterways looking at the melange of architecture, history and busy city life. It is absolutely unique.

When you do go (assuming you have not already been smitten by the life-changing experience that is Venice), go with an open mind, and empty schedule and someone special. You will not want to miss a single moment of the experience and you'll want someone to share in the journey. I promise, long after you've sailed away it will still feel as though those hazy few days must have been a dream. Almost too good to be true. 

Expect a few Venice posts to follow this one. I can't quite shake the place from my mind and can't wait to share more pix of where we stayed and where I would love to stay when we return!

Wanderlusting: Don't Wait...

I have a series of wonderful travel posts coming up. Places I have been will be highlighted, places I can't wait to visit will be showcased. I love, love, love travel. This marvelous marble we are on is - to me - complete proof that we have a God who loves us. Just look at this place? Teeming with rolling hills, blue skies, thrilling seas and more flowers and wildlife than any of us could have dreamed into existence. 

You always think you'll have "more time" and that you'll go "someday"... but one look at life and those around you confirms otherwise. In the words of the wise Anthony Robbins, "When would now be a good time?"

Don't wait. 

{images via}

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Wanderlusting: Explore...

For some reason I've become poignantly aware of those with what can only be described as tired souls. These are genuinely good people who seem to be enduring their days rather than living them. We have all been guilty of this crime at some point or another. It is permissible as a momentary mood, but not as an ongoing mindset.

Have you looked around? Have you seen this amazing planet we are on? Have you been to every remote corner? Sped down a narrow passageway on a Vespa? Gazed adoringly at Pietà and wondered silently how Michelangelo could have extracted this masterpiece from a single piece of marble? Have you kissed someone on the observation deck at the Eiffel? Have you breathed in the wet air in the rainforest and listened to the cacophony of sounds by the living things around you?

Wake up, people. Your role her is not to sit at a desk and work. Your opportunity is to embrace life... to go, to do, to love, to laugh, to experience, to delight your senses, to experience joy. To LIVE your life. If you need give your soul a good shake by the shoulders, may this humble post be your motivation. Life is whipping by at an astonishing speed. If you keep telling yourself "someday" you'll do this and that, you are deluding yourself. Someday is today.

There are camels waiting to be ridden, temples awaiting your visit, art you need to experience, architecture begging for admiration, sunrises to be seen, people to meet and faraway places to explore. Stop wasting your days. Write down the desires of your heart and decide how to leverage your tools (time, money, wits, connections etc) to go. Just go. Go far. Go often. Just go.

Am I saying life doesn't get the better of you sometimes? Of course not. Challenges arise, obstacles block your path. But to stay in a limited mindset is an insult to your very being. We all have a special gift. Maybe you are a master at making the "mother sauces" so lauded by Le Cordon Bleu. Go cook! Venture out and learn to cook with masters. Save up so that you can give up your desk job and pursue a culinary career. Become a chef. Visit the Tuscan countryside and let an Italian grandmother share her most prized recipes.

The point is... lift yourself up and go do that very thing you've been wanting to do. Live. I dare you.

{via // via // via // via // via // via // via // via }

Wanderlusting: Follow Me...

Everything about this unusual art project is amazing. In case you have not seen the meme floating about on Facebook, Russian photographer Murad Osmann documents being led around the world by his girlfriend Nataly Zakharova in a series of fascinating images. I believe the reason we connect with the photos is that we each fall into one of these roles on a trip... the enthusiastic leader or the one being (un)willingly pulled along. I'm certainly guilty of tugging at Mr. Venti's arm and ushering him on to the next great thing ahead both on a jetsetting journey and off.

And can we all share a moment for her attention to detail on the manicures? Each closeup of her nail art is more impressive than the next. By comparison, her rear view has been given a welcome upgrade since the first installment of photographs. Here her sartorial fabulousness, yoga-toned frame and chameleon-like transformation in relation to the locale wows us in every frame. Open-back dresses, embellished gold jeans and beaded gowns delight the eyes. And, oh yes, the famous sights and scenery are spectacular as well. 

As you might imagine, I would love to create a series of photos like this. Wouldn't we all? It seems so. The globetrotting duo has sparked a desire in all of us to see the world and document the journey in like-minded photos. You can follow the movement here, but be sure to see the first installment to get a sense of the duo's progression. This simple concept is lovely indeed, both for us as spectators and for the romantic couple as a visual trail of their adventures.

So I ask you... as you move through life, do you envision yourself as the leader or the one being led? When you see these images, which role do you instantly relate to? I believe the knee-jerk response tells us everything.

I see these strong photographs and giggle inside, as I am without a doubt the long-haired girl, pulling along everyone who will come on my life journey with me. Some let go as soon as they have the opportunity out of fear of being thrilled and delighted by life, perhaps the sun shining on their face is too bright for them. Or perhaps their life journey is leading them eslewhere. Others along the way cling to my hand as though their very existence depended upon it... hoping energy and enthusiasm rub off on them.  

The most enjoyable companions are the ones who gaily skip beside you, bounding from one great life spectacle to the next. These special souls are our very closest friends, our lovers, the key players in our life with whom we are equally yoked. When you find these special individuals, skip along side them and cherish each moment. They are special and to be celebrated and enjoyed. 

Which type are you? Which kind of individual would you like to be? It's never, ever too late to decide to be more bold or more adventurous. Decide today to forge a path that others want to follow. And don't ever, ever look back.