Service And Love

Every Memorial Day we focus on remembering those who have died in the service.  They are the men and women who fought valiantly on the battlefield to protect the freedom we hold dear, and the liberties we enjoy every day.  This time, like no other, it has been more poignant to me.   Maybe it is because there has been so much pain, suffering, and loss for the past year, that recently hearing the saddest story recounted of a fallen soldier, even though I did not know him, caused tears to well up in my eyes and roll down my cheeks.  This loss occurred some years ago but it is still being felt by loved ones and close friends, as it was related by a personal friend, who choked up as he told of their last encounter before deployment.  The mere lad, then 19 years old, would serve and ultimately die for his adopted country before reaching his 20th birthday.  

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” – John 15:13

I am also reminded of another person who gave His life willingly for mine. He knew there was no possibility of escaping the threat of death or of returning to His home without injury.  He had to die.   Driven by love, He selflessly laid down His life, and paid the price for all humanity.  He was young too, 33 ½ years old.  What amazing love and saving grace.  Because of love, He gave His life for mine.  

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” – John 3:16

Community Peeps, what pastime do you enjoy on Memorial Day?  Do you enjoy the parade, outdoors, bar-be-cue, cook-out, a day at the beach or park? Whatever you choose to do, remember the fallen – gone too soon. In my past travels, I have found unique ways to pay my respect. I have visited places like: Pearl Harbor, Vietnam, Arlington National Cemetery, statues, and other significant sites that honor their memory. If you have a unique way of showing your respect, tell us how by sharing in the box below. 

Readers, as usual, I invite you to click follow to receive timely updates, select like to show your love and support.  Share this post on your social media site.  Write your comment in the box below.  Your interest, time and attention are always appreciated.  Thank you for reading.

More times,

Itinerary Planner


Lessons From The Ashes Of Notre Dame

Nothing lasts for ever.  That uncompromising truth was evident as the world witnessed the burning of the famed and renowned Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France on Monday, April 15.  Watching the televised blaze engulf a national landmark, brought anguish, pain and disbelief to mind, feelings eerily familiar and reminiscent of the 911 blaze at the World Trade Center in New York City.  Personally, I have spent time in both places and my reaction to this tragedy is certainly warranted.  Saddened by the destruction, I too respectfully want to offer to the people of France my solidarity in their loss and look forward to the rebuild.

Reminiscing of my visit to the historic tourist attraction many years ago, I hope to share some lessons learned from the ashes of Notre Dame.  I hope they’ll be valuable to all trippers and teach others how to memorialize their adventures too.  However, let me recount my time at the cathedral.  The first encounter was on a group tour back in 1994.  That year we visited attractions in and around Paris which included popular places like the wine valley of Champagne, Palace of Versailles, Eiffel Tower, The Moulin Rouge, Louvre, Arc de Triomphe, and shopping at Les Galleries LaFayette to name just a few.  Back then I was enthralled by the culture, cuisine and haute couture fashions of France.

The Cathedral was magnificent.  Works of art, relics, carvings, and masterpieces helped to make the house of worship a museum in an of itself.  Without and within everything was old, dating back hundreds of years.  Even with the steady flow of tourists, the sanctuary was quiet.  Some were huddled in groups closely listening to their guides giving historical details in tones little above a whisper, while others sat reverently in the pews.  I remember taking a seat for a few minutes too.   As our guide took us on the outside of the cathedral, one of the main requests was to point out the gargoyle that helped to make the cathedral even more famous via the movie, “The Hunchback of Notre Dame.”  Everyone wanted to see the hunchback.

As I look at the devastation left behind by the fire which has consumed brick and mortar, and has ended a part of history, I am reminded to approach future sightseeing adventures with these thoughts:

  1. Strike the iron while it is hot – If traveling to a landmark building/site that is deemed hundreds, maybe thousands of years old, or that has some acclaim to fame, take the time to stop and visit. Seize the opportunity to view, peruse, inspect, handle if possible, and learn all about the attraction.  Sometimes, tourists pass up the chance, or are turned off by the high prices of entrance fees to these attractions, but after traveling great distances my recommendation always is – pay the price.  You will only do it once, and you’ll have a lasting memory.  Look, I can still recall my visit 25 years later (wow, time flies when you’re having fun 😀).
  2. Collect memorabilia – Scrap-booking is a good tool for ardent travelers. Grab a piece of history by taking as many photos as you possibly can.  Daily record every detail in your diary.  Build a memorial of your experience via scrap-booking to tell your story of the trip using: photos, receipts, brochures, maps, postcards, etc.  (I will share some of my photos of the tour in France in a future post).
  3. Old versus new – When old things are lost and replaced albeit by new and improved things, the thing that is lost makes the new experience never the same again. The plan to rebuild reminds me of the Biblical account of the temple of Solomon that was devastated.  The elders and priests who witnessed the rebuilding, and who were familiar with the first temple mourned when they saw the new temple.  The newer temple couldn’t compare to the magnificence of the former temple (read the account in the book of Ezra 3).  The promised five-year building plan already declares that the roof cannot be replicated due to lack of similar material.  Also, time will tell of any further damage to the priceless artifacts that escaped burning.

Surely, with all the monetary pledges for the restoration pouring in, the new and improved Notre Dame will more than likely be a state of the art, updated treasure in five years.  However, only those who have visited in the past and can revisit in the future will be able to tell the difference.  I hope to be one of them, God willing.

Community Peeps share your impressions in my comment box below of your experience at Notre Dame Cathedral.  It would be great to reminisce with you of the iconic, world renowned treasure, as we all go through this difficult time with the people of France.

Readers, as usual, I invite you to click follow to receive timely updates, select like to show your love and support.  Share this post on your social media site.  Write your comments in the box below.  Your interest, time and attention are always appreciated.  Thank you for reading.

More times,

Itinerary Planner

Travel Blogging – A Dream Deferred

Freelance travel blogging for companies or just blogging about my personal travels is something I’ve always dreamed about. One day I went to my former manager for advice on becoming a blogger. I thought I had potential and maybe a little talent too 😀. So, I got my courage up and went to his office. I knew I was placing myself in a vulnerable position as I outlined my personal interests and reasons why I wanted to become a blogger.

My boss was an accomplished writer and communicator. His work was respected and his opinion valued. The meeting was scheduled on his calendar for more than a week. As the date drew nearer, my anticipation rose to levels of excitement that I could barely contain myself. I sooooooo looked forward to that meeting. I thought for sure I would get some rock solid guidance and a firm nod of approval. After all, we both worked in the communications field.

His secretary offered me a seat in his conference room. We exchanged pleasantries until I felt it was time to introduce the main reason for my being there, which in my opinion, was to seek his expert counsel. In retrospect, it took some courage for me to express to him my interest in pursuing a different type of communication.
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What if he didn’t think it was a good idea. What if he fired me on the spot. I had not considered these scenarios and I’m glad I didn’t. Ignorance is truly bliss. I had placed complete faith and trust that my manager would be encouraging, would catch my vision, would possibly be my mentor or recommend one, and would give a tip or two on how to get started as a blogger. Instead, what he said to me caused my excitement to sink like lead in a hot air balloon.

“Blogging has become nothing but a lot of noise, he said. It is hard to hear anything worthwhile with so much noise.” I’m sure much more reasons were given that I can’t recall now, but after those fateful words I began to have second thoughts. Usually, I am not easily dissuaded. However, I was thrown into a capability funk which I could not shake for a few months. I was completely disappointed to say the least. You see, in actuality, I was questioning my skills and talent as a writer and needed some validation. Bad mistake. Since he was a seasoned communicator, and I believed, a visionary, I did not anticipate such lousy advice coming from him.

Suffice it to say, I have gotten over that inept counsel and have since become a blogger, a travel blogger at that, and loving it. Yes, my dream was deferred because of second guessing myself after that meeting. I do not share his views on equating blogging to noise, but he is entitled to his opinion. My blog is a way for me to express myself, share my opinion, and offer my expertise as an itinerary planner. Therefore, just so you know, I’m going to be making a whole lot of noise using my blogger’s voice.

Here are a few lessons learned from this experience:
1). Be careful whom you share your dreams and aspirations with, they may turn out to be nothing but dream-dashers.
2). Believe in yourself and your God-given skills and talent
3). It is okay to defer your dream but never give it up
4). Pursue your dreams and ignore the naysayers
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I have many travel stories to tell so blogging is the perfect forum for me. This month I will begin a blog series where I will highlight a country I visited, back in the day, before all this technology was available to me. I may be dating myself here, but that’s alright. Thank you for reading my blog and listening to my brand of ‘noise.’

Memorials and Museums

Do you like to hear a good story even when you are on vacation? If you do, then start digging.  You are bound to discover a memorial or a museum that will enlighten you.  I think of the historical pair as first cousins in purpose: honoring people of the past and preserving things.

Memorials honor the memory of someone or event where people died. Museums, on the other hand, preserve tangible artifacts worthy of mention and stored for posterity.  Both honorary houses tell real life stories. The stories maybe intriguing and bittersweet. Recounts of acts to mankind maybe sad, tragic and even unthinkable.  Pre-historic items may be old and fragile.  Beautiful works of art may be priceless and untouchable.  They all have a story.

Whenever I travel, I feel compelled to visit a museum, but more so, a renowned memorial site. The more I visit, the more I realize the lingering effects on me. I can nonchalantly stroll through a museum ‘oohing’ and ‘aahing’ but may not recall much of what I viewed earlier on in the day (thank God for photography).  For example, when I toured the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican, the frescos were very beautiful, until after staring at so many for so long they all began to look the same to me.  No disrespect.  That day I may have been suffering from a ‘to much condition’ I will call bias: to much  beauty, to much information, to much art syndrome.

Not so with a memorial.

Let me tell you why.  Memorials are unforgettable, inspirational, impactful and in my opinion, worth the time taken to visit.  Oh and did I mention, filled with story you will find interesting too?  Hours maybe even days after attending a memorial location I can recall the history as reported to me by the tour guide. Obviously, the personal factor is what I relate to and which draws me mostly to them.

Some of the remembrance places I visited include: The Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg, South Africa; Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, Israel; Pearl Harbor in Hawaii; Tuol Sleng and the Killing Fields in Phnom Penh, Cambodia; Cu Chi Tunnels & Vietnam War Museum in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam; Raj Ghat(Gandhi)Memorial in New Delhi, India; Taj Mahal in Agra, India; 9/11 Memorial in New York City; The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial both in Washington, DC, just to mention a few.  Every visit has left an indelible impression on me. For sure, I am not the only one affected.  Crowd ambience is often palpable and the sense of loss profound. But that’s to be expected. Commemorative locations are usually quiet and reflective.

You may think any tour guide worth his/her salt should do an exceptional job of retelling a melancholic part of their history.  I agree, after all, it is in their best interest and may make a lot more cents (pun intended) for them.  Seriously, to gain a deeper respect for your host country’s people, culture, struggles and history, I strongly advise adding to your travel itinerary a memorial site visit as a must-do.   The story alone is all worth it