Ain’t No Sunshine When She’s Gone

by Tuesday, September 6, 2016

As I lie in bed on a dark and rainy September morning, my two Boston Terriers by my side, I feel numb. Earlier today, while many moms and dads have sent their kids on the bus for their first day, back to school, the day after Labor Day, I sent mine on a plane to travel the world for nine months. Without me!

I knew this day was coming. Hell, if it wasn’t for me, I don’t think it would have ever happened? You see, I am in love with travel. This is something I passed down to my daughter.  Being able to travel the world, visiting exotic places and meeting people from foreign lands, for an extended period of time, is something that many only dream about.  Many, including me. Now, my daughter is living that dream. This is her reality and the thought of it is so surreal that it  gives me goosebumps just thinking about it.

I am over the moon with excitement for her, knowing that she is able to see the world in this unique manner.  This traveling style will allow her to fully immerse in different cultures, will expose her to new people, new foods and new traditions, in such a way that is very rare for a person to achieve on a typical two-week vacation.  The program she is traveling with is called Winterline Global Skills  This program has created an extraordinary hands-on approach to learning.  Therefore, she is not just visiting 10 countries, hitting a few tourists spots and leaving. She is visiting places such as Costa Rica, Panama, Germany, Italy, Czech Republic, Austria, India, Cambodia,  and Thailand and while she spends time at each location, she will be learning 100 new skills as her journey progresses. The thought of how such experiences will positively impact her life in so many ways makes my heart sing.

So why am I so sad then?

After returning from the airport and driving up my driveway the first thing I see is her car with her Winterline bumper sticker proudly displayed on the back of her beat up Lexus RX300 SUV, that used to be mine, and used to be nice, but through the years it has aged, as did she, as did I. Thoughts ran through my head, “That car will no longer have Maddie coming and going in it”. “That car won’t move for months on end.” “It may even still be there when it snows and she still won’t be back!” My heart pounded and my eyes filled up again, right when they finally dried up from my drive home. “Take a deep breath Jess. She is going to be okay. You are going to be okay. She is so happy and that makes me so happy!”

But I’m going to miss her.

I proceeded to walk into the house, greeted by my fur babies, that thankfully “will never leave me”, I thought to myself,  and then saw her shoes by the doorway. I tried to ignore them looking at me, as they whispered, ” She is gone. It’s time to let her go.”  I contemplated on going in the kitchen for who knows what? I wasn’t hungry. I wasn’t thirsty. I decided to instead to go upstairs and lay in my bed. I did wake up at 3:00 am to drive her, so I was really tired, but in reality, it was more a feeling of loss than fatigue that I was feeling.

I made my way up the stairs with Gabby and Bernie following close behind and in my peripheral vision I saw her clothes hanging to dry on the railing from the night before. ” I don’t know why she washed them if she wasn’t taking them?” I thought, “but if I don’t put those away in her room after they are dry, they won’t be touched or worn by her for at least three months, and by then, the shorts, crop tops and rompers won’t be in season. “

I need to get away from her stuff. At least for today anyway. I don’t dare go near her bedroom although I project images of myself laying in her bed on days I’m missing her.

My husband knows how hard this is for me, so in between his jobs he came by the house to check on me and to bring me a pumpkin spiced iced-coffee from Dunkin Donuts to cheer me up. It did temporarily. He knows that I am genuinely so excited for her, but have to transition to the empty nest stage of life. He also knows that this will be especially hard for me because she is “my person” and he isn’t even remotely jealous in that fact. He thinks we are clones, especially when we sweet talk him into things. We always eventually get our way with him, but I know he secretly loves it.  I wonder if now I won’t get my way without her added persistence? She is good. Really good, but  I digress.

He is a man a few words. He shows his love by his actions and has a hard time expressing his feelings verbally.  Before she left he wanted to add patches to her backpack of all the places she has already gone.  This is something we talk about on every trip we take.  We buy the patches, intend to put them on when we get back home, but never get around to actually doing it.  His goal was to have hers complete by her trip.

It started out rough. Some of the places we visited, we didn’t get a patch, so he ordered it from Amazon Prime. (I love Amazon Prime btw! You can get virtually anything!)  We were waiting for them to arrive and it was getting very close.  Then, the patches we thought were iron-on were actually sew-on. Trying to sew these heavy-duty stitched patches onto a nylon Northface backpack seemed nearly impossible.  It was a grueling nightly task that he would make his chore for a week or so until it was complete, finger pokes and all. This was his way of saying good luck and a send off gift, “Brice-style”, not to mention the hefty contribution to this Gap Year he made. She loved it!

thewanderlustyogi.net

Maddie at the airport with her backpack adorned with country patches on her way to her Gap Year

It’s now the afternoon and I’m still here on my bed writing my thoughts as I hear my dog loudly snoring next to me. As I finish off the last sips of my melted down, now less sugary, pumpkin spiced iced-coffee, I allow myself a day to mourn.

Today, I am mourning the end of her childhood.  I am mourning our times chatting all night about all the drama at her school. I am mourning the unbearable wake-up calls for her before school meetings for FBLA.  I am mourning seeing her pretty face smiling at me as she walks in from wherever she was that day.  I am mourning the nights I couldn’t fall asleep until I knew she was home safe.  All these things and more, will no longer be.

However, tomorrow, I will be celebrating her journey into adulthood. I will be celebrating the amazing experiences she will have exploring the world.  I will be celebrating all of her accomplishments.  I will be celebrating the obstacles that she has overcome.

I will be celebrating HER.

As a mother, letting go is hard. So hard. But when you know that by doing so, you are giving your child wings to fly, it’s all worth it. This is what I believe that being a good parent is all about.  You can love them, nurture them, teach them, guide them, and hope you’ve done you’re best. BUT, you have to let them go. If you’ve done well, they will never forget where their nest is.

thewanderlustyogi.net

The first group has arrived in Colorado!

 

 

 

 

GAP YEAR MOM

by Monday, June 20, 2016

EMPTY NEST STAGE:

This is that time of year when parent’s of seniors in high school start thinking about how it will be when their child goes off to college in the fall. Being a mom of a senior who is taking a different route, I’m in quite a different boat than most. I’m a gap year mom. I not only have to feel the empty nest stage that we all experience when our kids go off to college, but I have the extra unknown of where, what and how my daughter is doing while traveling the world, on a gap year.

A GAP YEAR: AN ALTERNATIVE TO COLLEGE

We have selected an amazing program through Winterline. This gap year program has the students visit ten different countries and learn 100 new skills.  The itinerary of the destinations and planned projects they will be involved in look so well thought out and over-the-top awesome! However,  there may be times, due to weak wi-fi, or her being in a remote location, or the time change being so different, that I won’t be able to hear from her on a daily basis, as I’d like to. (kidding, not kidding)thewanderlustyogi.net

We have talked about her possibly taking a gap year off and on throughout her senior year, but we couldn’t find a program that had what she was looking for.  I even wrote an article about this, mainly due to the fact that when we talked about this to others, nobody we knew had done this, and many we knew, had never even heard of such a thing, nor understood it.  I wanted to explain what a gap year was and why it offers some genuine benefits for young adults.  Australians and Europeans have already embraced opting for a gap year-long ago, and has reaped its many benefits.  (Here’s the link: the benefits of taking a Gap Year )

PLANNING STAGE:

In the fall, we did the traditional college tours and she applied to five schools. She got accepted into many, but not into her top choice.  This only made her start looking deeper into researching gap year programs.  “Maybe this was a sign and meant to be?”,  she thought.  She didn’t want to settle for a college and spend all that money on a school she wasn’t completely excited to go to, not to mention, her wanderlust was calling.  She wasn’t even sure of what program she wanted to apply? She went from thinking she wanted to do fashion, then considered business and marketing, now she is interested in global business and non-profit work.  Who knows what it will be the next week?thewanderlustyogi.net

For these reasons and more, it seemed like taking a year off to explore the world and learn new skills, might give her the time and self-awareness she needs to make these major life decisions. She just wasn’t ready yet.  Some kids know from the time they can talk what they want to do for a job.  Some kids, even adults, change their mind constantly. I’m guilty of this myself, but when you really contemplate that a seventeen year old has to decide their lifetime career choice at such a young and complicated age, its pretty crazy to think.

DECISION STAGE:

That’s when we found Winterline.  She couldn’t stop thinking about world travel and wanting to be able to do it before she has all the responsibilities of a job, bills, a car, an apartment, etc. Adulting is hard! She knew this and knew if she waited, she might not have the time or funds to do this after college.  She felt as though this experience would not only benefit her in so many ways, but it would give her a starting point to what kind of impact she wants to make in this world. This was it! After many long discussions, our family all felt it was a perfect plan for her, and knew she would thrive in this unique, alternative experience.thewanderlustyogi.net

She began the rigorous application process with Winterline.  She went through all of the steps; writing essays, Skype interviews, getting recommendations and sending her transcripts, to finally get accepted to this competitive program.  She also was awarded scholarships for video and blogging.  You can follow her travels on her YouTube channel: Maddie Meets the World

thewanderlustyogi.net

GAP YEAR MOM:

Now that I am officially a Gap Year Mom, I don’t know what I’m feeling? I am so excited for her to be able to have all of these experiences, but also know I will worry, a lot, and will miss her profoundly.  How I choose to manage these emotions and feelings is to blog about it.  I figure this is way to get things off my chest; the good, the bad, the ugly. In addition, I think this may be a great resource for other moms/dads who are considering letting their child go on a gap year. I wish I had something like this to read right now. Although I did meet a Gap Year Mom whose son just got back in May, that gave me her card and offered for me to call anytime for advice.  We are a rare group of parents and need support, lol.

GAP YEAR MOM SERIES:

My plan is to blog about what she is doing, which from the itinerary, looks amazing! For example; she will get scuba certified, Thai massage certified, be building a house, learn to sail a boat, learn to make a Bollywood movie, study mindfulness and meditation for a month, take driving school at BMW, learn robotics, work on a farm and many other unbelievable things. I also will give you feedback of how things feel back at home in her absence and how I cope with it.  I plan to interview her dad, her brother, her friends and possibly other gap year moms and dads.  Furthermore, I have two potential planned visits with her. The first one being in Costa Rica, during her first semester, which my husband and I already had to re-visit to finish his dental work.  (Here’s the link to that story:

How I Saved $7,000 For Dental Work in Costa Rica

The second one will be during her last semester, where I plan to visit her in Spain. I’ve always wanted to go, now, what a better excuse than this? Maybe even one of her friends can join me? That’s  not for a while so I’m not sure what will exactly happen, but the plans are in the works.

I hope that my Gap Year Mom series will not only help me, but others too.  It also will be a great way to look back on this amazing life-changing journey for my daughter Maddie, but will also be a life-changing journey for me too!

She leaves in September, so watch out for updated posts to follow. If you are interested in her sending you a post card from one of the ten countries she visits, leave a comment with your address or email me privately at strikeaposeyoga@gmail.com and we will pick one randomly per country.thewanderlustyogi.net

Sleeping in a Capsule Hotel for one Night: My Out-of-this-World Experience!

by Monday, May 9, 2016

You might be thinking? “How did you end up sleeping in a capsule hotel for one night?” I know. Crazy! It was really simple actually. My daughter and I were traveling on EVA Air (aka the Hello Kitty airline), which is a Taiwan based airline, and we had a 21 hour layover in Taipei on our way to Bali, Indonesia. We wanted to figure out an easy and cheap way to get a little rest, instead of waiting it out in the airport! That would have been horrible, especially having a 15 hour flight to JFK-New York City, once we got to leave Taipei. Ugh!thewanderlustyogi.net
I started to look for a discounted hotel around the airport by using my usual goto sites, like www.kayak.com, www.booking.com and www.agoda.com.  While browsing, I came upon this hotel called, Hey Bear Capsule Hotel. It first caught my eye because of it’s funny child-like name and theme of Teddy bears and other animated animals.  What is it about Taiwan, that everything is cartoony; Hello Kitty airlines, Teddy bear hotels?  Its so funny!  Then, the term “capsule” was something I didn’t quite understand. So, because of my curiosity, I clicked on it.
I started perusing the hotel information and reviews. It appeared to be a hostel type hotel, but the unusual part was it had individual sleep capsules for each guest to sleep in. The reviews were “excellent”, scoring a 9.0  out of 10 and the pictures made me scream with laughter!
As I laid on my hotel bed of our last night in Bali,  searching on my iPhone for a perfect place to stay the next evening, I yelled to my daughter, “I think I found where we are staying tomorrow night in Taipei?” She said, “Okay, where? Is it near the night market?” As I answered, I couldn’t help, but giggle the whole time. ” What do you think about staying in a capsule hotel? We each will get our very own pod or coffin, ha ha ha, and, we not only will have a totally unique hotel stay, but its right near a night market! Do you want me to book it??” My daughter squealed, “YES!!! This is going to be so cool!” So, for $26.00/ per capsule, I booked it!
The next day we took our 5 hour flight from Bali, Indonesia to Taipei, Taiwan. As we prepared for landing, it suddenly occurred to me that we are sleeping in a capsule hotel! This thought made me feel excited and giddy,  but also a little nervous. Not that I was scared to stay at the hotel, but I wondered if I would feel claustrophobic or not like it? In any case, we were only staying one night. I mean, it couldn’t be that bad? It’s a hell of a lot better than sleeping on an airport floor. Been there. Done that. The worst!
Now, I really knew nothing about Taipei. It was never on my list for a place to visit. On a quick overview of the city, I realized that of everything this city has to offer and with our short amount of time we had there, we had to at least;

  1. Go to a night market.

  2. Eat dumplings.

If I did those two things on our quick little layover, I would feel accomplished on my visit.

TAIPEI, TAIWAN:
We got through customs in no time and stepped outside into the taxi line. We noticed that we were not only, the only non-Taiwanese for miles around, but we were also the only English-speaking people around. This could pose for some struggles. Most places I have traveled, someone around me could speak English (the privilege we have as Americans only knowing the Universal language-cringe), especially people in the hospitality business such as taxi drivers, hotel workers and restaurant workers. Not in Taipei! This was going to be so much harder than I thought. I tried to say the name of the hotel to the taxi stand worker, “Hey Bear Capsule Hotel”. Then again slower, (this time just) “Hey Bear”, but for some reason my Boston accent came out full fledge. It does that every once in a while, even though I try my best to control it. (lol) My daughter caught it and she smiled, as to call me out.  She always does that to me and teases me about it. Brat!   I sounded ridiculous and knew I was wasting everyone’s time. He has no clue of what I was saying.  I looked around me, searching for a sign that someone knew what I was saying and could translate it for me. Nope! Not a soul.
Thankfully, for some reason, (something I’ve never noticed before) www.agoda.com, whom I booked the hotel through, had a pop-up message that said,  ‘”show this to a local language speaker to ask for directions”.  It was a picture with Taiwanese writing.  I couldn’t read it of course, but I assumed it was the name and address of the Hey Bear Capsule Hotel. I screen shotted it, just in case.
At last resort, I remembered that I took that screen shot and pulled out my phone and showed the taxi stand man.  He glanced at it quickly and boom, hailed over a taxi, told him where to take us and we were off! Just like that. So, another great tip I learned and wanted to share; for anyone staying in a foreign country that can’t speak the language or even say “hello” in their native tongue-Get your hotel information translated into that country’s language. I don’t know what we would have done? Thank you www.agoda.com. It was a total life-saver!thewanderlustyogi.net

CHECK-IN:
We arrived at Hey Bear Capsule Hotel. It was in a regular building with other businesses. It had eight floors, with the hotel being on the top floor. thewanderlustyogi.netThe elevator doors opened and there was statues of teddy bears and other cute animals at the entrance. We laughed. We continued into a common area room with tables, computers, a coffee machine, a hot water machine (for ramen/tea naturally), video games, and a front desk. We went up to the front desk and was greeted by a young man. He couldn’t speak English at all. I showed him my passport and he filled out some papers, handed me two key cards and smiled. I smiled back and showed myself to the door that had a pink teddy bear on it. It was a male or female dormitory hostel. I presumed I was headed in the right direction. I also saw two young girls walking in that door, using their key card to access it while I was checking in.thewanderlustyogi.net
I took my key card and pressed it near the sensor. It opened. We entered into a locker room, with lockers and a bench, and a door to our right, leading to a bathroom,  and a row of doors to our left, with numbers labeled on each. I looked at my key card and saw that I was 805-1, my daughter’s was 805-2. I looked at the doors and found 805. It was the first door. I used my key card for access and it opened. The room was small with 4 pods on the left and 4 pods on the right. It looked like a space ship or some sort of coffins of the future. This was going to so hilarious!thewanderlustyogi.net
thewanderlustyogi.netWe each found our pod. Mine was on the top (sort of set up like bunk beds) and my daughter’s was in the one directly beneath me. We met a girl named Ivy, who had just arrived too. She had never stayed in a capsule hotel either. We all used our own key cards to access our pods and all of us were chatting and cracking up as we explored our little sleep cubicles.
When you enter, you couldn’t help but notice the blue neon light that felt almost soothing. They also had baby music pumped throughout the place that sounded sort of like a lullaby. I think its to calm you and make you feel sleepy? It’s a little creepy in a way.  I guess it was all part of the ambience?thewanderlustyogi.net

thewanderlustyogi.net

My daughter in her capsule with iPhone in hand. Shocking!

thewanderlustyogi.net

Me getting used to the idea that I will be sleeping in this thing!

Each pod had a basket with slippers, a bottled water, remote control (for the TV), headphones and a small towel. The bed was soft and all the linens where white. There was one pillow and underneath the pillow was a white comforter. The pod was equipped with a TV, lighted mirror, outlets for plugs and USB ports, a port for headphones and buttons for different lighting choices (back light, reading light, mirror light etc). Also, there was a button that was to lock your pod.thewanderlustyogi.net
For some reason, seeing the lock button, made my stomach feel a little uneasy.   All I thought about was, “What happens if I lock it and it didn’t open and I was stuck inside!?”  I needed to not think like that. It was going to freak me out.
I first took some video footage and pictures so that I could share this unique hotel experience with my friends, family, and my readers, but then thought it would be a good idea to see how it was going to feel, really sleeping in this thing.thewanderlustyogi.net
I laid down and pulled the blanket over me. I put the light on back light because that seemed the most like a night-light. I put the TV on and put the headphones on. Lastly, I hesitantly closed the capsule door until I heard a click. I checked it. Yep, it was definitely locked. My heart started beating a little faster. Let me just press the button to be sure it opens. I pressed it. The door made a click noise. I reached over to slide the door and it wouldn’t open! I tried again. Still nothing. I started to panic a little, but then after my third attempt, it opened. Yikes! That was a little nerve-wracking, but it was all good. “I think I’m just being a little paranoid?”,  I say to myself.
The bed felt very comfy and since I was so tired anyway,  I didn’t think I would have any trouble sleeping in this capsule at all (as long as I didn’t think about the door locking too much). The size felt bigger than you’d think and mostly anyone under six feet tall would fit perfectly fine inside with plenty of room to move around.
HOTEL/HOSTEL AMENITIES:
Besides our individual pods, we also had access to a common area that had tables and seats and computers, a bathroom that was equipped with showers, dressing rooms, mirrored vanities and restroom (Eastern-style and Western-style options-thank goodness!). Each capsule also had an assigned locker to keep your belongings in. The pod would be way too squishy if you had to store all your luggage in it with you.thewanderlustyogi.net thewanderlustyogi.netthewanderlustyogi.net
The one thing that stood out by far was the cleanliness of this hotel. It was absolutely meticulous and there was always someone cleaning the whole time we were there. It was not only clean, but was very modern as well. Like I said earlier,  you feel like you are in a space ship!  Its ultra-new age! The hotel itself, just opened in 2016.

CHECK OUT:
Additionally, the staff members at Hey Bear Capsule Hotel were very friendly, even if we mainly only communicated by hand gestures and smiles. The owner was a sweet women, who spoke English, and was very excited for us to recommend Hey Bear Capsule Hotel to our friends and family and she asked if we would come back. We told her we loved it, thought it was so fun, complimented the cleanliness, and even bought T-shirts of the hotel, as a keepsake. Our flight wasn’t until much later than check out, and she was kind enough to let us store our bags there until we left for the airport.thewanderlustyogi.net

Overall, sleeping in a capsule hotel for one night was a unique and fun experience that I will never forget. I’m not sure if I would recommend it for all travelers, especially for an extended period of time, for people with confinement issues (claustrophobia), for an older traveler, for someone traveling with small children, or if you are trying to have a romantic night’s stay (aka honeymoon) It’s one person per capsule.  However, if you are a free-spirit, young and able, love adventure, trying new things and not afraid of small spaces; this is surely something you will want to try at least once in your life! I never thought I would ever find myself sleeping in a capsule hotel for one night, but my experience was out-of-this-world!

Do you think you could ever sleep in a capsule hotel?

On a side note: Taipei, Taiwan was a fun city to visit with super friendly locals and would be a foodie’s delight.  We felt extremely safe and would recommend it for a female solo traveler.  We did go to a night market and ate dumplings. Two thumbs up for both! Now that I spent, almost a day there, I wish we could have stayed longer.  I hope to be able to go back some day.

%d bloggers like this:
Skip to toolbar