Hidden Natural Gems
Ahhhhh! The beauty of Iguazu falls was unlike anything I have ever seen! And I’m not sure how many even know that it’s there. Americans anyway! I know I hadn’t heard of it! But when we flew in yesterday I knew this was gonna be my jam. It was apparent right away we were entering the land of rainforests a plenty!
Because my dad booked this trip later than most tourists, we didn’t get a hotel with the best views. But the views were still incredible! (View from the gym attached!). Our trip has been a little bit slower moving as my mom needs a lot of rest and sleep, hence why I was able to visit the facilities gym. And take much needed naps! Vacations don’t need to be nonstop as much as I sometimes feel they need to be.
Our tour of the falls started today on the Argentinian side, bright and early. And we all know how much I love mornings! When it comes to adventure, though? I’ll wake up whenever! Just ask the tour guides when we were in Africa. Our private guide started us on the trek where we were above the falls. It’s one of those places where each area ahead gets better and better, but you don’t know it, so you end up with a million photos on your phone. I will definitely need to delete photos on my way home!
I will warn you…this place was packed! Unless you want to be rude to others, you don’t have a lot of time to take selfies. I was hoping to get some sort of Pilates pose in to put on here, but with narrow bridges and people coming from all directions? That would have not only made me rude, but also annoying. Nobody wants a Pilates lesson sightseeing. Or do they…? They don’t! So take your pictures and move along so someone else can stand in that epic spot. Or you’ll have someone like me, after giving you time to film a major motion picture and snap picture of your family of 20, just shove right in. More awkward for you than for me, I assure. And I have a wheelchair. Despite the crowds though, the waterfalls will take your breath away and help make you feel like you are in your own world.
If you’re lucky enough? You’ll even meet a coati! We met an entire family of them and let me tell you…if I could get one in my suitcase without anyone noticing? I’d totally have one as a pet! The babies in the family were playing and there was no fear of all the people. They were even fine just walking along with all of us on the bridge! Don’t think the thought of picking one up didn’t cross my mind. But we did see the claw marks they can leave when you try that, so I thought better of that. I’m pretty sure rabis exists around the world and not just in the US.
We ended by viewing the falls from the bottom and again…my heart stopped! I just have never seen anything so beautiful and majestic! Victoria Falls was absolutely beautiful to. Just completely different. These falls are a not so hidden gem and definitely a wonder of the world. I feel so blessed that I was able to see them in person and hope that my pictures do them a little bit of justice. There isn’t anything that makes you feel closer to God than getting out there in nature and exploring. It always reminds me of how small we are in this world. If you aren’t able to go anywhere crazy? There are some great outdoor places right near you. Start exploring! And share your adventures! Lets move!
Welcome to Buenos Aires!
We have arrived! And so have all 11 of our bags! And only missing my mom’s hat. Somehow in all the transferring from the wheelchair, to the aisle chair, to her airplane seat it fell off. But if that’s all we are missing? In fairness to myself, I only have three bags (although I would have loved one just for my shoes!). Many of the bags are filled with my moms medical supplies which include syringes, pads for the bed, catheters, her food for the feeding tube, wipes, etc. It’s a lot! But on the way home? We will be a lot lighter.
It took some time getting through customs as they have to take pictures, finger prints and re-examine your bags through Xray. I have to say, over 6 months of daily Spanish practice and watching some of the best Telenovelas ever, my ability to communicate has improved. Until they are calling me over at customs and asking “Hablo Espanol?” I froze and used my fingers to make the “little” sign. In fact though, I know more than a little Spanish but need them to slow down. Often when you tell them you do speak Spanish, they go into lightening mode and that’s when it’s crazy!
Getting to locations does take us a lot longer with my mom because with all her care, she does need sleep too. So we flew from Phoenix to New York, spent the night in New York and then left yesterday for Buenos Aires. Today and tomorrow will be rest days with a little exploring. But nothing crazy. I don’t really even know what to expect with the area but I just love being in other people’s world and culture!
Just driving from the airport to our hotel for the next few nights? You could so many run-down apartments. And they are one after another! That’s what happens when your population is over 15 million. Where we are staying is super cute! Reminds me of a combination of Los Angeles and New York city.
Tonight, we attend an authentic tango where the locals perform. I’m sure they’ll mistake me for an expert to come dance with them! Bucket list of a million to be checked off!
I’m a Barbie Girl!
If you haven’t seen it yet and want to see it, please skip reading this blog!
I went to see the movie on Saturday night and absolutely loved the movie and the message. Number one message is not a spoiler alert as we all know, Barbie has to leave her pristine world of perfection and finds out that the real world is not as she expected.
I loved the other major message in the movie though. The expectations women have held over them in their daily lives. I watched a documentary on Barbie yesterday and it was incredibly eye opening. The message that we can be everything, to everyone, all the time. It’s no wonder so many of us are just exhausted. There’s a commercial where Barbie goes to her full time, office job and then comes home and changes into a gorgeous dress for dinner with of course perfect hair and perfect makeup. Because unless you chopped off Barbies hair like a few of us did? Barbie always had perfect hair and makeup. I’m not sure about the rest of you, but I do not get home from work like that. I’m lucky if there’s still any trace of deodorant left. I barely have any energy to take off my workout gear and usually? I want to just plop down in my bed, with my dogs and watch crappy TV. If I can must up the energy to go out? I’m throwing on a baseball cap and hoping for matching clothes. I definitely do not look perfect.
Below is an incredible speech from the movie. If you don’t feel this way as a woman? Consider yourself incredibly lucky!
“It is literally impossible to be a woman. You are so beautiful, and so smart, and it kills me that you don’t think you’re good enough. Like, we have to always be extraordinary, but somehow, we’re always doing it wrong.
You have to be thin, but not too thin. And you can never say you want to be thin. You have to say you want to be healthy, but also you have to be thin. You have to have money, but you can’t ask for money because that’s crass. You have to be a boss, but you can’t be mean. You have to lead, but you can’t squash other people’s ideas. You’re supposed to love being a mother, but don’t talk about your kids all the damn time. You have to be a career woman, but also always be looking out for other people. You have to answer for men’s bad behavior, which is insane, but if you point that out, you’re accused of complaining.
You’re supposed to stay pretty for men, but not so pretty that you tempt them too much or that you threaten other women because you’re supposed to be a part of the sisterhood. But always stand out and always be grateful. But never forget that the system is rigged. So find a way to acknowledge that but also always be grateful. You have to never get old, never be rude, never show off, never be selfish, never fall down, never fail, never show fear, never get out of line. It’s too hard! It’s too contradictory and nobody gives you a medal or says thank you! And it turns out in fact that not only are you doing everything wrong, but also everything is your fault.
I’m just so tired of watching myself and every single other woman tie herself into knots so that people will like us. And if all of that is also true for a doll just representing women, then I don’t even know.
– America Ferrera as Gloria in ‘Barbie’
I looked around as a tear slid down my cheek. Could I possibly be the only woman this resonated with? It’s tough out there, man! Being everything for everyone is tough. And it’s the reason why I became Unapologetically Mel. Why I created Unapologetically U. The expectations are impossible! And while I have gotten better with knowing and accepting that I will not be able to please everyone? It still gets stressful. Common things I get? “Hush!” “Women don’t cuss”. “Act like a lady”. “Put makeup on every day and do your hair”. “You’re gaining weight”. “Don’t get angry. Ladies always show grace.” “A good daughter takes care of her parents.”
I have twisted myself into knots trying to figure out which mask works best for each person. And I finally reached a place where I am about 99.9% done twisting into knots for others. But there are still times and people I find myself trying to get into a position which resembles a game of Twister! I’ve actually never played Twister, but that seems about right.
Women that claim they don’t do this? I don’t buy it! How many filters are you using with your pictures? We all know why you use them. It’s affirming to hear how amazing you look! For years women have been held to certain standards. Men are seen as more attractive as they age. And I see a few men that post women over forty should just give up on life. It’s absolutely crazy to me! I feel the best I’ve ever felt since entering my forties! And I know I have a lot more to offer someone.
Yes, men face unrealistic expectations as well. But it is different. Many older men still date women 10-15 years younger than them or have affairs with them. Why? Because twenty-year olds are considered to be the most beautiful and have the best bodies. Women are expected to be married by a certain age or they are either called a spinster or asked if they are a lesbian. We are just expected to want to have children and give up our lives to raise that child, while the men go to work, go out with the boys, have fun dinners, play golf etc. Yes. It’s gotten better. But the expectations most certainly are still there. So while men do face a type of what women do? It’s definitely different. I remember a man meeting me and telling me my nails needed to be professionally done or I didn’t look put together! My mom raised me that I was never to leave the house without my hair and makeup done (lol that didn’t work too well, as many of you know!).
I applaud those of you who don’t relate to the above monologue and never have. You are incredibly lucky. Becoming Unapologetically me has freed me from many of the unrealistic expectations. But I definitely can still feel them rear their ugly head from time to time. What I can tell everyone? It’s so much easier when you don’t try to be everything to everyone! And…nobody knows what they are going to get! I do love being completely unpredictable!
So, ladies? I challenge you. Stop following who the world tells you that you should be. Beyou! And be you without apologies! Enjoy the ride, take yourself out of the knots, and let the real you sparkle!
The Guilt and Worry Trap!
Anybody else live a life full of these two gems? I know I did and still battle with the two. More the worry and anxiety, but I feel that the two can go hand in hand. I have been battling both of these for as long as I’ve been alive, and I think I’ve just come to feel like they are just normal emotions. And it’s been something I have just thought I had to battle with for the rest of my life. It ebbs and flows now, and I have finally reached a point in my life where I want to get rid of it.
I have been reading and listening to stuff put out by Dr. Wayne Dyer and it’s been amazing! He talked about both these issues today and had incredibly valid points. Why hold onto either of these when we can’t change the outcome? If we feel guilty because of something that is already done, what good does that do? Of course, we can turn that guilt into activating change towards a certain situation. We feel guilty that we have more money than some? Maybe take action to begin helping those people. We feel guilty about a war that is already passed? Maybe work on educating others so that this type of war never happens again. We feel guilty about how we have treated others? Maybe we apologize. But just continuing to feel guilt? It literally does nothing to change anything. And often times can paralyze us. Prevent us from moving forward because we are stuck thinking about a past event. Which just isn’t healthy. I definitely need to begin asking myself “What good is this energy doing by feeling guilty about what happened?” I need to remember, it’s behind me and there is so much in my present moments I will miss out on being caught in a cycle of guilt. I challenge others to do this same thing. Especially if you are trapped in a cycle of what is called false guilt. Taking the blame for something you had no part of.
Worry. That’s my other big waste of time! I am a professional worrier! If this were a career? I’d be completely rich! Whether you call it worry or anxiety, I have it. I am constantly struggling with worrying about what hasn’t even happened. There’s a quote by John Mason: “Don’t tell me worry doesn’t do any good. I know better. The things I worry about don’t happen.” So why do we worry? And how does someone like me work on stopping it? Like guilt, worry ruins living in the moment. Basically, I don’t live in the moment because I’m too busy worrying about the future or feeling guilty about something from the past. How fun is that?! IT’S NOT! So, what are ways that I am using to combat these two icky feelings?
- I used to be a pretty regular journaler. But over the years I have just stopped. It’s like I just don’t have the energy because I’m too busy thinking about the past and future! I have too much on my mind!
- Brain dumping-I just learned about this one. You take out a piece of paper and just begin writing your thoughts on paper. Similar to journaling but just random words that are coming to your mind. Random thoughts you have to get out.
- I work out! This a huge one for me. A workout always helps me have to stay in the moment!
- I pray. I am very spiritual and am working more to develop that practice. Again, it’s something I often times can skip making time for. Not a good idea for me!
- I walk my dogs.
- Ask myself if there’s a reason, I’m feeling guilty and if there’s anything I can do to relieve that guilt. Otherwise? I need to release it.
- Meditate! I have a couple aps on my phone that really help me to relax and breathe through my emotions.
- Stop focusing on whatever emotion I’m feeling and re-focus on something positive and productive.
- Talk to my friends or family.
- Sing and dance!
These are just a few of my ways to try to reduce guilt and worry and enjoy living in the moment. We all have different ways that help to release these negative feelings. Tell us some of yours! Maybe they’ll help others to begin living fully in the moment!
When I was growing up there was a show where the slogan was, “When people stop being polite and start being real!” It was always the most fun to watch them when they were real. When they were their authentic selves. Oh, they constantly were annoyed with someone or fighting! Yes, a lot of it was drama and over the top. But it was always captivating.
I’ve noticed over the years, as I have embraced the title, “Unapologetically Me” that life is not only more fun, but I am less worried about what others will think of me. Of course, I never go into anything trying to tick others off, but I’ve gotten to the point where I understand and accept…I will tick people off. I’m not everyone’s cup of tea. And there are some that love being around me. I’ve accepted that it’s ok that not everyone wants to hang around me and that I can be too much for some. Those aren’t my people.
When I was younger, I was constantly trying to please everyone. To make others feel comfortable in my presence. Not only was it exhausting but it was also disappointing when I couldn’t get others to like me. I would agonize over why they didn’t like me when I thought I was saying the right things and being the person, they wanted me to be. I was having to hide myself constantly. And over time? I was so many different people, for different people, that there was no way to really know who I was. I sent a message to myself that I wasn’t ok as I was. And I developed pretty low self-esteem, always trying not to stand out in crowds.
I don’t really know exactly when that all changed. I think moving to Hollywood was huge for me. First off, if you’re scared to stand out? Most likely you will drown in a career where being unique and weird are accepted. And that part of me began coming out. I discovered people loved my weirdness! Where I had been shushed my entire life for being too loud, I surrounded myself with those who loved that part of me. That laughed with how I just said whatever was in my head. Where I wasn’t scared to embarrass myself. Where I didn’t feel like I had to be perfect for everybody. I felt alive, truly alive, for the first time. And by the time I moved back to CO? I was embracing this authentic, unapologetical part of myself more and more each year. Which has made it that I love myself more and more each year. I find that when I’m by myself, sometimes I crack myself up by what comes into my head!
Being unapologetically yourself is going to make people uncomfortable. It’s going to make you scolded if the wrong people surround you. They are going to tell you, at times, you are misbehaving. But I have found those people rare. Even at my most uncontrolled? I am getting phone calls the next day from people saying how fun I am and how much they loved my energy. But those that need to be in control of everything? That need to present a life of perfection? You’re going to make them super uncomfortable. But that doesn’t mean you need to dull your sparkle around them. If fact? I like to sparkle brighter! Once you begin to feel the amazing feeling of blocking out the judgement? Life is able to be lived fully. Life is more fun! Life comes at you in a different way.
I have been given so many amazing opportunities living unapologetically myself. And I want that for others! I want others, especially young women, to learn how to love themselves so much, that there is no need to change and adapt for other people. Of course this doesn’t mean that we can justify being mean to others or hurting others! That’s not living an authentic life. That’s just being cruel. I know who the authentic me is. I’m loud, funny, fun loving, love to laugh, love to be the center of attention, love God, love my family, love dogs. I am sarcastic and have a quick wit. I also have a bit of a temper and don’t put up with injustice. I’ll call people out if their behavior isn’t fair. And that can make others not like me. But that’s not my problem. And sometimes people need to hear that their behavior is hurtful to others. Or damaging. Especially if it’s something that is wrong and being done to you or those you love. There is nothing wrong with standing up for yourself. In fact, often times it can help others become aware that what they are doing isn’t right. Some people can’t see what they are doing is hurtful, unethical or wrong. That all should be called out. And if you have the balls to do that? You may be helping someone who’s too timid or scared to say anything.
Main point here? Be you! Even when the world says you should be like everyone else. If you aren’t loud and boisterous? That’s ok! Be you! If you are loud and obnoxious? Be loud and obnoxious! Of course, be aware of your surroundings! Usually being loud and obnoxious during a wedding isn’t appropriate! I call myself sassy but classy. I can adapt to my environment. But I don’t adapt to groups. It’s a happy balance! Changing yourself to fit in with others or groups is always going to backfire.
Always be you. Be strong. Be brave. Be you. No explanations. No apologies. That’s being unapologetically you