Life

Five Countries on My Bucket List!

            As you probably know by now, I live for travel. Like so many travel enthusiasts, I miss the glory days when we could freely travel around the world. It has been the biggest thing for me to swallow during the COVID pandemic. But when it’s over, I will be poised to travel again! Many of you are likely planning where you will go first when travel restrictions are lifted. I am too! I’m not exactly sure where I will go, but it may be one of the many countries on my bucket list. And fortunately, I have a South African girlfriend who is as passionate about travel as I am!

Today, I want to share with you the top five places I want to visit at some point post-COVID!

  1. Colombia
Photo courtesy of Pexels.com

This one may not be everyone’s cup of (insert drink). A few years ago, I visited South America for the first time and fell in love with it! I currently teach English at a school where 70% of my students are Colombian, and they have inspired me to visit their country. I’m hoping to visit Bogota, Medellin, Cartagena, and Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s hometown in Santa Marta. Another attraction to Colombia is that it is one of the biggest producers of my all-time favorite drink: coffee.

2. Japan

Photo courtesy of Pexels.com

I owe this to the many Japanese students I have taught English to over the years as well as the fact that I once dated a Japanese girl. I’m fascinated by the unique culture and history. Of course, I cannot deny my love for Japanese food, especially sushi. My Japanese aspirations include riding the famous Shinkansen (bullet train), visiting the Golden Pavilion in Kyoto, and spending a night in a capsule hotel. I also hope to visit a sento, which means bathhouse. I have been told that this is a must-do for any Japan visit. The sento, as I have learned, was once the only place where the Japanese could wash themselves.

3. Norway

Photo courtesy of Pexels.com

I’ve been captivated by this nation since I was eleven. The Vikings, the fjords, etc. I am hoping to visit Norway during the winter months. I once befriended a Norwegian in Spain who commented on how special it is to be there during winter. Being from the Great White North, this won’t bother me a bit.

4. Australia

Photo courtesy of Pexels.com

My friends from New Zealand would probably jeer me if they read this, but I have wanted to go to the Land Down Under for ages! Venturing through the Outback and the Great Barrier Reef, as well as gazing at the 12 Apostles. Then, of course, there is sitting in a Sydney outdoor café after the exhausting long flight over there. And speaking of the incredibly long journey, Australia is worth it, IHO! And to keep my Kiwi friends happy, I’ll be sure to stop by NZ on my way home.

5. Kenya

Photo courtesy of Pexels.com

I’ve always wanted to go on an African safari, and I feel that Kenya is the place to make that happen! I also once did a project on the Maasai group, which first sparked my interest in Kenya. My girlfriend speaks highly about Kenya and she is more than willing to return there for my sake!

Which of these countries am I hoping to visit first? Everything depends on when travel restrictions are finally eased. It would likely come down to either Colombia or Japan. We shall see!

Categories: Life | Tags: , , , , , ,

Weekend Writing Warriors – Opps!

Hello and Happy Holidays! It’s great to be back on Weekend Writing Warriors after my hiatus! Many apologies, but I’ve been working two jobs these past few months! I hope you are just about set to celebrate what will be a “different” Christmas this year!

Today, I’m sharing a snippet from my WIP Driving Me Wild. The blurb can be found on the My Novel tab of my homepage. In this snippet, my heroine, Melissa, is spending a Cincinnati summer’s evening with her best friend, Cass, in a park. She has an upcoming date with a young man named Logan, and she wants to tell her friend about it. However, Melissa has been keeping Logan a secret from her (she met him online).

The snippet begins with Cass’s reaction after Melissa breaks the news of her date. This is in Melissa’s POV, and has been modified to meet the 10-sentence limit. So here it is:

Cass blinks rapidly before dropping her jaw, revealing a fully coated blue tongue thanks to her blueberry slushy. “Shut up? That’s so…hey, wait? You, like, hooked up with a guy, and didn’t even tell me?”

I swallow a big lump in my throat and shrug. “Uh…oops?”

I catch mischief glowing in her eyes just before she pounces on me, knocking me off my feet. The second I land backside on the grass she pins me down and tickles my stomach and armpits relentlessly. I go into a squall of uncontrollable guffawing and flailing. “I-I-I’m sorry,” I cry out in between laughing.

Well, ‘oops’ is certainly an understatement here. Oh, that Melissa. Keeping things from people is something she has to learn from. Will Cass give her a break? Find out in next week’s session!

I’d love to know what you think, as it will help during the editing stage!

I hope to participate next week before Christmas. I’m off to do some skiing with my girlfriend next week! Other than work, I’ve been keeping sane during the pandemic, and hope you have too. I’ve been learning acrylic painting for the last few months, and last week I finally finished my first painting (I worked on it for 2 days). I’m really into tropical seascapes.

Anyways, enjoy your Sunday, and thanks so much for visiting my blog today!

Frank

Categories: Life | Tags: , , , , , ,

A friend indeed!

 

Let’s face it, we all need friends. Even with the hardships brought on by the pandemic, we still need to interact with our friends somehow. But it is important to recognize the good and bad friends in our lives, and how to deal with the bad ones. I have had several “bad” friends in my life. And sadly, I’ve had no choice but to hit the ejector switch on them. It was never easy. I had known some of these individuals for a long time, but ultimately, they weren’t what I originally thought (sigh). Still, I have some great friends in my life, and I’m very grateful to have them in my social circle.

There are certain things that friends should and should not do, and I want to share some of the good qualities of a friend that I’ve learned over the years.

  1. Support – very crucial for any friendship. They say that a true friend is there when we’ve hit rock bottom. We don’t have to reach out to them; they already know we need them. Even if we do have to reach out, they are quick to lend us their unconditional support. They will even drop whatever it is they may be doing at the time and come to your aid. Friends who don’t respond need to be seriously re-evaluated. Be especially aware of friends that try to make you feel like your rough situation is your fault. And yes, there are people out there who do this! Friends also support you when you want to make some changes in your life such as try a new hobby or take a new job far away. They should be happy about your new endeavors.
  2. Acceptance – friends should accept you for who you are. They should accept your flaws and not let them obstruct your friendship unless said flaws are hurting the friendship itself. No one is perfect. I have Asperger’s Syndrome, and I once confided this in a friend at the time. At first, this friend accepted it, but later we had a falling out, and they referred to me as one with “severe mental problems”. The real reason for our falling out is that this person could not accept me for being different from them. True friendship means accepting those that are different from you. It also means accepting one who has had certain advantages in life: e.g. money and freedom.
  3. Reciprocity – Everything is a two-way street in friendship. You call them once in a while, and they do the same. Conversely, you do this when you make plans. Are you always the one reaching out this person? If so, something is not right. There has to be some reciprocal communication between you. After all, you have enough to juggle in life without having to reach out to a friend that doesn’t return the favor.
  4. Gratitude – a true friend will tell you that they value your friendship. They will often say ‘thanks’ for the miniscule and the monumental. Likewise, you should be grateful for their friendship. And if a friend does not reciprocate your ‘thank you’, beware! I had one who didn’t reciprocate any of my gestures of gratitude, and thankfully that person is now “somebody that I used to know” (I think I owe Gotye props for quoting this).

 

Now for the things that a friend should not be. You may think I’ve already pointed these out, but there’s more. I cannot stress the importance of recognizing a toxic friend. I recently listened to a podcast by a former NFL wide receiver by the name of Trent Shelton. In this podcast, he discusses how to let go of negative people in our lives. He says, “it’s crushing to know that the people you want the best for don’t always want the best for you.” The more you tolerate toxic pals in your lives, the more damage they will do. So, what are the signs of a not-so-true-friend?

  1. Jealousy – while it is normal to envy the things a friend has that you don’t, jealousy is 100% unhealthy. This person resents you for the advantages you have and makes you feel that you don’t deserve them, whether they show it explicitly or subtly. I had one friend who was jealous of my wealth, my freedom to travel, and my relationship with my family. In fact, it reached the point of said person often pointing out that “I have money coming out of my ass” and “your parents treat you like a baby”. This person completely overlooked the “chains” I’ve had to carry in life (and we all have them). A jealous friend is a de facto toxic friend. If they cannot accept your ‘advantages’, it’s best to move on.
  2. Constant Put-Downs – these are the people who question your actions and decisions. They feel like you are doing the wrong thing when in fact it’s the opposite. They are not happy for you, and what is the point of having a friend like that? You will ultimately start believing these put-downs, subsequently lowering your self-esteem. And you don’t want that.

It is also critical to be aware of friends that are self-centered, pessimistic, and have no accountability whatsoever for their actions. We all have our days where we’re down in the dumps or forget the occasional birthday, but when it’s polarized it is a different story altogether. Their negativity will eventually rub onto you.

It is very hard to have to cut out a friend, and it should be the last resort. But if you have a toxic friend that refuses to change, then…sayonara! You should be re-evaluating certain friends regularly, and you should be grateful for the good ones in your life. It’s difficult enough dealing with all the bad people in this world. And in these times, we are living in, we need to have a healthy and supportive social circle.

Sadly, I tolerated certain toxic chums for too long for the sake of having friends. I thought I could change them but later realized that you can’t change anyone; they have to change themselves. The key is to recognize the symptoms of a potentially bad friend early, and take action before they become worse: stop small problems from becoming bigger ones.

 

“A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out.”

– Walter Winchell

Categories: Life | Tags: , , , , ,

Blog at WordPress.com.