Thursday, February 14, 2013

Because Love Is Worth It …

Love and intimacy — our ability to connect with ourselves and others, is at the root of what makes us sick and what makes us well, what causes sadness and what brings happiness, what makes us suffer and what leads to healing.

I hope you and your loved ones enjoy a special Valentine's Day together. I look forward to spending mine surrounded by my amazing family.”
(Dr. Dean Ornish, MD)

Some people make a matter of personal propaganda the fact that they do not celebrate Valentine’s Day. They wear the fact that they “think it’s stupid, commercial, dumb, useless” like a badge of personal pride and loftiness. They use that attitude as sort of a superiority mark against the rest of humanity, too low to be dumb, stupid and useless enough to celebrate it. 

All that makes me want to do is chuckle and sigh and pray  that they are going to snap the heck out of it, before their lives are spent. At least snap the heck out of thinking they are so right and the rest of the world is so wrong. 

I personally don’t believe we need a holiday to celebrate Jesus, either! I believe He should be celebrated every single second of the day and every day of the year, with every breath we take. And I definitely do not believe that we need to buy our loved ones millions of dollars of crap they won’t need in His name, around His holiday, either. And yet, on December 25th we do just that! How is that less commercial than marking a day in the calendar to say to your loved ones “ I love you” on a special note, I see not!

I don’t believe, as Americans, we need any special holiday to say “thank you” for everything we’ve got on this beautiful land. To be appreciative for what our history and traditions have given us. I also don’t believe we should celebrate it with stuffing ourselves with turkey – why not chicken? Or mushrooms for that matter?! And yet, we do that. Every year. And that, somehow, makes us less commercial? And less “cheap” than buying a card on Valentine’s Day? Why?! 

I am grateful for my husband, and my family and Jesus, and His Resurrection and what America has given me every day of the year - sure. But I love the opportunity to stop, ponder and make a “big personal deal” about it at least once a year. I tell my husband “I love you” every day. But he only gets his favorite chocolates once a year. He’s a diabetic – and an occasion to allow that treat is welcome. I don’t wear it as a badge. I just see it as my personal choice. 

I hope you all enjoyed today – doing whatever it was you were doing. Not out of spite and self assurance, but just because it made sense to you. And along with Dr. Ornish said – I welcome one glorious day that reminds me why I love my husband and that this love leads me to healing, happiness, peace and wellness! Let this be my only sin, that I am loving celebrating love.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Five Things to Not Do in Las Vegas

I have lived in Utah for almost 3 years now (3 months short of 3 years) and I have been to Vegas that many times. Everyone I know that’s been born and raised around here has been there more times than they can count. Unlike the East Coast that has tons of fun places to visit within hours distance from anywhere you live, land is large and wide open here, Out West. Vegas is the one “fun”, big place that is drivable to, closest to Salt Lake, without having to jump on a plane or drive for 10 hours or more.

What I am trying to say is – a trip to Vegas might not seem as special to people who live around here as to those who plan their entire lives to make it there. However, I always find this trip special, despite my multiple treks there in a relatively short time.

There is almost nothing you can’t not do in Vegas (except for diving into the ocean, of course!). The amazing pools and spas it offers, though will make up for that! Your imagination is the limit in this town of lights, “sin”, money and fun. And you cannot possibly fit everything in the amount of several days – so every time you come, you should take a different bite out of its offerings – and this will keep the newness going for you.

The list of things not to do here is short, I guess, at least in my book. Here’s what I could come up with, from my experience there so far:

1.    Don’t go there solely for work. If your job requires you to be in Vegas for 3 days for work, take an extra day off to enjoy what the city has to offer! Whether you’re into gambling, watching shows, magic tricks, shopping, fooding, picture taking, drinking, crazy rides, spas – this city has all that and then some! Stay an extra day, on your own buck, if you have to, and make some time to take in the city! You will gripe less about the drive or the plane ride when you get back home, when you mix in some fun stuff with the serious stuff.
2.    Don’t plan to drive while in the city! Park your car at the hotel and forget about it for a couple of days! Parking is free. It is definitely a walkable city! And traffic is horrible and all it’ll do is make you mad! Pedestrians are slow, there are foreign visitors not knowing where to turn stalling you at every corner – stay happy and not frustrated with the driving! Walk, take the monorail, walk some more, take the cab, maybe. There is something to see, observe, learn from on every street – and there is no better way to learn a city and its soul than to walk it. You never feel unsafe – because there is so much foot traffic. And you can’t really say you’ve been there unless you have seen, smelled and tasted a place, and shaken hands with the street performers. So, walk and learn!
3.    Along the same lines – do not bring fancy shoes! Yes, I know you want to look just like a Vegas show girl when you walk down the avenues, with shortie short dresses and stiletto shoes. But trust me – leave that look to the professionals! Be comfortable and remember that you’re there to learn the city and see what the fuss is all about. Sure, if all you want in Vegas is hook up and have a one night stand – use the stilettos for one night at the hotel bar, to attract your prey. But do not walk down The Strip in them! There is nothing more painful to watch than a pretty girl in pain from uncomfortable shoe-wear. Relax, get a cocktail (which you can sip while walking about) and be comfy!
4.    Unless you want to see a show, there is not much planning needed to really experience Vegas! Everything it has to offer can pretty much be done on impulse – whatever you feel like doing you can pretty much do during your 2-3-4 day stay, as you run into it. Shows require advance reservations, for the most part. Do make a list of what you want to do, if you want, or if you walk by something that looks fun, jump on the opportunity and do it! There are things in Vegas that you cannot do back in your population 2000 small town. You never know when or if you’ll be back – so jump in, head first and do it now. Whether it’s a restaurant you want to experience, a drink you’ve never heard of, a game you never gambled at, a risqué show to watch – do it! It makes for good memories and stories. And there is no point in having any regrets! We all know the cliché about life being too short for those.
5.    And the very last and I think most important thing to not do in Vegas is worry about counting your money! I am usually careful with my spending and extremely budget minded – heck, some people that know me will even say I am a miser. But Vegas is designed around sucking the last penny outta ya! Whether you like it or not, if you breathe in Vegas, you pay!
Yes, they have coupon books and what not, but they cannot possibly have coupons for everything. You pay nothing for your drinks if you gamble – they are free, as long as you gamble, but if you want to eat, a burger will be $20! You want a side with that? It’s $8 extra. You want a nightcap at the hotel lounge, and you just played and lost your budget for the trip, so no more free drinks - $15 for a cocktail. There are resort fees, and fees if you want to move faster through the lines at the tourist attractions - $11 for the regular line which takes up to 30 minutes regardless of how long it is, or $14 for 5 minute waits. Everything costs! You’ll hear the “cha-ching” noise so much in this town, with everything you do, your head will spin! But you cannot know and live this city up, for even a day, without jumping into its heart and soul. If you want to experience Vegas and tell the world about it, do it – and work for the money to cover your fun later. Don’t get a depression over it – it’s part of the Vegas “charm”! One way or another, the house always wins, baby!

I have enjoyed this city more than once now, and I will be back. Gambling does nothing for me, but I have always found the shopping areas clean, beautifully designed places. As most of you know, I am a big window shopper. And for that, Vegas is my playground! I will be back also for a show or three, but that requires planning. Cannot wait for the next adventure, though.

To take in some of the sights of my latest trip there, click on the picture below, and enjoy:

 The city is the most amazing at night. So special, in fact, that to view it from the observation deck at the Eiffel Tower costs an extra $6 for night hours - in the slow line.