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Category: Thoughts & Musings

Appointed Official Photographer with Prestigious Bradt’s Travel Guide Company

Over the past couple of weeks, I have been thinking that it would be wonderful to have my photos distributed to a wider audience…

Almost immediately, I learned (as I put in a post a few days ago) that The Guardian Newspaper had featured one of my photos; and then that seven of my photos were featured and shortlisted in the International Historical Photographer of the Year Awards…

and now…

The multi-award-winning Bradt’s Travel Guides has appointed me as an official photographer AND…

…they are featuring twenty-four of my photos in the upcoming newest edition of their “Slow Devon” book!

Since 1974, Bradt’s guides have been among the most loved guide books in (initially) England and then across the globe.  From their website: “Bradt has a reputation as a pioneer in tackling ‘unusual’ destinations, for championing the causes of sustainable travel, and for the high quality of its writing. Our books are intended to be as entertaining to read as they are useful reservoirs of tourist information. And they have personality. Each is a one-of-a-kind expression of the author’s interests, expertise and passion for telling it how it really is.”

Hilary Bradt has given so much to the field of tourism, that in 2008 she was awarded an MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire) by HM Queen Elizabeth for Mrs Bradt’s services to the tourism industry and to charity.

I feel so incredibly privileged to be supporting such an icon of quality – by doing what I love!

~ Bella

My photos shortlisted in international Historic Photographer of the Year Awards

Following your passion…

Sitting here happily working away at The Grand Hotel in Torquay, and probably as it is only two days away from the commemoration of Armistice Day, the music playing in the background is all 1940s…

Several of the songs being played were favourites of my great-grandmother who largely raised me – and as such, I knew all the words and could hear her voice in my head as I sang along… and living here in England for half of the year each year, I am more and more gaining an understanding of just how profound and impactful an experience was WWII on the people here…

Add to that, I am in the process of writing cards of thanks and appreciation for Books Two and Three of my Quantum Lace series – with Book Two being focused on WWI (in particular the sinking on the Lancastria – still Britain’s worst maritime disaster)…

I began thinking how much I love the music of that era; how much my Nan (my great-grandmother) loved it; and the fact that there are still people living to whom that music meant so much…

…and then my mind floated to the fact that the people we are still blessed to have with us are well into their years and will not be with us much longer…

…and after that, thought about how much I love that music; that at one point I made my living singing but no longer sing professionally (and hardly ever even in the shower!)…

Sooooo…

I decided to follow several of my passions and have already just today set up several small concerts at senior citizens homes and facilities where I can live my passions of loving the music and sharing my voice and inspiration with others – and the guests can sing along to their heart’s content – and hopefully together we can bring back many happy memories of loved ones and times gone by… and I can honour the memory of my great-grandmother…

“Following your passion” doesn’t have to mean dropping everything and taking a completely different path…

It can simply mean doing a small concert for a group of seniors, singing songs that mean ever so much to both of you…

When an opportunity to follow your passion comes up, please consider embracing it with both hands…

~ Bella

Natural Anti-Depressant

For personal reasons – as well as being laid up with a nasty bug – this weekend was quite sad and challenging.

Rather than put on a brave face and shove the emotions down or aside, I chose to honour the feelings and allow them to simply ‘be’.

When, by Monday morning however I still felt emotionally flat, I decided that before I went to sleep that evening, I would be back to my normal bright-eyed, bushy-tailed (if still somewhat feeling the effects of the bug) happy self.

After a short walk by the marina in the morning, and ensuring I was extremely productive during the day, when 5:00pm rolled around and one of my favourite places opened for business (aka the lovely wine bar and seafood restaurant next door), I dressed up and took myself out for the evening.

The view from the wine bar is always stunning, and watching the clouds roll by, the boats in the water… it was lovely…

As the sun began to set, the entire bay took on a completely different feel… and I was in raptures just watching the ever-changing hues and contrasts…

…and I wasn’t really hungry, so settled for oysters that tasted soooooo light and fresh and … amazing.

The staff there know me and given that it was early in the evening and on a weekday, I was the only person there for much of my visit – so chatted about all sorts of happy and interesting things with the very talented sommelier…

Several hours later, by the time I left to walk home (literally next door), I was feeling light and happy, refreshed and reinvigorated.

…and this morning I awoke feeling equally so.

When life gets you down and the world feels just a little too big, may I suggest you find your own version of this natural anti-depressant to bring you back to feelings of joy.

It certainly worked for me – and I feel ever so blessed…

~ Bella

The Extraordinary Geographic Heritage in My DNA

Oh my!  I have been busily tracing a particular line of my ancestry and what I find most astonishing is not that I have been able to trace them back to the late 1400’s… (and to the left is the family crest)

What astonished me – and, if I’m honest, touched my soul – was that my entire lineage is at most within around a 60 mile journey from the place on the planet I finally feel “HOME“!

To put that into perspective…

I grew up in Australia but never felt at home there and, while the country is quite amazing, I never liked living there.

While I felt very at home for many of the years I lived in America – and Charleston South Carolina felt most ‘home’, it was still not “it”.

I didn’t even set foot in England until last year and I had leased an apartment in St. Leonards on Sea (near Hastings in West Sussex).  While I loved it there, it still wasn’t ‘home’ – but…

One night I woke up around 02:00am with “Torquay – you have to move to Torquay” repeating in my head.

Now, for those of you who know me, you know I call the voices we all have in our head (if we are honest!) my Hamsters.  Anyway, my Hamsters were going ape about the fact I needed to up-stakes and move to Torquay for the remainder of my stay six-month in England.

I didn’t even know where Torquay was!

They would not let up – and since I couldn’t go back to sleep, I was curled up under the covers researching this place called ‘Torquay’.

Finally, I told the Hamsters to be quiet, that I needed some sleep.

Move forward to the morning – and upon waking, within the space of 18 minutes, I had cancelled my lease on the apartment in Torquay – leased an apartment at the marina in Torquay – and arranged for my luggage to be sent from one to the other.

Now, that in itself might sound – well – ‘interesting’ (some might suggest a less kind word) – but the moment I arrived in Torquay, I literally cried.

“I’m HOME!”

For the first time in my life of now over fifty years – I knew what “home” felt like!

Now, at that time, I knew several of my ancestors came from Exeter – which is around 22 miles from Torquay – but apart from that, I had no other connection to the place…  that I knew at the time!

My ancestors are my neighbours!

Going right back to the late 1400’s, the ancestral line with whom I felt the strongest connection out of all my various branches on the ‘family’ tree, all lived in one of four places – and almost all within 22 miles of where I call ‘home’ in England (there are a small handful going back to the 1500’s who were from Trewen):

Torquay to Paignton = 3 miles

Torquay to Brixham = 8 miles

Torquay to Exeter = 22 miles

Torquay to Trewen = 66 miles

To give you some visuals…

The X below is my home in Torquay (cfor six months of the year at present) and the other yellow spots are Exeter, Brixham and Trewen (and you can see Paignton)

To zoom out to see how small that space is on the map of England (and actually, my box is way too large)…

…and in this map below, the tiny yellow dot covers basically the whole of England!

Furthermore, this is the geographic name distribution for the family surname:

I managed to find the tiniest spot on the map that after a half a century of searching finally felt like “HOME” and then discovered that my ancestors going all the way back to the 1400’s lived mostly within 20 miles of this tiny spot on the planet that I absolutely adore!

…and for the first time in my life, I have a sense of what it feels like to have such a sense of belonging that you would fight if needed to protect your homeland.

Of an evening lately, I have been watching some episodes of the BBC production, “Who Do You Think You Are?” and have been fascinated by how many people going back through one’s lineage share traits, or occupations, or characteristics…

Without knowing it, in the middle of the night in West Sussex, my ancestral geographic DNA called me ‘home’ – and I feel more blessed than I can ever express…

~ Bella

Post Script:  Tonight after posting this, I have been watching a documentary called, “Faces of Britain” hosted by Neil Oliver, and what I found fascinating was the genetic research that is being undertaken by people such as Sir Walter Bodmer, including tracing ancestral lines genetically to certain geographic areas in Britain.

As Neil Oliver said in the opening –

“Who were they, where were they from, what were they like – and we try and answer those questions by the things our ancestors left behind – but that never gets us the the people themselves, and that’s why the science of DNA is so fascinating … it’s looking at something else our ancestors left behind, but that they left behind inside us!

PPS:  I emailed Sir Walter Bodmer and he has been kind enough to provide me with a summary of the findings of his work that he wrote following the publication of the major publication on their work in the science journal Nature  in March 2015:  Faces-Britain-POBInewsletter06_March2015 copy reduced

What an amazingly ordinary extraordinary week…

You know those weeks where nothing of great significance in the overall scheme of the world has happened, but yet there have been so many little amazing things that together the week has felt quite extraordinary?

I have been struck several times this week with the thought that today – at this very moment – I am the youngest I will ever be again…

I will never again be this young; I will never again have this few wrinkles (LOL!); I will never again have exactly this outlook in life because every experience changes one’s outlook…

While a very logical statement, it has had a very profound effect on the way I view each day.  I already live the best life I can, moment to moment – and I have done more with my life to date than most people even dream of achieving – but this conscious realisation has given me an even more pressing drive to make sure I focus on only what I want from life, and what I want to give to the world – because as Michael Landon said in his beautiful quote, “we only have so many tomorrows.”

In my week, as I mentioned, nothing amazing happened – but here are the very cool things that did…

  • I discovered that Bram Stoker’s mother lived only a short walk from where I am living while I stay here in Ireland – on the banks of the Garavogue River in Sligo.  I found that extra-interesting given my recent trip to Transylvania!
  • While binge-watching Downton Abbey (I needed an ‘elegance’ fix, plus I am researching Bridgit’s Book Four), I found something that seemed odd, so I sent a message to Downton Abbey’s Historical Advisor, Alastair Bruce (who also happens to be Equerry to Prince Andrew and Godfather to one of the Prince’s children) asking for an explanation.  The domino effect of that is that Mr. Bruce has given me his contact address and has invited me to ask him any questions I might have in relation to my research!
  • Speaking of Downton Abbey, I had a beautiful compliment paid to me during the week – at one of my ‘local watering holes’, the waitress greeted me and said, “You always look so lovely – just like a modern Downton Abbey character.”  I don’t need to tell you how thrilled I was to hear that!
  • I finished Bridgit’s Book Three!  YAY!  …and celebrated with a delicious dinner of pesto chicken and steamed vegetables, followed by a nightcap of good Irish Whiskey.
  • Speaking of Bridgit – she found four new fans this week, all wait-staff at my various watering holes!
  • You will probably already have seen the posts I updated with my excursions this week to Counties Donnegal and Leitrim.
  • Going back to Bridgit – if you have read Book Two, you will understand the importance of me discovering the television program that brought the Lancastria to my attention.  When it aired, I only saw about five minutes of it, so had no idea what the program was nor how to track it down – but during the week, I was watching some programs online and happened to come across an episode of “Who Do You Think You Are?” that looked interesting… and lo and behold – it was the same program in which I learned of the tragedy that forms the basis of Book Two.  That may not seem like much to you, but it meant the world to me to be able to put a reference to genesis of Book Two – and to be able to send ‘thank you’ notes in appreciation.
  • In researching Book Four, I came across an interview that was recorded in May of this year with a man who actually knew the family, including the wife, of the main person around whom Book Four is based (and no, I am not giving that away just yet) – and so I reached out to the producer and I have just today been given the elderly man’s phone number and he is keen to speak with me and allow me to pick his memories with him!
  • When speaking with a potential client during the week, I had such a soul connect that I just know I have made a lifelong friend with this person – I love when that happens.
  • I adopted Merlin!  What? I hear you ask…  Merlin is a Great Grey Owl at the Devon Bird of Prey Centre (near my beloved Torquay in England) – and he was in need of an adoptive parent, so I couldn’t resist…  Will post about him separately soon…
  • …and I watched a glorious old movie, “A Rather English Marriage”, that brought home even more so, the fact that today, at this very moment, we are all the youngest we will ever be again…

As I said, nothing earth-shattering, but all in all, a most gloriously ordinary, extraordinary week…

Sending love and smiles to all…

~ Bella

 

My Personal Tips for Living an Extraordinary Life…

I live an amazing life many people say they could only dream of living… but when it comes down to it – therein actually lies one of the keys to living an extraordinary life – ‘dreaming’ that you can!

However, that’s where most people stop.

We have all heard that we must set goals that are realistic (I disagree with that word in relation to this subject), time-based (disagree in part with that notion), achievable (who’s to say what’s achievable?) etc…

When I am asked by people how I am able to travel the world, see and experience such amazing things… my response is that (a) I can work wherever I have wifi and (b) I made a decision some time ago (actually several years ago) that I didn’t want to be where I was (geographically, figuratively, financially, emotionally and physically) and so created a list of things that I DID want to be and experience – and it is that list upon which I focus pretty much daily…

That lead to my continually expanding my BUCKET LIST!  http://luxuriousnomad.com/bucket-list/ (and just in the past couple of days, I have now added some items and checked some others off – expanding it to be over 600 items – about half of which I have already achieved).

 

Think about it – if you decide to go on a journey and you ask your GPS to give you directions – the GPS kinda needs to know WHERE you want to go in order to be of assistance.

 

That’s where the Bucket List comes in – it is essentially my road map of things I want to do – places I want to visit – experiences I want to have… but it is more than that…

We have all had times where we see a documentary of an amazing place and think, “I need to go there someday!” but how many of us actually capture that thought and add it to a list we are continually checking off?  I do!

In addition to the Bucket List being a wonderful resource for achievement, we all have those days where the world gets just a little too big… and the list can be a wonderful tool to live an extraordinary life in these moments as well…

For me on those days (in addition to getting chocolate and a good bottle of red wine!) I read through the ‘done’ parts of my Bucket List.

It is amazing how inspirational it can be to reflect on what you have actually done and achieved in your life thus far…

“and what about being positive and happy as part of living an extraordinary life” I hear some ask…

Well, I have that covered in the Bucket List as well!

It doesn’t matter what you want in your life – to become a Luxurious Nomad like me travelling the world 24/7 (that has its pros and cons); whether it is to raise a wonderful family; build a phenomenal business; be the first person (that we know of! LOL!) to step on Mars…

 

What matters is that you capture WHAT YOU WANT! in some form of visual list – believe you can achieve it – and then take inspired action – EVERY SINGLE DAY – toward what you want.

 

It’s often not easy – but it is simple.

So, your action step – if you choose to accept this mission – is to review my Bucket List and then create one of your own – and put it somewhere you can and you WILL refer to it every single day…

As Yoda said…

~ Bella

My Next Chapter…

The subject of death, dying, epitaphs and such has been strangely prominent with several of my friends and colleagues lately, so I thought it apt that given I don’t have immediate relatives who know my wishes, to state them here.

…and just in case you are worried – don’t be – I don’t plan on going anywhere for a long time to come..!  🙂

However, this is something that has come up more than once and since my wishes are not exactly the norm – and since I don’t have anyone who is legally responsible for me, such as a husband, parents, children etc – I thought I would do the next best thing and post it here!  🙂  (OK, so you already know I am unconventional at the best of times, so why should this be any different? LOL!)  🙂

So, short version – do not bury my mortal remains! – do not cremate them! – please simply wrap the physical vessel that once contained my spirit in a very lovely, elegant, expensive, soft, silky piece of cloth and drop said vessel overboard in international waters.

Seriously!  That is truly and honestly my wish and makes me so very happy.

After all, it is merely my physical body about which we are speaking – the essence that is ‘me’ will continue on for energy cannot be destroyed, merely transmuted…

If anyone would like to put some type of epitaph to me back on terra firma, please make it interesting and preferable one that brings a smile to people’s faces 🙂 such as:


Leigh (Bella) St John

At least she wasn’t boring!


OK – that’s it.  Time to get back to work!  🙂

…and I am soooo loving the research I am doing for Bridgit’s Book Three! – stay tuned…

~ Bella

______

PS:  Almost immediately after posting this, I had several friends contact me to ask if I was OK.

Yes, I am not only fine – I am better than I have been in ages…!

However that did bring up an interesting point…  Consider your parents for instance, who may share this type of information with you as they want to simply have the peace of mind that their wishes are known – then all of a sudden they feel they have unfairly burdened you by you now thinking something is ‘wrong’ when in fact, nothing is wrong – they are just taking care of some personal business…

As Freud said,  ‘sometimes a cigar is just a cigar’…

What do you want?

Curled up at home here in Italy, I just watched one of the most EXTRAORDINARY movies I have ever experienced – and one that is about a lot more than just Formula One…

Directed by Ron Howard, to say this movie is about the rivalry between Nikki Lauder and James Hunt would be akin to saying War and Peace was just a love story.

In addition to being perhaps the most exciting, thrilling and magnificently shot movie I have ever seen, this multi-dimensional film also looks at the psychology behind what it takes to achieve your dreams…

The quote, “everyone’s driven by something” is interesting…  Some are driven by what they want to achieve – while others are driven to avoid what they don’t want…

While the battles between Lauder and Hunt are legendary, it is interesting to note that when Hunt finally won the world championship, he essentially retired from racing.  He had achieved what he set out to do – and although he died not many years later from a heart attack, he continued to focus on what he wanted and to go for it…

…as did Lauder.

Two world-class achievers who knew exactly what they wanted and followed their passion to the extreme.

What do you want?

Now, you may not want to go so far as to put your life on the line to achieve your dreams and goals, but do you know what you want and what you will do in order to manifest it into your life?

Over the past few months I have been re-absorbing myself into the works of people such as Earl Nightingale, Neville Goddard, Robert Collier, Albert Schweitzer, Wallace Wattles and others who essentially all say the same thing wrapped in different examples…

Decide what you want, trust COMPLETELY that it or something better will come to pass, and then take the next inspired step…

So, I know what I want – and each and every day I live my dreams, and every day more and more of them come to pass…  Nikki Lauder and James Hunt both knew what they wanted – and they both continued to live and achieve their dreams…

What do you want?

WWII history

Lovers of History

Their Sacrifice is Not Forgotten

Just outside the window where I oft curl up at Torquay Marina (literally across the road from where I am staying) and work, write, read and enjoy a vino is a D-Day memorial.

WWII History

What warms my heart each and every time I am there is that without fail, someone stops to invest time reading the plaques.

WWII History

No matter the age, people of all walks of life stop and read… and often not just for a few seconds, but for several minutes…  Even this gentleman (who looks like he is scooting past) actually invested around 10 minutes reading each panel in detail.

WWII History

Especially given my love of history and my being immersed in it while writing of Bridgit’s adventures, my heart soars that those who gave their all have not been forgotten.  That people still stop to learn, to ponder and to remember…

WWII History

WWII History

WWII History

My profound gratitude goes to both the men and women who gave their lives and also to the Torbay Council of 2006 who had the foresight to erect this reminder of their sacrifice.

…Lest We Forget…

~ Bella

Torquay marina

Today’s Office – Marina-Side in Torquay

Torquay marinaI love my offices..!

Over the past week or so I have been really ramping up my physio and both today and yesterday even felt up to going for a walk around Torquay – literally ‘around’ – along the waterfront.  OK, so every step hurts quite significantly, but I don’t care – just being mobile is such a blessing!  …and besides, there are plenty of people who are worse-off, so I am a very happy Princess Pixie!

Torquay Pavillion
Torquay Pavillion

After a lovely walk this morning exploring in particular the magnificent but neglected Pavillion (I will put up an entire post just on that over on my Luxurious Nomad blog), have now settled in to another ‘office’ to get some work done and have lunch.

As I type this, people are strolling by, the tower bells are chiming twelve for noon, the seagulls are chiming in with a squawk from time to time… (by the way, as I typed that word, squawk, I thought how delightfully funky it is! – ok, must be the low blood sugar affecting my already unique outlook on the world – time for food)

Local fish and not-chips
Local fish and not-chips

…and lunch has arrived!  Freshly caught this morning, local fish (substituted plain jacket potatoes for the fries – am being a little good…)

It was soooooo tasty!  Light and flaky…  Yum!

I do love it here in Torquay ever so much…

Well, back to work for this little Pixie…

Today is continuing the actual pulling together all the research I have done for Bridgit’s second book and beginning the actual ‘writing’ process…

Wishing you a truly magical day!

– Bella

Farewell to Facebook

Facebook, I am breaking up with you…

Last night I made the decision to say “Farewell to Facebook”.

The response from friends and those who follow my journey was wonderful and very heart-warming, and there was also an element of “if you are not on Facebook, you do not exist!”

In essence, nothing will change – I will still be posting exactly as I did – and by subscribing to updates with a simple email address, everyone will receive a notification the moment I post something – exactly the same as Facebook – only this notification will be via email.

Once I bring everything up to date on my three blogs, everyone will be able to comment, just as they do on Facebook…

So why discontinue Facebook?

It is not a simple answer, but rather one that is multi-faced, has had me feeling as though I am being pulled in several directions, and has been on my mind for some time.

Here are my reasons for choosing to discontinue posting on Facebook (in no particular order) and when combined, resulted in my decision:

  • I have three wonderful platforms (www.LeighStJohn.com for my personal and general business); www.LuxuriousNomad.com (for my global laptop-lifestyle travels); and www.WritingAndPublishingMyBook.com (for my writing and self-publishing) – yet for months (actually more like years) I have found my beloved blogs languishing as I posted to Facebook, rather than continuing the work I had already put into my much loved sites.
  • About half the time I spend (note I said spend rather than invest) in Facebook looking through my feed is weeding out the posts about politics and other subjects of which I am not interested.
  • I constantly have people adding me to this group and that – resulting in time spent (again, ‘spent’) removing myself.
  • I often pour my love and life into my posts, updating my friends on my journeys and adventures, yet in doing so, I am not adding to the richness of any of my own sites but rather becoming part of the blur of a social media platform – and giving them the copyright to my material (and yes, that is a debatable subject – but a debate I do not wish to ‘spend’ my time having).
  • Apart from / in addition to when I am posting, I will probably spend anywhere from 15-45 minutes a day on Facebook – that is around two to five HOURS every WEEK!  There is a lot of living I can do in five hours a week!  …and a lot of writing, and researching, and exploring… and with the international travel I do – a new country every three months (or sometimes less) image the languages I could learn if I chose to ‘invest’ those five hours a week into learning a new language!
  • I am currently listening to an Earl Nightingale book on Audible every morning and evening (“The Essence of Success” – it is just over 16hrs in duration).  He recently brought up the notion of everything in life being either ‘spent’ or ‘invested’ – and that was when I started evaluating everything in my life in those terms – and for me, Facebook came out as mostly a “spent” activity.

There are a lot of other reasons for my decision, but the above constitute the majority.

Yes, there is the ‘big brother’ aspect – but I have felt that since the beginning of Facebook – and have watched it all materialize before my eyes – and participated in it…  until now.

So, no, I have not fallen off the planet – I have just chosen to INVEST my time, love, energy and passion into a different direction…

Sending love and smiles to all – as always…

Quest: One week without disposable plastic

Can you go a week without acquiring/using any new disposable plastic items?

plastic-trashHow many disposable plastic bags, bottles, cups and utensils do you use in a day, a week, a year?

After watching a video by Jeff Bridges (I’ve embedded it below for you) I was inspired to take the challenge of starting with just one week – just one week – of not adding any new disposable plastic items into my world.

Sounds fairly simple, yes?  That’s what I thought!  I’m a reasonably planet-conscious person who recycles and prefers ‘real’ to ‘artificial’…  Should be a snap.  MAN, was I WRONG!

Here’s the video – watch this first and then I’ll tell you about my week of NO DISPOSABLE PLASTIC…

When did we become a plastic society?

Posted by Jeff Bridges on Monday, March 28, 2016

 

Day One – I didn’t go out of the house so day one was a success (kinda feels like cheating, but a success, nonetheless)

Day Two – A challenge was that I forgot to take water with me so called into a pharmacy to buy some – only to find the only water came in DISPOSABLE PLASTIC! So, I ended up buying a juice in a glass container… Then I was going to pick up some chicken on my way home but realized they would be putting the meat into DISPOSABLE PLASTIC bags… This whole challenge is actually more ‘challenging’ than I first anticipated!

Day Three – Decided to have breakfast on my way out this morning and called into a very cute-looking little cafe.  Ordered a yummy breakfast and an orange juice – only to have the breakfast delivered on a PLASTIC plate with PLASTIC knife and PLASTIC fork, and the orange juice served in a PLASTIC bottle.  It was all very tasty, but did rather dampen my enthusiasm for thinking I would be doing the right thing eating at a cafe that would have ‘real’ plates, cutlery and glassware.

Then on to the movies and I took my empty glass juice container from day 2 for them to fill with water – since they don’t like you bringing your own.  Unfortunately, while the only water they could offer me came in PLASTIC bottles, they were kind enough to fill my glass container with diet-soda (OK, so I know I wasn’t going to have any more soda while on my Kilimanjaro quest – but I felt like I would rather give up and have that one soda than buy a PLASTIC bottle during my one-week challenge.

Next, I called in to pick up some groceries and still baffled about how I was going to buy chicken and/or steak to cook at home without using any plastic, I asked to speak to the butcher.  After telling him about my quest, he said there was no possible way in any store he knew of where I could purchase meat without the use of plastic as even if I brought in my own container to put it in after he had weighed it, he would still need to put a plastic bag or sheet on the scales in order to do so.

SO, not one to be deterred, I went home meat-less.

Makes me think that vegans seem to be much less plastic-culprits simply by the very nature of the packaging of their food choices!

Am now home for the rest of the day…  Will see what tomorrow brings…

Day Four – I was home all day so no risk of adding to the plastic collection… however, I’m still baffled by many elements on this journey – mostly how it’s even possible to purchase the most basic of items without adding more plastics to the world…

Day Five – What a challenge…  Rather than purchase groceries that come in plastic packaging, I decided to forego breakfast, had a quick omelette for lunch (thankfully eggs come in paper-based packaging ALTHOUGH the cage-free eggs were ALL PLASTIC), and went out for dinner.

Day Six – Apart from an errand, decided to pick up some Chinese food – not something I normally eat but at least I knew their boxes were cardboard – so that I had enough take-out to last the final two days of my challenge…

Day Seven – after eating leftovers for breakfast, I hopped into my car and headed for Philadelphia to attend a conference,, foregoing lunch and having a delicious dinner at one of my favorite restaurants, the Moshulu (a turn of the century four-masted tall ship), knowing they would not be offering plastic!  🙂

What did I take away from this challenge?

In my experience, it is impossible to obtain what today we call ‘normal’ groceries without adding disposable plastic to the world.  It’s that simple.  It’s not a matter of purchasing at a different local store for this or that…  It’s simply not possible.  For instance, there were zero alternatives available to me in anywhere within a 50 mile radius (and yes, I went hunting) for me to purchase meats that were not packaged in disposable plastic.  Yes, I could purchase fruits and vegetables plastic-free, but that was largely where the quest ended.

So, unless I wish to exist on only fruit and vegetables at home and dining out for every other form of food – and to forego toothpaste, shampoo… the list goes on…

Even purchasing eggs – in the supermarket in the town where I am, the free-range (my preference) were all in plastic and only the eggs produced in ‘chicken-factories’ (that I tend to avoid) were in paper-based packaging.

I find it fascinating to look at the lives of people such as writer, Sarah Crisman – she, along with her husband, has chosen to largely immerse herself in the late 1800s – right down to everyday items.  As they state on their website, “We are NOT actors playing dress-up to portray “great men/women”, but just ordinary people choosing to insert as much of history into our present as we can, and using our experiences to teach others.  Sarah wears a corset 24/7, 365 days a year.  All of Gabriel’s current glasses date from the nineteenth century, from his 1850’s green sunglasses, to his everyday gold-rimmed spectacles, to his pince-nez for reading.  We don’t have cell phones, or watch television; Sarah doesn’t even have a driver’s license.  This is who we are.”

I believe it is only people such as the Crismans who are so removed from the 21st century who could possibly come close to a non-disposable-plastic existence.  For the rest of us…  I feel the best we can do is do the best we can to minimize the impact.

Quest technically over – yet I feel I have accomplished nothing…  Food for thought…

Leigh St John

Who am I? An unexpected (and very personal) journey…

family history ancestry

Over the past months I have been tracing my ancestry – and what I have discovered actually revealed more about who I am, how I view the world and interact within it than I ever expected…

Growing up in a seaside mining town in working class suburban Australia, I never felt like I belonged anywhere or to anyone.

My mother’s parents and grandparents were lovely, ‘salt of the earth’ type of people who were all liked and respected in town.  My great-grandfather was a Grand Master Mason, his grandfather was a notable doctor…  They were dependable, solid people.

My mother, however, seemed to have inherited genes from elsewhere in the ancestral tree as her ‘free’ ways resulted in her becoming pregnant with me as a teenager.  Repeatedly hearing from your mother that “you ruined my life” stuck with me for many years.  It’s interesting looking back on how knowing you are not wanted shapes how you see yourself as you grow up.

My father died in a trucking accident when I was only 6 years of age and my mother quickly found a replacement.

To say that the next 12 years of my life living in that house were a living hell would be a reasonably accurate statement – it involved every type of abuse imaginable – but everyone has their cross to bear and I was at least blessed to have my Nan, my great-grandmother living in a trailer in the back yard.

She was my rock who taught me everything important in life, and even though she was an old woman by then, did her best to protect me even at the expense of herself becoming battered and bruised, until she passed away when I was 13.

Needless to say, apart from my Nan I never felt any sense of family nor belonging, and to this day have no connection nor communication with any of them (apart from my mother’s elder sister with whom I am so blessed to have just recently reconnected).

Fast-forward to the present and for the past few months I have been tracing my ancestry and what I have found has astounded me – but the astonishment is what I found within…

As I traced my father’s line, I felt no connection to anyone…  I didn’t seem to ‘be’ like any of them.

As I traced my great-grandmother’s line, I again felt no connection to anyone but my Nan…  Again, they all seemed foreign to me.

…but as I traced my great-grandfather’s line (my Nan’s husband who died four years before I was born), it was like I was seeing ‘me’ in these people…  Their professions, their attributes and characteristics as recorded in various records, newspaper articles and journals…

Researching my other lines felt like I was reading about someone else’s life – or even reading a piece of fiction – but this particular line felt/feels ‘real’ to me…

…and yes, I know we are an amalgam of each and all of our ancestors, but we resemble some more than others.  Just as while I resemble my mother in looks, that is where the resemblance ends.

For the first time in my life I feel like I have a history that goes beyond “ruining” someone’s life…

For the first time in my life I feel like I have an inheritance of values and interests and skills from people who lived full, rich lives…

For the first time in my life I feel like I ‘belong’ to a ‘family’…  These people are MY people.  I come from somewhere – and I know where that somewhere is and I am even going to visit and explore there, to meet the people, visit the graves of my ancestors and get a physical sense of who they were.  I have a history that goes beyond me.

For the first time in my life I feel like I am not alone on the planet – that somewhere out there I have a ‘family’ – I have ‘roots’…  I belong.

Don’t get me wrong, I am ever so blessed to have chosen my family of friends – and I love each and every one of them dearly… but this journey has introduced me to the people in the mirror – the people who stare back at me through my eyes, the shape of my nose, the color of my hair, the way I think and feel…  The people whose genes are intertwined and intermingled with mine…

This journey has also started me thinking about those who are adopted and who never get the opportunity to discover their ‘people in the mirror’…  – and also the fact that I do not have any children to whom I can pass on this rich tapestry…

When I eventually depart from this physical existence, this all stops with me.

Before this journey, I had never understood why the bible and other accounts through history place so much importance on who begat whom, and while I can and will write stories about what I have discovered, to you they will be just that, stories.  Without the legacy of children, my linage stops with me.

At this stage of my life (I turn 50 this year) it is highly unlikely that I will have any children – and even if the wonderful, tall, handsome man who is coming into my life soon to sweep me off my feet comes with children and even grand-children who take to me as their own, my genetic ancestry still stops with me.

…and as I contemplate that notion, it becomes clearer than ever why I feel so compelled to inspire people, so compelled to leave some form of legacy that will continue to inspire after I head back to my home planet 🙂

Maybe there is a need to leave a legacy hard-wired in to us in our genetic makeup – like fight or flight, the need to breathe, the compulsion to help someone in distress…  For most, the legacy is in the form of loving and protecting their children – but when you don’t have children, perhaps the legacy is simply expressed in a different form.

For me this ancestral discovery project has been (and continues to be) one of fascination and self-discovery – and a very unexpected journey…

virtual office

What does your office look like?

…and I’m not talking about how many stacks of papers there are on your desk…

How to live a life most people only dream about…

I’m referring to ‘where’ you actually work.  For many, there is no option but to turn up to a specific place however there is an increasingly large group of people who have the flexibility to work without being tied down to a specific desk in a specific venue day after day.

If your work is such that as long as you are connected to wifi and cell phone coverage you can do what you need to do, consider thinking out of the box with regard to what your office looks like – because essentially, you can have a ‘virtual office’ and work from some of the most extraordinarily beautiful places…

For instance, just the past couple of weeks, my office has looked like this…

virtual office leigh st john luxury travel achievement strategist

…and this…

virtual office leigh st john luxury travel achievement strategist

…and this…  Sitting in the car in the sun in happily working away – no need for the heat to be on as the sun is SO bright today, it’s keeping the car nice and toasty… We had a cold snap and outside it’s 28oF and the entire lake is frozen… I went for a short stroll and the only sound you hear is the breeze and the slight crackling every now and again of the ice… It’s magnificent!

virtual office leigh st john

 

…and this…  Sitting beside the lake, in the grounds of a glorious 19th century national trust home…virtual office leigh st john

 

So, how can I work at all these (and others so cool and amazing they would seriously blow your mind – this is just a selection from the past couple of weeks) beautiful places?

Simple.

Technology has made it possible for those of us who do not have to be physically in a certain location, to work from just about anywhere.

How do I do it?  

In addition to my cell phone and iPad, I have a plug-in gizmo (technical term) for my laptop that enables me to get wifi signal anywhere that my provider has coverage.

I also have a power-outlet gizmo (another technical term) that plugs into the cigarette lighter of the car and into which I can plug anything I would normally plug into the power outlet in the wall.  This means even if batteries are running low, I can either work on ‘mains’ power (so to speak) or just charge them up and continue.

PLUS – because I travel all over the world, I have a small power-strip adapter that is suitable for various voltages – so it doesn’t matter if I want to work beside a waterfall in Virginia or a winery in Tuscany…  As long as there is a wifi signal, I am good to go!

On top of that, I have a tiny portable printer (that also prints from my iPad and iPhone) and a scanner that is so small it’s almost ridiculous.

My files are all stored on Dropbox, with local versions on my laptop for times when I’m not connected to the internet.

All international calls are done via Skype’s “Unlimited World” package whereby, for around $15/month, I can call any landline in the world and any cell phone in the USA or Canada.  I’ve also recently added “Unlimited Europe” (approx $20/mo) that includes calling to cell phones in most European countries and the UK.

My entire ‘office’ fits into a carry-on, with plenty of room to spare.

Also, many phones can be set up to be ‘hot spots’ so your laptop can use your cell phone’s data in order to connect to the internet.

“But isn’t this expensive?” I hear many ask…  My response is two-fold.  When in the USA, I probably pay around $50 a month more than the average business person who uses their phone etc for work – so yes, it does cost more.

BUT…  Look at the types of places I get to sit and work!

Seriously, if you are one of the lucky ones who do not HAVE to be tied to a particular place, consider what your office could look like – even if just every now and again…

It’s amazing how your very soul smiles and how productive you can be when your office looks like this…

virtual office leigh st john achievement strategist luxury global traveler

Is there enough TIME?

time-swirlDo you ever have the feeling that there is never enough time to do and see and experience and explore and share everything you want to do and see and experience and explore and share?

Tonight watching a panel discussion on mathematics from the World Science Festival, it really hit home (yet again) how much there is to learn and explore – that I passionately want to learn and explore – and that’s in addition to growing my business that I love, spending time with people I love, doing things I love – and what a relatively small amount of time we have in which to do it…

…and I’m not talking about having to much to do – I’m talking about wanting to know more, do more, be more… simply for the pure love of knowing more, doing more and being more…

My friend, Tom Meloche wrote an interesting blog post about change and in it he mentioned that several hundred years ago in the time of DaVinci it really was possible to learn almost everything then universally known in just about every subject from mathematics to language etc… Whereas now, one could study a single subject for a lifetime and still not know everything that is universally known within that field of study.

…and while I do not desire to know all there is to know about every subject known to man, the amount of time required to study, research and discuss the number of subjects in which I do wish to become reasonably proficient greatly outnumbers the hours in a lifetime, no matter how long that life may be…

For instance, I studied Artificial Intelligence at Stanford for a semester just for fun – and LOVED it! Curled up in bed every evening before I go to sleep, I choose to watch a documentary or read a book that teaches me something FAR more often than I watch or read something that doesn’t…

I mean, seriously, you could put me in a library (remember them?) and I would have an active interest in at least 80% of the books on the shelves!  Oh, well, at least I’m never bored!

How are you investing / spending YOUR time?

Sometimes ‘someday’ becomes ‘never’ – whatever you want to do, make sure you make the time for it…  There are only so many tomorrows…

Imagination + Memory = Reality

imaginationHmmm… (play deep thinking contemplation music) Imagination + Memory = Reality.

Think about it… Two people can be in the same time and place together yet remember the event completely differently – they use their imagination upon their memory to create a scenario that fits with their view of their reality…

Two people can drive exactly the same make and model of car – one loves it and the other loathes it – all because their imagination has created a reality where that car does/does not fit…

We imagine what we want from life and set goals – yet the moment we set that goal it becomes a memory and we adjust it with our imagination to fit our reality… I’m not saying we forget about it – I’m saying it literally becomes a memory – it’s no longer ‘now’ unless we take active steps to make it part of ‘now’… to consistently imagine it as part of each and every ‘now’…

Your reality is subjective – and it depends entirely on how you allow your imagination to play with your memories…

In the same scenario in your past – in your memory – you can imagine yourself to be victim or victor – and that will impact and help define your reality…

Imagination is possibly the greatest gift any of us has ever been given as it truly can affect our very reality…

Make sure when you let your imagination out to play, that you send it off with love and encourage it to imagine only the highest good for you and everyone else in your world…

Twilight Zone

Twilight Zone-2LOL! This morning I awoke and my phone said it was 4:18am – although the clock in the room said it was 7:35am… I checked my emails on my phone and the last email that had arrived did so at 4:17am… So, I thought I would consult with my iPad that was also beside the bed… It promptly opened – confirmed it was indeed now 7:43am – and then crashed… Not one to be deterred, I came out to my laptop – after checking yet another clock and learning that yes, it was now 7:49am – turned the laptop on, only to have it tell me it couldn’t connect to the internet…

OK, I can take a hint! (eventually… LOL!) So, I turned everything off, unplugged it all, make myself a yummy breakfast and went back to bed to eat it!

It’s now 10:24am and all is well with the world…

Time to get to work…

How old is too old – and are YOU too old?

Are you too old?  That’s actually a loaded question…

Astronaut_U_S__Senator_John_GlennOn the weekend I watched a documentary on PBS about John Glenn.

While many know of – and even remember – his inspiring flight in 1962 as the first American into orbit, what I didn’t know was that while he was a sitting Senator and holding down that position, he was training for yet another space flight and in 1998 he became the only astronaut to have been a part of both the Mercury and Discovery missions…

…at the age of 77!

 

Last week my dear friend and glorious human being, Werner Berger, spent his birthday in Africa.

While that may be amazing to some, what I find to be the truly amazing fact is that…

It was his 78th birthday, 3 days after his 5th Mt. Kilimanjaro climb!!!

 

As a society, we are told you’re too young or too old; or too fat or too thin; or too this or too that…

When it comes down to it, the ONLY thing that really matters is what YOU think!

Are you too old?  John Glenn and Werner Berger certainly didn’t think so – and I agree with them!

In the words of one of my favorites, W. Clement Stone:

“Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve.”

 

So, what are YOU about to conceive, believe and achieve?

You’re never too ‘anything’ unless you think you are…

Who Inspires You?

inspirationI don’t know about you, but when I’m feeling less than my bright-eyed, bushy-tailed self, rather than talk about it – which only usually makes me feel worse and puts a downer on the day of the poor soul with whom I decided to share my misery – I tend to closet myself away either at home or taking a drive in my beloved car, and immerse myself in watching or listening to inspirational stories from others.

There’s something very powerful about hearing that Jim Carey started with nothing and every night would drive up to Mulholland Drive and ‘imagine’ what his life would be like when he achieved his dreams…

Or hearing the story of JK Rowling who, although she was a single mother and one step away from being homeless, still believed in ‘Harry Potter’ and even prophesized the fact in the first book, “There will be books written about Harry, every child in our world will know his name”.

Or Sara Blakely starting with the last of her savings, and out of her garage creating a business empire that, by 2014, had her listed as the 93rd most powerful woman in the world by Forbes Magazine.

Life happens…  We all have our ups and downs – but as Charles Swindoll said, “Life is 10% what happens to us and 90% how we react to it.”

I learned some time ago that it’s important to prepare for when those moments of doubt, fear or worry hit – thankfully they don’t hit often, but when they do – to have already a prepared course of action – one I don’t need to think about, but is already there waiting for me…

“Success depends upon previous preparation, and without such preparation there is sure to be failure.”  Confucius

My course of action?  I created a YouTube playlist of videos that inspire me, motivate me, make me think and make me smile…  From Wallace Wattles’ incredible work, to Will Smith’s thoughts on how to be a success…  This ever-evolving group of videos is my go-to place for inspiration when I need it.

Here’s the link if you’d like to take a look:  bit.ly/youtubeinspiring

Who inspires you and what is your course of action for those moments when you need a dose of whatever it takes to get you our of your slump and back on track?

I’d love to hear your thoughts…

 

 

Image courtesy Hartwig HKD

Luxury is a Choice, not a Dollar Sign!

wellness-spa-relax

Look at an image like this and you think of a quality day spa where all you hear are sounds of birds chirping, waves rolling… and many also immediately then jump to “but I couldn’t afford that type of luxury”…

Luxury is a Choice not a Dollar Sign…

On Sunday, I decided to turn my studio apartment into my very own oasis…

Relaxing luxury-spa-type music playing, reading, enjoying fresh juice and nibbling on nuts & steamed edamame, candles dancing away all throughout my Princess Tower, the aroma of glorious essential oils diffused through the air, luxuriating facial, and a bottle of wine that was sipped from a vintage Censka crystal glass I picked up on my travels… 

When I posted about my ‘retreat’, a friend sent me a message saying she wished she could afford to live like I live…

Hmmm, let me think… The wine cost less than $20, the nuts and edamame would collectively be less than $10… Everything else I have already on hand, but even if I didn’t they are not expensive items – you can even pick up candles at the ninety-nine cent store… Even the vintage crystal glass I found for less than $20 (it is ever so elegant – I love it – and it travels with me)…

As I said to my beautiful friend ~ luxury is a choice – it doesn’t need to be expensive – you just need to be mindful and decide whether you will focus on ‘reality’ or make your own…

While we may not be able to click our fingers and put a million dollars into the bank, or twitch our nose and be free from illness – we can choose to create our own world in which we are blissfully happy and loving the beauty of the present moment…

For anyone with the resources to be able to read this post ~~~ Luxury is a CHOICE ~~~ 

Whoever says you can’t enjoy the 5-Star life without having to outlay a 5-Star wad of cash, obviously hasn’t spent enough time with me…  :-))

Sending love and smiles to all… 

 

The Importance of Having a Bucket List (plus here’s a look at mine!)

bucket-list-LSJWhen was the last time you did something you really wanted to do?

Why have a Bucket List?  Most people go through their life as though they have all the time in the world to “one day” do the things they really want to do – and you know what?  Most never do them.

The old adage is true about the cemetery being full of the best books (that were never written because they never found the time to write that book they always dreamed of writing); the most amazing love stories (that were never lived because they never built up the courage to ask the person out or to say “I’m sorry”); the most amazing experiences (that were never experienced because there was always “one day”)…

I often update my Bucket List (that I call a Life List) however recently I did something in addition to that – I wrote out my Life List DONE!  Not just Bucket List items, but also simply amazing experiences I have had – because I decided that “one day” was every chance I get!

What I discovered in writing that list was just how many wonderful memories it brought back simply by going through that exercise – and also just how much I had truly done in my life…

…but I had a special ‘gift’ that many of you do not have…

What is that ‘gift’?  Several years ago I had an illness that was supposed to kill me – and didn’t (I’m stubborn like that).  Thanks to that illness, I realized just how short life really is and how every moment is precious… and I started living each moment to the fullest…

I started paying attention to the beauty in the everyday comings and goings of life…  I started exploring and going places and doing things simply because they sounded interesting or fun…

…and I developed a Life List DONE that inspires me every time I read it.  It contains not only goals and bucket list items, it’s also simply experiences that were ever so cool and that have meant a lot to me.

While you scan my list – reflect on all the incredible things YOU have ALREADY done in your life!

So many times we look at our GOALS and our TO DO lists, and forget just how much we have already accomplished…

…and if you look at my list and think it would cost a lot of money to achieve – perhaps if you did it all at once – and yes, there are a couple of expensive items on the list – but this list is the culmination of the past 10 or 20 years of my life – and also, think about how many incredible experiences you could have, right in your own city – for free…

It’s all about making the most of every moment…

“If you want something you’ve never had, you must be willing to do something you’ve never done…”  Thomas Jefferson

Here in no particular order is my EXPERIENCES ‘DONE’ LIST:

  • Own the Car of My Dreams (her name is Bridgit aka Baby Car and she’s a classic Jaguar convertible I restored who has been my constant travel companion for several years while living in the USA – when preparing to finally leave the States, I donated her to a children’s charity.  I just couldn’t bring myself to ‘sell’ her so I gave her to an organization where she could continue to bring smiles to people…)
  • Traced my family tree back several hundred years and completed the Ancestry DNA analysis (I’m 40% UK, 26% Iberian Peninsula, 21% Scandinavian, 12% Irish and 1% from western Europe) – and am writing a novel based on some of the stories…  Stay tuned!
  • Lived on the Great Barrier Reef
  • Climbed all 272 steps of the Batu Cave Temple in Malaysia (complete with an army of macaque monkeys ‘helping’ every step of the way)
  • Rebuild a Car Engine (twice)
  • Wrap a Snake Around My Neck
  • Stayed two nights in one of America’s most haunted B&Bs
  • Ride in a Tiger Moth
  • Sat beside Walt Disney’s original “Dreaming Tree” on the farm where he grew up – while the original tree has fallen over, the trunk is still there, a sapling from the tree is growing next to it – and the entire field is awe-inspiringly beautiful!  Wild flowers that grow as high as your waist in some places…  It is one of my top 10 spots on the planet.
  • Host Movie Premieres at Warner Bros
  • Walk over Sydney Harbour Bridge
  • Host “Going Green” TV show
  • Live in a two-storey villa in a 4.5 star resort with a friend’s 65′ yacht moored at my front door
  • Leave nothing ‘unsaid’
  • Grand Canyon
  • Fly Internationally First Class
  • Mardi Gras Ball
  • Made my living as a Professional Entertainer
  • Find True, Pure, Blissful Joy in pretty much every moment…
  • Live in USA (my dream since I was a small child)
  • Write an Amazon #1 Best-Seller
  • Speak on stage at the United Nations in New York
  • Stay in a luxury vintage rail car at the Chattanooga Choo Choo Hotel (formerly a Victorian-Era rail station)
  • Love Unconditionally
  • Spent Significant Time Touring Through 42 States (so far) – all by Road
  • Fly a Plane
  • I absolutely ADORE what I do for a living!
  • Ride the Incline Railway (world’s steepest)
  • Bring a Stranger Home for Dinner
  • Winter Olympics in Whistler
  • Tombstone, Arizona & OK Corral (where the shootout DIDN’T happen, by the way!!)
  • Angel Oak
  • Drive Across the USA Coast to Coast (several times – and at least 4 times in Bridgit!)
  • Teach at a World’s Top Business School
  • Target Pistol Shooting
  • Forgive and move on
  • Fairy Penguins on Phillip Island
  • Member of various Private Members’ Clubs
  • Visited The Alamo
  • Make a Difference in Someone’s Life
  • Visit Fort Sumter and Fort Moultrie in Charleston, South Carolina
  • Visit just about every significant Antebellum Home in the USA
  • Learn Sign Alphabet
  • Catalina Island
  • Own Personalized Private Label Wine
  • Participate in Murder Mystery
  • Spent several inspiring hours at the Georgia Guidestones
  • Tour Historic Philadelphia
  • Hug a Redwood in the Redwood Forest
  • Competition Ballroom Dancing (as a teenager, and won two awards)
  • Tour Stalagmite Caves
  • Mark Twain’s beloved Hannibal Missouri
  • Member of Mensa
  • Visit Cadillac Ranch
  • Gorgeous collection of Jewellery, Shoes, Handbags & Accessories
  • Hiking Through Rainforest
  • Visit the original Laura Ingalls Wilder house
  • Arabia Steamboat Musuem (the largest single collection of pre-Civil War artifacts in the world)
  • Achieve over 50,000 Followers on Twitter (it’s down to around 37K now, and it was a wonderful experience building the following – it’s interesting that once I stopped actively building, the ‘fluff’ fell off and the 35K or so that remain are constant, loyal followers)
  • Own several Civil War Gowns
  • Struck by lightning – and obviously lived to tell the tale!  Actually, the lightning hit the roof of the garage I was in and went through the power line to the charger cable that was beside me – the spark arced from the cable to my leg, causing a weird burn/bruise-like injury, my hair stood on end, my heart started beating to a very different drum!  Not only that, but it fried the wiring in the garage and even literally ‘blew up’ the automatic sprinkler controller on the wall – we found pieces everywhere!
  • Daily Full-page “Life with Leigh” series in Major Metro Newspaper
  • Own a grand piano
  • Visit Parkes Observatory
  • Treat a Person who is Homeless to Thanksgiving Feast (I do this most every year)
  • Live with Private Beach at my Doorstep
  • Been on stage with Jay Leno
  • Tour Historic Newport
  • Win Awards for my Photography
  • Build a Snowman
  • Ruby Falls
  • Visit Painted Desert in New Mexico
  • Fishbowl Margarita in El Paso
  • Willard Hotel in Washington
  • Visit Churchill Downs (Home of Kentucky Derby)
  • Sailing on a tall ship
  • Attend Private Event in US House of Representatives
  • Shopping on Rodeo Drive
  • Sing for a Living
  • Route 66
  • Drive entire length of Historic Route 1 / Hwy 101 from Mexico to Canada
  • Civil Rights Museum in Lorraine Hotel
  • Swim Naked Under the Stars in a beautiful a lake
  • Drive across the Golden Gate Bridge
  • Danced/Played the giant piano in FAO Swartz in New York
  • Met the Principals of the Russian Bolshoi Ballet & had front row seats
  • Elvis Presley Aircraft Museum
  • Hollywood Walk of Fame (no, I’m not ON it, I just walked along it)
  • Watch the sun rise and set at the horizon while at the Beach (obviously not at the same beach!  LOL!)
  • Natural Bridge in Virginia
  • Historic Santa Monica Pier
  • Four-wheeling over monster sand-dunes
  • Host “Achievers and Unsung Heroes” TV & radio shows
  • Victor Borge 80th Birthday concert
  • Monticello
  • Horseback Riding through Antebellum Plantation
  • Nashville
  • Sydney Opera House
  • Off-Roading Through Monster Sand Dunes
  • Ride the L train in Chicago
  • Crater Lake
  • Build a smart-phone app (several)
  • Attend a Rodeo
  • Travel Through Asia
  • Manage a Charity Feeding Homeless Children
  • Stay in Eco-Friendly Cavallo Point, California
  • Attend a Cirque de Soleil show in Vegas
  • Guest Soloist with Sydney Conservatory Choir
  • Attend Revolutionary & Civil War Re-Enactments
  • Go on a Blind Date
  • New Years Eve on Sydney Harbor
  • Churn Butter By Hand
  • Survive an Illness that was supposed to kill me
  • Conquered fear of Public Speaking (and a good thing, too, given that I chose to go into the field of media and entertainment!)
  • Herd Cattle
  • Contact someone I don’t know who also has my name
  • Tour Royal Selangor Pewter Factory in Kuala Lumpur
  • Buy something at an Auction
  • Attend College Football Game (LSU @ Tiger Stadium) & Tail-gating
  • Ride an Elephant
  • Visit Grant Park in Chicago
  • Do something ‘big’ completely on faith
  • Lead in Musical Theater
  • Study Artificial Intelligence at Stanford (for fun)
  • Niagara Falls (& also did a horse-drawn carriage ride in middle of winter – stunning!)
  • Daily Successfully manage several health ‘challenges’ that sometimes slow me down but never stop me…
  • Own AV Studio
  • Reverse a Trailer Around an Obstacle Course
  • Stayed AirBnB
  • Cuddle a Koala
  • Ride in a Tuk Tuk
  • Live in Las Vegas
  • Co-Host Drive Time on Major Commercial Radio Station
  • Explore a Completely Uninhabited Ghost Town
  • Ate squirrel and rabbit gumbo (where both critters were shot on the same premises they were cooked and eaten – certainly an ‘interesting’ experience but not one I recommend! (for you or the squirrel!))
  • Do several ‘staycations’ where you stay in a hotel in your city and be a tourist in your own town
  • July 4th on the Water in Savannah, Georgia
  • Attended a Louisiana Cajun Boucherie
  • Butterfly Park in Kuala Lumpur
  • Attended an international IndyCar race
  • Visit all Smithsonian Buildings in Washington
  • Swim in a Tea Tree Lake
  • Adopt a Rescue Dog
  • Attend International Surfing Competitions (not as a competitor!)
  • Eat Philly Cheesesteak in Philadelphia
  • Hoover Dam
  • Row 6 – Rolling Stones Voodoo Lounge Tour
  • Snorkled on the Great Barrier Reef
  • Dropped 75lb after putting it on during an illness (and currently working on achieving my dream body)
  • Camping By Myself – beside a lake… it was magical!
  • Jekyl Island
  • Start a Non-Profit
  • Visit ‘The General’ in Kennesaw Mountains
  • Ride a Greyhound Bus across several States (boy, was that an experience!)
  • Build Websites
  • Entertain elderly people at a nursing home
  • Shear a Sheep
  • Build several businesses (some were successes – some were monumental failures – although thankfully there were more of the former than the latter!)
  • Natchez Pilgrimage
  • Play Bocce
  • Continually Learn about Quantum Physics
  • Windsor Ruins
  • Create My Own Family Crest
  • Get caught in a dust storm with zero visibility (Ok, so not something I planned, but experience worthy of the list)
  • Biltmore
  • Attend an Event with International Heads of State
  • Hold a Tarantula
  • Stayed in a number of glorious vintage hotels
  • Attend Renaissance Festival
  • Front-row-center at Don McLean concert
  • Shucking Oysters Fresh from the Fire at an Oyster Roast
  • Spend a whole day at a luxury spa, then elegant dinner and a show
  • Sailing
  • Study at Stanford
  • Discover my signature perfume
  • Hole in One (OK, so it was mini-golf!)
  • Magnificent Historic Charleston, South Carolina
  • Picnics are usually 5 Star with Vintage Crystal Glasses & Estate Silverware
  • Teach Someone who is Illiterate to Read
  • New Year’s Eve on the river in Savannah, Georgia
  • Eat possibly the world’s best Lobster Slider – Plymouth (near ‘the rock’)
  • Used Limousines as primary method of transport
  • Toured a submarine
  • Visit New Zealand
  • Attend a Polo Match
  • Visit Times Square
  • Learn CPR
  • Bought a quality western cowboy (or should that be cowgirl) hat and had it custom-fitted (I love bespoke experiences like that!)
  • Drive in Celebrity Speedway Race
  • Catalina Island
  • French Quarter in New Orleans
  • Lasik Eye Surgery
  • Boat License
  • San Antonio Riverwalk
  • Met Masaru Emoto
  • Jet-boating
  • Brewed Beer
  • Atalaya Castle
  • Be a Ghost-Writer
  • Shoot a Bow & Arrow
  • Attend Zulu Lundi Gras
  • Regularly Send Handwritten Notes with Wax-Sealed Envelope, Written with Fountain Pen
  • Learn to Throw a Clay Pot
  • Bowl a 200+ game
  • Donate Blood
  • Aspen
  • Historic Vicksburg
  • Experience a Real White Christmas
  • Mount Vernon
  • Toured an aircraft-carrier
  • Morgan Freeman’s Ground Zero Blues Club
  • Milk Cows both by Hand and Machine
  • Live on a Yacht for a Week
  • Go on a Hay Ride
  • (ref scene in Pretty Woman) Had lunch at Bar at the Beverley Wilshire (they’ve redecorated since the movie)
  • Dined at the Boat House in Central Park

(I update this list (both done and to do) every few months)

…and here is the (much shorter) Bucket List of items still to do… (again in no particular order).

  • Become healthy enough to climb Mt Kilimanjaro in 2017
  • Daily continue to see the beauty and enjoy the bliss…
  • Continue to make a difference and help people achieve their dreams…
  • Be a volunteer at “il Club di Guilietta” (ref ‘Letters to Juliet’)
  • Continue to explore my ancestry, including visiting places from which they originated
  • Be the voice for an animated feature film
  • Achieve the body of my dreams
  • Statue of Liberty
  • Develop a fictional character I love and publish stories about her journeys
  • Live in a Marina (again)
  • Meet and fall mutually in love with the Man of my Dreams
  • Help a family who is homeless to get a job, a home and a new life
  • San Francisco Cable Car
  • Private Plane (I don’t want one, I just want to travel in one if I need to fly anywhere)
  • Learn to better appreciate wine
  • Be a writer for “Huffington Post”
  • Speak Italian and French (I don’t need to be fluent, just enough to understand and to be understood)
  • Swim with Dolphins
  • Attend all three Triple Crown events – Private Box
  • Build a Labyrinth
  • Visit every US state (42 down – 8 to go…)
  • Continue to facilitate inspiring events…
  • Natural Hot Springs
  • Really explore Napa Valley
  • Pike’s Market
  • Williamsburg, Virginia
  • Stonehenge
  • Develop a range of inspirational books, journals, items etc from my photography
  • Coliseum
  • Monaco
  • Machu Pichu
  • Mud Bath
  • Produce inspiring short films
  • Heart Castle
  • Coral Castle
  • Santorini
  • Tour ~ and stay in ~ castles across the UK and Europe
  • Major art and architectural icons through Europe
  • Coney Island
  • Vienna
  • Venice
  • Vintage Rail Tours including Orient Express & Pullman Tours
  • Greek Islands
  • Austria
  • Disneyland
  • Switzerland
  • Easter Island
  • Rome
  • Kiss passionately in the rain
  • Athens
  • Loch Ness
  • Tuscany
  • ‘Nights in Rodanthe’ House
  • Record an album
  • Horseback riding on the beach
  • Hot air ballooning
  • Build a water feature
  • Fly in a helicopter
  • Go on a cruise
  • See icebergs up close
  • Buy jewelry at Tiffany & Co.
  • Horseback riding in the snow
  • Regularly make something with my own hands
  • Christmas Caroling
  • Edgar Cayce Museum
  • Martha’s Vineyard
  • Narraganset Rune Stone
  • Make a Kiva loan
  • Nantucket
  • View a piece of Harry Winston jewelry up close and personal
  • Cape Cod
  • Stay at a Dude Ranch
  • Upperville Horse Show
  • Winchester House
  • Chateau Montelena
  • Newport Tower
  • TCM Cruise as a VIP
  • White Pass and Yukon Railway (Skagway AK to Whitehorse, Canada)
  • Continue to regularly attend exhibitions at the Smithsonian

I’m certain I’ve missed a number of items – and I am constantly adding to it… although the one that is most up to date is on my Luxurious Nomad site – here’s the link:  http://luxuriousnomad.com/bucket-list/

So, why have a Bucket List?

When I finally do meet my Maker, I want to be able to honestly say I lived my life to the fullest – that I used my passions – that I was of service to others – that I made people (and myself) smile – and that I didn’t wait for “one day” that never came…

This list is my inspiration to live the life of my dreams…

What’s yours?

Dionysus/Bacchus (Wine God) Celebration of the Spring Equinox & Eclipse

bacchusBeing the wine-o-clock kinda girl I am, I’m already planning for the Spring Equinox and Eclipse on March 20th…

Dionysus or Bacchus (depending upon whether you are Greek or Roman) is the god of the grape harvest, wine-making and wine, of ritual madness, fertility, theater and religious ecstasy in mythology…

…and since March 20th is not only the Spring Equinox but also a total solar eclipse (sorry, we’d need to go to Svalbard (Norway) to see it…) I figured it was a good excuse to get together with a number of friends and drink a toast to good ole Dionysus & Bacchus!

Hmmmmm… grape harvest, wine-making and wine (WINE – CHECK), of ritual madness (OK, MOST OF US ARE A LITTLE UN-HINGED – CHECK), fertility (NO CHILDREN ALLOWED – CHECK), theater (FEEL FREE TO RECITE ANY OF THOSE POEMS YOU LEARNED IN SCHOOL! OR NOT…) and religious ecstasy (THERE’LL BE NONE OF THAT, THANKS! LOL!) in mythology…

The spring equinox is filled with reasons for celebration. For many cultures around the world it marks the beginning of a new year. For others it’s a celebration of nature – of the return of the sun, of dawn, rebirth and fertility…

…and for us it’s celebrating good friends and a 2015 where your most treasured dreams all come true…