The 3D Museum of Wonder 

I recently traveled to Playa del Carmen, Mexico for a little R & R and made it a point to stop at the 3D Museum of Wonder.  Since I had never traveled to the Rivera Maya, I searched on Trip Advisor for activities in Playa del Carmen.  Lo and behold, I stumbled upon the blurb about the museum and knew immediately that I had to go.  My travel buddy Christine also said it looks cool so we should do it.

We took the 20 minute cab ride to the town of Playa del Carmen and were dropped off in front of a huge beige building.  We walked inside and were greeted by a worker who showed us a pamphlet about the museum.  He didn’t have to sell us on the idea.  Admission was $30 USD and we marched up the stairs to begin our journey.

We were met by Jack, who would be our guide/photographer for the walk through the museum.  He sat us down and told us that shoes were not allowed in the museum.  He gathered our shoes and gave us peds to wear so as to not ruin the art.  He told us that the 56 installations are the products of Kurt Wenner from Michigan.  Each one of the illusions costs around $10,000 to install.  The museum has been opened for roughly 1.5 years.

So on we went.  With each turn of the corner, Christine and I were more amazed. Some of these “paintings” filled an entire room.  The concepts of some of them were rather ridiculous, but none the less fun to enact.  This place allows for the inner actress to appear.

In case you’re not sure how to pose, Jack was able to guide us in posing.  Plus, when he was assisting others, there would be photos on side walls to give you ideas on your poses.  There were little markers on the ground that would tell the photographer where to stand to be able to capture the full 3D illusion.

The further in you walked, the cooler and more awesome these illusions became.  Since Christine and I came on a weekday, we were able to spend more time in the museum and not feel rushed because of the need to move quicker for others to take pictures.  

It was tons of fun figuring out what we wanted to do with each scene.  Plus, each illusion offered up several different ways of posing. Entire families could enjoy acting out scenes without anyone being excluded. It was a wonderland of imagination that children would love to fall into.  Even big kids like myself had a blast.

Some illusions had me losing my balance to be able to get the proper effect with the photo. Jack was helpful in lining us up in the right position for certain photos such as the one below.

There are some illusions that when you look at the pose photo to get an idea as to what you could be doing, you just want to make it that much cooler.  For example, there was a zebra illusion that looked like the zebra was jumping back into the painting.  Instead of just holding on to the legs as if you’re trying to pull on the zebra, I decided I wanted an action shot.  I wanted to look like the zebra was pulling me into the picture.  So I asked Christine to just hold down the photo button and go into burst mode.  45 pictures later, I had a photo of me holding on for dear life as I am being swept away by the zebra.  What do you think?

This is my favorite photo of the museum journey.  My mom was blown away by this and used her favorite word to describe it “sharp”.  

This entire museum is meant to have you laughing and acting out wild ideas.  It’s an Instagrammer’s best friend and a definite stop if you are ever in the Playa del Carmen area.  It seems that many tourists don’t know about this museum which is good and bad.  It allows for more time to enjoy posing and getting ridiculous, but something this awesome should be known. 

As you can see, at one point, we had the museum to ourselves.  Like I said, I’m not complaining.  I was able to act like a fool and not care.  

The above is an action shot of me actually losing my balance and falling into the fiery realms of hell.  It’s not fun down there.

Overall, if you are ever in the Riviera Maya and want a unique experience, visit the 3D Museum of Wonder in Playa del Carmen.  It would be a great rainy day activity.  Allow yourself the chance to act out all of your wildest imaginations.  You will not be disappointed.  

So Long 2016, Hello 2017

2016 was a rough year for most of us in different ways.  Most will say the political battle between Trump and Clinton was the culmination of it all and they can’t wait til 2016 is over.  Others may say it was a year of medical diagnoses while others may say they received the opportunity of a new job. Whatever may have happened to you during 2016, we now have the opportunity to make things right. To start over.  I’m looking forward to 2017 and all of the positive things it’s going to bring.

2016 started with me in Nashville freezing my ass off with my boyfriend at the time.  2017 will start in my hometown with my family and friends staying warm and enjoying each other’s company.  I’m looking forward to all of the laughs and giving 2016 the big ol’ finger and telling it to get lost.  I never liked the number 16 anyway.  Now 17 is a number I can get behind.

2017 will see a new me.  I’ve started to speak up for myself more and I know what I’m looking for.  I started getting back to being me at the end of 2016 after some slaps in the face which made me look at myself and not like the person I had become.  I lost myself for most of 2016 and started to morph into someone that was a “yes” girl.  Always doing something to make others happy instead of what was making me happy.  There was no balance.  Then I was forced to start over.  I could have stayed down and chose to feel sorry for myself, but I didn’t. This opportunity blessed me the chance to get back to being myself and appreciate how far I have come.  

Whenever I start to get down, I start to think about all of the things that I’ve done that others wouldn’t have the cajones to do.  I left my family and friends to work overseas with people I didn’t know.  It made me culturally aware.  I’ve worked low-paying jobs.  It made me strive for more.  I put my heart out there.  It made me open my eyes.  I chose my own path and 2017 will see my path stretch farther.  I’m putting positive energy into the universe and am raising my frequency.  Do not attempt to bring me down because it’s not going to happen.  The end of 2016 had me gently extending my hand to pet the beast. 2017, with the number 17 being very important to my life and it being my 40th year on this planet, will see me feeding the beast and she will conquer.

Stand back.  The beast is about to strike.

Happy 2017 to all my family, friends and readers.  May you all unleash the magic you have inside and kick some ass.  God bless.

I’ll Be Home for Christmas

Christmas is a holiday for gatherings.  Family gatherings and friend gatherings. Everyone’s spirit gets lifted with the thought of the December holidays.  People are generally kinder and more thoughtful.  They dig a little deeper to help those in need.  I am one of those people who enjoys the holidays and everything they have to offer.  Christmas is taken very seriously in the Sage house so there was no way I was not going to be there with my family enjoying those precious moments.

Christmas Eve was full of fish.  Literally.  The Sage family being of Italian descent, have our meal of fish on Christmas Eve.  Shrimp parmigiana, calamari, mussels, clams, shrimp cocktail and spaghetti.  One word to describe myself afterward was bloated, but it went down so well.  Nothing but yum.  Sitting around and enjoying each other’s company, laughing and playing games, watching movies and just relaxing were all on the agenda.  I do all of the above very well. 😜 I was especially happy to play with my dogs Samson and Hershey.  I missed them terribly.

Christmas Day.  Nothing like waking up early and seeing all the presents under the tree.  I still get very excited as if I was a little girl again. Someone usually gets a funny gift that we all think to ourselves “WTF” but in a good way. This year, that gift goes to my younger brother Chris who received Booty O’s cereal. Apparently, it’s related to a WWE wrestling group.  I can see him busting into this cereal when he comes home after a long night of drinking.

Christmas Day brought my lovely nieces to visit and spend Christmas Day.  The exchange of gifts took place and everyone was excited to start playing.  Mia, Gianna and I started playing the Shopkins board game.  I won the first game while Mia won the second.  It was a cute game for young girls.  Stella was playing with the Peppa Pig playhouse that I gave her.  I’m glad she was enjoying it.

After a delicious pasta dish prepared by my wonderful mother, we decided to start playing with some more toys.  Mia and I played some intense games of checkers on my traveling checker board rug.  She has a little work to do before she competes for a world title, but she does enjoy playing.  

After checkers, we decided to play Watch Your Mouth, the game with the mouth guards that stretch your mouth and you have to get people to understand what you’re saying.  O.M.G. That game had me laughing and crying so hard.  To see my nieces with those pieces in their mouths looking like the Chatterer from Hellraiser, gave me the giggles.  I know something is funny when my dad starts giggling.  Note to anyone playing that game, be sure to put some lip balm or Vaseline on your lips before inserting those mouth pieces.  Your lips immediately feel like they’re ripping if they’re not lubed up.

The day ended with cheesecake, cookies and brownies for dessert.  Packing up all the toys and games had my older brother looking like he just robbed the house while walking out with gigantic garbage bags of toys and clothes.  

Another successful Christmas Day spent with my family.  I wouldn’t give this up for anything. It made me realize how much my family means to me and that eventually there will come a time when my family will slowly start to dwindle. Parents pass, children get older and the holidays may take on a more somber meaning. Christmas has always been a day of laughs and love.  Gifts being given to show the appreciation of each other.  Unfortunately, it seems as if it only happens in December or when there is a Hallmark holiday.  Even though Christmas is only in December, it’s possible to give with your heart year round.

To continue the spirit of Christmas, my amazing mother and I went to the most amazing city in the world-New York City!  I love New York. There is no other city in the world that has the energy and attitude to reinvigorate the soul. Not to mention it was freakin’ 60 degrees outside at the end of December!  First stop, Macy’s!
I’ve been to Macy’s Herald Square so many times that I feel silly every time I pull out my phone to take pictures, but they decorate it so beautifully.  So many people hustling about you would make you think it was before the Christmas holiday still, but it is Hanukkah so maybe that’s a reason.

I did notice one of the windows outside of Macy’s had a bunch of elves and they were making the list of names for kids to receive gifts from Santa and I was super excited to report my name (though spelled without the “e”) was on the list.  I took a picture as proof.  It’s upsetting when you go into these Christmas ornament shops and they have the most unusual names that start with T but no Tracey. No Tracy.  No Tracie.  No Traci.  None.  But they feel free to have Tamara.  There must be a run on Tamaras.  So in honor of my name finally being on an important list, here’s the proof.

From Macy’s, we walked up Broadway and the air filled with the aromas of halal, peanuts and dirty water dogs.  Times Square was a shitshow.  It normally is, but the amount of tourists was out of hand.  I love Times Square because of the bright lights and big screens, but there are too many people.  

We decided to hit up Bubba Gump for some lunch.  After a 10 minute wait, we were seated. I enjoyed a delicious blueberry lemonade while my mother enjoyed a White Zinfandel. 

My mother enjoyed a shrimp scampi while I had the Forrest Feast which was fried shrimp, fish and chips and hush puppies.  I must say that their fish and chips were the softest fish I ever had.  Crispy on the outside and amazingly soft inside.  They tasted awesome.  I scarfed that food down as if it was my last meal.

After Bubba Gump, we dodged through tourists and traffic to see “the tree”.  I’ve never seen the tree at Rockefeller Center and now that I have…what a friggin’ disappointment!  There’s a reason why they show it at night all lit up because to see it during the day would highlight how scrawny it is.  I know the tree is dead already, but the daylight exaggerates how dead it is.  The tree looks miserable.  If it had a voice it would say “Put me out of my misery.”  We weren’t the only people to think this. Others said it’s so scrawny and apparently every year, it gets scrawnier.  Here see for yourself.

See!  What the hell is that?!  “Help me”. Don’t you just hear it crying?  Ugh.  Now that I’ve seen it, I don’t have to do that again.  Here’s our obligatory selfie with Timber in back of us.

After we saw that dead tree, we started to make our way back to tourist hell to hit the Path train. Ahh, the good ol’ Path.  The funniest thing that happened there was an old man probably in his 70s was boarding just as the closing doors bell rang and he yelled “fuck this!” That made my mom, some dude next to me and myself laugh. That guy had no fucks to give.  Guess if you live to be that age, why should you care what anyone thinks.

Now I’m home in Jersey resting up.  My Christmas tree lights are on, tv playing and cuddled up with a blanket.  Dogs are passed out, my mom is lounging on the sofa across from me, dad is upstairs and all is right with my world.  

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and have a wonderful New Year.

Senoia Round 2

Yesterday I made my journey back to Senoia with a friend in tow.  Laura, who is a big Walking Dead fan, has never been down to Senoia to see the set.  So why not go visit the town, see the sets and do some holiday shopping in the process?

We arrived a little before 11AM and started our walk towards the Alexandria set.  Now that the show has finished filming for the season, there are no security guards at any of the entrances. Muhahahaha (evil laugh). The one thing that you will notice now are caution tapes lining the outside of the perimeter.  Even a portion of the railroad tracks were taped off.  Laura mentioned that maybe it was my fault since I was able to run to the Alexandria wall and snap pictures the last time I was there so I’m gonna run with that excuse.  

I showed her where Milton’s lab was located from Season 3.  This is the location where Andrea was tortured.  The street next to it was where Enid’s flashback of her parents getting killed was filmed for the “JSS” episode.

Once Gin Street intersects with Plyant Street, the backside of the set is no longer taped off. Walking along Plyant brings you in the neighborhood and all of the neighbors have No Trespassing signs on their property.  Plyant Street is the location of where Rick and Carl find a house to rest in after Rick got his ass beat by the Governor in Season 4.  This is also the same house that Joe of the “Claimed” gang barged in while Rick was resting upstairs.

This street is also where Carl journeys out of the house on his own to prove that he can survive.  Carl’s famous line “I win” was muttered several times back here.  Plus, the house that Carl enjoyed a huge can of pudding while sitting on their roof is located on Plyant as well.

Once you pass these houses, you come to the intersection of Morgan and Plyant Streets. There is a small barrier that is on the side of the road stating that production has the right to close the street down and asking out of the kindness of your hearts to not venture towards the set.  Since the signs said nothing about prosecuting, Laura and I casually strolled down towards the back of the Alexandria walls. There was a piece of property for sale right next to the wall which if you are a fan of the show and can get a house built rather quickly, you could probably enjoy watching the filming from your second story window.  

We didn’t venture all the way to the wall, but did take pictures of what were Rick (far right), Carol (center) and Jesse’s (left) houses from behind.

I didn’t notice it until I started looking at the pictures, but in the picture above, there seems to be some type of ditch that runs under the wall.  If we would have gotten closer, that may have been a covert operation to get on the set, but I know Laura wasn’t looking to get arrested.

We started walking back towards Main Street and decided to take some pictures along the railroad tracks.  On one end is where they filmed Rick, Carl and Michonne coming upon the Terminus sign and on the other end of the tracks, Carol, Tyresse, Mika, Lizzie and Judith were filmed spotting the Terminus sign.  We had to take the opportunity to reenact the Michonne/Carl game as they balanced on the tracks.

After the self-guided tour, we decided to eat at Nic & Norman’s.  It was close to 12 by now and we were seated right away.  I ordered a Bison Burger with the sidewinder fries while Laura ordered the BBQ chicken flatbread.  I devoured my Bison Burger.  This burger was so much more appetizing than the Fried Chicken Burger I had last time.  Laura ate only a small portion of her flatbread.  There were lots of onions and it was smothered in cheese.

Following lunch, we decided to hit up some stores and do some holiday shopping.  There are plenty of antique shops with unique merchandise.  Laura found a few stocking stuffers for her grandkids.

We entered The Woodbury Shoppe aka The Official Walking Dead Store.  Every time I go into that store, there is different merchandise. My favorite new piece was seeing the AMC version of Lucille.  Not to get it confused with the Skybound comic version which is also sold, but looks more childish.  AMC’s version retails for $45 and looks realistic.  Do not attempt to board a plane with this slugger.  It will get confiscated.

As we walked through TWD museum downstairs where they have cell blocks, the doors that say “Don’t Open, Dead Inside”, Andrea’s torture chair and Daryl’s Season 1 chopper, I told Laura that I would take some pictures of her at the doors and in the cell.  She decided to act as Hershel and only have one leg while laying on the bed.  I told her I didn’t know if I should be laughing or not, but she looked like she had only one leg!  I couldn’t get over it.  No special effects or green screen needed.  At one point, we found ourselves to be the only people down there, so of course, she jumped into Andrea’s chair which is roped off and I snapped a picture of her with her eyes bulging as if she’s being tortured.

We continued on our way, walking in and out of shops.  Laura bought a few items and a beautiful long vest with a really cool pattern on it.  

We stopped in the ice cream shop.  For anyone who knows me well, you know I’m a sucker for a milkshake.  I got a mint chocolate chip milkshake while Laura bought some chocolate pecan fudge.  The shop has a chalkboard of the US and it says for any visitors to put a mark on the board from wherever you traveled from.  It’s amazing how this show has brought people from all over the world to Senoia.  In states that didn’t have many markings, there were people who wrote their countries of origin.  Spain, Ukraine, Argentina, England, China were just a few that I could read.

After the ice cream shop, we decided to head out.  It’s always a fun adventure going to Senoia.  There were quite a few people roaming the streets, ducking in and out of shops and looking at Alexandria.  Filming for next season starts in May.  Guess I’ll have to come down during filming and see if I can spot anyone.

Holidays at the Fernbank

Each year, companies shell out lots of money to celebrate the holidays.  Some companies reserve the classiest venues while others may hold their parties in the office.  No matter where you celebrate, as long as you are surrounded by friends, the venue doesn’t really matter. Last year, my firm party was held at the College Football Hall of Fame.  Lots of kicks, passing and diving for footballs along with a really cool interactive area.  This year, the firm decided to hold the party at the Fernbank Museum.  It proved to be a wonderful location with an awesome backdrop.

Our party was held in the huge hall showcasing the fossils of several dinosaurs.  When you see the size of these dinosaurs, you really become awestruck.  To know that these creatures roamed the earth millions of years ago, is fascinating.  

As more people arrived, voices began to fill the hall and the sound of children’s gasps resonated as their eyes widened at the sight of the gigantic dinosaur structures.  Every year, the firm makes it a point to have a family-friendly event.  Little girls wear their finest sparkly dresses and little boys are dressed in sweaters and suits.  There were children running around the venue trying to lure their parents to the exhibits or the third floor playground where most of them spent the majority of their time.

My roommate Stephanie and I headed to the bar to grab some drinks and were greeted by the catering staff serving hors d’oeuvres. Shrimp on skewers, chicken parmigiana, cheese and jalapeño balls, pigs in a blanket were some of the finger foods being passed around.  They were all delicious.  

Little by little, friends began to arrive.  After dropping our drinks at a table, we went to the buffet tables to begin to fill our plates.  Pistachio and feta salad, grilled chicken with winter squash and cranberries, salmon, honey bourbon beef, carrot and raisin salad, mashed potatoes, mac and cheese bar and a dessert station.  The food was delicious.  

After second rounds were devoured, Stephanie, Matt, Joy, Kevin, Doug and myself ventured into the dinosaur exhibit.  It had some interactive displays. One in which you had to lift a dinosaur fossil and the other was an elephant fossil.  The purpose was to see which was heavier.  Of course, this was a fail because Joy lifted the dinosaur fossil and pulled it right off of the rod that held it up.  I told her I was gonna write about this in the blog, so here it is!  Hi Joy! Stephanie was able to screw it back on.

We continued to roam the exhibit and lift, spin and observe through microscopes the evolution of dinosaurs.  I love learning about dinosaurs.  I find the topic fascinating.  

After the dinosaur exhibit, we made our way upstairs and had the opportunity to see the Christmas customs of several countries.  There were Christmas trees displayed that represented different countries and a write up about the traditions.  Many of these trees were very elaborate in their decorations.

After the Christmas trees, we took a stroll through the exhibit of Georgia’s environmental history.  This was interesting because they showed animals and fauna that existed in prehistoric times.  Gigantic insects and animals that you’ve never seen before plus favorites such as bears and foxes and such.  Did you know there were T-Rexes in Georgia?

After the Georgia exhibit, we hit the bar again. With plenty of drinks flowing, there were funny conversations regarding the dinosaur conspiracy theory as well as conversations about the Illuminati.  It’s always funny to see your coworkers out of their work environment and see them loosen up.  It’s a shame that it usually only happens once or twice a year. New friends were made and 2017 pledges to do things that motivate were spoken.  I was able to adopt 2 more fun-seekers into swing dancing and doing something that they love and wanted to get back into.  Overall, this party was a huge success.  Looking forward to seeing these awesome people Monday morning.

The Start of the Holiday Season

I traveled to New Jersey on Wednesday to celebrate Thanksgiving and take part in the Black Friday shopping spree with my family. This year was special after a year absence from celebrating Thanksgiving with my family. Thanksgiving is my mother’s favorite holiday so I’m glad I had the chance to be there to enjoy some family time.  There’s nothing better than being surrounded by good people, good conversation and good food.

Thanksgiving.  A holiday that lets one show gratitude for all of the important people and things in one’s life.  This year, more than ever, made me extremely grateful for my family and friends.  They have been there through thick and thin; have given me words of encouragement and advice.  They’ve listened when I needed to rant and grabbed tissues when I needed to cry.  Every year that passes makes me realize how much I need them and their positive words in my life.

I was able to see my amazing nieces with whom I laugh uncontrollably.  Playing the tickle game, telling jokes or making up games as we go, they never cease to amaze me.  If I was their age, I would love to be friends with them.

As for my “Bumpuss Hounds”, I missed my dogs terribly.  Samson and Hershey are huge-bodied dogs that will barrel you over if you’re in the way.  If you’re on the floor playing with them, you will walk away with bruises on your legs from them stepping on you.  Samson took up his usual protective positioning when I would sit on the couch.  Hershey would lay on the floor and roll over on his side, breathing heavy as he normally does.  These dogs bring so much joy to my life and my life would be so much duller without them.

My mother, younger brother and I decided to go Christmas shopping on Black Friday.  I’m the type of person who could go out on Black Friday and not buy anything.  I enjoy the rush of the holiday season and it helps put me in the holiday mood.  Hearing holiday music, seeing the Santa Claus take up shop in the center of the mall and packed parking lots are all moments that I find dear to my heart.

We hit up a bookstore first then grabbed some breakfast at the diner where we plotted our moves.  We, then, drove to the mall and began to conquer our Christmas lists.  We got to the mall around 8AM and didn’t leave until after 4PM.  That was the first time my brother came with us for our all day adventure.  He had his moments where he was having a meltdown in Sephora, but could you blame him.  We had several good laughs with the idea that my mother was getting high from the amount of perfumes she was inhaling.

When we finally did leave the mall and get back home, our bodies just wanted to hit the couch. It was a long day that was going to continue on Saturday.

My mother and I purchased some Korean facial masks at Sephora and we decided to use them that night.  They were not what I expected when I pulled it out of the packaging.  I thought I would be putting on some type of clay mask and have it dry up until it was time for me to rinse, but noooooooo.  It was an actual cloth mask with eyeholes, a mouth hole and a slit for your nose.  This became quite comical.  We tried not to laugh, but this proved difficult.  We resembled Texas Chainsaw Massacre.  Once we took the masks off, we did notice a nice, refreshing appearance.
When Saturday rolled around, I had a list of the remaining gifts I needed.  I wanted to knock out all of my gifts while home so I wouldn’t have to struggle finding them closer to the holidays. Mission accomplished!  Now I can really enjoy the season.

I put up my little Christmas tree in my house today and my roommate will be putting up the wooden moose on the front lawn.  The neighbor already has up the disco star shower.  We’ve jokingly discussed dressing up as elves and dancing in the disco kaleidoscope.

I had a great mini vacation with my family and am looking forward to seeing them for Christmas.  Ho Ho Ho!

Looking Forward to 40

It’s the eve of my 40th birthday (I know,right? My 40th BIRTHDAY!!) and I’m getting nostalgic. Time flies, huh?  I still remember when my father turned 40.  My mom and aunt threw him a surprise party.  All the kids were sent upstairs to hang out in the hot tub while the stripper danced around.  True story.  And now it’s my turn to hit the big 4-0.  I always knew it was coming and now it’s here.  There will be no strippers involved.

I think about my life growing up, the places I’ve been and the things that I was able to accomplish.  There were moments that I’m not proud of, but there were more that I could hold my head up high and say “I did that.”  There’s things that I would do differently, but most of them I wouldn’t change at all.  

I had a great upbringing with a stay at home mom and a dad that busted his ass to provide for his family.  Being the middle child and only girl, I had to fight for what I wanted.  Literally. My brothers and I would throw punches, bully each other and name-call all the time.  I remember grabbing my younger brother and throwing him into the bush on the front lawn then running like hell.  Haha.  That was awesome.  But Tracey, you just said you had a great upbringing?  I did.  Those fights and insults helped me get stronger.  I learned how to stick up for myself.  You do not want to get on my bad side.

I started playing sports in the 4th grade excelling at softball.  Playing soccer for 4 years then deciding to try out for field hockey which I fell in love with.  Whenever I go back to New Jersey, I pull out my field hockey sticks and play with the dogs in the backyard.  They love chasing that ball.  Then Samson grabs the ball and runs away with it refusing to let it go. Game over at that point.  

I had a lot of success playing field hockey.  I made the All North Jersey team.  Those 4 seasons were probably the most fun that I’ve ever had.  Our team was super tight and would have so much fun together.  I played softball and made All-State.  I received a scholarship to play in college and started 4 years until I blew out my knee.  I was given the opportunity to coach at a high school allowing me to develop my leadership skills.  Sports taught me teamwork and discipline.  If you work hard, you can achieve anything.

After college, I started working at a law firm. While on a Club Med vacation to Mexico, I decided I needed to work there instead.  The corporate world would have to wait.  I was in my mid-20s and thought I could finally get the chance to work overseas and make connections.  I started by working with children for 2-2 week holiday stints in Florida and then was asked to work full time which I happily accepted.  

Club Med helped me learn to deal with other cultures and personality types.  It gave me the opportunity to perform on stage and become an exceptional performer.  While other people were settling down and starting a “serious” career, I was experiencing things that others never would.  Living in other countries, making connections with people from all over the world and entertaining thousands of people.  I was swinging upside down from the trapeze, teaching kids to dance and wearing ridiculous costumes to celebrate every possible holiday. Bastille Day, anyone?  I wouldn’t trade those experiences for anything.  Everyone who worked for Club Med didn’t work for them thinking they were gonna get rich.  We did it for so many other reasons.

Club Med gave me the opportunity to live out my dream of becoming a choreographer.  My amazing Aussie choreographer saw the love I had for dance and tapped me to replace her.  I had no formal dance training, but she knew I could do it and for that I am so thankful.  And do it, I did!  My entertainment team was the number one team in the North American zone. Shows with a twist like Mamma Mia and Chicago were on our roster, as well as, themed circus shows and guest-involved shows.  The funny thing was when I was a child, I used to be in gymnastics and I remember having a recital and the Governor of NJ was attending.  I was so nervous and didn’t want to perform, but did anyway.  I hated performing so much that I stopped from that point on.  Club Med allowed me to be comfortable with who I was and my ability.  I felt at home.

I had the awesome opportunity to go to Spain and teach dance to children from 4-17 years old.  I was told I was the most qualified instructor they ever had due to my choreographer experience.  That was a great feeling.  For 2 months, I taught kids dance routines.  It was great!  I was living the European summer lifestyle.  Work during the day, siesta in the afternoon, work a bit more later in the day, have the evening off and hang out in the cute town and party until 6am when everyone from all ages would meet up at the diner for breakfast.  Those Europeans know how to live.

I started my own t-shirt company because I had ideas for shirts and nobody was designing shirts that I liked.  I looked into the process and asked a friend who had started her own company how to do it.  Since I had no graphic design experience, I would draw my design out and take photos of it.  Send them to my graphic artist who would then create them on a jpeg and send me the file.  I would send them to the printer and a week later, I would have a box of shirts to sell.  I wanted to sell them at a convention that had the one celebrity that my first design was based off of.  So I busted my ass getting designs created, shelled out a lot of money in the process, applied for a business license and purchased a table at the convention.  I made my money back, got a picture with the celebrity who I gave one of my shirts to.  That’s determination.  Mission accomplished.

Moving to Georgia was a huge leap of faith.  I knew I wanted to move from New Jersey and Atlanta had bigger corporations than any of the other locations I was considering.  I came to visit, liked what I saw and found a roommate willing to take a chance on a girl who had no job lined up.  For some reason, I just knew everything was going to work out.  I had this calm come over me.  It’s the first time that I had ever felt like that.  August 9th, I started the journey to a new life.

Within 3 weeks, I landed my job.  I made friends along the way, learned the area a little bit more and was coming into my own. Whenever I get down, I think about events like these that have shaped me.  Moving to Georgia with no job lined up took guts.  I was willing to take a chance and just try.  I had faith it would work out.  

I’m actually excited to be turning 40.  I feel like I have reached a stage in my life where I can let go of all of the stupid shit that used to worry me so much.  I’ve actually adopted this mantra of not having any more f$€#s to give.  If you don’t like me, that’s fine.  If you don’t want to be friends, that’s fine too.  The less bullshit I have to carry on my back, the better.  Life is too damn short to be concerned with anything that isn’t going to make me happy.  I’m perfectly content right now.  Yeah, I may not be married; it doesn’t mean I’m lonely.  I may not have kids and that’s fine too.  Who says I want them?  I like who I am and what I’ve been able to accomplish.  I wear my heart on my sleeve, I have morals, I’m a loving and giving person and I’m turning 40.  

40 never looked so good!

Welcome Back to the Age of Jive

Jive.  What can I say about it?  I love it.  The energy, the tempo, the music.  Everything.  It makes me feel good and that’s what dancing and music should do.  Make you feel good.

I decided to take Jive lessons again because I miss it, but also to see if I could still do it after having 2 back surgeries.  My spine surgeon would probably advise against it because of the amount of bouncing required, but I wanted to know if my back will hold up.  

I arrived at my lesson with Manuel.  He is a new instructor from Brazil who also teaches my group class.  Once I arrived, I knew that I was going to sweat to death.  I changed into some exercise gear and put on a sports bra because all that bouncing could hurt without supporting the twins.  Put my lightest sneaker on and stepped out on the dance floor prepared to work.

Manuel and I spoke about what I knew about the Jive.  He had a checklist that had different moves that we could go over.  So we started with the basic step.

Manuel realized that I knew Jive better than a typical first-timer so we proceeded to move onto other steps.  Turns, stop and go, hip bumps, spins.  I felt so happy to be dancing again with a partner who knew Jive and could lead.  We practiced to Meghan Trainor’s “Dear Future Husband”.  It’s a quirky, upbeat song that was perfect to start out to.

I broke out into a sweat almost immediately. Thank goodness for the towel I brought.  I had to constantly wipe myself down.  It’s not the most attractive look, but I felt better after seeing Manuel sweat and then I thought about how much the couples in Dancing with the Stars must sweat after dancing for 4-5 hours a day and I secretly wished that was me.  God, I love to dance!

Manuel taught me the walk which keeps my upper body still, but quickly shakes the hips side to side while moving forward.  He also taught me some stylistic arm movements.

I didn’t recognize the second song we rehearsed to, but it was quicker than the first. What I love is that from the average person watching, it looks like a choreographed routine, but none of it was.  It was all improvised and off the cuff.  To be able to know what move comes next is a dream to a female dancer.  When a guy can lead in a dance, the female can sense what comes next.  She can relax and trust the man to steer her in the right direction and make the dance appear effortless.  That is what I want to achieve.

Lesson to all men:  learn to dance with a partner and take it seriously.  Ladies love men who can dance.  Period.

We ended our private lesson jiving to a fast song and it felt really good.  I was stoked at the end of it.  I will be returning next week for lesson 2.  I’ll learn a few more steps, go over what I previously learned and go over some arm placements.  I am going to be so freakin’ sore tomorrow and I can already feel the cramp in my one calf muscle, but it’s the good hurt.  I’ll take this hurt anyday.  All in the name of Jive.

Oakland Cemetery Birthday Scavenger Hunt

Today, I met some friends for a scavenger hunt at Oakland Cemetery for my 40th birthday.  It was such a cool idea in one of my favorite spots in Atlanta.  Nothing says “Over The Hill” like a celebration in a cemetery, am I right?

Starting at the entrance of the cemetery, we needed to read the plaque and fill in the blanks to decipher where the next location for clue 2 was.  There were times when we needed to use the compass on our phones to decipher which direction to travel.  

While we were scurrying around, there was a wedding rehearsal going on. Someone involved with the rehearsal saw me carrying around a clipboard with a booklet while scanning the ground.  He opened his car door and asked “What are you doing?”  I told him I was completing a scavenger hunt.  “In a cemetery?” was his next response.  “Yeah.”  This gentlemen then said he never heard of such a thing.  Oh well, he needs to get out more.  

Oakland Cemetery is a top destination in Atlanta for weddings and if you spend some time there, you would understand why.  It is hauntingly beautiful with archways, gazebos and benches while being overlooked by the Atlanta skyline.

As we made our way around the cemetery, we had clues that took us to Margaret Mitchell’s gravesite, the Confederate Monument and the Richards’ tomb which I have recorded EVPs telling me to get out.  That tomb always creeps me out, but yet I am fascinated by it and the gargoyles that keep watch over it.

Towards the end of the hunt, we started to run from clue to clue challenging each other. Writing in our booklets, deciphering puzzles and holding puzzles to the light to read the hidden messages were just a few of the tasks that needed to be figured out in order to move on.

The last clue had me running back to the entrance in order to finish the hunt.  Numero uno!!  I came in first and not just because it was my birthday.  I was waiting for everyone when Diana called her hubby Mark to tell me that the rest of the group walked right over to Six Feet Under for the dinner portion of the night.  So Mark and I drove over.  

The gang was unstairs on the patio which overlooked the cemetery.  There was a beautiful sunset full of pinks and oranges which helped keep our minds off of the chill in the air. A round of drinks were ordered.  I enjoyed the blueberry lemonade.  Yes, it was alcoholic.  My dinner order of shrimp and scallops with zucchini fries and corn on the cob was enjoyable. 

I was offered great advice for my 40s.  It was to be comfortable in my skin, find people that you could laugh with and don’t take no shit from anyone.  There were many laughs and lots of alcohol flowing.  JJ was hysterical talking about Wild Bill, Laura telling the table about the bacon prank at work and Quentin updating the table of the Georgia/Auburn game.  I tried to convince the table to go get tattoos.  Joy said she’d go, but Matt was against it since she’d been drinking.  That’s understandable.  

Overall, I really had a great time tonight.  The scavenger hunt was challenging and dinner was great.  There were interesting conversations that had the whole table laughing so loud we could have woke the dead.  Here’s hoping that turning 40 will continue to see me live life to the fullest.  I don’t feel “over the hill”. I feel like I’m just getting started.

Road Trip: Senoia, GA-Home of The Walking Dead

My Sunday Funday had me driving an hour south of home to Senoia, Georgia.  My main reason was to see if I could catch a glimpse of some cast members from The Walking Dead (TWD).  They are still filming for a few more weeks and many tourists have seen them walking around town and grabbing a bite to eat. So out the door I went.

The drive was less scenic than Helen, but once I got closer to my destination, the beauty of the area was enhanced.  Trees were showing their fall colors, rivers were running clear and the sky was a beautiful blue.  The temperatures started in the lower 60s, but once I got closer to Senoia, the car dashboard read upper 60s.

I’ve been to Senoia before during a holiday weekend in which Main Street was blocked off for parades and street vendors.  My travel partner and I parked down the road and walked to get there.  This time, I drove right into the center of Senoia on Main Street.  It really is surreal because I drove onto a set.  Main Street was the location for Woodbury from Season 3 of TWD.  It looks exactly like it did in the show.

The town is a tourist mecca and its thriving. They are building more shops and loft space on Main Street to resemble the exteriors of the preexisting store fronts.  This would not have happened had it not been for the popularity of The Walking Dead.

I parked my car in front of Katie Lou’s Cafe and set out to grab lunch at Nic & Norman’s.  Greg Nicotero and Norman Reedus, both from TWD, opened a restaurant serving burgers, appetizers and cocktails.  I’ve read many reviews stating how popular the restaurant is and how difficult it is to get seat so I made sure I hit it up early.  

I walked in and immediately loved the interior. The exposed brick walls draped with grey curtains.  Norman Reedus’ photography displayed on the walls.  Pictures of his cast mates and son along with Greg’s daughter gave the place a homey feel.  

I was seated along the back wall were I had a great view of the entire restaurant. Above my head was where the projection screen would lower to view new episodes of The Walking Dead. The restaurant closes at 3PM on Sundays to prepare for the ticketed event of dinner and “the” show which screens on 5 TVs and the projection screen.

My server Savannah was very welcoming and knowledgeable.  Drinks were served in mason jars and food portions were large.  I ordered a fried chicken sandwich on a brioche bun with sidewinder fries and an appetizer of guacamole and chips.

I have to say I was underwhelmed with the food.  My fried chicken was super juicy, but there was no true fried chicken crunchy skin.  It lacked taste.  The guacamole lacked spice. The fries were excellent though.  Not sure how the rest of the food is.  I would try it again, but definitely not eat those items.  I did hear the bison burger was good.  I’ll save that for next time.

My next destination was a cute little shop on the corner.  It sold beautiful jewelry, women’s clothing and household items.  The shops were already prepared for holiday shopping.  

I walked across Main Street to another shop called Table Talk.  The shop had Christmas decorations inside and tons of unique and thoughtful gifts.  Gifts for the homeowner, party planner and children lined the shelves.

After I left this shop, I traveled across the street to The Woodbury Shoppe which is the official TWD store.  The store opened at 1PM today and there was a line formed to get inside.  I waited until it opened to head over.  Everything TWD is in the shop. Shirts, replica weapons, comics and zombie knick knacks fill the store.

If you descend the stairs in the back of the store, you will find yourself in The Walking Dead Museum.  They have a replica motorcycle that Daryl Dixon had ridden, Andrea’s chair of hell from Season 3, prison cells on loan from AMC and the infamous hospital doors from Season 1.

I purchased a gift for my mom and a shirt for moi.  For those of you who don’t know, I love t-shirts.

I stopped in a few more shops.  I found one shop that I would love to buy everything in it. It’s all vintage, antique, repurposed homegoods.  

When I left the shop, I decided to see how close I could get to the set of The Walking Dead.  The Alexandria set is one block over from Main Street.  There are security guards that are stationed at the set entrances and a patrol car that covers the street blocks.  When I arrived, there were a few tourists snapping pictures.  I joined in.

To make this journey worthwhile, I needed to get closer.  I decided to walk down the street away from the security guard and the other tourists.  I kept snapping pictures, looking normal and doing normal tourist shit.  I noticed at the end of the set there was a trailer truck parked so I walked towards it.  Once you get beyond the truck, security can’t see you.  I decided to flip my phone on selfie view and make a dash for the Alexandria wall.  I got to the wall and placed my hand  on it, snapping pictures.  I was so excited.  The wall that I ran too was actually a door, but there was no way for me to get inside.  Part of me wanted to slip my hand underneath the door and just blindly snap pictures.  I didn’t in case I dropped my phone in there.  I’m excited I got to the wall.  As you can see, the private property sign in the background of the pic.

When I made my way back onto the street, some of the tourists decided to start heading down towards me.  I started walking back and then following the tourists was the security guard.  I’m not sure if he was randomly walking to check the perimeter or if he was curious about why people were heading that way. Maybe the tourists noticed the girl with the red shirt disappear and then reappear.  Who knows?  I got the pic I wanted.

I walked on the other side of the set where I knew the street is blocked off and the female security guard was there.  At this entrance, the walls to Alexandria are open and you can see inside. 

After my little hunt, I decided to head out.  I walked past a TWD tour that was going on. The tour guide told the tourists that Terminus is a real place.  “It’s in the center of Atlanta in a really bad place.  Do not go there!”  This made me laugh out loud because I tracked Terminus down with my mom in tow and yeah, it’s in a shady area that you don’t want to be in after dark, but there are so many people that go for the show’s set, that there is security that patrols the area.  Damn small town folk telling scary stories of the big city.  Boooooo!!!

Overall, road trip #2 was a success.  I enjoy this little town and it’s antique shops.  I need to come back here just to shop.  The townspeople are very polite and proud of their town and the show being filmed there.  If you ever find yourself looking for a quaint town with a cute Main Street and a huge set built behind it, travel down to Senoia.  They’ll be glad you came.