General travel, soul searching

Am I a nomad?

August 17, 2017 • By

Last fall a childhood friend called me a nomad, and I retorted, “No I am not, I just like to travel. That’s not me.”

It bothered me to be labeled a nomad. I consider myself a rooted individual not a wanderer.  I live in New York City and own a home in Chicago. I hop from my parents’ house in the Chicagoland suburbs to various dwellings across the globe. I may possess more travel size toiletries than the average person but my bags are not always packed. If I needed to get on a plane or train in a hurry, I could be out the door in 15 minutes, sweating en route, but looking pretty darn fabulous on the other end. That’s normal right?

The idea of a being a nomad rolled around in my head for months.

Am I someone who wanders?

Is it negative?

Why do I care?

This was part of a larger question for me.  Was this the life I wanted to be living?  Was this where I wanted to be in 20 years?  The answer: No.

I worked in government/politics for 18 years.  I am proud of my successes and my accomplishments. It was never dull and changed every day.  It fostered my caffeinated spirit and my thirst for knowledge.  The job changed every cycle.  I moved from city to city, from apartment to apartment.  I thrived on learning every aspect of a campaign and working with smart, driven people.  It was fun.  I traveled.  I met some of my closest friends.  I worked non-stop and when the job ended, I took a hiatus to travel, but then a cycle started again. The players changed but the game remained the same.


Christmas Market Nuremberg, Germany

After the 2016 election, I booked a flight to Germany to experience the Christmas markets. I drank Glühwein (mulled), visited with family and friends and walked every corner of the selected markets, but for the first time in my travels something had changed.  I was not present.  I took photos. I smiled. I talked to locals. I shopped for clothes.  I existed in Germany in body and spirit but my mind careened off course.


Sydney Harbour Bridge

I tried again in Australia, my safe place and home away from home.  The coastal walks taunted me and the heat drained my energy.  There were days when I sat watching Netflix Hallmark movies rather than meeting new people.  Upset with myself, I resolved to find “fun.” I shopped (thank you Lorne Jane), devoured oysters, prawns on the barbie and fish and chips, and drank every glass of wine presented to me. Did I mention eat and drink?  I paid homage to the Sydney Bridge daily and I slowly started admitting that I needed to make a change in life.

When I returned to New York City after the New Year, I threw myself into work and politics but I ached for something different, a part of me dying.  I lacked the desire, drive and ambition to be the “old” me.  The fire in my belly dissipated.  I ignored my intuition at my mental and physical expense to make my clients happy. That is until February when a writing course in Montana shook me awake.


Snowshoeing near Glacier National Park, Montana

In a little place called Whitefish, Montana, my love for travel returned.  My smile shined, the locals were kind and forgiving and I questioned everyone who would listen. The snow drifted from the sky in big chunks and I opened my mouth to capture a taste.  I spun around in dizzy circles like a figure skater on ice.  I conquered snowshoeing for the first time and laughed myself silly as I stomped along the trail like the Abominable Snowman.  A childlike state came over me.  The wheels were turning and I was thinking, thinking, thinking.

I attended Haven’s Writing Retreat with nine dynamic women eager to tell a story.  The pages turned for some but mine were blank. I fought anger, sadness and nothingness.  I didn’t belong there and I wanted to go home.  Where was home?  I didn’t know anymore.  At times, my voice and my pen took me to the Sydney Bridge, my happy place or chasing the past with friends but most of the time it landed on unexplored destinations where daydreams become reality.

One night, I stepped outside into Montana’s “Big Sky” blanketed with twinkling stars.  I stared at the infinite darkness–alone. The air was cold and fresh, the silence calming. I stood entranced. Sadness existed deep inside me.

That night I wrote.  The words flowed from my pen to the notebook like water released from a dam. My mind raced with thoughts about my job, dating life, my parents, brother, a friend. I wrote for eight hours and when my arm cramped and I pushed away the tears, I fell asleep.  I awoke a new person.

“I am done with politics,” I thought. “This is going to be complicated.”

And it was in the quiet moment of a late February morning that I embraced the true definition of a nomad. I enjoy roaming from place to place aimlessly. It’s my passion to discover new people and places. I study travel guide books for fun and attend travel shows to meet the experts I aspire to be. My path is not the path of my friends and family or even my colleagues but it fosters my creativity, my passion and my desire to be out there in the world.

The decision to leave my business and livelihood is not easy and I entertained many flattering offers before cutting the cord. It’s hard to say goodbye and lots of people tried to convince me I was crazy.  People whom I adore and respect. It’s scary to jump off the edge of the cliff not knowing what’s below. My prior attempts at leaving left me dangling for years in no mans land but this time I chose to listen to my gut and leap with my heart. My mind is still processing.

I hope you will join me on my nomadic journey.

My future posts promise to be funny and entertaining and will delve into travel, soul searching, job exploration, rants and for my parents’ sake maybe even love.


Learning horse therapy from Bobbi Hall at Stillwater Horse Whispers Ranch

History, North America

Visiting the Queen City of New York

July 24, 2016 • By

When I first visited Buffalo, New York in 2001, it was February and I hated it. I complained ad nauseam. It was cold, dark and dreary and I vowed to never return again but I was in L-O-V-E and needed to hide my disdain. I failed.

Fantasy Aisle

Spot Coffee on Delaware in downtown Buffalo

The city was certainly not any colder than Chicago, my hometown, but I found reason after reason to dislike the Queen City. Starbucks and Ann Taylor had yet to arrive and I couldn’t walk to any shops or bars. The downtown was desolate and by comparison to Washington DC and New York City, it was small and boring. As New York State’s second largest city, I expected more.

Fantasy Aisle

Delaware and Chippewa Streets are the main hub of downtown Bufalo

While I wouldn’t rush to move to Buffalo (and to be clear I have no reason to contemplate such a move), I stand corrected. Buffalo has grown on me. I have returned a few times for work mostly with my head lowered and my countdown clock going strong but on my last visit I finally figured out that the people are the driving force behind Buffalos’s allure.

Buffalonians are proud and hearty people.

They reflect on the positives the city has to offer rather than the negatives and the proof is in their relentless efforts to bring economic opportunities to the region. Buffalo has been fighting its way back to greatness since the demise of the Erie Canal at the end of the 19th Century. Similar to other Rust Belt cities, the decline of manufacturing stunted Buffalo’s growth and much of the population abandoned downtown for nearby suburbs. That is changing as more and more Buffalonians young and old come home to the City of Good Neighbors.

On a recent trip to Buffalo, I decided to explore the city from the perspective of a traveler. Why visit Buffalo?

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Buffalo Lighthouse on Lake Erie

It’s a city with two professional sports teams, a beckoning lakefront and a rich and interesting history. It serves as the gateway to Niagara Falls and the Canadian border and there is plenty to see and do.  A short 15-minute drive for Buffalo Niagara airport will land you right in the center of activity.

Buffalo will satisfy every craving whether it’s an architectural tour at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Martin House and his Fontana Boathouse or a stop in Elmwood Village to marvel at the Victorian style homes or maybe a visit to the Silo City Grain Elevators for a chance to go back in time.

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Canalside and the walkway to the Buffalo & Erie Country Naval and Military Park

If the Queen City is on your destination list, then definitely carve out time to visit Canalside and listen to locals buzzing with excitement. I braved the overcast skies and flurries *(yes it’s possibly in late spring) to find out for myself if the area lives up to the hype. I hopped on the NFTA Metro Rail, which runs along Main Street and is free downtown. It dropped me at the end of the line at Erie Canal Harbor Station and I fumbled my way around until I realized everything seemed shiny and new.

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Anchor at the Naval and Military Park in Buffalo

Canalside is a redevelopment project that once served as the western terminus of the Erie Canal. It is now a lively area with restaurants, bars, the Buffalo and Erie County Naval and Military Park and the reconstructed Commercial Slip that once formed a boundary of the Canal District. It’s a great spot to grab a drink or bite to eat and learn more about the city’s past.

I sampled a 716 Kölsch style beer brewed by Flying Bison Brewing Company at Liberty Hound and swapped stories with the bartender originally from Chicago and a White Sox fan.   When I explained to him my recent re-discovery of Buffalo, he insisted I cross the street and investigate the offerings of HarborCenter, a hockey themed complex with rinks, restaurants and hotels. I wandered through 716 Restaurant and thought if only New York City had a sports bar like this place, I might actually follow the Yankees.

Fantasy Aisle

One bite into Beef on Weck from Charlie the Butcher and I am hooked

No visit to Buffalo is complete without biting into something delicious so save room for Charlie the Butcher’s Beef on Weck sandwich served with mustard and a pickle or the Anchor Bar’s original Buffalo Wings and secret sauce. If you are like me and enjoy a sweet tooth, then Watson’s and their chocolate-dipped sponge is the place for you.

This time I departed Buffalo with only one disappointment: No Uber.  New York State has not granted a license  to the company and Buffalo definitely needs it. Rent a car and explore anyway.

Check out Travel & Leisure’s Here & Now Article from May 2016, Boom Time for Buffalo for more restaurant ideas

What to see on your visit

Discover Chippewa Street for beers and bites

Buffalo Harbor Boat Cruise on the Miss Buffalo II

Examine modern and contemporary art at Albright-Knox Art Gallery

Cruise the Erie Canal

Watch a Buffalo Bills football game, Sabres hockey game or the catch 9 innings with the Buffalo Bisons, Minor League Baseball team

Stare in awe at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Darwin D. Martin House Complex

Wander Canalside

Admire the ships at the Buffalo & Erie County Naval and Military Park

Take the kids to the Buffalo Zoo (third oldest in the United States)

Explore the neighborhoods of Allentown and Elmwood Village

Learn about a time in history at Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site

For more tour information, contact Explore Buffalo by email or phone (716) 245-3032