2 Weeks in San Diego: New Photo Shoot, Wine Country and Love on the Road

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Last month when I was in San Diego, I scheduled a photo shoot with the amazing Stacey Canfield!

I spent a couple hours in her studio and came away with brand new images that reflect my evolving Happy Black Woman brand, focused on helping women all over the world create lives of happiness, success and freedom through personal development and entrepreneurship.

Here are some of my favorites!

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I brought in my actual carry-on bag of choice – the black Tumi Super Leger (from their Voyageur line) to use as a prop! It was so fitting for my brand, because along with my passport, these are the basic tools of my life as a minimalist traveler.

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And I couldn’t forget my black Tumi Calais backpack that serves as my “mobile office” – where I store my laptop, wallet, Moleskine notebooks and everything else I use to run my online business!

Not surprisingly, one of the most frequent questions I get about my location-independent lifestyle is:

How do you date when you’re always on the road?

My short answer is:

I love men. I love to date. And I love dating men while I’m on the road!

Here’s a sneak peek into what that looks like for me…

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How to Spend a Week in Israel – Part 1

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On the rooftop in Jerusalem! Photo by Gaya S. Turtle courtesy of Vibe Israel

Last week, I had the opportunity to travel around Israel as one of four participants for the 2015 Vibe Israel Women Entrepreneurs Tour! Vibe Israel is a non-governmental organization that hosts themed cultural tours for online opinion leaders to connect with Israel’s creative energy and share it with their followers. (Here is a snapshot of our itinerary from the week.)

One of our tour leaders described Israel as “small and complex” and upon doing some initial research, I found out that was definitely true.

The limited information I had about Israel was related to the political and religious conflict in the region, so I had no clue about the positive cultural aspects of the country, not to mention how regular Israelis live their everyday lives. For that reason, it was hard to know what to expect when I stepped off the plane in Tel Aviv.

What I learned was that Israel is a country in Western Asia with a population of about 8 million. It’s the world’s ONLY Jewish-majority state with about 75% of Israelis identifying as Jewish.

Despite the ongoing Israeli–Palestinian conflict, it has the highest standard of living in the Middle East and one of the highest life expectancies in the world. The area is considered to be Holy Land, being significant for many religions including Judaism, Christianity, Islam and the Bahá’í Faith.

That said, as a non-religious tourist who has little interest in political issues, if you were to ask me about my impression of Israel from those perspectives, what I would say is that overall, “it’s complicated.”

What *was* interesting for me to learn about on the tour was the unique culture in Israel and what women entrepreneurs are doing there to create happiness, success and freedom in their lives and the lives of their families.

And as usual, the best way to know about a place is to go there, talk to the locals and see for yourself.

So without further ado, here are some of the things I saw, did and experienced on my week-long trip to Israel – part 1!

1. Take a Day Trip Through Old Jerusalem

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At the marketplace in Old Jerusalem! Photo by Gaya S. Turtle courtesy of Vibe Israel

After an introductory presentation about Israel, we headed to Old Jerusalem – an official World Heritage site –  and walked through the ancient streets, visited the various religious sites and explored the huge marketplaces.

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Travel Diary: My First Day in Israel – Tel Aviv and Jerusalem

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My first night in Israel! Enjoying delicious vegan food in Tel Aviv, photo courtesy Vibe Israel

My international journey continues…

I’m excited to announce that I was selected as one of four participants for the 2015 Vibe Israel Women Entrepreneurs Tour!

Vibe Israel is a nonprofit organization based in Tel Aviv that hosts week-long, all-expenses paid tours of Israel for online influencers and bloggers to meet the people who make up the local scene in the fields they write about. In return, they share their experiences with their millions of followers.

Israel has actually never been on my list of places where I wanted to travel, but when I received the invitation to apply for the tour, I became instantly curious about this small country that I only knew for its religious significance among Jewish people.

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4 Spiritual Truths I Re-Learned After Having Surgery in Paris

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“Every problem is a gift – without problems we would not grow.” ― Tony Robbins

I’ve been in Paris for over a week now.

But instead of enjoying the sights in one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, I’ve been mostly visiting the inside of the Georges Pompidou Hospital.

My plan was to hit the ground running here in the “City of Light” with tours and cooking classes and everything else but instead…

I got hit with a serious nail infection that resulted from a salon manicure I had in Atlanta a few weeks ago. The medical term for the infection is a paronychia and excuse my French, but that shit hurts!

Combine that with the worst jet lag ever and you have a pretty rocky beginning to what was supposed to be a wonderful trip.

It all started with swelling and gradually became worse over the next few days. Of course, my first instinct was to look up my symptoms on the internet and sure enough, it looked and sounded like I had a severe paronychia.

I got an appointment with the nearest “general” doctor, who instructed me to soak my finger in alcohol. That didn’t work AT ALL.

Then, I looked up some home remedies and started soaking my finger in lemon juice and hot water, which helped with the pain but didn’t do anything for the infection that was growing under my skin. I’ll spare you the actual visual but basically, the skin around my nail was starting to look like I had gangrene!

It was time to get myself to the nearest emergency room.

Once I got to the hospital, it took some patience and a divine sense of calm to communicate the care I needed when maybe 1 out of 10 medical personnel spoke any English whatsoever. Using my remedial French and lots of gestures, I finally got in to see a specialist.

The doctor confirmed my biggest fear – the only way to fix the issue was to have surgery on my finger to remove the infection.

***

The night before surgery, I go to dinner at Le Poincaré, an open air bistro/cafe on the corner near my hotel.

The wind is cool as the sun sets on the city like a blanket.

I order steak and frites and eat slowly, savoring every bite like it’s my last meal.

I relish my glass of vin rouge and fall in love with the restaurant’s famous Nutella & Speculoos tiramisu for dessert.

I sip my espresso, annoyed at the situation that’s messing up my travel plans, but I also notice a strange sense of relief.

It’s the feeling of letting go of my need for control. It’s giving myself permission to slow down and listen to what my body needs right now – rest and healing.

Needless to say, being stuck in a hospital in a foreign country gave me a chance to reflect on some important spiritual reminders.

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Happy Black Woman Goes to Paris!

Bonjour de Paris!

Yep, that’s me cheesin’ for a selfie during my walk around the city today.

I had a wonderful time speaking and connecting with amazing women at Dr. Venus Opal Reese’ Black Women Millionaires live event in Atlanta and now it’s time to enjoy summer in France!

Earlier this year, when I created my travel vision board, I didn’t have ANY flights booked yet.

What I DID have was an aggressive 2015 strategic growth plan for Happy Black Woman as a company with a ton of action steps to implement!  ,

But what I wanted to do this year, along with all the work I’m doing to grow my business, was to also make sure I carve out dedicated time for travel and self-care.

So two months ago, I sat down with my travel bucket list, opened up my Google calendar and began planning out my trips for the year. Paris is my first stop with more adventures to come this summer and fall!

I’ll be sharing more on the blog about my experiences here in Paris, but so far, here’s what I can tell you:

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How to Spend a Week in Cancun

2014-11-26 10.33.49Back in November, I treated myself to the good life for a week in Mexico!

The first resort I stayed at was Sandos Cancun Luxury Experience Resort. This was an all-inclusive resort, meaning all your meals, cocktails and many amenities are included in the cost of your room – even 24-hour room service!

Sandos Cancun was definitely the kind of place you go to chill ALL the way out for a week-long vacation. In fact, one of my favorite afternoons was spent on the beach just eating, drinking tamarind margaritas and falling asleep to the waves.

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“I Wish I Could Do That…”

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Whenever I tell people that I live a location-independent lifestyle, I usually get this wistful response:

“I wish I could do that…”

This phrase comes up a lot in our Happy Black Woman community and I have to tell you…

This ONE phrase could be holding you back from a lifetime of happiness, success and freedom.

When you say “I wish I could do that,” you are reinforcing the limiting belief that you CAN’T.

And this limiting belief could also be affecting other areas of your life.

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The Moment I Knew I Was Willing to Do Whatever it Takes

IMG_1289Back in 2012, I went on my dream trip to Europe.

Over the course of an entire month, I visited Greece, Italy and Spain – the top 3 countries on my “travel bucket list.”

I indulged in the incredible food, culture and sights of each country.

I saw the Leaning Tower of Pisa…

I walked through the Acropolis in Athens…

I relaxed on black sand beaches in Santorini…

I learned how to make pasta in Florence…

I toured wine country in the hills of Tuscany…

I hiked the Cinque Terre and lived to tell about it…

I partied and ate tapas in Barcelona…

It was one of the best experiences of my life.

And I wouldn’t have been able to do it without the freedom, flexibility and financial reward of being self-employed.

To be honest, after that trip to Europe…

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How to Choose a Great Airbnb: My Honolulu Apartment Tour (VIDEO)

Even though I live a location-independent lifestyle, one of the ways I like to feel like I’m “at home” is by renting an apartment every once in a while instead of staying in a hotel.

The service I use the most for this is Airbnb.

It’s basically an Expedia meets Yelp concept that allows people to rent out their homes to travelers with a website where you can search for places to stay based on location, price, etc. It also provides a rating and review system for hosts so that any sketchy places with rude hosts get weeded out.

I’ve stayed in Airbnbs all over the world from Charlottesville, Virginia to Rome, Italy to Baltimore, Maryland to San Miguel de Allende, Mexico and now Honolulu, Hawaii!

It’s great having an entire network of hosts who provide a wide variety of short and long-term furnished housing in most cities around the world. You can choose to rent the whole apartment or house, or simply rent a room. (I’ve done both and I prefer having the whole place to myself!)

What I also appreciate about Airbnb is that the price of your apartment or room rental will typically be much less than you would pay for a hotel, especially in large metropolitan areas that have a high cost of living.

I made a quick apartment tour video of the Airbnb I’m renting while I’m here in Honolulu, Hawaii if you’re curious about what they are like and how you can incorporate this option into your travels!

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Why I Always Come Back To Hawaii

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I’ve been back in Hawaii for five days now and I’ve been easing into my usual island routine of food, friends, work and the beach!

Yesterday morning, I met up with my girl Shana Love for breakfast at my favorite coffee shop in Honolulu: Kimobean Coffee. Even after being away from Hawaii for the past four months, the barista recognized me (and my afro) when I walked in.

He asked about my travels and without a word from me, started to put in my order for a small soy hot chocolate and a breakfast sandwich on a bagel with no cheese.

I love being location-independent, no doubt about it.

But I also like having a homebase, somewhere I can go where people know my name.

Even if it’s just the barista at the local coffee shop.

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