LASTING VACATION MEMORIES

MAKING VACATION MEMORIES LAST                by Barbi Walker~Walsh

Summer is coming to a close and as school ramps up those sweet, fun memories of your hard earned family vacation start to fade. They get lost in the shuffle of Meet the Teacher nights, buying books and new clothes for those always growing kids and just all around RL.

Trying to juggle the real world becomes paramount and your kids are on to the next new thing and you start to wonder if they even remember all the fun times or appreciate every sacrifice you made to make their summer vacation rock!!

Hell, you wonder if you can recall those great memories yourself.

But, preserving those memories and reliving them aren’t as difficult as you think.

Studies show that visual, verbal, smell and taste help recall memories. Ever hear a song, or have the smell of honeysuckle that transports you back to a magical moment in your childhood? You can use these same cues to create everlasting, great memories of your family vacations for your kids (and yourself, bonus!!) for years to come. 

PHOTOS

Sure, photos, we all know that photos are memory builders. But with smart phones and social media we have thousands of images socked away on our phones and Facebook, Instagram etc., but are we using these pictures to the best of their use?

Seriously?

Who really looks at them again? And no, very few of us are going to print them out and put them in photo albums circa 1980? Not me, and I was a verified photo album geek!! However, what you can do is load up some of your faves as screen savers for your wide screen TV, laptops, tablets and smart phones. 

I suggest the TV because then everyone gets to see the revolving photo album which can spark conversation, thus leading to solidifying the memories even more. 

Story is a powerful component of making memories stick, says Carol Peterson, Ph.D, in her article for NPR on kids and memory. When a child creates a good chronological story, these memories will last, she said in the article. Seeing your vacation photos help create the story. 

So when we return from a vacation (okay, when I say we, I mean my techie husband), loads up some of the best shots from the trip to our screen saver for the TV. Now when we turn off our TV, photos scroll through and even on busy days we can see our happy vacationing faces in high-def. 

Of course, I also recommend printing out just a few pics and putting into frames, or blowing up into a canvas for your kids’ room. Maybe even buy a souvenir picture frame to create a more tactile memory. It’s a twofer!!

MUSIC

Make a vacation playlist! We are a very music friendly family. My husband codes to music, I write to music, our son plays his from his iPhone in his cruiser cupholder like a mod version of the 80s ghetto blaster.  Spotify is on much of the day in our house. Plus, I like to make playlists (a throw back to my mixtape days of yore), so this last vacation I got the idea of making one for our trip to Italy. It’s been on loop for both me and my son since we got home. While we were out I used Shazam to capture songs in restaurants, gelato shops, cafes and even some museums, then created a playlist on Spotify from there. You can link Shazam and Spotify making it easy to create a playlist from the songs you hear. Watching my son’s face with his lips curled in a little smile, bobbing his head to the beat of his Italy playlist, I can only hope that when he hears these songs years later they will transport him back in time.

Extra points for making a slideshow of pictures to the playlist or better yet a mini movie with the soundtrack. If you make it a family project, even better!

Plus, scientists have found that the brain “…links music, memories, and emotions” through a “hub” known as the medial prefrontal cortex, according to Dr. Petr Janata and his team. In fact, a multitude of research shows the positive effects of music on the brain, from helping with everything from ADD to Alzheimer’s patients, so let it play I say, get connected and dance around the living room or cruise the neighborhood blasting your iPhone. 🙂

TASTE AND SMELL

Basil, honeysuckle, lavender, dried up pine needles, were on our trip. Tastes and connect with the brain too and maybe recreating these aren’t as easy as the two above, but if you like to cook or garden then add these elements to your repertoire. Try making a dish or dessert you had on vacation together and see what conversations these stir up.

I’ll try something simple like this gem my good friend and photographer, Emily Carroll, taught me; basil leaves wrapped around mozzarella balls, drizzled with olive oil and stabbed with a toothpick, à la Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods. I’ll buy the live basil plant and until I kill it with my brown thumb, its fragrant leaves will permeate our kitchen, creating one more link to our vacation in Italy.

ENJOY

These tips aren’t just for exotic vacations, they are for all vacations! From summer fun with the family at the lake, to camping trips or road trips to Disneyland, okay, I’m dating myself here, but you get the idea. 

You took the time, energy and money to plan a summer vacation, now it’s time to get your ROI. So take just a little more time when you get home to put together a little family vacation montage for lasting memories and some family bonding.

I’d love to hear and see what you come up with, so share the love!

Love the life you live,

BjW

Get Fit on a Bike Fast

Get Fit Fast On A Bike

BY BARBI WALKER

If your goals this year include getting fit or losing weight, biking is an ideal choice that’s not just for athletes anymore. Biking is a great way to lose weight, improve cardiovascular health, and gain muscle strength and endurance all in one sport. Bicycling burns a lot of calories. Riding at a moderate speed, around 13-15 mph, you can burn upwards of 500 calories per hour–done daily that equals 3,500 calories, which is enough to lose one pound in a week! Bicycling is a high-reward workout.

Fully geared and single-geared bicycles (also called fixies), mountain bikes, road bikes, and cruisers–anyone from out-of-shape beginners to fitness fanatics can find a bike to suit his or her needs. Even the heaviest of riders can reap quick health benefits from riding, and without risk of joint injury. Cycling is a non-impact exercise so your joints won’t take a beating f rom repetitive jarring or pounding. Getting started is as simple as getting on the bike and making a commitment to ride every day–just ask Jason Robert of Tempe.

Robert’s story

In the summer of 2009, Robert was watching the Tour de France while vacationing at his in-laws’ house in Nova Scotia when he had his epiphany. “I couldn’t believe the f itness levels these guys had, some of them older than me,” he says. Robert was 36 years old and weighed 285 pounds the day of that race, and it was then that he decided he wanted to change.

“I decided by the time I turned 40 I wanted to be in shape and fit,” says Robert, and it all started the minute he

arrived home. Robert says he was so serious that he went straight f rom Sky Harbor International Airport, luggage and all, to REI to buy a bike.

Making the commitment to get up every morning at 4:30 to ride through the quiet Arizona State University Research Park before it was busy with morning traffic was challenging, he says, but worth it.The time and location gave him a safe place to ride while increasing his confidence and fitness level. Working out and fitness were new to him, says the much slimmed-down cyclist, who completed his first half-ironman last December. To date, he has completed the Tour de Scottsdale, Tour de Tucson, and many triathlons.

Establishing a routine

Establishing a regular riding routine (or any fitness routine) is the first and most important step in slimming down and getting f itter. Commit to riding at least an hour a day, and at least f our days a week, to speed up your f itness level and weight loss, but aim f or seven days a week to get the greatest caloric def icit. Cycling builds lean muscle tissue, which causes your body to burn calories at a higher rate, upping your basal metabolic rate (BMI), and allowing you to continue burning calories long after you’ve peeled off your jersey. Once you’ve established your regular cycling routine, up the ante on your caloric burn with interval training.

Interval training speeds up the fat-burning process. One can accomplish this by alternating between bursts of high-intensity speed, pedaling as fast as you can for about 30 seconds, followed by returning to your regular speed. If you do this during your regular hour ride on alternate days over a two-week period, your ability to burn fat increases by 36 percent, according to research in Journal of Applied Physiology. In just those 30 seconds of full-throttle, all-out sprinting in your highest gear, you amp your body’s furnace.Astudy by Laval University found that sprinters who burned only half as many calories during a regular workout still lost more weight and burned more calories than those who worked out at longer, slower speeds.

Robert agrees. “High-intensity intervals a few times a week spike your metabolism, and we all live time- compressed lives, so make the most of your one-hour ride,” he says.

The important thing to remember is to ease into interval training. Build up your endurance, confidence and comfort if you are brand-new to fitness or cycling, then add in your 30-second sprints.

Proper nutrition is the last component for maximizing your fitness and weight loss. Think in terms of nutrition, not diet. Most fad diets will not provide the proper nutrition to maintain performance and sustained weight loss–any diet that isn’t balanced will fall short. “There’s plenty of disagreement about what to eat even among seasoned, successful athletes, coaches and sports nutritionists,” notes Selene Yeager, writer for Bicycling.comandcyclingexpert.Onethingtheyallagreeon,however,istheimportanceof eatingrealfood. Eatfoodthatisunprocessedandinitsnaturalform.Eatplentyof fruits,vegetables,andleanprotein,and avoid unsaturated fat, and you will see results quickly.

Few exercises can beat bicycling for quick and effective weight loss. With its low-impact nature and the ability for all ages to join in, bicycling is a sport to consider.

Barbi Walker is a freelance writer and an award-winning journalist. Barbi lives in Phoenix with her husband and young son.

SOURCES

bicycling.com

“Ride Your Way Lean: The Ultimate Plan for Burning Fat and Getting Fit on a Bike” and “Every Woman’s Guide to Cycling: Everything You Need to Know, From Buying Your First Bike to Winning Your First Race” Selene Yeager, Bicycling.

greenlivingaz.com https://www.greenlivingaz.com/2013/02/08/get-fit-fast-on-a-bike/

Oh Sweet Republic!

Good lord, I am addicted and I blame my son…

Okay that’s not entirely true. But it was for him that I recently bought a pint of Sweet Republic’s real mint chip ice cream while I was doing research for my upcoming article for Green Living AZ Magazines November issue.

The story is about food, and well ice cream is food, right?

Sweet Republic makes their ice cream by hand with unique flavors, including lavender, apple-wood smoked bacon and Arizona medjool dates. So in my never ending quest to expose my family to healthy, fresh, local food and ingredients I reasoned since Sweet Republic uses real mint from Maya’s Farm at South Mountain I was killing a few birds with one stone (excuse the reference).

I also figured the ice cream wouldn’t create an issue with me because I’m not really a mint or ice cream person. Never mind all the four and five star ratings on Yelp for Sweet Republic. Or that one of my favorite magazines, Bon Appétit,  named them as number 1 ice cream shop in America.  Or that Alton Brown voted their toffee banofi sundae as The Best Thing I Ever Ate on the Food Network. I was safe.

Sadly I was wrong on both accounts.

Although my son loves mint chip ice cream, the fresh mint is a bit much for my 4-year-old’s palate.

Mine, however, LOVES the stuff!

The delicate, aromatic mint is so exquisite that I cannot stop sneaking bites every couple of hours…

Oooh Sweet Republic!

Deodorant… clean, fresh, eco, EXPENSIVE!

I finally found a deodorant that isn’t full of aluminum and actually makes your sweat (as is inevitable in Phoenix in June) smell so nice. Like a fresh breaze from a forest or some kind of pristine lake.

K – I’m not kidding. They did not pay me to say this – the whopping $75 came out of my own pocket and I think I am onto something. I normally wouldn’t recommend anyone spending that kind of dough on such a thing, but If you are the kind of person who does so on perfume, lotions or such, then consider this your summer perfume – with a bonus.

I’m a first (and only generation) hippie-chick and love the smell of patchouli. But after the birth of my son my nose or chemistry, or both, changed and I couldn’t wear patchouli anymore. So I tried Kiss My Face peaceful patchouli deodorant for a little dose of patchouli without the “whole” wave of it.And for awhile it worked. But then, things changed again and the deodorant stopped working and WOW! What an aroma that was – patchouli plus sweat, in Phoenix, in June – YIKES! Blech.

I had to find something fast. Which is where Sisely’s eud de campagne came in.

At Saks Fifth Avenue one hot and sticky afternoon a non-plused Sisely rep, Yvette, suggested I try their new deodorant.  I was a little embarrassed to try it on, under there, my armpits in Saks. But then again, if you know me, you know I get past that stuff pretty quickly. Besides Yvette was insistent. She rocks.

Aaaahhhh… it was clean, fresh, crisp – made my fresh from the gym body feel clean, fresh and crisp (mostly). I was sold.

I didn’t look at the price until she asked for my money. I swallowed hard and briefly debated what to do. But I was too in love with it (and a little too sheepish) to say “no thanks” at this point. I mean I’d sprayed $75 deodorant on my armpits in Saks and now I’m embarrassed….

So I said the heck with it and handed Yvette my cash.

I tossed it in my Flipped Bird bag – I may have spent a fortune on deodorant but I’m still going green when I can – so no bag, no tissue! I got in my car and sprayed my pits with abandon. The smell was divine! Seriously!

I still had to make a couple of stops on my way home, and although I was in my workout clothes, I knew I smelled okay. Someone even asked me what I perfume I was wearing.

I smelled great!

I was sold. This new deodorant works and I LOVE knowing the ingredients are herbs and botanical oils – all good stuff. But I was also feeling good knowing that Sisley helps women with cancer feel good by helping them look good…

Support for the organisation la Vie de plus belle , that offers skincare and make-up workshops in hospitals for women suffering from cancer.

and seeing women feeling good because they look good, feels good no matter what language or country it’s in.

So when the heat’s gotten to be too much, splurge on yourself. Your psyche and pits will love you for it.

~BjW

BJ Walker, the Blogger, Journalist, Writer

Well for anyone who may have been wondering about my blog’s name, there it is, mostly. Professionally, in all my writing I have almost always gone with the name that most everyone knows me by: Barbi Walker, but I’ve been struggling since graduating with what and how to blog. And as I’ve said in a previous post this is a play on words & my initials. Sort of like Arianna Huffington and her Huffington Post.

The idea was given to me by my former professor, Adam Klawonn, who was my editor at “The Zonie Reoprt” where I blogged about Arizona news.  At the time blogging and the public journalist were just becoming a force the journalism world had to recognize. When I graduated from J-School there were immense changes in the industry and I never made the transition to blogging on my own about news.

Which brings me to why I am writing this post.

I was in limbo about blogging, journalism and writing without the direction from a seasoned reporter, editor or professor. I felt lost.

Fortunately I found a freelance writing job with “Green Living AZ” magazine, where my patient and helpful editor, Tishin Donkersley, gave me direction and opportunity. I can happily now call myself a journalist.

But I was still confused about my role as a blogger, I felt that I needed to blog as a writer/journalist. I wanted to blog, but I felt I needed to blog about something news related (the journalist is strong in this one). That my blog was supposed to be about something, a common idea, thread, blah, blah, blah. I’ve sat down so many times to write “what this blog is about” and in a few short days stop writing and losing interest.

There are numerous unsuccessful blogs out there and I didn’t want to be one of them! I’m an overachiever and work hard when I have a project or goal. But I wasn’t doing this with my writing and began to give up on all of my craft.

Then came the JK Rowling article. I was inspired. I thought. I blogged. I was happy but still didn’t know where I was going with my blog. Was it going to be an eco-journalist blog? A personal diary of my attempt to unclutter my life? Or maybe where I tracked, brainstormed and edited my novel? I even toyed with the idea of a personal journal of sorts, but happily journalists are taught that our thoughts and opinions aren’t to be included in our stories. Plus I honestly didn’t want to blog about my experiences, I get bored just listening to myself (as I am sure readers would too!). So I was still in limbo.

Until yesterday.

As I ran around doing my errands I thought about how I don’t journal or write much because I hadn’t found a system that worked for me. I love my weathered journal for notes and thoughts etc., but I didn’t like sitting down to “write” in it. I like technology, let me rephrase, I LOVE technology! I like writing on a computer ~ it feels like I am a writer when I sit down and write on it.

Now you may be thinking, well ding-dong, just write in a Word Doc. I’ve done that – but I find the excitement and accountability of “publishing” something I’ve written magnified thinking others can read it. I have so many thoughts and story ideas that I want to work on but they get lost since I don’t put them somewhere.

So I thought, why not just use my blog for THAT? Umm, well… sheesh, I don’t know. Let me think about that some more.

I did.

Then I got a text from my long time, dear friend, Elizabeth, asking if I had a minute to talk. She was on break from her intensive yogi training. I promptly called her.

She is more sister than friend, she has inspired me numerous times, counseled me and challenged me to question things. I respect her immensely.

We talked. I told her what I was ruminating about. She said the blogs and stories she loves most are the ones where the writer is fully engaged in telling the story. The stories the writer is passionate about.  I told her what I really wanted to do with my blog:  Blog about stuff I like or find interesting, Journal about my thoughts, insights or ruminations and Write my novel and short stories. To use it as a central holding pen for all of the above. I told her I didn’t do that because I was worried of what I should be doing with my blog.

She said three things that resonated with me :).

“You need a place to hone your craft.” This is true, I need a place to practice my writing (writers need to write every day), to strengthen my writing and blogging would be a great tool.

“When you find something you are passionate about you will make time to do it.”  This is the second truism. I was excited all day to sit down at my computer and to  write about our eye-opening conversation, about my love of a certain hair product (I even wanted to take pics!), my thoughts and research for upcoming travel – I was giddy and bubbly with itchy typing fingers!

But what stuck with me the most was this:

“Barbi, I’ve always thought of you as fearless and when you want to do something, you do it regardless if others say you can’t.” That is me IN A NUTSHELL. But I had been so afraid of doing my blog my way because it isn’t “how you are supposed to blog” or be a journalist that I wasn’t doinganything.

When Elizabeth said that, I thought, who cares if my blog isn’t “normal”? It’s a blog, it’s mine and I can do whatever I want with it. And what I really want to do with it is make it a one-stop shopping place for my writing. It’s what I really want to do, it will improve my writing and journalist skills andit’s me.

Thank you Elizabeth. Thank you for being such a solid force in my life, I love you.

And to you dear reader, if you have gotten this far, Thank you! Thank you for your interest and your patience, because if I don’t think about you, my writing, my research, my ideas aren’t doing what I want them to do. This blog may be “my personal” place to think, write and practice, however, I think about you, the reader, as I write.

I welcome your feedback, your thoughts and your insight, because when I write for me, I also write for you.

Cheers,

~BjW