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MAKE YOUR FAMILY VACATION MEMORIES LAST               

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, Peace and Adventure,

BjW

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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

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Well I didn’t expect to be thinking about organizing my CDs and music just yet. In fact I’d even forgotten I owned music CDs, sorta.

Until tonight.

As I was preparing for the two fitness classes I have to teach tomorrow, I went in search of my old aerobics CDs.

Well this is what I found & happily techno/club music doesn’t really change much….

Holy crap!!! This is my first time posting to my blog via my iPhone, guess I should’ve done a dry run huh?!?

Think I’ll just leave it – typos & all.

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