I Am Woman, I'm a Wordsmith

Words, Wit and Wisdom for Today's Style and Decision Makers

Tuesday Tip: No More Pretending July 28, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 3:09 pm

Marfa

In these lazy days of summer I’ve found myself binge watching the glorious “Parenthood” and in one, Julia’s friend tells her:

“Pretending you are happy is almost worse than being miserable.” 

Hmmm, I thought. So true.

Today, pretend no more!

Be happy and, if you can, eliminate what makes you miserable. If you can’t, then as one of my favorite bloggers Jennifer Boykin recently wrote, tell and ask yourself, “So what. Now what?”

Now what friends? Make it a great day that’s what!

 

A God Thing July 26, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 4:27 pm

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We’ve all heard the saying “that was a God thing,” and this past week I got to live that blessing first hand. I’m still pinching myself.

 

How often does one hear about a job and an apartment and a group of friends in one fell swoop? Well, that’s what happened to my daughter.

 

As many of you know, Kristen graduated from the University of Oklahoma this past May. Most of her friends graduated with jobs in hand, but not Kristen. She came home and started hitting the on-line pavement. Applying for a job is not fun or easy, and it was just starting to wear and tear on her when she heard about a job in Scottsdale, Arizona through a friend from the University of Kentucky who she studied abroad with in Spain last summer. Stay with me, it gets better.

 

Her friend Lindsay’s friend from UK, Katrina, works for the company in Scottsdale, told her about it, and she in turn told Kristen about it. Kristen applied, had several rounds of interviews, and got the job. It wasn’t in the field she was looking in or related at all to her degree. It’s a sales job, the industry her dad and his whole side of the family is in. God thing? I think.

 

She excitedly accepted the job and last week we were off to Scottsdale to find her a place to live.

 

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Prior to our trip we had searched many a Scottsdale apartment complex on-line and had our list of appointments and “go sees” in hand. We were pretty nervous though because we knew Scottsdale is expensive. We visited one place, only to discover it was waaaay out of her price range. One down we thought, many to go.

 

Here’s where God really and truly came in. That’s the only way to describe it.

 

Kristen had heard that Katrina’s roommate, Chad, was thinking of moving back to California so they might be looking for someone to take over his lease. Too good to be true, right? Wrong! Our first day there we met Chad for lunch and it was a done deal. Before we knew it, papers were signed, applications were filed, and deposits were made. Uh-mazing. Amazing grace.

 

Kristen is set. We drive her to Scottsdale this week and she will be moving into an affordable and safe apartment with a roomie she loves and in a location right smack in the middle of her age group’s desirable Scottsdale location. All within walking distance from her new job. Literally right next to the one that was waaaay out of her price range and just down the street from Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church. I’m pretty sure we had some divine help in all of this.

 

It doesn’t end there. Come to find out that one of my sorority sisters from OU has a daughter who lives and works in Phoenix. I had not spoken to my friend Melanie since literally the ‘80s but she found out Kristen was moving to Scottsdale through another friend of ours via Facebook. She messaged me and the next thing I knew we were having dinner with sweet Murphy in Scottsdale and she and Kristen took to each other like they’d known each other for years. Girlie-girl who loves sports and will go to OU watch parties with Kristen? Yep. Another God thing. For sure.

 

Please don’t get me wrong. I’m not bragging but I am boasting. Boasting about God. You see, these kinds of things just don’t happen to Kristen. She always has to work twice as hard as others. Again, God thing.

 

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They say God works in mysterious ways and sends angels into our lives. I truly believe Chad, Katrina, and Murphy are angels sent into Kristen’s life and I am forever grateful. Scottsdale? It’s a definite God thing. Make us proud Kristen; make Him proud.

 

 

A Good Night’s Rest July 19, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 8:08 pm

And on the seventh day God ended His work and He rested.

Genesis 2:2

 

God rested. Yes, even God rested. On Sunday. How many of you are resting today though and how many are running errands, doing housework, and carting kids around? In today’s frazzled and hurried world, it’s no secret that we all probably need to rest more. But, how?

 

Sleep in

 

That’s so me. I’m a sleeper. There are few places I look forward to going more than my bed at night. Problem is, once in said bed I do all the things you’re not supposed to: watch TV, check my phone, and get on my IPad. I’m also not a morning person so I’m often up late…sometimes til 1 a.m. This, I’ve learned is not healthy.

 

Today’s Parade magazine verified this with a cover article on sleep and how important Huffington Post founder Arianna Huffington feels it is. Let me first start by saying I respect Huffington’s success and ambition even though I don’t always agree with her politics and find it frightening that so many, particularly Millenials, consider her on-line news site the bible of what to think and how to think. That being said, I do agree with how she feels about getting a good night’s rest.

 

When asked what she considers her secret to success, Huffington simply said “sleep.” After once collapsing from exhaustion, Huffington vowed to give her body the rest it so obviously needs. “When I get enough sleep, I’m better at everything,” she told Parade. “I’m more creative and I’m less reactive.” So important does she think sleep is that she has book coming out next year on the very subject.

 

Morning people

 

“Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise” isn’t always the case. I found it interesting to learn that despite our morning-oriented society, those who love waking up early are in the minority and not always the smartest and best in their fields. In addition, trying your hardest or being forced to rise and shine at the crack of dawn will never make a natural night owl a morning person. Hah! Take that morning people! As a night owl, I despise the notion that morning people are more productive and successful. There are countless professions that require night shifts, many of which society couldn’t live without such as doctors and nurses, police and fire fighters, and various service industry workers. I for one was one of them when I worked in TV news and my hours were 2-11 p.m. It was a schedule made in “sleep in” heaven for me!

 

 

Matthew 11 28

We all get weary and we all become burdened. These burdens often result in a lack of sleep but God tells us to trust Him. “Lie down in peace and sleep and know you are not alone. The Lord will keep you safe,” is what Psalm 4 reminds us. We need to say that and believe that. We might also want to count our blessings instead of sheep at night and talk to the Shepherd himself in prayer.

 

Naps

 

I think God would be pleased with the current business trend of providing sleep rooms or pods for employees to nap in during the work day. Huffington, along with Google, Proctor & Gamble, Facebook, and even the University of Michigan are just a few of the businesses doing so. Amen to that!

 

Experts agree. According to Parade research, there are definitive connections between sleep, heart disease, depression, weight gain, high blood pressure, diabetes, poor memory, and even shortened lifespans. I would add productivity and enthusisam to this list. Even the American Psychological Association reports that sleep is the single most important factor in predicting longevity. The single most important factor! Wow.

 

Parade went even further by conducting its own survey of 15,000 people and discovered that an alarming 95 percent long for more sleep. That’s a lot of tired people!

 

Sleep late

 

So, what can we do about it? Number one, stay away from sleep meds. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, somewhere between 50 and 70 million Americans suffer from sleep disorders and many take to using prescription medications to help them nightly nod off. Sadly, the National Institutes of Health report that sleeping pills add maybe 11 minutes of sleep time and often result in next-day drowsiness, which doesn’t make anyone more productive or motivated. Still, the number of prescriptions for sedative drugs has grown 30 times. An even more alarming statistic is from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, which reports the number of emergency room visits related to zolpidem, the active ingredient in many a sleep aid, has nearly doubled.

 

Xmy bed

 

So, if you toss and turn and think of all those things you didn’t get to today or your growing “to do” list for tomorrow like I do, here are some tips:

 

  1. Go to sleep – not to bed, to sleep – no later than 11 p.m.
  2. Implement a “wind down” routine. This could be reading a book (not a digital one though), take a bath, or sip some herbal tea.
  3. Unplug. Computer light actually reduces the body’s production of melatonin, the hormone that naturally promotes sleep. Don’t have your phone, laptop, or tablet anywhere near your bed or bedroom. Charge them in another room and rely on an old-fashioned alarm clock to wake you up. I loved reading that Huffington often gives old school clocks as gifts!
  4. Don’t watch TV. This is a really tough one for me. I love watching TV in my bed at night. What I vow to try to do however, is not watch it into the wee hours of the night and refrain from watching anything stressful or suspenseful. Reruns of Friends or Parenthood? Yes. House of Cards on my Ipad or The Kelly File, no.
  5. Keep your bedroom cool. Study after study shows that a cool room is much more conducive to a good night’s rest than even “room temperature.”
  6. Invest in quality bedding and pillows. A comfy bed often stimulates quality sleep.
  7. Soothe yourself to sleep with comforting music or white noise and if you are highly sensitive to light, block it with an eye mask as light also affects the levels of melatonin your body produces.
  8. Use essential oils. I swear by my Young Living ones, particularly Lavender, Sleep Essence, and Stress Away.

 

Go to sleep

 

The Town That Sleeping Built

Being the bed and sleep lover that I am, maybe I should move to the German town of Bad Kissingen which, according to an article in The Atlantic, is literally built on the idea that better sleep is better for everyone. “Bad” is German for “bath” or “spa” and medical tourism is its claim to fame thanks in part to Dutch Chronobiologist, Dr. Thomas Kantermann. Chrono what?!

 

Kantermann studies chronobiology, the science of people’s circadian rhythms and sleep patterns. Where was that major when I was in college?! In short, a person’s sleep pattern is called a chronotype. Waking up with an alarm clock or staying out late every night messes with our chronotype and leads to all kinds of problems.

 

Alarm

 

We need sleep but we really don’t know why. Interestingly enough, we spend around 30 percent of our lives asleep. People used to sleep a lot more, but with the introduction of artificial light, things changed including work hours. In Bad Kissingen, Kantermann and his team are dedicated to applying chronobiology into all aspects of the town’s functionality, including employment, education, health care, and everything in between. It may be the first town devoted to the science of sleep, but it’s not the first to study and address the issue.

 

In 1997 the Minneapolis Public School District voted to start school days more than an hour later than before and found that students were less tardy, depressed and sleepy. This may not be doable or advisable for all schools, but Kantermann says other chronotype-friendly adjustments are, such as issuing students tests in the afternoon when teens’ chronotypes peak, and having recess during the morning to allow more natural light exposure early in the school day. In addition, it’s recommended that schools and places of business have as much natural light as possible and a minimum amount of electrical or fluorescent lighting.

 

Makes sense, doesn’t it?

 

But, we can’t change the world and we can’t always change the hours we are required to be at work or at school. We can however, control our personal sleep habits and get the rest we not only crave, but need. Remember, if God took time to rest, we should too.

 

 

 

 

The Eyebrows Have It July 17, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 7:41 pm

 

Joan Collins as Alexis  John James Kathleen Beller as Kirby

What do the above three photos have in common?

 

Yes, they are all characters from the 1980’s prime time soap, “Dynasty,” but there’s more to them than that.

 

Before I give my point and the subject of today’s blog away, I need to come clean and admit that I’ve recently discovered reruns of the Denver-based saga and I occasionally watch them. That’s when it occurred to me: the show, known for big money and big shoulder pads, was also full of bad eyebrows! I remember thinking this back then and watching the show today made me think it all over.

 

As glamorous as she was and still is, it always bothered me that the inside ends of Joan Collins’ brows started inside those of her eyes rather than even with them. As for John James, his made me crazy the way they curl up in the middle. Then there’s Kathleen Beller, who played Kirby. Her brows had potential but always seemed a bit ungroomed. And it wasn’t the 1980’s fault. Can you say Brooke Shields and Madonna?

 

Brooke-Shields Madonna

 

If it’s classic beauties you prefer, consider none other than Audrey and Liz.

Audrey   elizabeth-taylor

 

Imagine, if you can, Audrey or Brooke without those signature brows. So critical are a person’s eyebrows that it’s rumored John Kerry had his “drooping” brows surgically worked on during his 2004 presidential run. A well-shaped and well-groomed brow opens up your eye area and gives a sense of confidence and strength. They are important to one’s appearance and image yet they are often neglected or misshaped.

 

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You can tell how a person is feeling or maybe even what he or she is thinking just by looking at their eyebrows.

 

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Sadly, I don’t have what I consider “good” eyebrows. Mine are too thin and not arched enough for my taste. But, my daughter was blessed with fabulous brows. Lucky her!

 

So, what makes an eye-catching eyebrow? It’s part genes and part grooming. This picture gives you an idea how to perfectly shape an eyebrow:

 

How to guide

 

  1. The inside edge aligns with the inside corner of the eye and the outer rim of the nostril.
  2. The arch is angled up from the outer rim of the nostril and the middle of your upper lip’s bow.
  3. The outer edge of the eyebrow aligns with the outer corner of the eye.

 

It’s what the stars do regardless of what shape their face is or how full their brows are, and it works!

 

Face samples

 

To achieve brow perfection, it’s also important to work with the natural shape of your eyebrows. If you can, have a professional shape them. Once you do, it’s easier to maintain them on your own at home. Just make sure you only tweeze the strays and don’t mess with the shape or thin them out too much.

 

“There’s only one part of a woman’s body she doesn’t want any thinner: her eyebrows.”

 

Like me though, not everyone is born with fantastic full eyebrows. Regardless, never try to make them something they’re not by “drawing” them on and keep in mind that no two eyebrows are the same so yours will never totally match.

 

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Big bold brows are what most women strive for but if they are too bold and too thick, they will look messy and will overpower those beautiful eyes of yours. Too thin of brows will give you a harsher expression but require the same amount of attention as fuller ones. Your goal is to have eyebrows somewhere in between the two.

 

Once you’ve achieved your desire shape, don’t be afraid to fill them in with brow make-up or by using an eyebrow pencil.

 

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eyebrows-before-and-after-resized

 

What a difference, right? When filling in your brows however, avoid overdoing them. Instead of drawing them on from tip to end in one long stroke, use short, hair-like strokes and focus on sparse areas of the brow. You want to look finished, not clown-like. For a natural look, choose a color close to your brows’ normal shade but for a bolder look, use one that is a shade darker. Finally, there’s always the option of permanent or semi-permanent eyebrow dying if you so choose.

 

For many, this may seem like a tedious and insipid subject to write about, much less read about. But mark my written words, I bet you’re going to go look at your eyebrows now and will start noticing those of others!

 

Here are few of my favorite to die for celebrity eyebrows:

(Megan Fox, Cara Delevingne, Lily Collins, Eva Mendes, Freida Pinto, Beyoncé)

 

Megan-Fox     Cara Delevingne                                  Lily Collins   Eva Mendes                                        beyonce-brow-photo-300x425     Freida Pinto

 

 

 

 

To Post Or Not To Post? July 10, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 9:35 pm

Social media logos

 

Scrolling through Facebook today I ran across a post about a woman who uploaded 12 million pictures from an “unforgettable” European vacation.  12 MILLION!  The trip consisted of only six days in Madrid and Paris.  SIX days! Cray-cray, right? I know many a Facebook “friend” who is a little photo crazy, and I’m sure you do too, but 12 million!  Wow!

 

This comes on the heels of me running across and article from “Conde Nast Traveler” magazine titled “#Shutup.”  The short but informative article focused on “how to brag but not be a drag online” and warned readers to be wary of “trophy travel” pics, which it compared to making friends and family sit down for hour-long slide shows of your trip to Yellowstone.

 

This time of year vacation photos all over social media, but when thinking of posting a photo the travel magazine suggests you ask yourself:  “am I traveling and posting these photos because I really love discovering new places and these photos are amazing, or do I just want to impress my friends?” If it’s the latter, keep those photos on your smart phone and move on to the next destination.

 

FB status

 

There’s no denying however, that most of us enjoy seeing photographs of incredible travel moments, the key word being “incredible.”  Simply put, don’t post mediocre photos and don’t post soooooo many! Nothing annoys me more than a photo of an Irish castle that’s not stunning or a post that shows five photos on the feed but indicates “50+.” Do you want to look through 55 photographs of your friend’s trip to Disneyland? Well, neither do they!

 

When and if you post pictures from your trip to the South of France or South Beach, don’t make them all about you either. Instead, make them about the place and the people there. Also try to share some interesting information about the photo subject matter. “This is the last remaining Inca ruin” for instance rather than a selfie captioned “Me in front of the last remaining Inca ruin.”

 

Food pics1

 

Family Ties

After travel pics, family and food snapshots are probably the second most posted images. I know, I know and I’m right there with everyone else on the food train. Not sure why, but I am. All I can suggest and live by in to try to limit them. Maybe don’t post photos of everything your child does or every dish you eat, but rather truly memorable moments and memorable meals.

 

As for social media photos in general, I like them because I think of my FB photo albums as just that: photo albums. Back in the day I used to make photo albums of all my photos. Just recently I made an entire album of my daughter’s college graduation. But, hear me out. It was somewhat after that fact, but I wanted an album of all my favorite shots in one spot so uploading I went. I tried my hardest to figure out how not to let the album post as “new” but couldn’t figure out how. Uber apologies to my FB friends and if anyone knows how to do create an album but not post it as a new one, please let me know as I have other photos I’d like to make into albums.

 

Stop-posting-your-life-on-Facebook

 

Guilty as charged of the above. Sometimes I just can’t help it! I also comment and “Like” too much on Facebook. That’s the word from my daughter who says “my” generation does both way too much and way too often. Call me crazy but if I see a post I enjoy or agree with, I’m going to “Like” it. I may even comment on it. Isn’t that what I’m supposed to do? Apparently not.

 

Maybe that’s why you’re seeing fewer and fewer millennials on Facebook. They have moved on and did so once the site became a popular one for “old” people. You’ll find my daughter, her friends, and “that” age group on Instagram and Snapchat and Twitter and Vine. They’re tired of our posts and tired of our comments. I have to admit; I’m with them in some cases and am amazed at the sheer number of things some people post. Daily. Sometimes of the same subject matter again and again. Of everything and everyone in their lives. I’ve pretty much had it up HERE with it all.

 

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On the flip-side are those mysterious non-posters. You know who I’m talking about. Those on-line friends who never post a thing. They annoy me almost as much as habitual posters. Do they just never go on-line? Okay, that’s fine. Or, are they Facebook stalkers who creep on my page and yours for no good reason? Post or get off the post people.

 

Exercise posts

 

If you’re like me and you love photos, you might want to check out Instagram, a mobile photo and video sharing social networking service that lets you post photos on your Instagram page. You can only post from your smart phone (but you can browse the site, your page, and other Instagrammer pages on a computer or tablet) and you only post images. They can be photos or quotes, but no commentary is allowed other than photo captions and hash tags. It is all about photography. Even the name “Instagram” supports this, as it’s a combination of “instant camera” and “telegram.” Designed to “capture and share the world’s moments,” Instagram also allows you to apply filters to your photos.

 

Sadly, Instagram has become somewhat overrun with “trophy” photos as well. You in a bikini in Bimini is not an Instagram post (unless perhaps you’re a supermodel) but a gorgeous sunset in Bimini is. One of my favorite Instagram accounts that is called “Earthpix,” which consists of nothing but stunning photographs from around the world. I also really, really, like “Troqman,” the account of an illustrator out of Amsterdam who is unbelievably clever and creative. Yes I also follow certain celebs along with family and friends and I love seeing what they post. Best of all, it’s all fast and it’s free!

 

Perhaps retired Facebook millionaire Kim Z. Garrett said it best when she told “D Magazine” last year, “I use Instagram probably more than Facebook now. To me, Instagram is more like a magazine and Facebook is more like a newspaper.” Take your pictures and take your pick.

 

 

Sunday Scripture July 5, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 4:05 pm

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Pack Your Bags July 3, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 6:53 pm

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I belong to a group of women who love to travel. I’m not talking Florida beaches or New York City. I’m talking world travel. Just in the past year, members have visited China, India, Machu Pichu, Croatia, and all points in between. These ladies are serious travelers and they are adventure travelers. I was invited to join the group by my friend who travels constantly. Seriously. Just reading her posts wears me out yet I am still envious of her energy, her endless joy, and her “carpe diem” attitude.

“No one puts ‘websites I want to visit’ on their bucket list.”

 

I love to travel and explore new places and have many places on my bucket list. I also love, love, love road trips and am down to drive just about anywhere. Summertime is often the time we check off destinations on our wish lists and check into hotels. It’s when most families take a vacation, something recent studies reveal are not only good for making memories but also for improving your health.

 

A Nielsen study suggests that Americans who take regular vacations are happier, healthier, and more satisfied with their jobs and relationships than those who don’t, and The Framingham Heart Study determined that men at risk for cardiovascular disease and who don’t take vacations are 30 percent more likely to suffer heart attacks than those who do take time off. Wow. Who knew?

 

XXXVacations

 

Think about though. As you lie on a beach or gaze at a purple mountain majesty, don’t you breathe easier and just feel good? Yes I know air travel is one big hassle and I know many of you travel for business so doing so for leisure is the last thing you want to do, but maybe you should think about your health and your loved ones. I know money doesn’t grow on trees and that not everyone can afford to travel, but this life isn’t a dress rehearsal people, it’s our only shot. Grab it and go. Book it. Go there. Just do it.

 

“Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.”

Gustave Flaubert

 

I agree and think that escaping your comfort zone and “bubble” makes you both humble and grateful. Irreplaceable memories are made when you travel with friends and family. Some good and some not so good, but memories nonetheless. A family I know travels across the country every summer visiting national parks, state capitals, and various stadiums and their pictures speak a thousand words. They may not stay at the plushest hotels or eat at five star restaurants, but the memories their two kids will cherish for a lifetime are worth more than anything money can buy. As the ad says, priceless.

 

Xtravel

 

I miss our family vacations and I’m not alone.  A “Redbook” magazine survey revealed that the number one thing women are envious of is more vacation time! In fact, women desire vacations more than high-end cars and designer clothing….combined!

 

I remember my family driving up to Denver for summer vacations. We’d stay at a place called The Continental Denver and nothing was finer than the hotel swimming pool. Nothing fancy, nothing special. Only special memories. Now I’m an empty nester with a husband who does not want to travel, so what’s a woman to do? Join a travel group and take a fabulous girls’ trip once a year, that’s what!

 

I’m still blessed though and very grateful for the places I have traveled to. Just in the last year I’ve visited Rome, Capri, and Panama, thanks to Kristen studying abroad in Spain and her Spring Break lining up with mine for the first time this year. But, such fabulous trips are a rarity for me and sadly I’m not so lucky this summer as I’m not going anywhere. I will instead live through my memories and the wonderful time we shared.

 

Sea Swings

How fun does this look?!

 

It’s also about reducing stress, which any physician will tell you is a must. That same doctor will tell you that stress causes your body to release hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, which make your blood pressure rise and wreak havoc on your heart. Stress is also a common cause of anxiety and depression.

 

Hotels are on board, with many chains now providing amenities to business travelers to help them relax and disconnect. Westin started it all by partnering with meditation guru Andy Puddicombe and now many of their competitors are doing the same.  Things like meditation videos, relaxing music, and yoga sessions are becoming more and more common, with even La Quintas offering soothing music on their televisions.

 

Travel

 

There are so many places I’d like to visit. At the top of my list are probably Bermuda and an Alaskan cruise. I also long to see Jackson Hole and The Grand Tetons. I’d love to stay at the Biltmore and walk around Ashville, North Carolina. I’ve yet to see the Pacific Northwest or Newport, Rhode Island. I’ve been many places in Europe but one place I haven’t and that I’d love to see is Ireland. Who knows if I’ll ever get to any of them, but a girl can dream, right? This girl better win the lottery too!

 

How about you? Where are you off to on your next vacation and where is your dream destination?

 

Happy travels everyone!

 

 

 

 
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