"The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away." - Pablo Picasso
The quote above is attributed to Pablo Picasso. I came across it as a framed print in a dental office and it stopped me in my tracks. You see, in my business I work with brilliant entrepreneurial mentors, and critical to the success of one's business is understanding what sets one apart from others - in other words, one's Brilliance.
I will admit I've struggled with figuring out my brilliance, yes, I have a passion for travel, yes, I like to help busy people create memories that will last a lifetime - but let's get real - I'd wager every travel advisor can honestly claim these reasons for being in this business. But during a conversation over a leisurely dinner, with a travel colleague I'd just met in person after many online collaborations - it struck me - my brilliance is helping people do something for the first time.
So what does this mean? To me, it means I'm here to help you experience things that are new to you - to do things for the first time. From getting your first passport - to taking your first cruise - to taking your first river cruise - to your first hop across the pond - to coming face to face with magnificent beings as the elephants pictured above - and someday, traveling for the first time post-COVID - I will here to help you do something for the first time.
In closing, I came across another Picasso quote which seems entirely fitting: "Everything you can imagine is real." And somewhere on this beautiful blue planet that's our home, it's likely true - so think about it and remember it is my privilege to help you do it - for the first time.
Today we pause and reflect on the fathers in our lives. Pictured above is my dad with me and my sisters. As the firstborn of my dad's 4 daughters, on Father's Day, my dad always thanks me for making him a dad.
My passion for travel was inherited from my parents. As a child and young man, my dad's travel experiences were limited to visits to his family - traveling from Chicago to Milwaukee to visit his mom's relatives, or to Richmond, Indiana to visit his grandfather. (He did participate in a historical American event - his family hitchhiked from Chicago to Washington, D.C. as part of the "Bonus Army" when he was a toddler.) Drafted during the Korean Conflict - my father was deployed to France, serving as a clerk-typist to a unit of architects and engineers. Being stationed in Europe was a life-changing experience for him, and he took advantage of every day of furlough to explore the continent. After his discharge, he returned home to Chicago, and met my mom while they both worked for Lions International. At the time, my mother was planning to enter the convent; she was visiting relatives in Mexico on what she called her farewell tour when she ran into my dad on a Guadalajara sidewalk. "What are you doing here?" she asked him - and he responded that he had been moved by her descriptions of Mexico's beauty, and wanted to see it for himself. The rest, as they say, is history - and I can honestly say that I owe my very existence to my father's curiosity about the world, sparked by his travel experiences.
As we continue to navigate these unique times, I for one am hopeful that by Father's Day next year, we will once again be able to enrich our lives by exploring more of the world.
Happy Father's Day!
Save The Dates
During July, I'll be hosting three virtual wine and travel nights, featuring wines from South Africa, France and Italy. I'll be partnering with a bay area wine merchant, from whom you can order the wines we'll be tasting - as well as travel partners with expertise in each of those countries. The ZOOM calls will be at 5 PM Pacific, 8 PM Eastern, on three Thursdays - July 8, July 15 and July 22 - details will be released shortly. I hope you will join us for these physically distanced but very social events.
From Joan's Kitchen
If you missed my live demo of how to make my mother's non-traditional Gazpacho, never fear - here's the link for the video. To request the recipe, click the button below the video. And on Monday June 22 at 2 PM Pacific, 5 PM Eastern and 4 PM Central, I'll be in the kitchen again - this time, making a Mexican Shrimp Cocktail! tune in to my personal page on Facebook, to follow along.
Develop from the negatives, and if all else fails, take another shot.
I really like this quote - literally it gives logical advice for photographers - but this is good advice for life, too. We truly can learn and grow from every single experience. For me, among the key lessons learned during our current situation is the importance of family and friends, and to remember to appreciate and savor all the truly amazing things that we are privileged to be able to do.
During this Memorial Day Weekend I would also like to take a moment and recognized with gratitude all those who have served our country. In our family, my grandfather and both of Rich's grandfathers were deployed during World War I, and Rich's father was deployed during World War II. My Uncle Bill enlisted during World War II; my father served during the Korean Conflict, but was very fortunate to be deployed in France, and my Uncle Jim served in the Air Force. During our travels we have had the privilege of visiting American cemeteries in Normandy, Maastricht and Anzio - doing so is a very sobering experience as you acknowledge so many who gave their lives to preserve freedom.
The spring holidays of Passover and Easter were atypical this year, weren't they? Families were unable to gather for Seder dinners, or attend services in their Easter finery, and may instead have participated in "virtual" holiday celebrations. The Easter Bunny still found most families with young children, but the baskets were possibly not quite as overflowing, and egg hunts were in your own backyard. Seder dinner tables were set – sometimes for only one or two people. And maybe instead of an Easter ham, you dined on pizza... And instead of the Seder quote of "Next Year in Jerusalem," one of my daughters said "Next Year In Person." But you know what? It’s all perfect. We are doing what we need to be doing right now. And we are fortunate to have that option. It’s easy to get caught up in everything that couldn’t happen, but today I want us to recognize gratitude for what IS happening all around us.
Do you know the symbolism behind the design of Chicago's City Flag? The two sky blue stripes represent Lake Michigan/North Branch of the Chicago River, and the South Branch of the Chicago River/and the "Great Canal." The four red stars represent events from Chicago's rich history, namely The Great Chicago Fire of 1871, The World's Columbian Exposition of 1893, The Century of Progress Exhibition of 1933, and Fort Dearborn. Even the white bands are significant; they represent the North, West and South sides of the city. (There's really no East Side - that would be Lake Michigan.)
Chicago is my birthplace and my hometown. I lived there until I was 14, when my family moved to the San Diego area. At 22 I moved back, and lived in Chicago for the next 30 years before moving back to San Diego.
I still love Chicago, for so many reason - especially for family members and dear friends still living there. For those of you who've never been, I highly encourage planning a visit. Time after time visitors to Chicago are shocked (in a very good way!) by the beauty of the city, the friendliness of the residents, the world-class activities and of course, the food. In fact Chicago has become such a foodie-town that the NYC-based James Beard Foundation holds its annual awards gala and ceremony in Chicago!
If you were to visit, here are a few things I would highly recommend:
This week's feature explains why scheduling a photo shoot while on vacation is an excellent idea! This shot was taken by a "street fashion" photographer in Paris - we ducked into a cafe to warm up (it was 20 degrees and sleeting outside) - and my photographer captured this moment - one of my favorite photos ever!
Exciting news - my colleague, Celeste Auger-Munshi and I have been selected to host an Azamara Cruise from Venice to Athens in September, 2020. Along the way we will visit Sibenik, Croatia; Kotor, Montenegro; Corfu, Katakolon, Santorini and Mykonos, Greece, before finishing in Athens. My consortia, Virtuoso, in conjunction with several luxury cruise lines, offers Virtuoso Voyages - cruises which are hosted by a professional travel advisor. Passengers booking with a Virtuoso Advisor on a Virtuoso Voyage receive a complimentary special amenity - possibilities include an exclusive shore excursion, or services of a driver/guide, or a generous onboard credit. Celeste and I would love for you to join us on this cruise - space is very limited (great itinerary!) - so if you are interested please contact me as soon as possible to secure your cabin. More details here:
While in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico, my daughters and I visited the "Umbrella Street" - photo credit to my daughter, Sandy.
Hola! I've got a very busy travel schedule for the balance of 2019, and my travel dance card for 2020 is quickly filling. We are looking forward to one bucket list experience, specifically attending Oberammergau in July 2020. I've certainly led a very charmed life with respect to my ability to travel - but I still have so many destinations on my personal bucket list....So I'm asking for your help in choosing my next big experience. What's on YOUR bucket list, and where would YOU go first? And/Or - what am I missing???
My WanderList is below - Would love your feedback and suggestions!
One of the highlights of our summer was an Alaskan Cruise; here I am on our balcony overlooking Margerie Glacier in Glacier Bay National Park
Hello from sunny Leucadia, California! It's been a busy few months, and I've got lots to catch up on - but I would love to hear what you did during your summer! We are just home from a week in Illinois, and head east in a few days for something new to me - a business conference on board a cruise ship!
We have lots to look forward to right on through 2020, including a special trip that I booked in April of 2018 - yes, you read that correctly! Last week we visited a winery in Southern Illinois, and our host advised us to watch their site as they will soon be announcing plans for visiting during the 2024 Solar Eclipse! On that note, the article below discusses the benefits of planning vacations far in advance. Here's to the Future!
Virtuoso Travel Week On Tour - Los Angeles
We are back home after a few days in Los Angeles at Virtuoso's Travel Week on Tour, during which nearly 150 professional Travel Advisors met with 80+ travel suppliers, in a "speed-dating" format - followed up by a day of professional development (with a good measure of fun in the mix.)
One of the questions I frequently am asked is "Are there any good deals out there?" So fresh from meeting with so many suppliers, many of whom are currently offering promotions, here you are!
Earlier this year we headed to Cabo San Lucas for the first time, and fell in love. We stayed at the beautiful and well-located Breathless Resort, went deep sea fishing for two days, and took a day trip to Todos Santos. We knew we would be back...during Marlin time! So we planned a return visit for September, with another couple who enjoy fishing as much as we do. But - they had never experienced deep sea fishing...
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.