My top three favorite Christmas memories

I’ve  been reminiscing about memories of Christmas past and I realize how I miss having a proper Christmas celebration. You know, the kind where you have the whole clan on Christmas Eve, dressed up in red or green getting ready for grandma’s big, sumptuous dinner. The house decked out with the latest Yuletide décor complete with tiny, golden lights. The kids would be near the tree preoccupied with trying to guess the contents of carefully wrapped presents while the adults are busy cooking or catching up on gossip. In the background, you can hear Johnny Mathis or Bing Crosby sing a classic carol.

Ah, those were the days! Didn’t it seem so much more magical when we were kids and we didn’t have to worry about the expense associated with this holiday?

In more recent years, I have used Christmas as an excuse to travel. It’s a slow time and it’s the end of the year, so it makes sense to use those vacation days. I have had as much fun and “magic” celebrating Christmas in a non-traditional manner. So for this post, I’m sharing my top three favorite Christmas memories.

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5 Life Lessons from Climbing Mount Fuji

Seven years ago I had the opportunity to work and live in Tokyo. Towards the end of my gig, I went on a trip to visit a few places in Japan that had been on my bucket list. Mt. Fuji happened to be one of them. Little did I know that climbing Mt. Fuji would become one of the most pivotal moments in my life. It was there on top of 12,389 ft of stratovolcano that I learned 5 important life lessons which I would like to share with all of you.

1. Dream big: a lesson on pursuing your passion

When I told my co-workers that I was going to climb Mt. Fuji by myself they thought it was a crazy idea. I was a scrawny young nerd who had ZERO experience hiking/trekking/climbing a large mass of elevated land. Yet that did not faze me. I heard about the beautiful sunrise they call Buddha’s Halo which you can see from the top of Fuji and I had set my mind to see it for myself. I couldn’t find anyone to go with me during that time yet I knew it wouldn’t be an issue. My passion for travel and adventure won over any fears or doubts that other people and even myself had about the trip. In the end, I stood on top gazing at one the most beautiful sunrise I have seen in my entire life. It took my breath away!

This brings us to life lesson #1 – don’t be afraid to dream big! I am amazed at how most people just stop at “it will do”. Every time you feel like you want to settle for mediocre or the status quo give yourself a big kick in the gut! Go for what you really want. Know that you deserve the best! Big dreams mixed with passion = magic.

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The Philosophy behind Solo Travel


Traveling is a conscious departure from our mundane lives. It is a vehicle which propels us into motion. One which sets off a string of events that requires us to engage all of our senses. No second guessing, no over analyzing, just pure instinct. The moment we give in to this is the moment we feel most alive. We’re out of the box and we are free to be whatever shape we want to be. There’s room to breathe and time to savor the luxury of being yourself. By yourself. No expectations, no nagging voices, just the vision of the road ahead of you.

It’s easy. Really. It takes a few steps.

Step 1 Breathe

Step 2 Relax

Step 3 Let go

Know that you will never be the same person as when you started the journey. You will be a better person.

As the French say: “Sentiment exaltant ressenti par toute la conscience” that is, involves one’s whole being. This is the philosophy behind solo travel.

This post is my contribution to the Pinoy Travel Bloggers’ Blog Carnival. For the month of  April the theme is solo travel. The compilation will be hosted by Philippine Blog Awards Best Travel Blog of 2010 Winner – Nina Fuentes of Just Wandering.