I’m still riding the high of emotions, breath-taking views, and the delicious fried feta pies. This month we successfully completed our first Crew Travelers’ trip to Lesvos, where a group of strangers from all around the IMG_0868world became a family, as they joined together to help in the refugee crisis during the Dirty Girls Beach Clean Up. Of course we also took time to explore Molyvos, and fell in love with the Lesbians (C’mon, you didn’t think I would write grammatically incorrect sentences, did you?). If you care to read a more detailed account of our trip (and learn more about the refugee situation), check out My Big Fat Greek Adventure! While I recounted our trip activities there, I felt I needed to take a moment here to paint the picture that drew me in.

I’m still riding the high of emotions, breath-taking views, and the delicious fried feta pies. This month we successfully completed our first Crew Travelers’ trip to Lesvos, where 17 strangers from all around the IMG_0868world became a family, as they joined together to help in the refugee crisis during the Dirty Girls Beach Clean Up. Of course we also took time to explore Molyvos, and fell in love with the Lesbians (C’mon, you didn’t think I would write grammatically incorrect sentences, did you?). If you care to read a more detailed account of our trip (and learn more about the refugee situation), check out My Big Fat Greek Adventure! While I recounted our trip activities there, I felt I needed to take a moment here to paint the picture that drew me in.

Now, how to describe paradise adequately? If Lesvos was a box of chocolates, every one of them would be sweet. Everywhere you look, the ocean views are spectacular. Everything you eat is delicious.The Aegean ocean is amazing for swimming in June, and the weather is just lovely. Every road is interesting. Every restaurant cat purrs with affection at your feet. Every person I asked for directions provided me with a friendly, elaborate explanation of how to be on my way, and would then smile and wave as I backed up, blocking traffic going the other direction as I continued on. No honks or dirty looks. What I noticed were people laughing a lot. I sensed a 13417664_10208571607839148_2327472806575214859_n (2)happiness, love and kindness in the people of Lesvos. The olive trees always shield you away from the direct sunlight, but you still feel the sun. The sunsets are always gorgeous. The blooming flowers scent the air with a naturally sweet fragrance that even make your nose buds happier. All of these things made me feel alive, and incredibly thankful to be alive. And I understood exactly what it meant when Katarina told me that you can feel free here.

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Aphrodite, Alison of Dirty Girls, and me!

During the week that I spent at Hotel Aphrodite, Aphrodite and her family made an even bigger impression on my heart, as they helped me each day to navigate my way through the island, pointing out things to stop and see along the way on the big map I unfolded every morning with Aphrodite in the hotel lobby. Aphrodite personally drove me to the market on the day that my group arrived because I needed help finding water shoes for them. She took me to her friend, who gave me a great price, and where I then fell in love with the most beautiful hand-made seashell chandelier

“We will close earlier unless something drastic changes the situation.”

I heard the stories of families, children- even musicians, who arrived on the pebble beaches in front of their hotel cabana, and the post effect of media images that scared away tourists, the main revenue source for Lesvos. Now hotels are closing down. “Room for rent” signs are posted everywhere. The hotels that are in operation aren’t full, in what should otherwise be peak season. Aphrodite wrote to me a few days ago. And let me tell you about Aphrodite Hotel! Established in 1988, rich in history, located directly on a pebble beach, their vegetables from fresh from the hotel’s organic garden, the breakfast spread is always delightful and everyone works very hard to take care of their guests. Aphrodite wrote to me, “We usually close the end of October, but this year, as we don’t have any reservations at all for the month, we will close earlier unless something drastic changes the situation.”

I would like for us to be that something drastic that changes the situation. Whether you go with one our incredible Crew Traveler’s tours or by yourself, please add Aphrodite Hotel in Lesvos to your “in the near future bucket list”! Tell your friends and family about the kind people of Lesvos, tell them it is incredibly safe, and that the Greeks are now suffering because they did what was right and helped the refugees who arrived onto their beaches. In the enchanted town of Molyvos, where a castle sits at the top, you will see spectacular Aegean views, you will experience that same kindness, you will stop to smell the flowers in bloom, and you will feel free.

Heart Art, made from refugee life vests.
Heart Art, made from refugee life vests.

If someone like you cares an awful lot, it’s not going to get better, it’s not. As a side project to our September trip, Crew Travelers will collect/deliver donated supplies for the refugee camps, volunteer camps and schools in Lesvos. For flight crew, throwing those hotel amenities into your bag can make a huge difference, and it only takes a call to Guest Services to double or sometimes triple your portions! I created the following Facebook event as a space where people can get involved and help, whether they are going on the trip or not, and where I can post progress pics of our roller-board suitcases! Check out My Big Fat Suitcase: Refugee Relief & Love to Lesvos!

 

I woke up one morning in April to a calling, a direct line to my heart from the universe. As a citizen of the world, I knew that I had to do something with the passion and outrage stirring within me over the global refugee crisis the world has been watching. After all, we are all connected through our humanity. It was time to go see it for myself, and to create a space of opportunity for other airline crew who want to do the same.

Continue reading below!

Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better, it’s not. – Dr. Seuss

Title Credit: Bethany Reinhart

I woke up one morning in April to a calling, a direct line to my heart from the universe. As a citizen of the world, I knew that I had to do something with the passion and outrage stirring within me over the global refugee crisis the world has been watching. After all, we are all connected through our humanity. It was time to go see it for myself, and to create a space of opportunity for other airline crew who want to do the same. 

I was welcomed with open arms to volunteer with Dirty Girls of Lesvos, a wonderful non profit organization that washes clothing and other items to recycle back into the hands of refugees who need these supplies. Alison, Founder, recommended a great family run hotel, and like that I booked some rooms. The itinerary was neatly woven together after discovering island charms such as the Healing Springs and historic Molyvos castle, and thanks to a lot of assistance from Aphrodite Hotel. Within a couple of weeks, more than a dozen travelers signed up for the trip, and I realized that this calling was not just my own. With big hearts and smiles, 16 of us found each other on the island of Lesvos!

The drive into Molyvos was lovely, a twisting curvy road that leads you through cities and across the island, until we came upon Molyvos, a beautiful enchanting town with a castle at the top of the mountain! Our hotel was just behind the mountain, facing a beautiful beach. Our first activity on the itinerary would be eating a dinner at the hotel taverna, meeting with Alison of Dirty Girls, and to see a photo slideshow by Aphrodite herself. We needed to know more about the refugee crisis, and how we could help.

…the media has portrayed a crazy image of the island that has scared tourists away, and now local businesses are suffering. Hotels are going out of business.

It has been said before that if you take care of others, God will take care of you. But in the case of Lesvos, they have welcomed refugees, because as Aphrodite says, “What choice do I have?” She tells us of how she was in the middle of serving customers last summer at the very same spot that we were sitting in, when boats would arrive, and she would excuse herself and go check on the incoming refugees. It’s the right thing to do to give someone water if they are dehydrated, and to provide clean clothes if theirs are wet and dirty. The golden rule, quite literally. And yet, not many have stepped forward to back up Lesvos, in fact the media has portrayed a crazy image of the island that has scared tourists away, and now local businesses are suffering. Hotels are going out of business. The world needed to know what’s going on, only because it deserved the world’s attention and reaction. I’m so glad I put my feet on the ground as I attempted to put myself in their shoes. It’s hard to imagine that less than a year ago, up to 8 boats were arriving jam packed with people, sometimes with no gas, often taking twice as long as it should have taken, on the beautiful beaches I enjoyed during my stay. The locals helped the refugees, despite the laws against it. There are now some boats arriving, but not anything like they did last summer, receiving up to eight boats per day at Aphrodite’s beach. I’ve only seen refugees driving through Moria where the largest camp exists. I noticed the barbed wire fences, and a few people walking alongside the road. 

But the help that Lesvos truly needs requires you do nothing more than go to Lesvos and enjoy yourself!

But the help that Lesvos truly needs requires you do nothing more than go to Lesvos and enjoy yourself! As Katarina at our lovely hotel says, “You can feel free here.” I felt both guilty and lucky to be given the extra attention, and perhaps a more personal experience. Our euros spent there push the economy forward, and if more tourists returned, we could turn it all around for the locals and their land- the same land where Aristotle first studied birds, where Sappho was born, where the prices are right, where gorgeous sunsets can be seen every evening, where they’ll gladly help you if you’re lost -and in fact you will probably get a long, detailed set of directions- and where you’ll never eat a meal alone because there will always be some sweet stray cat that keeps you company. From the breathtaking views to the beautiful beaches, hot springs and castles, in your effort to create change, you may be subjected to wonderfully kind people as well!

Day One, we collected together many bags of accrued amenities, pens, ladies underwear & water shoes. Alison invited Crew Travelers to participate in a beach clean up at Light House Beach, where we hiked down to work in the hot sun to collect trash, discover clothes to be recycled, and cut up 4 plastic boats! Afterward, we jumped into the clear blue ocean to cool off! After we hiked back up to the road, we made our way to a lovely restaurant on a terrace surrounded by flowers and olive trees, with a view of the ocean, and Turkey in the distance. We shared a wonderful meal, and then a lemonade liquor shot over a big “Opa!” That evening, we enjoyed a delicious Greek BBQ by the sea. We kidnapped some of the Light House volunteers for a pool party, which followed by a night of dancing at Congas, a beautiful beach-side bar with great music!

Day Two, we made our way up the castle for some rich history, fun photos and incredible views. Then we headed over to the best natural hot springs and spa in Lesvos, where we enjoyed the beach, some of us received massages, and where we couldn’t help but feel like models in the infinity pool! We made our way back to Molyvos, where some travelers went to explore the traditional market. Bethany and I picked up some hand-made olive oil soaps and locally-made olive oil, before meeting up for dinner at The Women’s Cooperative of Petra, the #1 Restaurant via TripAdvisor, and an initiative to increase and expand opportunity for local women! Costas and his staff of waiters did an amazing job of giving us a taste of Greece as we chatted and drank white wine on the balcony and looking out onto the sea every once in awhile. I felt like I was part of a beautiful painting. We said “Opa!” a lot, and after dinner we all stood around on the cobblestone streets of Petra, taking photos, looking into the shops, and slowly saying our goodbyes. This group of strangers turned family in just a few days, as we fell in love with Lesvos over and over again.

Everything about the island will steal your heart.

There’s no reason not to go to Lesvos, as the people are lovely and kind. Everything about the island will steal your heart. As an added bonus and way to give back, you will support a local economy that is truly appreciative of your euro money by simply doing whatever you want on the island. And there’s even more to explore, such as a boat ride to snorkel and visit Rabbit Island, perhaps a tour to the Ouzo factory, a trip to the Oxy beach-front nightclub, and more time at the hot springs spa. The day I got back to Texas, I was already thinking about returning to Greece, with 3 travelers requesting a return trip in early October. The truth is that I would return again and again. Somewhere between the sun’s kiss and the salty blue ocean in beautiful Lesvos, you will find my heart! Opa!

If you have 8 or more people in your group who would like to volunteer and explore beautiful Lesvos, I would love to coordinate your adventure! Just send me an email with dates to  [email protected]! Check out more trips at http://crewtravelers.com! Efcharisto!

 

I will remember the sweet faces of everyone looking back at me when I arrived at the top of the steps, the strum of the uke, and an overwhelming gratitude for every single thing in my life that had led me to you.

The first half-year of marriage has shown me so many new colors of love. We’ve spent 182 trips around the sun as husband and wife. We’ve been to at least 5 states, Cuba and Jamaica, learned how to swing dance, we’ve started 2 businesses and you have mastered the way I like my coffee! June 5th marks 6 months since we stood in the sand and promised to share one life together, and while I don’t remember every single detail, there are key aspects of the day that I will forever hold in my heart.

I will always remember how you reminded me that no matter how crazy things got, at the end of this we will be married and together, and that’s all that matters. I felt like a princess when I stepped into the dress of my dreams, only possible by the loving votes of airline crew family. I’ll remember how much I laughed with your sister when she presented me with your beautiful gift. I will remember the sweet faces of everyone looking back at me when I arrived at the top of the steps, the strum of the uke, and an overwhelming gratitude for every single thing in my life that had led me to you. I will remember that when you took my hand from my dad, I felt like you would always do everything you could to take care of me, to love me and to water the garden that is our marriage. I’ll never forget how open my heart was when I told you I would love you forever. We made the same joke in the vows we wrote separately, and it seemed like the universe was winking at us. Your parents were balling their eyes out because they love us so much. I will remember how you almost kissed me before my cousin pronounced us husband and wife. Audrey held a beautiful bird’s nest with our rings in it. I will never forget that a bird flew across the sky behind us during our first kiss. You were kind with our first bite of wedding cake. I’ll remember that my cheeks hurt from smiling and laughing.

I’ll remember that before we were married, Mamita said something that stuck with me during one of our chats, and it made me want to marry you even more… “People forget how great it can be to have a long lasting relationship with one person, how beautiful it can be to share your entire life with someone.” Life with you is really beautiful, and I’m so thankful for the time we have together. Thank you for loving me, even when I’m not shining so bright. I would say “I Do” again and again!! Happy 6 Months Anniversary, Hubz Caps!

We took a little trip to Cuba before most american tourists visited. Check out our video below for a view of our time in Cuba. The island was amazing, like a snapshot of culture from way back when!

“The littlest things can brighten a person’s day. If we all showed a little bit more love, we could change the world. It all starts with one. One person, one act. Smiling at a stranger, holding open a door, lending a helping hand, giving someone a compliment. Spread the beauty! “

Kindness. Connected by our humanity. Compassion. Understanding. In their shoes. Good karma. Enriching to both the giver and receiver. Opportunity to help others. Opportunity to serve purpose. The golden rule. Showing love. Kindness!

What comes to you when you think of kindness?IMG_6331

I recently sat down for an interview with Hannah Jones for her Kindness Project, an initiative that promotes and inspires kindness. The Kindness Project is all about spreading the love. She created this place to encourage people to be kind to others, and to share what kindness we come across. In light of all the energy and effort Hannah’s been putting into the education and importance of  kindness, I’ve been thinking about kindness more and more since our rendez-vous. There isn’t a whole lot more I can say about kindness, but there’s so much we can do! Taking a page from Hannah’s website, and in an effort to inspire and cultivate more kindness out there, here is a list of my favorite 50 flavors of kindness:

1. Smile!
2. Volunteer!
3. Compliment someone.
4. Tell someone you love them.
5. Feed someone.
6. Forgive someone who has hurt you.
7. Leave a love note hidden somewhere for someone to find.
8. Clean out your closet and donate stuff you don’t want anymore.
9. Truly listen.
10. Give someone a hug.
11. Hold the door open for a stranger.
12. Let someone into your lane when everyone else is subtly ignoring their blinker.
13. Dog sit for a friend, requesting nothing in return.
14. Fundraise for an organization you believe in, using your talents!
15. Send someone a letter or a small package (They are so fun to get!).
16. Offer to help a friend with something they seem to need help with.
17. Pick up trash you find on the ground and throw it away.
18. Bring a treat to work to share with your coworkers (like candy or donuts).
19. Leave encouraging, loving comments on peoples photos & posts on social media outlets.
20. Say thank you, all the time!
21. Call your family.
22. Do an errand or a chore for someone who is feeling overwhelmed.
25. Take the time, to do something for someone else.
26. Offer someone your seat if there are none left.
27. Email or write someone who made a difference in your life.
28. Buy someone coffee.
29. Have a photo of you and good friend framed (or family member) and give it to them as a random gift.
30. Help someone carry their groceries to their car.
31. If you see someone crying, ask them if they’re ok and give them a hug.
32. When someone is rude or hurtful to you, responding with kindness can do more than you know.
33. For Christmas, sponsor a family and buy & wrap presents up fro them.
34. Organize a volunteer project, and create an opportunity for others to give back.
35. Hand make a card.
36. Contribute to someone’s GoFundMe, even if it’s just five dollars.
38. Rescue an animal from your local shelter and give them a forever home!
39. Text someone in the morning telling them that you hope they have a wonderful day
40. Buy some dog or cat food and give it to an animal rescue or shelter.
41. Create a care package for a homeless person (toothbrush, deodorant, feminine products, a banana, a sandwich, a water bottle, a crossword puzzle and a pen).
42. Help someone elderly.
43. Make someone breakfast in bed!
44. Leave encouraging notes somewhere like a public restroom.
45. If you appreciate something someone did, tell them!
46. Don’t dwell on your problems, remember your blessings and cultivate an attitude of gratitude!
47. When someone cuts you off in traffic, or treats you rudely, respond with kindness and remember that you never know what that person could be going through.
48. Take the extra step to recycle.
49. Give someone a book you already read.
50. Notice the kindness around you, and spotlight those acts and the amazing people doing them!

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You’re doing a great job with this project, Hannah! I think you’re awesome. I love you! Seriously, I love you and your kind heart.

Check out Hannah’s Kindness is Beauty project here!

On this day, April 20th, many of you will first think of cannabis, some of you will think of Spring. But I will think of both of those things, when I think of Lauren Hoover. You may have seen her as a manager at Back Country Cannabis Club on High Profits, a docu-series about the cannabis industry. Her happy, upbeat, yogi spirit made everyone think twice before labeling cannabis users as lazy or glued to the couch. On an average morning, Lauren would get up early to snowboard, run 12 miles and do yoga before working an evening shift at BCC. But more than that, she was a light to everyone she met- and to some she had never met, too.

lauren bubblyWith a slight obsession for the show and a trip to Breckenridge in early March, I learned that Lauren was unconscious after a head-on collision during her commute to work, on an icy morning on March 2, according to her sister’s GoFundMe. I was upset, and feeling an overwhelming injustice that good people who take care of themselves and who are kind to others have to face such horrible trauma and suffering at 26-years-old. So I thought good thoughts at her, meditated on her recovery, and snooped on her social media pages. I picked up her core message, allowed it to resonate in my life, and shared it. Love and light.

lauren yogaHer laugh was contagious. She provided free Funky Buddha Fitness in the park. Her love for life was infectious. She was known for leaving love notes for people she worked with, such as: “Have a wonderful day. The sun’s shining so enjoy the hell out of it”. She had a fiance of 6 years. Her Facebook timeline’s abundant with messages that are inspiring, uplifting and love-filled. In one post she wrote,”And if you forget that you are beautiful… Remember that everything beautiful in the universe resides within you. You are a reflection of light and even stardust lies in your very DNA.”

laurenNow Lauren resides within the universe and the stardust. She passed away on March 23rd, after fighting for her life for 3 weeks. I’m sad that I never even had the opportunity to be Lauren’s friend, but she would have been my friend, taking mouth open selfies because it means you’re having more fun and all. The world seems a little colder with her gone. She made each day count, and I am ever so reminded to enjoy the present moment. Because life is short, and every day could be your last. You may have had your last day on earth, but I intend to carry on your message, Lauren. I’m going to enjoy the hell out of sunshine, and remind others to do the same. Love and light always.

“The adrenaline filled walk up the bridge to spectacular city views made for memories to last a lifetime.”

This year, my mom, dad, sister, boyfriend and I decided on Australia for our vacation spot. We weren’t sure what to expect down under, but we figured we would have fun. We were not expecting to fall in love with the city of Sydney. Our trip was far too short (we only stayed for a week), however we made the most of the time we had! Here are the top five things that I’d recommend doing:

1. The Sydney Bridge Climb12966504_10208937088052910_812079975_n

I was a bit unsure about booking this tour, as it is a bit on the pricey side and seemed a little too expected and touristy, but it was worth every penny! The adrenaline filled walk up the bridge to spectacular city views made for memories to last a lifetime. Word to the wise- Do NOT stop for a beer before you go. They actually breathalyze you before the climb! Also, if you are a flight crew member, bring your badge! You get 50% off!

12939087_10208937088572923_1070321638_n2. Bondi Beach to Coogee Beach Coastal Walk

Best part about this activity? It’s FREE! This gorgeous trail can take a couple of hours or more based on how many times you stop and take pictures! My family stopped what felt like every 10 feet, so this walk took up most of the day for us. If you get hungry, I would highly recommend stopping for lunch at “Nourished: The Healthy Food Co.” near Avalon Beach for lunch. It was on the way, and the food included was very tasty and energizing.

“Being up close in the mountains, it was more like being in a mystic, fairy-like world.”

3. Blue Mountains/Scenic World

12935220_10208937089332942_77927553_nThe Blue Mountains are about an hour outside of Sydney. They are called the Blue Mountains because they appear blue from far away due to the eucalyptus oil evaporating from the plants. Being up close in the mountains, it was more like being in a mystic, fairy-like world. Scenic world is basically a place to explore these mountains, and the world includes three attractions: Two cable car rides and one sort of train ride that is apparently the steepest train in the world. All of the rides were awesome and offered spectacular views.

4. Featherdale Wildlife Park12966386_10208937091813004_346930791_n

This was our chance to experience Australia’s wildlife up close! We had the opportunity to feed and pet kangaroos and wallabies! They were very sweet and docile. We also got to pat and take some pictures with an adorable koala. The experience made me realize that koalas are my spirit animal. They are just so cute and cuddly, and I share their love for the eucalyptus plant!

“…I can truly say that the trip was like a detox for my soul.”

5. Surf Bondi Beach!

Okay, so we were pretty unsuccessful at our surfing attempt, as conditions were pretty terrible, but it was still fun to try! If you have never surfed before, or maybe even if you have, I would definitely recommend splurging for a lesson. Surf’s up!

12966121_10208937092493021_1197413524_nAll these fantastic adventures aside, what truly made our experience in Sydney unforgettable was how kind everyone was to us. To be honest, it was a bit surprising at first. Nevertheless, we found ourselves smiling more and more, and when it was all said and done, I can truly say that the trip was like a detox for my soul. There is something about that city that makes everyone be nice to each other, and it makes you want whatever juice they are drinking. We are all just human beings seeking joy in the world, and Sydney was definitely a place where we found it. I can’t wait to go back!