category/nikkis-notes

Nikki’s Notes |

Balinese Booty Massage

sir_mix-a-lotI’m calling on the Prayer Warriors, y’all.  Saints, please put me on your prayer list.  I’m sitting in an ePew placing my burdens on the iAltar.  Y’all???  Why is it that every time I get a male masseuse, my 75 minute Deep Tissue Massage turns into a 45 minute Booty Roll Detox?

It rarely happens with female massage therapists.  But, 95% of the male therapists I’ve had go straight to Booty Town and stay there like a matinée is playing.  Why?  I wear panties which I thought was the international sign for “don’t touch this” in the massage world.  I just knew this time would be different.  I know my booty is big.  But it is big because of genetics…not because that’s where I carry my stress. Stop patiently waiting, enroll in the action with lightning link continual chance and plenty of victories wait people!

So, the massage begins and I’m laying face down on the massage table and things are going well.  He starts with my upper back and shoulders.  Great pressure. Perfect massage so far.  Then he moves down my back.  Still okay because I got my “Don’t Touch This Panties” on so I’m cool.  Next thing I know, he has pulled my panties down and started kneading my booty.  Wait!  What just happened?  The last time someone pulled my panties down like this was when I got a whipping for something I probably didn’t do (I’m still fighting those bogus charges with my parents!).

After 10 minutes, I’m thinking he’s going to wrap it up and move on to the legs.  Nope.  He LEANS INTO THE BUTTOCKS WITH HIS ELBOW!  Um, why is he kneading like I got booty knots?  I thought you just got knots in your shoulders?  Do I suffer from butt distress?

Sir?  Why are you now doing a “wax on/wax off” motion?  I’m going to need to shut down this production of Karate Kid – Bali.  In fact, I’mma need you to slide them hands back up to my shoulders, k?

Lord, help a big booty sista out.

To be honest…the massage was wonderful (once he stopped focusing on my booty).  I felt all kinds of relaxed afterwards.  Once I got dressed and caught sight of my backside in the mirror, I’m pretty sure my booty said “Namaste.”

Hey! How Can I Travel Like You?

20130601-113254.jpgI like to think of travel as a close friend.  Someone I look forward to spending time with…and can’t wait to see again soon!  Many have asked me how I’m able to travel the world like I do.  So, I thought I’d share my journey.  If you want to travel the world…you can do it!  You don’t have to have a certain background.  Just a belief in yourself, determination, faith and a sense of adventure.

Most of the time, I’m asked “What do you do?”  It’s an innocent inquiry as to how I am able to travel to so many places.  I’m always so tempted to answer by saying “I’m an adventurer, explorer &  globetrotting travelista!”  But, while I consider that WHO I AM, it’s not the job title on my business cards…yet :)

So, what do I do?  I am responsible for compliance for a global company.  I know that seems really general but it isn’t really important as to WHAT I do…but more importantly, HOW I was able to transition from a job with absolutely no travel into finding one that allows me to explore the world.

I started out working in the legal department of a credit reporting agency.  I did absolutely NO TRAVEL.  Well, I did get to drive 23 miles from Atlanta to Alpharetta.  Woohoo!  Four years into this job, my mother suggested we do a family trip somewhere overseas.  We decided on Italy, booked the trip and headed off.  For those of you who have read my Roaming Thru Rome post, you know that is how this blog started. That is when I caught the travel bug.  I had such a phenomenal time.  While the post focuses on a lot of the hilarity that ensued, it wasn’t until my brother and I were walking around the Ponte Vecchio in Florence that I stopped and said, “I need a job that will pay for me to see the world.” I realized then that I had been missing out on so much.

After my trip, a friend suggested I read The Secret.  This book really helped me to shift from viewing my current circumstances in a negative light to clearly identifying what I wanted to do next and speaking that into being.  I can be Debbie Downtrodden, Negative Nancy & Pissed Off Patty all rolled into one sometimes.  I figured it was time for a change :) So, I created a vision board with photos of international cities I wanted to visit and words that described my wish to find a job with overseas travel.

My desire to see the world was born in Florence.  That was July 2007.  In October 2007, I received a call from a recruiter asking me if I’d be interested in a compliance audit position.  I had absolutely no audit experience.  However, the company was looking for someone with a law degree to focus on certain legal-related audits and felt that I could easily pick up the audit piece.  To be honest, I wasn’t all that interested.  Then, the hiring manager called me and told me he had just gotten back from a month-long trip overseas to Italy, the Netherlands, Finland, France, Ireland, etc.  At this point, all I heard was “international travel.”  I was sold!  A few weeks later, I was offered a job with my current company.

It didn’t start out with the international destinations that I dreamed of.  Here I thought I’d be flying off to the French Riviera.  When, in fact, during the first 2 years, my only “international” trips were to Mexico City and Toronto.  Mostly, I had to travel to places like Louisville, Mississippi since my boss called dibs on all the interesting foreign destinations.  I was not feeling that.

As planning was underway for the 2010 calendar, a few things happened.  First, my boss was promoted out of our group and into another business.  Second, I spoke up and became aggressive about being assigned international audits.  Everything then fell into place.  I spent 70% of my time in 2010 in the UK and Europe.

At that point, I realized that I needed to figure out how to become a specialist in compliance areas that would require international travel.  It takes time but those baby steps help build the foundation to get you where you want to go.

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But the best laid plans sometimes have unforeseen pitfalls.  My company sold its European business in 2012 and I was then promoted into a compliance position within a business.  While the business segment had a sub-business that had international offices, I was assigned to the domestic sub-business.  Which meant ZERO international travel.  I was devastated.  I didn’t want to drive around the southeast to mills!  But, I dusted myself off and put together a new plan.

That meant talking with sister companies that had international offices as well as having a frank conversation with my new boss.  Sometimes, you just have to put it out there and tell them what you want.  I was clear that I wanted to focus solely on international-related matters.  Not just because I love travel, but because I’m intrigued by international business.  The nuances of laws and regulations between different countries keeps me on my toes.  Turns out, my new boss didn’t care for international travel so I was blessed to be able to shift into a new position where I am now responsible for compliance for our international business.

So, how do you get to travel internationally for business?  Here’s a few suggestions:

  1. Work for a global company.  This will allow you the opportunity to gain access to the international offices.  Think about joining a capability group (i.e. compliance, IT, law, etc.) that will allow you to work across the organization with multiple business lines.
  2. Work for a consulting firm.  This could be a law firm, forensic accounting…whatever firm offers services to companies.  Companies hire consulting firms to conduct investigations or independent audits in various areas (i.e. anti-corruption, data privacy, antitrust, anti-bribery, anti-money laundering, etc.).
  3. Research job qualifications on LinkedIn.  This will help you to figure out what skills are most often listed for positions that have international travel.
  4. Leverage your transferable skills.  This will allow you to change careers.  Maybe you are in IT and know a lot about data privacy due to the various restrictions that need to be in place when setting up email accounts for international employees or transferring data to the U.S. from other countries?  Look to join a company in their Privacy group.
  5. Become an Agent.  If you have a background in sales, this would work for you.  Typically, Agents sell goods on behalf of a company.  Find a global firm and talk the hiring manager into letting you handle a foreign market.
  6. Be fluent in another language.  You will see that most international positions prefer to hire someone with language proficiency in the countries they will be interacting with.  Knowing another language gives you a competitive edge! Companies will see that they don’t need to pay for an interpreter to go with employees or consultants to foreign countries.

heart-intuitionThese are just a few suggestions to get you started.  The biggest piece of advice I can give is to surround yourself with positive people who can encourage you when you start to doubt if it will ever happen.  Think optimistically and know that you will find a way to travel the world.  Create a vision board; tape Post-It notes with motivational quotes next to your computer screen; and start living like the job is already yours!

If you have more advice to add to the list, I’d love to hear it!  Thanks for reading and good luck!

Buddhist Bootcamp

20131015-205511.jpgI’ve been saying that I’m going to start incorporating the principles of Buddhism into my life as soon as I can finish the “How to Practice: The Way to a Meaningful Life” by the Dalai Lama.  But, excuses get in the way.  Work gets in the way.  Everything gets in the way except me making the time.

So, I decided to ease into it.  You know, start with going to yoga and ending with me finishing the book during my sojourn to Bali. That was such an awesome idea in theory. In practice?  Well, we’ll see.  I’ve got the book pulled up on my Kindle waiting for my attention.  Somehow, it got shuffled behind some trashy romance novels that some unknown person I downloaded.

Anyway, I started off with yoga.  Lord help me.  It looks so easy in the magazines.  I bought cute yoga attire from Athleta then signed up for a 75 minute Hot Yoga class.  Easy peasy.  I intended to walk out so zen & relaxed.

The class started and I was like, “this is cool!”  I’m stretching and the positions aren’t that difficult although I’m about as limber as an iron rail.  But no matter.  ZEN!  That’s what I’m here to achieve.  Then, I notice how quiet it is.  In spin class, I can’t think of anything else except trying not to die on the bike because they have me doing some sort of dance routine complete with jazz hands to 2 Chainz.  But here, it is so tranquil that my mind starts to wander and now I’m thinking about everything but yoga.  That’s when irritation sets in because you can’t zone out when the positions get harder.

Yoga Instructor (YI): (in a sing-song breathy voice) Slowly move into downward facing dog.

Me:  (moves into position) This ain’t bad. *tinkling music and YI painting us a scene with words* [then I start thinking about the stank email I got from John at work and my blood pressure starts to rise.]

YI:  Now move into a plank for 27 minutes

Me:  WTF?  27 minutes?  Ugh! [mentally drafting a response to John’s email that will go something like, “Sir, I suggest you use the backspace key next time you think of sending some crazy email to me because I ain’t the one.  Don’t try me, try Jesus.”  Hmmm, maybe I need to re-word that a little as it might come across hostile??  THESE PLANKS HURT!!!  JESUS TAKE THE WHEEL!]

YI:  Doesn’t that feel wonderful?  Like puppies resting on your tummy?  Breathe in deeply.  Think of yourself as the breaths, not the breather. You are one with the universe.  A flower opening up to the welcome the sun.

Me:  Ma’am?  I can’t do that.  This is too much imagery.  My core fell out of my body 10 minutes ago.  I’m about to do the crying baby position, k?

YI:  Now…transition out of the plank and cartwheel into the Terrible Twos Tantrum position (or whatever it is…honestly, I had stopped listening after my muscles locked up and were like, “please know your limitations.”).

Me:  OMG, is this a tumbling class?  WTH?  *falls out*

YI:  Namaste

Me:  Call 911

See?  This is why I can’t have nice things and be thin and calm.  WHY IS YOGA SO HARD???  This was supposed to be my introduction into Keeping it Calm — Buddha-Style.  At this rate, I ain’t going to make it.

So now…I’m back to reading the book and trying yoga again.  Maybe it will be easier on the beach in Bali?  Maybe this time, I can use imagery for good thoughts instead of mentally written curse-out emails?  I don’t even know.  What I do know is that I really want to learn to let foolishness roll off me like waves of cool water.  I read inspirational quotes by the Dalai Lama and think, “He is so wise. I need a better coping mechanism besides chocolate and alcohol.”

Do any of you follow Buddhist principles?  Any suggestions for a newbie?

The Cookie Monster Coat

All I wanted was a fabulous new coat.  Why did that have to turn into The Biggest Loser audition?  Seriously?  Ugh.

I’m working on a new blog post updating “What to Wear When Travelling Abroad” with some cool new & beautiful finds from small retailers (scarves, coats, accessories, etc.).  I’m so excited!!!  So, one of the items I recently attempted to purchase was a beautiful coat. Like all purchases, I picked my size (going up a bit so I could wear bulky sweaters and not look like the Stay Puff Marshmallow Man).  Once I submitted my order, I receive an email from the supplier asking me for my measurements so she could verify that the size I selected was appropriate.

This coat was the business, y'all.  Unfortunately, it only comes in sizes preemie to 3T.

This coat was the business, y’all. Unfortunately, it only comes in sizes preemie to 3T.

Isn’t it fab?  This coat gives me life!  Do you know how fierce I’d look walking around Paris rocking this baby?  I had dreams!  I had accessories!  But, after a couple of weeks, what I didn’t have was a coat.  So, I follow-up asking about the status of my order…only to receive this email:

Dear Customer:  This coat does not fit you. We have given you a refund. Please check your account.  Thank you.

Wait.  Whut? Return to Sender cuz I know this ain’t meant for me.  O__o  <—– that is me giving her the side-eye because this is a hot bed of foolery (and yes, I said “whut” because “what” will not accurately capture my feelings at this moment).  The coat doesn’t fit?  Are you serious?  Ma’am, I rebuke you and your shenanigans.  Sigh.  Now I gotta write a response back to her.

Apparently, this is how the coat would fit me and my Precious-sized self. #smh

Apparently, this is how the coat would fit me and my Precious-sized self. #smh

Dear Coat Voldemort,

Why does this coat not fit?  Is it made for toddlers?  I am an averaged size woman.  I do realize that I may look the size of Godzilla since you all are so tiny in China…but trust me when I say that I am not planning to wear this coat while hanging off the side of a building kidnapping a woman and asking her which diet works best for her.  I need details about why this coat (which is offered in sizes S, M, L, XL and XXL) will not fit me.

Did seeing my measurements make you bust out into a verse from “Brickhouse” by The Commodores?  No, I am not a size 2…but I am not a body double for the Kool-Aid Man either.

So, ma’am, I’m gonna need some answers because you have messed up my Fierceness of Fall plans behind this.  If you have to sew 2 coats together to fit my supersized ass, then get to sewing because I need this coat in my life and you ain’t taking it from me.  On second thought, forget it…I will take my business someplace else where they won’t smack the cookies out of my mouth while making my coat.

Thanks,

Gone With the Wind Fabulous

Dealing with my feelings.

Dealing with my feelings.

Too much?  Sometimes I can’t help myself.  When I read her email, I was like, “no she didn’t.”  How am I too fat for a coat?  Y’all…iCant.  She basically remixed Beyonce’s “Ego” song and said, “you’re too big, it won’t fit, lose weight…you gotta a big bootay….a big, big bootay”.  #devastated

Germs on a Plane

photo sourced from Wikipedia

photo sourced from Wikipedia

I recently read a fascinating & insightful article, Just Plane Nasty: 5 Places Where Germs Thrive on a Commercial Flight by Microbiologist and Director of Global Service Care at Reckitt Benckiser Inc., Joe Rubino.  In this article, he discusses the top 5 dirtiest places on a plane.  And for those of us that travel, it is eye-opening.  I will never board another plane without sanitizer!  Here’s a quick recap:

  1. Bathrooms:  I’m sure everybody knows this.  I never touch anything in a public restroom without paper towels and always use Purell after I leave.  I’m amazed at how many folks wash their hands then touch the door handle.  Too many people have subjective definitions of cleanliness for me to touch bare surfaces.
  2. Touch Screens:  Imagine how many fingers have touched that screen before you decided you wanted to play trivia on your flight to El Paso?
  3. Tray Tables:  All I had to read was the example of folks using it as an impromptu changing table.  Ewwww!
  4. Blankets/Pillows:  Blankets and pillows are reused multiple times before they are sent off to be washed.  This quote from Rubino says it all, “A saliva-filled pillow can perhaps cause the spread of a cold or flu, especially if there is more than saliva on it, such as respiratory secretions and mucus.”
  5. Seat Pockets:  How many times have you used the seat pocket to hold trash?  It’s easy to do.  What I found most interesting was the article speaking to the fact that some people lick their fingers when turning pages of the magazines provided.  Uh uh.  No.  My mind cannot deal with that.  Right now, I’m ordering a vat of disinfectant to soak my fingers.  I’m done with Sky Mall!

What does the article recommend?  Traveling with lots of Lysol® Disinfectant Wipes (or their travel-sized spray).  I highly recommend you read the article in its entirety.  It’s very informative in explaining where germs live & how you can decrease your chances of catching a cold or the flu while travelling.  Lots of things to be mindful of.  Also, please check out the other articles on the Priority One Jet’s blog.  Very interesting reads!

Nikki’s Nest: Riad Joya (Marrakech, Morocco)

The amazing Riad Joya courtyard

The amazing Riad Joya courtyard

Planning a trip to the majestic city of Marrakech? I recommend staying at the fabulous Riad Joya (designed by the eclectic & posh Umberto Maria Branchini). Featured on The Today Show’s 2012 “Hotlist”, this decadent riad captures the essence of different African cultures and each suite is light & airy.

Located in the very heart of the Medina (in the historical and protected area of the Mouassine quarter), Riad Joya is just a short walk from main monuments, the souk and Djemaa El Fna square (where you can buy spices, get a henna tattoo or take part in snake charming). You can also see some of the most exciting attractions of the red city, such as the Coranique School, the Koutubia and the Museum of Marrakech.This elegant boutique riad is a welcome retreat of peace & tranquility after spending the day exploring the chaotic Medina. I had the pleasure of spending 3 lovely days at this riad last year and can’t wait to visit again.

What’s a Riad?
Historically, it is a traditional Moroccan home with an open garden or courtyard. However, now most function as hotels/resorts. Riads are more inward focused. You won’t see large exterior windows. In fact, the exterior is rather plain and you are unable to tell if the home is upper or lower class. There are clay walls with a huge (and in some cases, ornate) door. Once you enter thru the massive door, you will be amazed at how lovely the interior is. This is where the magic happens..beautiful tiles & mosaics, water fountains, lush fabrics…riads offer you the opulence of a grand mansion combined with a cozy atmosphere. These lovely “homes” only have a small number of rooms (i.e. 5-10). Riads provide you with a unique Moroccan experience that you won’t get staying in a traditional hotel. You receive special attention & stay in beautiful surroundings. It’s like a slice of heaven.

Getting There

Riad Joya will arrange for a taxi from the airport, train station, or other cities at your request. Your taxi will drop you off just outside one of the gates to the Medina. The streets are very narrow inside the Medina so no cars are allowed…only push carts, donkeys & mules. They will also arrange for a luggage porter to greet you at the gate and lead you to the riad which is just a few minutes walk away. My advice…do not try to find the riad on your own. The Medina has many streets and this riad is located off a side street from another side street. A 20 Dirham (which is about $2 USD) tip to a luggage porter is money well spent. Plus, this will allow you to take in the sights and sounds of the Medina while walking to your destination.

Promotions

You can book directly via the website or go thru a 3rd party discount booking agency (i.e. Jetsetter; Trip Advisor).

The Courtyard

This riad surrounds a breathtaking courtyard that has a water fountain and beautiful plants & flowers. There are open lounge/sitting areas surrounding the courtyard. Each area makes you feel comfortable and relaxed.

View of the Riad Joya from the rooftop at night

View of the Riad Joya from the rooftop at night

Marrakesh 442Rooms & Suites

Riad Joya is an elegant 7-suite luxury boutique hotel. Each suite has a theme based on a particular African region. The riad website describes it best, “The overall atmosphere is of an elegant private house where understated luxury fuses with eclectic style and bespoke service and attentions.”

This hotel also has a “Butler service” which offers tailored services “from the assistance with transportation and luggage, to recommendations of activities, Joya’s Butler is always ready to ensure that all our guests have everything needed for an enriching stay.” We were spoiled rotten! He anticipated our needs, handled getting our laundry washed & pressed; walking us to and from the hammam and inquiring about our favorite fruits & vegetables to help with dinner selection. I really needed him to come home with me :)

Each suite features a private seating area and large dressing room. The bathrooms are amazing!!! They are “all made in natural stones combined with the traditional tadelak, are bright and spacious and features large shower and a vanity corner.”

Be sure to check out the pictures on the riad website (linked above) or tripadvisor.com as each suite is different. Upon arrival, we are told we can pick from a variety of suites since the riad was not fully booked (fab-u-lous!). After we chose our suite, we were taken to our room and given time to relax before heading down for dinner. Words really can’t capture how wonderful this place is.

We stayed in the largest suite — the Dar Arabe…absolute luxury!

A writing alcove in the Dar Arabe suite

A writing alcove in the Dar Arabe suite

Vanity area

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Soaps, shampoo & conditioner

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Seating area

Seating area

I was also given a tour and was able to photograph a few of the suites that weren’t in use.

The Tuareg suite (inspired by the Berber people). Love the eclectic look & feel of this room (even if it is the darkest suite of the bunch).

Entrance to the Tuareg suite

Entrance to the Tuareg suite

Sweet dreams in the Tuareg suite!

Sweet dreams in the Tuareg suite!

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Check out the sinks!

A copper bathtub surrounded by a circular cloth shower curtain.

A copper bathtub surrounded by a circular cloth shower curtain.

Marrakesh 426

Seating area

Seating area

The Naos suite – in Egyptology, naos refers to that which is hidden and unknown inside the inner sanctum of a temple (source, Wikipedia).

Naos suite

Naos suite

Naos suite

Naos suite

Naos bath

Naos bath

The Domus suite…

Domus suite

Domus suite

Domus seating area

Domus seating area

Dining

The chef at the Riad Joya is PHENOMENAL! You can dine in their beautiful dining room or on the terrace (which is up several sets of very steep stairs). The riad provides a bountiful breakfast of fruits & pastries (you can request eggs as well) and a daily set menu.

A bountiful dinner

A bountiful dinner

Ambient lighting in the dining room with their beautiful Moroccan lamps.

Ambient lighting in the dining room with their beautiful Moroccan lamps.

Delicious dessert

Delicious dessert

The Hammam & Spa

What better way to unwind from a day of sightseeing than to enjoy a hammam & spa? Unfortunately, the riad’s hammam was out of service during our stay but they did set us up with an appointment at another hammam a short walk away (and the massage is fab-u-lous)! You pick between a couple of fragrant oils (my choices were “orange flower” and “jasmine”). Those magical hands lulled me right into a light nap. Want to know more about what to expect when visiting a hammam? Check out my Tale of 2 Hammams post.

Overall

If you are looking for the perfect place to unwind and relax during your visit to Marrakech, this inviting sanctuary is the place. Have insightful conversations over mint tea while learning about Moroccan culture from the locals. I must warn you that this riad is not suitable to those who are wheelchair bound or have mobility issues due to the amount of stairs. Other than that, this place is perfect. Centrally located with delicious food and an absolutely phenomenal staff, the Riad Joya is a wonderful place to stay during your exotic trip to Marrakech. So forget using hotel chain rewards points and enjoy the unique experience of staying in a riad!

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Nikki’s Rating: Absolutely Wonderful 5

Rating Scale 1-5 (1 = GET OUT NOW; 2 = Seriously?; 3 = Eh, it’ll do; 4 = Fabulous; 5 = Absolutely Wonderful)

Looking for a place to stay in Fez? Check out my review of the Riad Laaroussa. Interested in visiting Morocco? Check out my travel adventures here!

Birthday Detour

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So…this month marks a milestone birthday. I’m not going to say which one because it’s kinda like Voldermort…The Birthday That Cannot be Named. I’M NOT READY!!! WHY ME?!?!?!? Sigh. Pull it together, Nikki.

For the past few years, I’ve actually dreaded August 24th. To put it another way…if I’m driving down the road and the exits are birthdays, I have taken detours and steadily refused to acknowledge those exit signs for the past 5 years. I just go by my spirit age anyway…which is 27.  Ha!

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It’s not that I’m afraid of getting older…it’s that I am disappointed in the fact that I haven’t achieved all the goals I’ve set for myself. I’m a planner. I create Vision Boards. I’m the girl who loves to check things off her “To Do” list. And, lately…well? That ain’t been happening. I’ve felt stuck. All I want to do is buy a plane ticket and travel the world for the next few months. Chill out with a mimosa, camera & laptop. Immerse myself in the local culture. Finally start using the Italian I’ve been struggling to learn for the past 3 years. I want to hit the pause button and figure out what to do next.

One thing has become crystal clear in the past couple of months…time doesn’t stop or slow down while you try to shore up the courage to go after your dream. Sometimes, you just have to take the bull by the horns and go for it. That could mean leaving the financial security of a stressful job to strike out on your own. It could mean taking a sabbatical to figure things out.  It could mean reserving some “me” time to focus on my goals instead of giving all my time & energy to a corporation.  In the end, it should mean that you are free. And, with freedom comes contentment, peace & happiness.

I can’t say that I’ll start taking the birthday exits as I’m pretty sure that I will be 29.95 for the next 15 years :) But, I can say this…it’s time to start living the dream instead of just dreaming the dream. So, I guess I better start the party!

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Writer’s Block Ramblings

writers blockLike a bear coming out of hibernation, here I am blogging again after a 2 month absence.  Why the “web silence”?  Why am I making up words?  It’s all because of the writer’s block.  I just can’t get inspired to write anything witty about my travel & running experiences lately.  After reading an article about just writing down anything to get the juices flowing…here I am.  So, here we go (and don’t blame me if this is complete nonsense).

 

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1.  I cut all my hair off and went natural last August (which caused me to look like Idris Elba…and not the fine Idris either).  Fast forward 11 months and now I look like Frederick Douglass.  Sigh.  I can’t manage a hairstyle that I like yet.  And, to make matters worse, I’ve developed some sort of nervous habit where I’ve been the past 8 months pulling out my hair because of stress.  It’s looking like the end of days around here.  I look a hot mess.

2.  I decided in January…back when doing resolutions was in style…that I would run 12 races in 12 months.  What was I thinking?  I blame all the holiday candy.  So far, I’ve completed 7 races but you know what?  I’m tired and I want to lay on the couch, eat Reese Cups and watch True Blood.  But, I guess I’ll run 5 more races.  I may be addicted to chocolate covered crack but I’m not a quitter.  Now, next year, I’m making one resolution…

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3.  I’m addicted to Instagram…why did I not realize that with a couple of filters, my work could be featured at the Louvre?  Ha!  No lie…I will stop on a dime and take a picture of a nickel on the ground if I think I can make it edgy in black and white with a mist background on Instagram.

4.  Hashtag livin’ — um, I understand that people like to use hashtags in social media.  But, I feel like there should be a length limit on those tags because I don’t have time to dissect #ican’tbelieveshesaidthatontherhoa…what?  Shouldn’t you have just typed that out?  Why are you hashtagging a complete sentence? #ain’tnobodygottimeforthat

cookie-monster-abusing-cookie-dough

5.  I gave up sugar 2 months ago and right now, I feel like I will stab someone in the throat for a red velvet cupcake.  And, some ice cream…with Reese Cups sprinkled on top.  Might as well throw in some Peppermint Hot Chocolate from Starbucks too.  While at the grocery store this weekend, I passed by the cookie dough on my way to get cheese.  All I could think of were warm, gooey, delicious cookies…but I knew I’d feel so guilty that it would be like I relapsed.

6.  Held hostage — Mother Nature is a filthy whore who holds hapless women hostage once a month.  It’s not fair and I don’t think women should be held accountable for anything that happens during that time.  I mean, you are basically a hostage negotiator when dealing with women during that time of the month.  Sigh…this perfectly describes last week:

PMS

7.  And just because I’m in that kind of mood…

Michael Scott

Look at that…I’m cured!! #notreallyIjustdon’tknowwhatelsetosay.  Any recommendations for overcoming writers block?

The Ain’t Noboby Got Time For That 5K (aka Tough Mudder Georgia)

OMG, this photo is awesome!  And, I'm pretty sure my face looked the EXACT SAME WAY during this obstacle (source, Tough Mudder)

OMG, this photo is awesome! And, I’m pretty sure my face looked the EXACT SAME WAY during this obstacle (source, Tough Mudder)

For those of y’all that have followed my blog for a while, you know about my Warrior Dash debacle (which got me published in Obstacle Racing Magazine!). I let myself get Jedi mind-tricked into participating in Tough Mudder. What is Tough Mudder, you ask?  It’s a hardcore 10-12 mile obstacle courses designed by British Special Forces to test your all-around strength, stamina, mental grit, and camaraderie.  The Georgia course was around 10 miles and contained about 22 obstacles. 

You’d have thought I’d have learned my lesson last year, right? Nope. See, Delusional Nikki thought she had enough time to train & prepare for this event since she registered a YEAR in advance. Why am I talking about myself in the 3rd person? That’s what delusional folks do, ok? Anyway, the months start ticking by and Delusional Nikki keeps eating Reese Cups & watching Scandal…like Olivia & Fitz were going to do this race with her. Next thing Delusional Nikki knows, 11 months have passed and it’s 2 weeks before the event. Sigh. So, at this point, Sane Nikki shows up and is like, “girl, stop. you know you can’t do this. save yourself.” Sane Nikki sends an email to her Tough Mudder team that basically said, “Ronnie, Bobby, Ricky & Mike…you’ll have to count me out.” (shout out to my New Edition fans!). But, the team knew Sane Nikki was weak & not making good decisions since Scandal was on a 3 week hiatus. So, she gets Jedi mind-tricked again with an email from the team captain saying, “It won’t be that bad! We haven’t trained either.” [Um, sidenote…they are lying liars who lie because clearly, they had trained. While I’m asking folks for rosary beads & prayers at obstacle 3, they are doing the electric slide through Obstacle 748.]

So, I suck it up and decide to go. A couple of days before the event, Tough Mudder sent an email with logistical details (parking, etc) and a video of one of the obstacles, Arctic Enema. As soon as I watched the clip, I was like, “NOPE!” That looked like a whole bunch of crazy that I couldn’t be a part of. My strategy was to skip the obstacles that looked dangerous/difficult. Don’t judge me. I’m coming out of a Reese Cups coma.  

After driving a couple of hours we arrive at the race site.  We passed several obstacles on our way to park.  My first thought was “TURN THIS CAR AROUND NOW!”  But, I kept focused and started mentally hyping myself up…then we walk over to the starting area.  Um, how come I didn’t know you had to complete an obstacle to even START the freaking race? 

What?  Why is this wall here?  OMG, I have to climb this? Does this count or is it "extra"?(source, Tough Mudder)

What? Why is this wall here? OMG, I have to climb this? Does this count or is it “extra”?(source, Tough Mudder)

Jesus take the wheel!  iCan’t.  But, my teammates were like,”LET’S DO THIS!!!” and I got caught up.  We climbed the wall, listened to the Tough Mudder inspirational guy (no, I don’t remember his name and I’m too lazy to go find it out), and finished it off by singing the Star Spangled Banner.  Then, we officially start the race.

The first obstacle was “Kiss of Mud”.  In the beginning, I thought it would be fine.  Because I’m still under mind-control.  What I didn’t count on was that the course would be extra muddy due to the week of rain we had before the race.  After running 1/4 of a mile, we come up to the first obstacle and have to crawl under the wire.  Seems pretty simple right?  WRONG!  It felt like there was cracked glass & empty syringes lying on the ground.  Seriously.

Kiss of Mud obstacle (source, Tough Mudder)

Kiss of Mud obstacle (source, Tough Mudder)

But, it wasn’t too bad (compared to the obstacles coming up).  After getting through Obstacle 1, we run through some more mud.  Now, we are still in what I will call the “regular” area…or as I started to think of it, “my safe zone”.  The early obstacles were close to the parking lot so you could keep running to your car if things got too “tough”.  But, I was lulled into a sense of “badassness” by the early obstacles.  Obstacle 2 looked like it would be difficult (I have the upper body strength of a mosquito so climbing up & over stuff is a challenge…might have helped if I had actually trained but hey, I ain’t about to judge myself, k?).  Turns out, Obstacle #2 (Bale Bonds) wasn’t that hard once you got into the swing of it. At this point, I’m like, “WHAT? DO YOU SEE ME?  I’M AWESOME!”  I should’ve known it was too good to last. 

Obstacle #2, "Bale Bonds" (source, Tough Mudder)

Obstacle #2, “Bale Bonds” (source, Tough Mudder)

After that obstacle, the course takes you into the woods.  Seriously…there is no trail.  Just some red ribbon that they attached to the trees earlier that week.  Good luck with that!  The mud combined with no actual trail proved to be the toughest “obstacle”.  And one that I wasn’t really ready for.  It was difficult to keep upright because it was so slick.  Trail shoes wouldn’t have made a difference because the mud cakes the soles until it was like you were running on ice.  Folks loved it though…screaming WOOHOO as they slipped & slid all the way to Grandma’s house.

Once we come out of the woods, we are at Obstacle 3 “Arctic Enema”.  Now, I had already seen the video (provided below) and my initial reaction was…

AW, HECKS NAW!  Nuh uh.  Keep that.  But when I actually arrived at the obstacle, I was feeling solid…the previous obstacles had me feeling like I could do this!  Even when a couple of spectators told me that a man had went unconscious in the pool about 10 minutes before me, I was like, “So what?  He’s weak!” 

So, my crazy self jumps into the dumpster filled with 80 pounds of ice & water…and I can’t quite tell you what happened next.  I remember having to swim down to the bottom so I could go under the partition to get to the other side to exit…then, as I surfaced, I think I saw Jesus sitting on the side of the dumpster reaching His hand out to me saying, “What kind of fool are you?”  My response? “I don’t know, Jesus…but I’m pretty sure it’s the biggest kind of fool there is.”  After getting out of the dumpster, my body locks up and I just stand there for a minute.  No idea what was going on. 

Then, it’s back to the woods.  I hate the woods, y’all.  Nothing good happens there!  Next obstacle was hauling some wood around.  Lord Jesus…WHY DID I SIGN UP FOR THIS AND NOT TRAIN?  Luckily, my teammates carried the log and I pretended that I was helping to carry it but that was all for appearances.

"Hold Your Wood" obstacle...what is wrong with me? (source, Tough Mudder)

“Hold Your Wood” obstacle…what is wrong with me? (source, Tough Mudder)

Then we get to the next obstacle, “Boa Constrictor”…the pictures make this look so easy.  Like all you have to do is crawl through a tube.  I should’ve known that was too easy.  You have just enough room to crawl into the tube…on your stomach.  The only people who can crawl through on their needs are “little people” and toddlers.  Half way into the tube, I got stuck.  Sigh.  After scooting as much as I could, they lowered a guy down to pull me the rest of the way out.  Which I noticed was pretty common. 

I don't even know what number I'm on...just read to be done.  I think this is called the "Boa Constrictor" (source, Tough Mudder)

I don’t even know what number I’m on…just read to be done. I think this is called the “Boa Constrictor” (source, Tough Mudder)

After that obstacle…I was done.  I pulled a back muscle in the tube and hadn’t been able to catch my breath since Arctic Enema.  So, I tapped out and wished my team good luck.  Which ended up being the smartest decision I made.  I never was able to breathe properly until I went to the doctor a couple of days later and had to be put on an inhaler because my lung capacity was at 60%.  All in all, I completed 3.5 miles of the course so I just say I did a 5K :)   I want credit for this, y’all.

To prove I’m not making this up (well, my review may be slightly embellished), see the 3 minute video below. 

First, where was the cutie at the beginning of the video when I was doing this race???  Did you see those arms & that chest?  *grabbing smelling salts*  If I had raced with him, I might have found a bit more inspiration :)   Second, y’all saw those obstacles right?  And folks were smiling!  Like the Tough Mudder folks had laced the mud pits with a meth, bath salts, crack cocktail!  No, ma’am/sir.

I stuck around to watch a couple of other obstacles.  Overall, I’d say Tough Mudder really is a race for those who actually train (not like the 5K mud races where you can fake your way through it).  The obstacles & course are very difficult.  The week after the Georgia TM, Tough Mudder had an event in West Virginia where a man died during the “Walk the Plank” obstacle.  While this isn’t the norm, it does emphasize that you should be careful.  I have never quit in the middle of a race…but I do not regret quitting this one.  And, it was my own fault for not being prepared.  I will say this…the great thing about this race is the spirit of camaraderie and other “mudders” helping their comrades along the way.  They have a “no man left behind” mindset (of course, I was like, “leave me, y’all).  If you have survived Tough Mudder…my hat is off to you as you are better than me :)

Interested in what the rest of the obstacles were?

Damn You, Delta

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Why, Delta, WHY??? I sometimes feel like we have an abusive relationship. When you delay flights which cause missed connections, I tell folks that you don’t mean to and you have a lot going on…you’re just stressed out. Don’t they understand your under a lot of pressure? Then, you give me extra SkyMiles to say you’re sorry and I just can’t quit you. I am the Tina to your Ike.

Until now. Why would you rebook me on an Air Canada flight? They are in the dreaded Star Alliance!!!! They aren’t a band of do-gooders like the Rebel Alliance. Do you know who is in the Star Alliance? The DARTH VADER OF AIRLINES!!!! Freaking US Air! Y’all know how I feel about those jokers. Air Canada gets the side-eye just for being air buddies with them. You running with the wrong crowd, AC!

But, I decide to give Senator Palpatine’s airline alliance another chance because clearly I have the common sense of Jar Jar Binks. This was the only option to get me home tonight. Sigh. So, I do it. It can’t be easy though. See, the SkyTeam “bloods” don’t want the Star Alliance “crips” sharing the same terminal so I had to be escorted back thru security and badged out so I can exit the airport and take a bus to the Death Star (aka Terminal 1).

I’m spoiled. Delta did that to me. I have status. I’m Delta’s boo which means I’m priority…more specifically, Sky Priority. Do you think Air Canada thinks I’m special? Nope. I was promptly told to get to the back of the line like my name was Rosa Parks. No fast lane. I had to wait in line with all the other underprivileged travelers hoping that Sally Struthers would host a telethon helping the agents to speed this line along.

After 14 days (well, 30 minutes), I check-in only to be told that I had to check my carry-on bag and pay $25. Wait. What? Pay? What fresh hell is this? I’m Platinum on Delta! That agent looked at me like, “Where’s Delta now? Pay it or walk to your destination.” Good God. So I pay the fee and ask for a receipt because my boo is paying for this…I don’t care if you have to ask for a loan from Jabba the Hut…I best get my money back.

You’d think that would be the worst of it. You’d be wrong. I then had to go thru customs. I’m Global Entry which means I only need to go to the kiosk for fingerprinting and picture validation. However, since I had just done that an hour earlier, the kiosk was basically like, “Nope! Sorry sucka!” So I had to fill out a form. I promptly told the agent I wasn’t standing in line because it’s not my fault that the kiosk gave me the middle finger. I guess he could see I was on the edge of sanity so he told me to get in the crew line. I did…and this is my conversation with the customs officer after explaining the kiosk fiasco:

Customs: I see your hair is longer than your passport picture from 2006. Are you growing it out?
Me: Yes…but this is also hair I bought.
Customs: Are you wearing a weave? I can’t even tell!
Me: Thanks
Customs: How do you wash it? Do you use soap & water?
Me: *slow blink* Yes, yes I do. It’s hair.
Customs: Sorry, I’m just mesmerized. So, where are you from? Your accent is so exotic.
Me: *WTF??* Indiana.

Not a soul to be seen.

Not a soul to be seen.

I’m sorry, I thought I was going thru customs, not speed dating. I can’t even concentrate because I’m still mad about the $25!! Once I get thru customs and security, I have to walk the Green Mile thru the backwoods of the Toronto airport to my gate. Why is this gate so far away? How come I don’t see any other people?

Then I see…prop planes?? Seriously?? Jesus take the wheel. iCant with you.

Delta…I quit you. We don’t go together anymore. Don’t call me and tell me how special I am because I don’t believe you! Keep your SkyMiles and pretty trinkets. You have maxed out my emotional debit card & owe me $253.43 + $25 bag fee. Don’t try to pay me in those “free drink” coupons either. Cashier’s check is fine. Next time you see me, I’ll be wearing this shirt.

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