That Time In Beijing, China

Guest post: Ajia Richardson

On June 24th, 2017 I embarked on one of the most rewarding journeys of my life. After a very uncomfortable 13 hour flight, I stepped off of my plane to hear “Ni hao, ma? Welcome to Beijing,” and there was no turning back. With $300 U.S. dollars in my pocket, a suitcase, and a lot of curiosity, I spent
the next eight weeks in Beijing, China.

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The Great Wall of China

Battling jet lag, I laced up my sneakers and headed to climb The Great Wall of China, one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Prior to my trip, I had surgery on my right knee. That made my trek to the top tough, but giving up was not on the agenda. I stopped to sign my twitter handle on the perfect brick, took pictures to remind myself that this wasn’t a dream, and marveled at nature’s beauty.

The wall is a manmade structure, but as I stood on those bricks and looked out into the distance that was all the confirmation I needed that Earth is a piece molded by the Creator. How lucky was I to be thousands of miles from home in awe of such brilliance?

When my classmates and I reached the top we sang, danced,
and encouraged one another in celebration. I stood on history and took in every moment.

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Beijing Olympic Square Park

That very same week I took to the streets again. This time Olympic Square Park was calling my name.

Someone should have pinched me! I was at the home of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games where The United States came away with 74 gold and silver medals combined, barely escaping defeat from China. I watched every track & field meet, swim competition, and basketball game. Sports are a big part of my life, so I was like a kid in a candy store.

Along the walk to view the popular bird’s nest and aquatic pool
there was street music, food, and dancing. Mesmerized by the music, my body couldn’t help but move a little. While I danced alone, a friendly older man came and grabbed my hand and we two-stepped the night away. Everyone seemed to be impressed with my moves, but I was just happy to be experiencing their culture and living out my dreams.

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Tiananmen Square/The Forbidden City

To reach the Forbidden City I traveled by subway and entered the streets of Tiananmen Square. Thankfully that day we killed two birds with one stone because the crowds were massive and the sun was unforgiving.

In a way, I felt connected to Tiananmen Square because of the unfortunate massacre that took place back in 1989. Many were killed during this demonstration toward justice in China, similar to my ancestors here in America. I took a moment of silence and further immersed myself in the culture and asked many questions to learn more and enjoy my experience.

The Forbidden City was just that, Forbidden. From the Ming dynasty to the end of the Qing dynasty it was a palace for royal families, and now people from all over the world witness the breathtaking architecture and history of it all. Many of the popular tourist sites in China have similar architecture, and The Forbidden City has served as the blueprint.

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Temple of Heaven

Last, but not least on my “Must See” list was The Temple of Heaven. The Temple is a very sacred place of religious practices that took place from the Ming to the Qing dynasty. The annual ceremonies were in preparation to ask the Heavens for a successful harvest.

Just as The Forbidden City, the architecture was insane. We also got a chance to enter many of the buildings where ceremonies took place. I’m not from New York, but It wouldn’t be right if I didn’t milly rock on this block (hence the photo below). I did and saw so much over the course of my two month trip to Beijing, and the temple was one of my favorites.

This site taught me the most about the history of Chinese culture, and I realized that in many ways we are the same, searching for guidance from, and living under, a higher power.

Overall

Beijing, China was top 2, and it wasn’t number 2! The two months I spent there taught me a lot about the country and their culture, but I also learned a lot about myself. In a short period of time, I became more independent and adventurous. I took a dream and made it a reality. There is nothing more rewarding than traveling, and whether you get the chance to experience Beijing, Paris, or even New York City, I hope you take it full on. No turning back!


Ajia Richardson, my daughter, and guest of Always LaTonya is a recent graduate of the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff. She dug up her Southern roots and transplanted them many miles, and several states away from home. Excited about traveling and seeing the world, Ajia has plans to fill her passport sooner than later. Follow Ajia on both Instagram and Twitter @AjiaTheGreat.

The Start of my Summer

My summer started off with a drive across country to move our middle daughter to her first post-undergraduate job. Our southern belle traded in trees and grass, an abundance of FREE parking, and moderate winters of Arkansas for concrete, metro riding and walking, and really cold winters of the DMV (D.C., Maryland, Virginia). And in no time she fit right in as if she’d been there all her life!

She wasn’t exactly new to the area, she interned there from January to May and loved it so much she decided to transplant and make it permanent.

During our brief time there she took me and Mr. Husband to the National Mall and the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery. It was a lot of walking involved, but I didn’t care. I packed my gym shoes and was ready. Seriously, I had no idea we’d do that much walking! By the end of the day, we had walked more than 6 miles. That’s a 10K… one I had not trained for! And it was more than worth it!

  • I rode the metro…

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  • Stood in the very spot Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. stood to give his ‘I Have a Dream,’ speech in front of the Lincoln Memorial…

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Visited the Martin Luther King, Jr. monument…

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And the apex of the day was visiting Barack and Michelle Obama’s portraits in the National Portrait Gallery… The lighting was terrible, but I just had to share!

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There was so much more to that day, but those were the highlights. There was so much we didn’t get to, and I’m looking forward to my next trip.

How was your summer?

March Photo Challenge

Recently, our middle daughter turned 21. Yes, it feels like I was just 21. Things were good, and I thought I was invincible. Sorry, back to the regularly scheduled program.

Before her birthday, she wanted to have a photo shoot. I was all for it. After pulling my “real” camera from under the bed, I charged the battery and was ready! The iPhone makes snapping pictures a breeze. But this shoot called for the real thing.

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We journeyed downtown where there is history, edge, and a great big canvas for creativity. And I had a ball! Union Pacific photo bombed, at the perfect time.

I do not, in any shape or form call myself a photographer. However, I do enjoy taking pictures. It’s also way cool to walk around with this weapon of mass creation around my neck like I know what I’m doing. My subject and our location made me look halfway decent. A trained professional may find fault. But art is subjective… right?

One of my favorite Instagram friends @daenelt has really inspired me as well, with her photos. Her pictures.are.amazing! I do believe she’s doing a year-long photo challenge. Searching for a photo-a-day challenge myself, I found The Idea Room‘s 365 Day photo-a-day challenge, and I’m jumping right in with the March photo-a-day challenge.

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For the next 31 days, I’m a wannabe photographer. Excited much? Of course, I am! Pull out your camera, or phone and join the fun.

Vuja De

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My morning ritual the past six months consists of listening to a podcast, or TED Talks while getting ready for work. There is something about positive, informative, and uplifting information and people that make a difference in starting my day.

Recently, TED Talks tweeted  Adam Grant’s The surprising habits of original thinkers. I was intrigued by his entire speech. But the one thing that stood out and grabbed me by the… I wanted to say something profound here, but I have no words. Just know it stopped me in my tracks.

I backed the speech up, and played it again. Then paused it so I could run and get my notebook and pen. I wrote it very large and then looked it up.

Vuja De

something familiar viewed with a fresh new perspective. 

Until now, I haven’t posted anything on my blog since December. I’ve attempted twice, but nothing came to me. After hearing about vuja de, I started thinking about my blog and creating content with a fresh perspective.  It has also made me reconsider the things around me.

5 Podcast I love:

 

Nunnie Camp 2016

Before summer started I had my mind set on having Nunnie Camp with the Sugababies. A day full day of fun, games, food, crafts and adventure. That one day hasn’t worked out like I planned. But we have had several days of craft projects, fun outings, and fun in the sun, with a few more to come.

 

Before summer started I had my mind set on having Nunnie Camp with the Sugababies. A day full day of fun, games, food, crafts and adventure. That one day hasn’t worked out like I planned. But we have had several days of craft projects, fun outings, and fun in the sun, with a few more to come.

Cooking

One of our first activities was making refrigerator pickles. This recipe was perfect. The ins and outs of traditional canning aren’t necessary. The best part was they only had to sit in the fridge for one week. Because the Nadia and Zoey were out of town the pickles sat for two weeks, making them even better. We’re looking forward to making more really soon.

Fun In The Sun

Lazy Sunday, afternoons are perfect for blowing bubbles. Jericho loves guns, and his bubble gun was just right. He didn’t need any help, and it kept him from eating the bubbles instead of blowing them from a wand.

Blowing bubble snakes was more creative for the girls. Of course, I found it on Pinterest, and wondered why didn’t I think of that?

Outings and Adventure

 

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Growing up, I really enjoyed attending airshows at the Little Rock Air Force Base. When I learned of an airshow in my area, I just had to take the kids. We grabbed our hats, stopped to pick-up drinks and headed out.

Jericho loves all things cars, truck, trains and planes, oohed-and-ahhed at the excitement. For the 30 minutes, we were able to withstand the heat, it was awesome! That day was hotter than hot, and playing in the water was a must. One of my daughters brought out water balloons and water guns making the day absolutely perfect.

Crafts

 

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When the kids come over the first thing they ask after walking in the door is, “Nunnie, what are we doing today?”

This particular day I was ready to make popsicle stick bracelets and a butterfly feeder.

My Sugababies love a good craft, and not just coloring to keep them busy. These bracelets are simple, and look awesome when finished. We literally had popsicle sticks around the house. Our youngest daughter had popsicle sticks for another project, and she still had an entire bag. I did all the prep work, boiling the sticks, and shaping them in a jar.

I did all the prep work, boiling the sticks, and shaping them in a jar. They enjoyed painting, getting messy, and watching their creations take shape. Afterward, we moved on to the next project the butterfly feeder.

Creating a butterfly feeder has been on my wish list of things to do for awhile. I envisioned a swarm of butterflies in my backyard. Like in the movie ‘Field of Dreams,’ if I make it, butterflies will come. We put the feeder in the backyard where we could watch the butterfly from the big window.

Mmmm… The only insects feeding were pesky flies! Ewww! That went to the trash. I was disappointed, to say the least.

There are a few more weeks of summer left, with more opportunities for Nunnie Camp activities. What fun things have you done this summer?

 

 

Green Thumb Adventures

Green Thumb Green Thumb AdventuresI’ve written one or two posts over the years about not having a green thumb, and nothing has changed. But… and I say this strongly… I am willing to try over and over again. And this summer is no different!

I had a philodendron for 13 years. It was very low maintenance and easy. Summers, I’d just put it outside and it flourished. In the winter months, it sat in my foyer. I watered it when I thought about it. Just as it started turning very brown, spring would show up to rescue it.

Those plants are no nonsense and die hard, literally. No matter what I did, or didn’t do for it, it lived. That was until this past winter. We didn’t have a hard winter at all, and I tried to see how long it could stay outside and live.

Well…  that wasn’t my actual thought process. I just didn’t bring it in. And every time I passed it at the front door it seemed to be okay, so I left it there. And then we had a couple of cold snaps. Soon after that, it was gone. I mean gone as in DEAD!

I don’t know, why I’m not a plant person. Maybe if plants cried, talked, or pooped, they would get more attention from me. I really want to be a plant person, and grow pretty green plants, and have them all over the house. I love flowers!

Last summer I grew a pineapple plant, from the top of the pineapple. It was a little touch and go for a while but it started to grow. I put it outside and it thrived! Then it met the same demise as the philodendron. I just didn’t bring it in. *Insert deep sigh*

Mr. Husband says, our house it where plants come to die. Again, I REALLY want to change that. Late April, I ran across caladium bulbs on sale. I think it was already a little late to plant because they were on sale for about $1.25. But I was willing to give it a try.

I brought them home with EVERY intention to plant them right away…

WELL, THAT DID NOT HAPPEN!

What did happen was… All three packages of bulbs ended up in a cabinet in the laundry room, out of Mr. Husband’s sight. If he knew I was trying my hand and plants again this summer he was going to tease me. And I wasn’t having it… So I hid them in the cabinet.

What’s the old adage? Out of site, out of mind.

I kinda forget they were there. Then Mr. found them, while looking in the cabinet for a tool of some sort. And I got teased!

Finally, June 9th, I planted one of three bags in the front door planter. And they were already sprouting. Since I put them in the dirt, they seem to be doing really well! If it’s dry this weekend, I’ll plant the other two packages in smaller planters in the back yard.

Caladium bulbs Green Thumb Adventures

It’s now only June 17, and there are visible changes even from just yesterday. Follow the progress of my #GreenThumbAdv on Instagram. I’m excited and optimistic about the outcome. I wouldn’t do this, if I didn’t think I could make it work, eventually.

I don’t want to be Mary May Quite Contrary, with silver bells and cockle shells… Just a few simple, easy, and low maintenance flowers blooming around the house, and yard will do just fine.

Do you have a green thumb? What are your tricks, and secrets to making your garden grow?

 

My 16 For 16

Untitled design 4 1 1024x768 My 16 For 16I often thought about my life goals, and what I would put on my bucket list. I’ve seen other peoples list that seem to be miles long. Just thinking about a list of 100 or more life goals is so overwhelming!

The only way to tackle a list of goals big or small is the same way I’d eat an elephant.

One Bite At A Time

Of course I have goals, but even the thought of having dozens of things to accomplish, and not knowing the expiration date is a little more than I want to think about.

Instead, I’ve narrowed things down to just doing what I can this year. And next year… I’ll just have to cross that bridge when I come to it.

As I thought about it a little more, It dawned on me. Why not create a list of 16 things I want to accomplish in 2016? And that’s exactly what I did. As I complete each one, I’ll come back to this very post and mark it done with a picture.

I’m three months behind. I’d better step on it!

  1. Start an Indie Publishing company. In progress
  2. Publish at least one children’s book.
  3. Visit the Grand Canyon. It was absolutely AMAZING! GCNP16 1024x896 My 16 For 16
  4. Visit Petit Jean Mountain State Park. For years,I’ve wanted to hike there during the spring to see the waterfalls. This year it’s happening!
  5. Go camping.
  6. Create a patio garden in the backyard.
  7. Have a real live photo shoot with makeup, wardrobe, the works!            May 14, two days before my birthday, I attended a tea party. The dress I wore was perfect for a photo shoot, and I took advantage of it. It wasn’t as elaborate as I had envisioned, but it was perfect. The pictures on this blog are the results, what do you think?
  8. Host a tea party/ladies brunch.
  9. Host a writers workshop for kids.
  10. Set up several little free libraries.
  11. Have a book drive.
  12. Have a Nunnie camp with the Sugababies.
  13. Eat sushi with my daughters.
  14. Visit the Crater of Diamonds.
  15. Plan a get away with ONLY Mr. Husband.
  16. Open for incoming ideas.

To say I’m excited about the year ahead and its possibilities is an understatement. Do you have a bucket list, life goals? How do you tackle them?