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.

I’m Back

Im back Im Back

I would like to say I’ve been on hiatus finding myself, traveling the globe looking for…

You get the picture.

Truth is… I had technical difficulties with my blog. One fine day after my last post in March of 2017, my home page was a blank white nothing. I asked around the internet and consulted a few people. The best I got was maybe a virus, and ghost something or another.

After a while, trying to figure it became less of a priority. From time to time, I’d type in my URL, and you guessed it… the blank page was still there. Funny thing was if I went to the Pinterest board for my blog,  the posts came up. Whatever the mysterious difficulty was, it only affected my home page, therefore blocking my login to the admin page.

This week, while recovering from eye surgery, with nothing but time on my hands, I did the unthinkable. I called my host. And within 15 minutes the lovely lady on the other end knew what was wrong, and had a solution. Within two hours of getting off the phone, my home page was visible again.

Oh, crap. Then it hit me… What am I going to say now? 

I decided to catch you up on what’s been going on with me in the past year in no particular order.

What I’ve been up to… 

  1. I recently hit a major milestone in my life, turning 50 years old. It sounds really crazy saying it out loud, and even more crazy typing it just now. Just yesterday, I was a senior in high school singing to the top of my lungs Prince’s ‘Little Red Corvette.’ It sounds cliche’ but where did the time go?!
  2. Just two weeks ago, I had my second cornea transplant. In May of 2016, I wrote Through The Fog of Fuch’s Dystrophy that explained my eye disease, Fuch’s Dystrophy. Yesterday, my doctor said I was “ahead of the curve,” being just two weeks post-op. I am grateful, thankful, and truly blessed!
  3. A little over a month ago, our sixth grandchild was born. She is an absolute doll! I love being Nunnie (grandmother) to my sugababies. I get to spoil them all, and no one can stop me.
  4. Soon, I will publish a brand new picture book, ‘Coon Stew, An Al-the-Gator Tale.’ I am looking forward to sharing more details with you in the near future.
  5. We have an empty nest! Last May, our youngest daughter graduated from high school, giving us at the time three college students. Although they all attended the university in our city, they lived on campus. And this May, one the oldest of those three graduated from college and moved to the DMV, D.C./Maryland/Virginia area.
  6. Since I turned 50, I decided to dedicate the year as a ‘year of giving.’ There will some things I’ll share, and other things that I won’t.
  7. One of the shareable projects of my year of giving is little free libraries. In February I started a Children’s Book Drive to raise books for little free libraries in my town. As of today, we have collected 600 books. I’ll have more news to share really soon.
  8. While moving our daughter to the DMV area, we made our way to the National Mall and the National Portrait Gallery.

Of course, there is so much more to tell about all of the above… and I can’t wait to share it with you!  What have you been up to while I’ve been away?

Six Life Lessons From A Mom of Five

Life Lessons Six Life Lessons From A Mom of FiveBeing the mother of five, and helping to raise a nephew, has taught me a few valuable life lessons. Following are six that stand out the most.

  1. Even with the same set of circumstances, there will always be a different outcome. Mr. Husband and I have produced five beautiful children. Each one, from the two of us, with vert different personalities, likes, dislikes, dreams, and goals.

Life lesson: Every life situation, even if every detail of preparation is the same WILL turn out differently! Recreating or duplication almost always never works. I’ve learned to be surprised and enjoy the outcome.

2. Preparation is key. It was going to be an awful day when I had to get everything, and everyone ready the morning of. Prior preparation of outfits, meals, along with knowing who needs to be where is essential! It has also kept me from losing my mind.

Life lesson: Although every situation is different, planning ahead for the things you can control helps to make life easier to handle. Flying by the seat of your pants will wear you out! 

3. Just wait for it. 

Life lesson: That rain or storm will soon pass over and the sun WILL come out again!

4. There will be lemons… Make lemonade! 

Life lesson: There will disappointments, disasters, and life storms. How you react, and deal with the situation is totally up to you. You have the option to wallow in pity, or make the best of the situation.

5. It’s okay not to have all the answers. When our children were little, I had the answer to most… okay some of their questions. And could fillibuster my way through the rest.  As they got older their questions became more complex and more difficult to answer.

Life lesson: There will be times when you don’t have an answer, don’t know anyone who does, and even Google can’t point you in the right direction. There isn’t always an answer or rational solution. And it’s actually okay!

6. Celebrate the small stuff!

Life lesson: It’s the little things our children, family members etc. will remember. Those little things impact our loved ones the most. Don’t believe me… try it.

There isn’t a MOM manual that comes with children. But growing and learning along the way benefits everyone involved!