Self-Care and Personal Growth: Starting a New Chapter With Care

This week, my guest author Justin Bennett has returned and shared the latest posting as part of his Healthy Fit routine.

Enjoy!

Image via Flickr

The thing about major life changes is that we sometimes forget to stop and take some time for ourselves. This, however, is one of the most important times for self-care. As your new journey begins, incorporate these techniques into your life to inspire personal growth.

Travel

Traveling doesn’t just get you out of town, it gets your brain out of its usual groove. You’re allowing it to rest from the usual hustle and bustle of everyday life and letting it explore new places and experiences. Though you may use your phone to help navigate and take photos, for the most part, you’ll be able to break away from your electronic devices and really see the world. Keep the focus on relaxation and escape. This is especially important when you’re going through a dramatic life change; it’s a chance to rest and recharge before diving right into your new adventure.

Look for opportunities to get pampered while you’re away. Even if you have a partner to share the daily workload with, it’s refreshing to have someone wait on you for a change. Spa treatments, special dinners, and easy transportation are all ways to keep your mind at ease during your vacation.

Make “you time” a priority every day

As noted by the Checkup by SingleCare, stress is on the rise in America. 75% of adults say they face symptoms like insomnia and headaches, and nearly half say stress has affected their behavior negatively. Even when starting a positive, exciting new adventure, stress is going to tag along. These are just a few reasons why “you time” is essential.

“You time” will look different for everyone. Maybe it’s taking time each day to curl up with your favorite book, or perhaps exercise helps you burn off both calories and stress. Journaling, calling a friend to catch up, watching your favorite TV show, and even napping are great ways to take time for yourself. If you’re looking to challenge your mind, taking online classes to complement your job is another great option. Going virtual leaves you time for work and family duties and lets your brain operate and study in a new way. Just be sure that any online school you look at is accredited and offers competitive tuition rates.

Design a relaxation space in your home

This is a great idea for anyone, especially if you’ve recently moved. This should be a space where you can go for peace and solitude. It might be the spot where you go to read, meditate, or simply just be. You can go there after a particularly hectic day at work to clear your head or use it as a place to plan your next step in your new journey.

Your relaxation space can be an entire room or simply in the corner of a room. The San Francisco Gate suggests decorating with soothing colors like light purple, blue, green, and beige. This goes for both the walls and the furniture. Clutter creates stress so keep it simple. Aim for natural light when possible.

When you go to your special relaxation space, make sure your family knows not to disturb you. Turn off your cell phone — leaving it in another room is a great idea — and allow yourself to decompress and focus on whatever you need to.

Relaxation techniques for work

Whether you’ve started a new career or need some more self-care at your current job, there are plenty of relaxation techniques you can use at work. These include:

  • Deep breathing
  • Meditation
  • Progressive relaxation
  • Ear massage

Take five minutes to tidy up your workspace (again, clutter = stress), and then take some deep, relaxing breaths. Some people enjoy massaging the pressure point between their thumb and index finger. Others may feel their endorphins rise by stretching their arms, neck, and back. Try different techniques and figure out what really brings you back to your center.

Whatever your new adventure is, the stress of change will come along with it. Consider these techniques to reduce that anxiety and find personal growth.

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Ella Valley – Israel

For those who love history, this posting may be one of interest who like to explore famous for subtle locations in various countries.

I had the opportunity to take a drive and explore the Ella Valley. Why is this so exciting and interesting? It looks boring! Let me tell a story…

First, I recommend exploring the Beit Shemesh area in the spring is very pretty due to all the brightly colored flowers that bloom and will quickly disappear when the summer heat arrives.

There is some famous biblical history here in the small mountains and foothills, but what is the one secret that many people do not know about this area?

There are a lot of hidden/secret bunkers where the Israeli military (IDF) stores their nuclear warheads.

Moving on…the most interesting piece of history is not the military installations, it is the landmark that this is the valley that David famously fought and defeated Goliath.

I recommend exploring not just the valley, but also the higher level landmarks and great wineries where you can take a break for not just wine, but great coffee/cappuccino! Ella Valley Vineyards is highly recommended.

Also at the very top is the Lone Oak Tree which is almost 700 years old!

It is a great place to check out the views, take a break, pick up a sandwich or use the clean bathrooms which are sometimes hard to find when travelling. I really likes the topographical relief map nearby that shows all the villages, locations and trails over the entire Negev area.

You can also check out my other entries from Israel:

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Running Around the NSA

I thought I would write a fun little blog today since my flight back to Seattle was delayed.

Many people may not know, but you cannot actual visit and take pictures of the headquarters of the NSA in Maryland, but you can run around it and the business park surrounding all the specialized contract companies supporting the NSA!

It is a gorgeous area with great running sidewalks beautiful park areas.

But you must pay attention and not follow all biking trails unless you are authorized.

or attempt to enter a gate that is not marked.

One thing I never knew before is that the main road for the NSA is named “Sentinel”. How appropriate/ironic 😉

Now here is one for all the watch lovers out there. If you are going to visit the NSA, I do think you need to choose your watch carefully and wear one that matches the theme of the facility.

For the non-watch experts, here is a hint.

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No Restrictions Travel?

Right after my recent international trip with significant restrictions, vaccination checks, PCR tests, rapid COVID tests, documentation, forms and mandatory masks…

the world changed and no more restrictions in less than 2 weeks.

Photo by Anna Shvets

Is it worthwhile to wear masks at all? CNN had a good article on the subject and I decided I was going to still wear a mask to stay as safe as possible in the crowded airport, lines and during my flight.

Results?

  • Ride share driver pickup for early morning transit to airport. No mask.
  • Seattle airport: it appears that around 20% of the people wore a mask including 20% of TSA agents. I felt comfortable wearing a mask and not being called out as a weirdo.

The Delta Skymiles lounge at 4:30 AM? Almost nobody wearing a mask. But at the same time, there are almost no people awake and in the lounge, so who needs a mask? 😉

When I arrived in the boarding area, it appeared that only 10% of the people were wearing a mask or planning to wear a mask on the flight.

When boarded, an interesting statistic I quickly calculated that 65% of the people in first class and Delta Comfort wore masks and most people in Coach did not choose to wear a mask. Only ONE attendant or pilots wore masks.

I do not know if this counts, but I will share a different restriction. If you do not sit in the front of the cabin in the first few rows, you will have no chance at the warm breakfast option. But…I have to admit this “picnic” plate was quite tasty and not a letdown!

Comparing the Seattle airport and airplane mask wearing to the Atlanta airport and airplane mask wearing, I would estimate 50% more people in Atlanta wear masks on the airplane. Why the difference? I think it would take Einstein to answer that one.

Another confusing ironic state at the hotel in Maryland. Nobody in the hotel is wearing masks, but at the same time they are not offering housekeeping services due to the risk of infection. Explain that algorithm to me!

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Becoming a Digital Nomad: A Brief Guide To Finding Success on the Road

Toda, Jesse Clark returns based on popular demand as a guest author to help people explore being a potential digital nomad. 

Image via Pexels

For as long as there has been humankind, there have been nomads. While the basis of the nomadic lifestyle has remained the same over the millennia, what people do to survive has evolved to align with societal needs and expectations. Whereas once upon a time nomads were hunter-gatherers, today they are digital drifters. What does that mean, and how can you become one yourself? The David Cross Travel Blog presents the following guide that can help would-be digital nomads answer some important questions.

The Digital Nomad Lifestyle

A digital nomad is a person who works remotely while traveling to foreign lands. These people work in coffee shops, public libraries, parks, co-working spaces, and anywhere else they can get an internet connection. Like nomads of yore relied on their intuition, hunting prowess, and weapons of choice, today’s nomads rely on digital devices, such as smartphones, tablets, and laptops.

With the working world quickly becoming more remote — according to surveys, approximately 55% of workers said they work more hours from home than their actual offices — the digital nomad lifestyle is not out of your reach. There are just a few considerations to make beforehand.

Consider Reliable and Practical Job Opportunities

First and foremost, identify your skills and start researching remote gigs. While you can do anything from consulting to graphic design remotely, some of the most reliable and lucrative jobs you can do online are:

  • Copywriting
  • Social media manager
  • Website developer
  • Virtual assistant
  • Affiliate marketer
  • Video producer/editor
  • Language teacher
  • Translator

You could also consider becoming a tour guide, which can allow you to earn a living and learn more about each place you visit.

Make a Plan To Financially Support Yourself

Ideally, your freelance job will help you earn enough to support yourself wherever your travels take you. However, a large part of the appeal of a nomadic lifestyle is the ability to see and do new things, which means you cannot work all the time. You need to prepare in advance by saving for your trip and paying down any lingering debt. Identify ways to save money on the road, such as by traveling in an RV or camping along the way.

Find Tech-Friendly Rentals

Tech-friendly rentals help you do two things: remain connected to your work and communicate seamlessly with your clients and customers. Both these points are huge if you hope to maintain a lucrative business on the road. It’s hard to know for sure if a rental will offer the tech support you need to operate a business. Fortunately, sites exist to help you streamline the search from any mobile device.

Develop a System To Stay Organized

As a digital nomad, you have two main priorities: to fund your lifestyle and to see and explore as much of a location as possible. You may find it difficult to balance business with pleasure without a solid organizational system in place.

While there are dozens of tools to help you keep your life organized, consider creating a calendar planner. A digital monthly planner template offers a 30-day overview of the tasks you want or need to accomplish during that period. You can individualize many templates with videos, graphics, and sticky notes, any of which can make staying organized and meeting deadlines more fun.

If you think the nomadic lifestyle may be for you, give it a shot, even if just for a month. Before you head out, though, keep these tips in mind.

By Jesse Clark from Soulful-Travel.com.

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The Negev

The Negev is wonderful place to take a break from the daily hustle and bustle and explore a new world that is heavily populated with Bedouin villages.

It is sometimes surprising to see wild camels that are in the desert and less than an hour away from Tel Aviv.

It is going to have a GPS map in the desert where there are roads. And it was great to have Google Fi coverage for my Pixel 6 Pro which even gets a (free) data signal from a Jordan mobile carrier when far away from the populated Israeli areas.

I went exploring (4×4) along some of the long trails and routes the Bedouin would take hundreds of years ago and you will come across cisterns which they used to store water in the rainy season. They needed this cisterns as they travel across the dry desert and rocks which get extremely hot in the summer.

They are pretty popular historical hiking spots to stop and have a “picnic” or a break in the long treks.

This is where the Breitling Emergency watch can come in handy…you never want to get broken, lost or injured on a trail when there is often no people around you for days (sometimes).

In this case, we did run into some people having a family picnic. They invited us to sit down and enjoy some tea with them (traditional culture in Israel).

Here is the best part, can you see where the hiking trails in the mountains will lead you?

Yep, the Dead Sea. Amazing views with you are looking down from 2,000 high hiking trails. The visibility was a little limited due to the winds and sand that was blowing that day.

OK – one final surprise. This was a gem when trekking out of the high canyons. Look closely at the picture and the rock formation. What image/creature do you see in the rock formation?

I never heard of this one before, so maybe I should name it for the world? 😉

You can also check out my other entries from Israel:

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Fourth Jab – Go or No Go?

Some people (may) be wondering what I am referring to. I am referring to the question that many may be asking themselves rights now – do you get a second booster or a 4th vaccine shot…or not?

Photo by Anna Tarazevich from Pexels

Why Another Booster

First, I would like to share why I chose to get a second booster when the current infection wave has subsided in the Seattle area and United States. But the reality is there will be no herd immunity in the United States.

Photo by Printexsta

Very simply, for the same reasons I cited in my previous booster posting. I am an international travel for business and personal and one of the last things I want to encounter is a restriction that may be imposed or required that requires a recent booster shot. I do not like being surprised, I like being prepared and proactive.

and breaking news, it is looking like cruise ships are requiring booster shots.

Photo by cottonbro

In addition, I do not want to risk of having a weaker immune system if and when the next variant wave occurs. They will continue for the foreseeable future and it is part of our global lives that we must accept. The studies show that the 4th shot protects against severe omicron symptoms. We are all going to get infected multiple times, the reduction of symptoms and risks wins.

4th Booster Side Effects

Now, let talk about the side effects as I know this is what most people fear and hinders them from getting the boosters. Here is what I felt after my 4th shot – they were very similar, but reduced from my second Moderna shot which I shared online.

  • I only felt a slightly sore arm after about 4 hours.
  • After about 8 hours, I started to feel slightly fatigued. But was also a Friday night and the end of a long work week.
  • Overnight, my arm got VERY sore, and it was a little uncomfortable sleeping
  • This morning, I felt slightly achy, but not bad at all.
  • The arm was very tender to the touch and slightly restricted in movement. I did take two 200mg ibuprofen for the sore arm and that helped and did not have a need for anything later.
  • By Sunday morning, most of the arm sensitivity and pain had disappeared. All back to normal.

Solution

Solution? I did the same thing that I did after every other shot. Take a nice and easy run and most of the achiness and soreness disappears after 4-5 miles 🙂

Literally, 24 hours later, feeling back to normal outside of a sore arm with the confidence of continued protection!

Reminder: in Washington state, check out WAVerify as it will create a QR code for your vaccination record. Explanation if you want to learn more.

Posted in COVID-19 | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Experiencing a Terror Attack in Tel Aviv

Let me start and state up front that I was not injured and was safe. However, 30+ years of travel around the world, visiting 63+ countries and living/working in Israel for a few years in the past, I was never that close to a terrorist attack or in direct risk before.

My personal experience from this terrorist attack that occurred on Thursday, April 7, 2022.

I was just finishing a late night dinner with some friends in at great restaurant in Tel Aviv…and then we all realized something is going on. Something is not right. There is a terrorist attack underway nearby us. People have been killed and at least one of the attackers escaped and is now still at large around us.

We needed to move, we need to escape the area. I needed to get back to my hotel which would be an obvious choice for maximum safety in these cases. My friends had to determine if they could even leave and drive home. A border circle has now been formed in minutes to create blockades of every street in the area to trap the terrorist.

All cars are being searched, everyone is quickly locking down in restaurants, stores and apartments. What was thriving only minutes ago on the kickoff of the weekend night, the streets were emptying in minutes. It all stopped.

What was SO impressive is how quickly, how organized, how structured the whole community formed and assembled in minutes. Active, current as well as reserve and auxiliary units met and took their places. Police, guards, first responders, medics, coordinators. How am I going to get out of this risk area? I paired up with a soldier and we walked out of the current high risk terrorist proximity area to where the beach hotels were located.

I am thankful for my military/veteran experience in how to react, assess and act accordingly in these situations, I was able to point and guide other tourists that were confused, scared and needed some direction when everything was chaotic in front of them. It seemed like in less than 15 minutes, the streets were empty and most people had reached a safe lockdown position. In 20 years, I have never seen the beach of Tel Aviv 100% empty on a Thursday night.

I am observing from my hotel room and then after about 10 minutes, I hear a huge BOOM and about 150 meters away a major fire erupts and escalating quickly. What is going on here? Is this a battle to start? Was that a grenade? I was tempted to go down and observe as a natural reaction, but that would have been exactly the wrong thing to do.

On the other side of the hotel, looking back at the beach. I saw some people on the beach. What are they doing? They were police that had deployed on horses to examine and search every possible hiding spot, water pool, or location where the terrorist could be hiding.

It took all night for them to find the terrorist. It was so ODD to see the beach still EMPTY on a Friday morning when there is usually hundreds of people out then the sun came out. They did not return to normal until the police and found and killed the terrorist in Jaffa later that morning. Yep, the Jaffa area that I ran to a few days ago in this blog posting.

Why didn’t I take more pictures during all the chaos? or videos? I guess I became focused on the mission at hand and that was more important. I am very thankful for my company being extremely proactive in reaching out as everything unfolded to ensure my safety and determine if any assistance was needed.

Summary: a very unique travel experience, but very thankful for how well it was handled and I have not changed any of my perceptions or probability of risks from the event. I will continue to travel for business and vacation and this is just one experience of many that we will encounter in life.

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COVID Travel Testing Restrictions

I have to admit, the departure, arrival and quarantine restrictions are complex and confusing. Let me share my experience and process I followed to leave the United States to go to Israel and then return. Step, by step, I will try to tell the story and let you conclude on what to do and when.

Overall, if you are not a citizen, you need to have a PCR test before your flight to Israel that is conducted and tested negative 72 hours in advance. I shared my results in my previous posting, but to recap, I paid $200 to get tested with results as quickly as possible so I did not have to stress about whether I would get the results in time or test positive only a few minutes before I check into the airport. I used Discovery Health in my area and it was great. But it is pricey…

Israel requires this to performed before your flight, but the desk check-in agents do not check for it in detail when you check in for your boarding pass, and when you land in Israel, nobody checks for it…so, what is the purpose? I guess to keep the honest person honest.

If going to Israel, you also need to fill out the entry statement forms, upload your vaccine information and hopefully get a Green pass before you arrive.

Now, when you DO arrive, you go through immigration, get your bags, go to customs, etc. and then you go to the COVID testing hall. Everyone gets tested. I recommend paying in advance so you can avoid that line. And then it takes about 10 minutes to get tested and tie the results to your passport. They then give you a light blue wristband to show that you are waiting for results and you should isolate.

When you walk out of the airport, the taxi drivers will say “Shhhh…” and then rip off the arm band and throw it away. They say nobody will check, so do not worry about it.

OK – when you want to return to the United States, you also need to have a negative test result. When you are overseas who/where/how do you schedule these?

A friend recommended Azova where you can have proctored tests performed over a Zoom session, and then you can get virtual results in a PDF sent to you. Key points:

  1. You need to schedule the tests in advance at your overseas destination and time zone
  2. You need to purchase the test kits you will use in advance…and you need to get them before you leave the United States (so you can take them with you)
  3. I recommend possibly scheduling more than one…because what happens if something goes wrong? What if the test kit fails? What if you might get a false positive?
  4. Pack the kits in your carry on luggage so the liquid or anything in the kits does not get damaged in the freezing cold luggage space.

If successful, as indicated by the US State Department and CDC, you just need to provide the results to the airline when checking in within 24 hours of your first flight. Once they validate, you are good to go!

When I checked in to the KLM test, they double checked and made sure I had a valid negative test. Good to go there.

Unexpectedly when I tried to board the next flight in Amsterdam, the system automatically beeped red and would not let me through. I had to show them at the current gate desk my valid test within the past 24 hours to board. They were also very diligent here.

The biggest challenge in leaving Israel is not the paperwork for the COVID tests, it is the security lines! Zones A and B can take hours, yes hours to get through!

Zone C for the Delta /Air France / KLM was great. Through security in 20 minutes!

The airline desk check-in took about 30 minutes which was not too bad. It was amazing to see how many people tried to check in without their COVID test.

And then you have to go through secondary screening and baggage scan and that took another 30 minutes. No problem. Patience is a virtue.

Some people say you need at least 4 hours before flight to get through all the process. Since it was on weekend, on Shabbat, in business class, and at 4 AM in the morning, I got by with only 3 hours with time to spare in the lounge 😊.

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Running in Tel Aviv

Now that pandemic crisis is reduced and the beach facing infrastructure improvements, Tel Aviv is a great place for running in the early morning or later at night.

Garmin is your friend when travelling

Compared to 5 years ago, the running and biking paths, both North and South along the ocean have improved significantly.

You can get great views along all the hotels

Or check out the more historic marina and buildings in Jaffo.

There are multiple public outdoor workout stations along the way

And stores that you may want to check out later when they open.

I think the weather and crowds are the best in the mornings when the sun is rising, but it is never as scenic compared to when the sun is setting into the ocean at night

Summary: when travelling for business on a different time zone, the work is much more intense with long days of meetings and evenings full of keeping up with the standard time zone workload and emails that come in. Running is the one way you can de-stress, balance your mindset and stay healthy!

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