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~ Feliz Dia de Accion de Gracias ~ Happy Thanksgiving ~

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Posted by Jules, Please visit the Author’s blog to support the cause

TWR is supporting the efforts of Julli Sterling for helping people in need from Nicaragua, Guatemala and most Central America to be able to receive proper education, and basic needs. You can help too by visiting Julianna Sterling’s blog. Below is the article written by her:

As midnight struck in the US, and Thanksgiving Day fell upon us, I sat in front of my computer mulling over the, ‘to do’ list for Thanksgiving Dinner, and was overcome with gratitude for the many blessings that have filled my life. I have a lot to be thankful for this year; the truth is I feel I am incredibly blessed.

This year I had the amazing opportunity to spend several weeks in Guatemala with a new-old friend; Jewels. A friend who became a treasured gem in my world; together we were granted the fortune of volunteering building houses, picking coffee, and studying Spanish. We met countless wonderful people working for a number of organizations that do some pretty amazing things and we met some of the most beautiful people living in some of the most impoverished of conditions. I am blessed to have her in my life.

I think it was there where my journey of recognizing my blessings began.

Boarding the plane to return to my life in America, I realized I had become very complacent in my life and really hadn’t taken a good long hard look at all of the blessings I have. Somewhere on the drive back in the middle of a blizzard that night I stopped and said, “Thank you God.”

I couldn’t get the words out fast enough and the tears fell like rain from my eyes. I had been in a place where people had nothing and complained about even less. I had been in a place where choices were few, rights were fewer, and freedoms were even less than that. A place where jobs, education, nutrition, healthcare, home owning, vehicle owning, personal protection, clean water, the gamete are virtually nonexistent yet, every man, woman and child I met greeted each day with a renewed sense of joy, happiness and zest for life.

The day prior I had been on top of a volcano which had recently erupted and decimated an entire village its venomous lava had spread a now thick layer of black ash and soot from peak to valley. Blanketing a once vibrant green tropical mountain top with nothing but darkness, yet everyone living there was filled with the brightest smiles, peace, happiness and love. Though my body was racked with pain from the hike and the twenty hours of planes, trains and automobiles, I cried not because I hurt but, because everywhere I looked I had a blessing.

I had friends to pick me up at the airport, a warm coat and winter boots, a hot meal on the table when I got home that night. A roof over my head, running water (hot at that), electricity, my own home, my own car…my family that couldn’t wait to see me and a puppy that was so excited she peed all over the floor when I walked through the door. I have my health and my job –my goodness I have A LOT. In fact I realized I have so much to be thankful for that I spent the entire summer thinking of ways to give back and spread some of these blessings….a blessing is only a true blessing when it’s shared.

I worked all spring and all summer and not just at my job.

I proudly graduated my daughter and host daughter. I am very, very proud of the accomplishments of both Jami and Roja and am truly blessed to have such fine women as my family. My daughter Jami, is the first member of my family to graduate with a college degree and the very first to ever attend grad school…For all the naysayers that said a teen mother and high school dropout could never be more than a welfare whore…Here’s my little blessing!

When a brush with a dangerous man in our community resulted in my having been put in harms way my son was the first person I told. Not a word was spoken when a loaded twelve gage was placed at the head of my bed and no arguments were had over the fact he was sleeping in my room that night. We didn’t talk about when the bastard got out of prison, we talked about how “no one eff’s with my mom.” Every mom should know her son has her back like that. I am blessed to have a protective and devoted fine young man as a son.

My family has always been loving and supportive. My sister has always been more like a bestest friend; listening, sharing, commiserating, encouraging and just always being ‘there.’ We can talk about anything and everything and it is the judge free zone. She always gets where I am coming from even when I don’t. My brother in law is more like a brother and my niece and nephew have always made me feel like I was on a pedestal, what I don’t think they realize is, it is I, who put them on the pedestal. I am so proud of my sister and her returning to college, my brother in laws continued efforts as a small business owner to not give in to the corporate muscle flexing and my head to toe pride in everything that Alex and Dimitri do; school, dance, crew, and being beautiful proactive, productive, members of their community. I am blessed to have such a beautiful loving sister and family.

As I started planning my trip to Nicaragua, people, complete strangers and lifelong friends would come up to me and ask what they could do to help make my dream come true. They wanted to help, make a contribution or tell me what a good person they thought I was. I am truly blessed to have such wonderfully supportive loving friends, both old and new. No such friends stood out anymore than my two biggest and best; MOM & DAD. It seems no matter what I do; good or bad, success or failure they are always by my side with their love and support. They have always been there and will always be there. Fact is the learning to give back and count my blessing was instilled in me by them. I am forever blessed to have them as parents.

I have a beautiful and amazing host family filled with brilliant young men and women from every corner of the world and their friendships over the years has meant more to me than words can say. I always believed and told them that I involved myself in the host family program as a way to give back…my belief is that if my son and daughter were to visit them in their country they would treat them the same way they have been treated by me, and that someday all of my children will find a way to give back. They have always gone out of their way to make me feel like I am the most special person ever, cooking for me, taking me to dinner, including me in their college lives, sharing some of their most inner thoughts, laughter and tears, appreciating and respecting our political, religious and cultural differences. This fall was one of those times; I was invited to a bbq and unsuspecting me attended. There I discovered my host children had gathered together along with many of our mutual friends to celebrate my birthday. It came at a time when my own daughter had just left to live on other side of the US and the same day my parents were to depart for Florida. I felt so blessed to have such thoughtful loving friends surround me, actually they are more than just friends, they are my FAMILY.

I took an inventory of my excess living and put the brakes on. I stopped buying because I felt like it and started buying because I needed to. I am blessed to live in a community that is full of talented people, which I can purchase locally grown and locally produced items. I continued to empty my closet of selfish living and pass it on to women in the US who need clothing and donate the proceeds to women abroad in need. I have had an overly blessed closet…

I became thankful for the forty one years I have had on this earth and the healthy life I have been granted to live and decided it was time to be a little nicer to my body and begin taking better care of it by eating, healthier and treating with a little more love. Yes I went veggie on you; I am blessed to be in good health and want to stay that way.

I planted a garden and shared it with my neighbors grandchildren it is always better to share an experience with a child they are after all the seedlings of tomorrows future…I am very blessed to have these vivacious giggling little girls as my neighbors, they are little blessings in my life and a constant reminder of my blessed childhood days on Central Ave. I started thinking in a more earth conscious way, being thankful for the environment and the planet we live on. I have made a conscious effort to leave less of a carbon foot print…I am blessed to have clean air, clean water, green grass, blue skies (well that’s up for debate) and beautiful trees and flowers all around me.

As it came time to go to Nicaragua and bring my donations with me a renewed sense of gratitude and feeling of being the one blessed enough to do this filled my soul, I had spent a large part of the summer feeling this trip was never going to happen and it did! Every hurdle I climbed every road block I stumbled over, washed away and returned to me with strength and courage. I have been blessed to have visited some of the poorest corners of the western hemisphere; visiting some of the most beautiful sites and meeting some of the most beautiful people… dining at their tables, walking their streets, working in their schools, being embraced into their way of life, culture, and language..my home away from home… I went with the intentions of bringing gifts little blessings and instead came home having been blessed. The whole trip was one giant blessing.

Two nights ago my computer chimed with an incoming message from my first host student, who is now married and in grad school, excitedly I replied back, we chatted for hours, we have always been that way…As the conversation closed she told me she often thinks back over her four years in my city and how I and my family fill her fond memories. She said we made her, a young girl from Senegal Africa, feel like a member of the family and knows no matter where she goes in the world she will always have a ‘home’ in Waterville, Maine. What she may never realize is that all of this started with her. I am blessed to have had her come into my life, she impacted my world, without her friendship a lot of the things I have gone on to do, may never have been done.

Thanksgiving may be different in its numbers around the table this year as my parents are in Florida, my sister and her family in Massachusetts, my daughter in California, my oldest two host daughters now in New York and New Hampshire and, my younger three host children are traveling about America…As Martin, TJ, Lucy and I sit down to partake in the traditional feast it doesn’t change the countless number of blessings felt in my heart.

With a full belly and even more full heart I am very grateful and blessed for my beautiful, loving, amazing, family, friends, both old and new friends, here and abroad, friends I have shared a lot with and friends I have yet to make, I am blessed to have you all…

Jules is a passionate writer and a social activist who is involved in various social activities in Guatemala and Nicaragua. You can visit her blog and contribute here As told by JulesPlease visit the Author’s blog to support the cause.
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Culture and Lifestyle

12 Travel Podcasts To Inspire Your Next Trip

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As the COVID-19 restrictions ease up, travel is on the cards again. If it’s been a while since you’ve thought about traveling, you might be glad of a little inspiration. These podcasts have plenty of traveling stories and tips to share. Whether you’re traveling solo or in a group, you’ll find lots of great ideas here.

1 . Active Travel Adventures 

ATA curates travel adventures for people who love to paddle, bike, hike and more. If you love exploring the planet in an adventurous way, this is the podcast for you. Active Travel Adventures want to inspire people to dream big when it comes to travel.

The podcast is hosted by Kit Parks who also curates the traveling trips. Here you’ll learn about everything from trekking Nepal, to hiking Machu Picchu, or rafting in Colorado. In recent episodes Kit talks about hiking the canyons of Sedona. Throughout the shows you’ll learn everything you need to know about exploring the USA by campervan, and Gorilla trekking in Uganda.

2. Extra Pack Of Peanuts

Extra Pack Of Peanuts is brought to you by Travis Sherry, a world traveler and entrepreneur. Throughout the shows you’ll learn all you need to know about traveling more, (without breaking the bank). Travis interviews plenty of famous travelers including Chris Christensen and Bruce Poon Tip. You’ll get tips on cheap hotels, budgeting and flyer miles. In a particularly interesting episode Travis chats to Mike Savas. Mike talks about his recent travels, ‘learning 12 skills in 12 countries in 12 months.’

3. Girls Talk Travel

In this awesome podcast, hosts Alice and Megsy bring you all you need to know about female travel. The show provides practical and inspirational info about traveling as a woman today. Each week they’re joined by guests who have been there, with plenty of motivational stories to tell. 

Girls Talk Travel dives into a range of different topics including ‘How to be assertive during your travels’ and ‘Kickass female travelers to follow’. You’ ll get traveling safety tips, and advice about adventure activities. The ‘Hometown Highlights’ feature invites female travelers to talk about their hometowns, explaining why other travelers should take a trip there.

4. Outdoorsy Diva 

The Outdoorsy Diva is hosted by Lauren G, a top travel blogger. Tune in for travel trends and interviews with travelers. Throughout these episodes you’ll get lots of advice about making your life more adventurous! Episodes cover a diverse range of themes including ‘swimming with manatees’, ‘a tour of Florida Springs’ and ‘empowering black women’. Lauren interviews Dr. Kim Walker, founder of the Abundant Life Adventure Club. Kim shares what inspired her to create the club, along with her plans for the future. Expect a freshly unique podcast, with plenty of wisdom to share.

5. The Thoughtful Travel Podcast

Amanda Kendle brings you an awesome travel show, packed with fun stories from travelers across the world. Explore topics like getting lost, meeting locals and learning languages. The Thoughtful Travel Podcast offers advice about planning a big trip, single parent travel and travel trends.

Here you’ll find plenty of useful advice to inspire your next trip. Check out themes like, ‘emotional travel’, ‘volunteering experiences’ , and ‘traveling for a sporting event’. If you’re a sports fan you might consider researching the best NFL stadiums when booking a trip.

6. Women Who Travel 

The Women Who Travel podcast is hosted by Meredith Carey and Lale Arikoglu, (both 

Condé Nast Traveler editors). WWT wants to inspire you to get out there and have a real adventure. Lake and Meredith discuss subjects like outdoor hiking gear, traveling in a van, solo travel and meaningful souvenirs. Check out episodes such as ‘what we wish we knew before moving abroad’, and ‘traveling post COVID-19.’ Learn about how traveling can help you to process grief, and the beauty of meeting new people. To ease your worries about traveling solo, Women Who Travel have got all the tips you’ll need.

7. Alpaca My Bags

Alpaca My Bags is a podcast about responsible tourism. Each week Erin Hynes and guests discuss what it means to be a responsible tourist. Erin explores plenty of different themes including authentic travel, travel privilege, sustainability and more. Throughout these shows you’ll get to learn unique perspectives, helping you to be mindful when you travel. Themes on the show have included, ‘colonialism and travel’, ‘is voluntourism ethical?’ and ‘the complexities of adventure travel.’

8. The Family Travel Podcast

The Family Travel Podcast helps families to plan their next trip. The idea is to show families that they don’t need a huge budget to plan the trip of a lifetime. Here you’ll find plenty of inspirational stories from families who are traveling the world. There are plenty of highlights, tips and hints, and more. You’ll get advice on home schooling, funding, destinations, documenting your travels, and lots more. There’s plenty to learn including preparing for family travel and using YouTube to fund your trip. Traveling full time with a family is possible, you just need to be prepared to get a little creative.

9. Wild Ideas Worth Living

If you love adventure and the outdoors, you’ll certainly love Shelby Stanger’s podcast. During these shows Shelby talks to travelers, entrepreneurs, athletes, and authors, about how they’ve made a ‘wild idea’ come to life. To inspire your next escapade, Wild Ideas is what you need. Tune in for a great interview with Angela Tucker, the creator of an epic wildlife documentary ‘The Trees Remember’. Throughout these shows you’ll get plenty of awesome ideas. If you’re looking to do more outdoor activities, Wild Ideas can show you how.

10. City Travel With Kids 

This show is brought to you by Keri Hedrick, Marianna Rogerson and Marta Correale. City Travel With Kids help families to plan their trips, with all the best advice. Learn about the best places to travel, dining recommendations, and managing your itinerary. Whether you want to take your kids to Melbourne, Singapore or Tokyo, you’ll get all the recommendations you need. Get great advice on ‘family travel products’, and ‘flying with babies and toddlers’. Many families worry about traveling with children, but with this podcast, you’ll keep your trip stress free!

11. The Indie Travel Podcast

Craig and Linda Martin are the globe hopping pair behind the Indie Travel podcast. The couple started traveling full time in 2006. Check out the tips and stories, to motivate yourself and get planning. The Indie Travel Podcast offers plenty of ‘how-to’ guides. Learn about budget travel in Auckland, or how to travel with kids. There’s advice about road trips, long flights, and plenty of interviews with fellow travelers. Whether you’re traveling as a family or traveling alone, the Indie Travel Podcast has plenty of wisdom to share. 

12. Between The Mountains 

This is a show for all the explorers, hikers and kayakers. Each week Chris Kilworth interviews traveler guests, with a range of epic stories to share. Here are stories of mountain climbs, forest treks, extreme sports and more. These stories will inspire you toward a different kind of traveling experience. Between The Mountains will give you lots of amazing ideas for your next trip. Expect plenty of entertainment and laughs along the way.

Planning a traveling trip takes a lot of preparation. From choosing your destinations and itinerary to booking your transport and accommodation. Some people like to get super organized, while others like to have a bit of more of a relaxed itinerary. Wherever you are on the scale, don’t forget to check out a few of these handy podcasts.

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Culture and Lifestyle

Common Places To Seek Motivation and Inspiration

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As a social species, we humans thrive on interacting and learning from others. When there are problems to be solved, we can pool together our experiences to find out the right solutions. That’s kind of the basis of how humans have come so far–because we’re an intelligent species that understands the importance of cooperation.

But there’s another reason why we humans like to socialise and learn about one another; because it can help give us direction in life. When we’re struggling to overcome a plateau or need inspiration for something, we can typically look at what other people have achieved, what they’re doing, and also what they could become.

So here are some of the most common places to look if you’re lacking motivation or want to seek out something inspirational to help push your life forward.

Seeking out inspirational figures and learning about them

A surprisingly inspirational and valuable resource that is available to everyone is Wikipedia. We can search up almost anyone and find out plenty of information about them, what their life was like, where they came from, and how they rose to success. We can learn about entrepreneurs that we want to mimic, we can learn from famous people in our field, or we can even learn from influential figures.

But it doesn’t always have to be someone extremely famous. We can also look at people such as Mitch Vanhille, a successful athlete that understands the power of inspiration and shares their journey for others to learn from. Similarly, we can learn from YouTube videos that discuss interesting or difficult topics.

Wherever we look, there is someone out there that could inspire us and give us the motivation we need to break our limitations and reach new heights. We just need to drop any pride that we have and start looking up to other figures.

Understanding a different way of life

Another great way to inspire yourself is to look at another worldview. For example, the process of understanding different cultures can help you embrace a unique way of life. You don’t need to adopt it yourself, but understanding their motivations, what inspires them, and also what compels them can be an amazing way to learn about humans and their actions.

There are so many different ways to approach life that it can really be eye-opening to see how other people plan to make their journey through life. Some people might be hyper-focused on reaching their goals, while others might have a more laid-back approach. Whatever your reasons or motivations, these are both extremely valid ways to tackle life’s challenges.

So whatever struggles you encounter, it’s important to reach out and learn from other people. After all, we’re a social species and we tend to learn more when we start engaging others, interacting with them, and just talking about things. So if you ever need some motivation in the future, we hope these tips can help you overcome life’s challenges and get you back on the right track to your own definition of success.

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Culture and Lifestyle

DIY Bathroom Repairs Everyone Should Know

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They say “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” but if something is stuck or clogged, one should be on the know-how. Reaching almost a year since quarantine began, people have been spending longer than average locked inside their homes. With this, homes may have experienced more wear and tear than usual, especially bathrooms.

It can be frustrating to feel helpless when dealing with something as tedious as a leaky faucet, a broken toilet, or a clogged drain. Considering this, small do-it-yourself remedies may be resourceful. 

That began said, if challenges are too drastic, larger renovations may be in order. If that is the case, consider commercial bathroom renovations instead. 

For the meantime, these are some nice and easy-to-do remedies than can offer your bathroom a quick fix. 

Uncloging a Bathroom Drain

When taking a shower or washing your hands, having water rise from the drain is the least you would want. Slow bathroom drains are often caused by a build-up of soap-scum and hair. Many resort to using chemical drain cleansers to remedy this; however, these products carry toxic chemicals and can be ineffective at times. 

Instead, use a plastic hair snake. This product resembles a long zip-tie which can bend inside pipes to snag the accumulated gunk.

To begin, remove the drain stopper before inserting the wand. This will require unscrewing and disconnecting the stopper’s horizontal and vertical rods. After doing this, you may finally insert the snake. Once the cleaning process begins, beware: it’ll get gross. As a tip, try to girate or make sweeping motions with the snake in order to grab as much gunk as possible. 

Fixing a Broken Toilet

Dealing with a broken toilet can be a common issue. 

If the toilet won’t flush, check inside the it’s tank. To do so, remove the toilet’s rectangular lid; the lid can be found behind the toilet seat. Look for the chain which connects the flush lever to the plug at the bottom of the tank; the plug is also known as the flapper. If a toilet isn’t flushing, the likeliest answer is that the chain is disconnected from the lever. To resolve this, simply reattach the chain. 

Meanwhile, if water keeps on filling your toilet, it most likely means your toilet is flushing by itself. This isn’t good as it is wasteful. The likeliest reason would be that the toilet has a leaky flapper. To fix this, turn off the water valve from behind/ underneath your toilet. Flush your toilet until emptied. Check the flapper’s size and purchase another flapper. Brands do not matter as long as they match in size. Replace the old flapper with a new one, and voila! 

Replacing a Leaky Faucet

Fixing a leaky faucet often requires replacing the parts inside the handles. To do so, first turn off the hot and cold water valves. Doing this will help prevent any unwanted water geysers from jumping out of the faucet or handles. 

Once you’ve turned off the water valves, check if water is still trickling down. If so, rather than replacing the handles, this means your faucet is in need of a plumber. If it isn’t leaking, you may proceed. 

Pry off the handles and loosen the screws underneath. Once both items are removed, remove the top with an adjustable wrench and pull out all the parts. The best tip is to use needle nose pliers to do this. Head to a home improvement store and ask for help in searching for new replacements. To reassemble, repeat the steps in reverse and test the faucet.

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