America, My Beautiful: Personalizing the American Dream


Let’s be honest, in spite of all the negativity floating around on the political airways, the skyrocketing of unemployment rates, the tragic instances of human nature that mar our daily newspapers, this country, our America, is the grandest nation on Earth. It is the home of impassioned patriots and determined pilgrims. Some of the world’s most beautifully painted natural canvasses are found deep within Smokey Mountain forests, Grand Canyon depths, rocky coasts of Maine, sand castle-studded beaches of Florida, and open spaces of the northwest. It is the birthplace of the “American Dream”, the inception of a once unheard of peace and prosperity, and the true “land of beginning again” for thousands of refugees, past and present. It is my America. It is my home sweet home.

I like to see a man proud of the place in which he lives.  I like to see a man live so that his place will be proud of him.  ~Abraham Lincoln

Having lived overseas, I understand the differences of America and other nations. The strains of liberty float on the breeze if you’re willing to listen. The possibilities of bright, new tomorrows glisten in the eyes of students and those seeking to begin again. The civil liberties, freedom of speech, and ability to “be who you want to be” stand in direct opposition to many nations on the face of this globe. It began as a dream, was built upon an ideal, and stands as a beacon of liberty.

Love your country.  Your country is the land where your parents sleep, where is spoken that language in which the chosen of your heart, blushing, whispered the first word of love; it is the home that God has given you that by striving to perfect yourselves therein you may prepare to ascend to him.  ~Giuseppe Mazzini

This July 4th, I am reflecting upon the lyrics of America the Beautiful. This singular reflection is a personal quest to reaffirm those principles upon which our country was founded, to reawaken a desire to go back to the basics of American freedoms. Join me upon my journey to truly honor my nation, the land of heroes, patriots, and pilgrims. For truly, “I’m proud to be an American, where at least I know I’m free. And I won’t forget the men who died, who gave that right to me.” ~Lee Greenwood



O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

O beautiful for heroes proved
In liberating strife.
Who more than self their country loved
And mercy more than life!
America! America!
May God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness
And every gain divine!

O beautiful for pilgrims feet,
Whose stem impassioned stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
Till paths be wrought through
wilds of thought
By pilgrim foot and knee!

America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

Happy birthday, America.


Avoiding the “Uh-Oh’s” of International Travel: Packing Must-Have Items

My husband  and I are preparing to travel to China with 22 college students for the month of May. Though immensely looking forward to the trip, I always get a little worried about finding myself without an American necessity while travelling overseas. Since I spent two years as a professor of Oral English in Dalian, China, I have a very good understanding about what can be bought in China, what should be brought from home, and what isn’t really necessary.

In a recent prep meeting with the team (20 of which are females), I created a list of packing essentials. In lieu of a regular “subject matter” blog, I imagined that it could be helpful to my readers as they anticipate summer travel adventures in far-off places. Always remember to check weight limits before you travel; I was once burned in Tokyo because I didn’t check the weight limits. Not cool.

I’ve listed several “elements” of packing including an emergency kit (kept in your backpack, carry-on, or purse at all times), checked baggage, carry-on bags, and possible items to include. Hope this helps!

Emergency Kit Essentials

Energy Bar
Powdered Drink Mix
Starbucks VIA
Band Aids/First Aid kit
Travel Pepto Bismal
Vitamins (C, multi)
Blister relief
Extra supply of ANY/ALL medications
Favorite Candy
Roll of Travel TP
Hand Sanitizer
Wet Wipes
Shout Wipes
Sewing Kit
Girl Stuff
Perfume Counter Sample

Positively Prepared Packing

 Girl Monthly Stuff
Girl Monthly Stuff medicines/heat pads
Personal Journal (unlined)
Deodorant x2
Body Spray
Hand Lotion (Scented)
Make Up
Shower Gel
Razor + replacement blade/cream
ACE bandage
Alarm Clock
Chargers (ereader/laptop/etc)
Extra batteries
USB drive for extra photo storage
Magazines/Book (1/2)
Ziploc bags (quart and sandwich size)
Bug Spray
Safety Pins
(Think about necessity of hair dryer/straightener)

S.O.S Snacks (Save Our Sanity)

Granola Bars
Energy Bars
Favorite Cereal
Microwave oatmeal
Powdered drink mix/coffee
Pre-packaged, microwaveable goodies
Rice Krispie Treats
Candy Bars
Gum (and lots of it!)
Peanut Butter snack packs
Dried Fruit
Sugary Snack Cakes

Necessary Adornments (based on 3 weeks)

 6-10 shirts (t-shirts, casual, business, short and long sleeved)
At least 2 pairs of flats
Tennis shoes
Dress shoes
Jacket – outer or business
3 pairs jeans/casual pants (one you wear, one clean, one in the wash)
Dressy pants (black, navy, khaki, no white)
1/2 skirts
One formal
Lots of socks
Double amount of undergarments
Winter hat/beanie
PJs (no more than 2 – tshirts can double)

Survival by Carry-on

Medications (do not check them!)
Epi-pen or other emergency medical items
License, Passport, Tickets
Emergency Contact Card
Travel Pillow
Pepto Bismal/Tums (travel sized)
Granola/Candy Bar
Extra shirt
Sleep mask
Shout wipes
Girl stuff
Suitcase keys
Ipod/ereader/paperback book
Remember: you’ll have a personal tv

In one-quart Ziploc bag:

Hand cream
Water Spritz bottle
Contact lens solution/Eyedrops
Anti-bacterial gel (travel sized favorite scent)


Extra undergarments
Easy flats
Extra pair of contacts
Sleeping pills
Collapsible travel cup

Seriously? That’s a No-No.

 Sentimental Jewelry
Family/Personal Treasures
Extra credit cards
Wallet ID Stuff
Perishable food
Your Entire Library
Liquids over 3 oz.
Large Quantities of Cash

Possible Maybes

Day pack/messenger bag/purse
Guidebooks (Lonely Planet)
Something to swim in
English-Chinese phrasebook
Money belt (worn close to skin)

Make Up Miracles

Only take what you will use!
Eye liner
Compact of eyeshadow colors
Makeup remover sheets

Happy Summer Travels!

Friday Night is Movie Night!

During the seemingly endless hours between lunch and the conclusion of Friday’s workday, my thoughts often drift to what I’m going to do when I finally get home. Cuddly sweats, a random smattering of movies and/or tv shows, the editing and color correcting of hundreds of photos, and a  “congratulations, you survived another week!” mug of coffee are normal components of my Friday night plans. Since my husband is an adjunct instructor at a technical college in Tampa, his schedule changes every five weeks — this week, I have Friday nights to myself.

I am a movie junkie. That being said, I never know what movie I’ll be in the mood for until I actually sit down to watch a flick. I like scary movies; I just don’t do well with the “extra footage” supplied by my overactive imagination when I’m home alone. Despite this, I’m kind of in the mood for a scare. Any movie suggestions?

Mind the front door, honey…

Hello, there. I coordinate communications…

… at a private, liberal arts college in Tampa Bay, Florida. With the coordinating of communications comes its own set of complex conundrums, but it is not without humor and a little bit of fun.

Join me as I embark upon yet another adventure: the adventure of the blog.