Why Maps and Meditations?

Both travel and meditation play a role in my fantasy books- but more importantly, they’ve played a big role in my life and who I am as a person. Here’s what I mean…

Travel

Mark Twain wrote: “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views (...) cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”

To me, that’s what travel is really about. Of course, I enjoy seeing new places, too- but it’s the exposure to new perspectives and ways of life that is most important.

Meditation

As much as I love travel… I believe looking inward is more valuable than looking outward. 

I like to focus on the “why” and the end goals of meditation… which includes all things self-improvement, life balance, and connection to something greater than ourselves.
 


Thoughts and Musings

Simplicity Challenge #12: Looks in relationships

Simplicity Challenge #12: Looks in relationships
Aug 30, 2019 by Tamara Spell
If you're married, what led you to connect with your partner? Or, if you're single, what are you looking for in a mate? Here's what my experience has been, and why I ended up finding much more relationship happiness after I changed my priorities.

Simplicity Challenge #11: Simple recipes

Simplicity Challenge #11: Simple recipes
Jul 16, 2019 by Tamara Spell
Do you have a favorite site for recipes? One with ingredients that are actually in your pantry, and doesn't call for things like chaga mushroom powder... or every form of sweetener under the sun other than just plain old sugar? Here's my recent experience, and why I decided to create my own recipe...

Simplicity Challenge #10: Fight back, or let it go?

Simplicity Challenge #10: Fight back, or let it go?
Jun 30, 2019 by Tamara Spell
How do you react when someone does wrong by you? Here's what I've learned from recent discussions with a friend who's facing that situation, and handling it with beautiful serenity and simplicity...

Simplicity Challenge #9: Wi-Fi on airplanes

Simplicity Challenge #9: Wi-Fi on airplanes
May 26, 2019 by Tamara Spell
Wi-Fi and mobile reception are available pretty much everywhere nowadays, with planes being one of the last holdouts where we have to just sit there and relax, read, or watch a movie without a distraction every few seconds. Should we keep it that way?

Simplicity Challenge #8: Retreating into Silence

Simplicity Challenge #8: Retreating into Silence
Apr 27, 2019 by Tamara Spell
Have you ever thought about going to a silent retreat center? It's a place where you can give your mind a break from distractions, and slow down to find calmness despite living in a super busy world. Here's why I recommend it...

Simplicity Challenge #7: Are education costs really worth it?

Simplicity Challenge #7: Are education costs really worth it?
Mar 30, 2019 by Tamara Spell
Education is important - I think we can all agree on that. But, what happens when the costs of education rise too quickly? When the salary of the job you wanted no longer supports the cost of the education required in order to get the job? I certainly don't have all the answers, but I think this important issue could benefit from more and more open discussions, so I'll be touching upon it from time to time. Here's the first "Simplicity Challenge" in the education series...

Simplicity Challenge #6: Are diamonds really a girl's best friend?

Simplicity Challenge #6: Are diamonds really a girl's best friend?
Feb 28, 2019 by Tamara Spell
What's the deal with diamonds? Why are they so expensive - and are they really worth it? Here's the latest I've discovered when researching the subject... and why I choose to go with diamond alternatives.

Simplicity Challenge #5: Letting Go for the New Year

Simplicity Challenge #5: Letting Go for the New Year
Jan 24, 2019 by Tamara Spell
After years of struggling with time management, I'm starting to realize that my problems don't always stem from a lack of time, but rather from a lack of energy from trying to do too much. After accepting this, my schedule is becoming simpler and more manageable. Here's how I'm handling big changes this year...

My 5 Favorite Things about Being a Woman in the United Arab Emirates

My 5 Favorite Things about Being a Woman in the United Arab Emirates
Nov 04, 2018 by Tamara Spell
When I tell people I lived in the Middle East, there's always one question that follows - What was it like to be a woman there?

And while I can't speak to all Middle Eastern countries, I can say that being a Western woman in the United Arab Emirates came with surprisingly few restrictions - and even a few advantages. Here are my 5 favorite things about being a woman in Abu Dhabi...

Simplicity Challenge #4: Food delivery services

Simplicity Challenge #4: Food delivery services
Nov 01, 2018 by Tamara Spell
I've jumped on the band wagon for food delivery services - both for groceries, and for packaged recipes/meals. What do you think? Is this a fad, or something that will give us back some precious time during this modern, busier-than-ever day and age? Here's my take...

Simplicity Challenge #3: Weddings

Sep 30, 2018 by Tamara Spell
The average cost of a wedding in the US is over $25,000... and that high price tag seems to always come with a lot of stress. What do you think - is this too much? Here's my opinion...

Simplicity Challenge #2: To garden, or not to garden?

Simplicity Challenge #2: To garden, or not to garden?
Aug 14, 2018 by Tamara Spell
I always thought that starting a vegetable garden would be an ideal way to live simply. The problem is, I'm not good with plants, and I stay busy with work. So, what do you think: does simplicity mean growing your own food, or is it simpler just to make a quick run to the store?

Why I return to the same places I've traveled to before

Why I return to the same places I've traveled to before
Jul 27, 2018 by Tamara Spell
When it comes to traveling, it's tempting to try to cram in as many sites and destinations as possible into our limited vacation time. But I would argue that there's a lot to be discovered by returning to a place you've been to before, traveling slower and soaking up the vibe and daily life of your chosen destination, and experiencing more than you did the first time around.

Simplicity Challenge #1: Recycling versus Water Usage

Jul 07, 2018 by Tamara Spell
Simplicity Challenges came about due to my own desire to simplify my life. However, the term ‘simplicity’ is sometimes open to a surprising variety of interpretations.

Up first... how to recycle without wasting a ton of water washing the recyclables. I don't have a great answer yet, so I'd love to hear any feedback you have!

Thoughts on Mailboxes

Thoughts on Mailboxes
Oct 11, 2017 by Tamara Spell
I think, in many ways, my life was less complicated without a mailbox. It was one less thing on my to-do list, and I no longer had heaps of junk mail to sort through.

When it came to mailboxes and voicemail, there was something freeing about not being attached to them. With travel and the experience of a new culture, sometimes it’s the small differences like this that you remember the most.

Why I Meditate

Why I Meditate
Apr 14, 2017 by Tamara Spell
I don't believe it’s possible to really get rid of all negative or worrying thoughts. However, I do know, from personal experience, that it’s possible to take their power away and to avoid their damaging effects. It’s a lifelong practice, but the results are worth the effort. For me, the practice of meditation has made a huge difference.

The Storm and the Tea Lodge

The Storm and the Tea Lodge
May 05, 2016 by Tamara Spell
Sometimes, it takes being cut off from modern amenities and plunged into cave-like darkness in order to slow down from hectic modern life, and to really sit still and focus on the present moment. In this travel adventure, I got startled awake in the middle of the night- but I found the calm in the storm, and woke up to real tranquility the next morning.

My Favorite Books from 2015

My Favorite Books from 2015
May 05, 2016 by Tamara Spell
I discovered some great books and authors in 2015. It's fair to say that they all changed my life in some way, whether big or small- and that goes for the fiction as well as the non-fiction. But that's the power of books and good writing. Have you read these? And what do you think I should read next?

More than Just a Blessing

More than Just a Blessing
May 05, 2016 by Tamara Spell
About to receive a Buddhist blessing in Sri Lanka. It was one of those travel experiences that makes you think about life more deeply.Travel is about connecting with people and expanding your own mindset, even more than it is about seeing beautiful or interesting places. I was fortunate to have such an experience in Sri Lanka, when I helped with an English class at a local temple. They said I was helpful... but I felt like I was the one who received a gift.

Simplicity Isn't Always Simple

Simplicity Isn't Always Simple
May 05, 2016 by Tamara Spell
Moving to the other side of the world can be as simple or as complicated as you make it. For me, this experience taught me the value of traveling light.