Posted by Lisa Niver Rajna
An annular solar eclipse can be seen this weekend on Sunday, May 20, 2012. CAUTION - Do not look directly at a solar eclipse without a proper filter! Annular eclipses can be dangerous to your eyes.
Because the solar eclipse will block out most of the sun, a spectacular “ring of fire” will be seen in the sky.
You must find a way to protect your eyes if you plan to watch either the annular solar eclipse on May 20-21, 2012 or the transit of Venus on June 5-6, 2012 – or both events. Many will use solar eclipse glasses from commercial manufacturers, and they are great. A home-rigged indirect viewing method can also be very effective and offers a way for groups to view. Whatever you do, never look at the sun directly without some filter in place to protect your eyes, during any part of either of these events.
Information on how to view a solar eclipse safely from the Exploratorium: Remember never view the sun with the naked eye or with any optical device, such as binoculars or a telescope! Click here for instructions.
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April 26, 2012 | 11:32 pm
Posted by Lisa Niver Rajna
I’ve decided to retire early. At the ripe age of 34, with only 2 days until my next birthday, I have defiantly reset the retirement age from 65 to 35. It feels good.
Though I have found some gray hairs recently, I don’t have nearly enough to qualify to live in Hawaiian Beaches on the coast of Big Island, Hawaii. Most of the people who are my neighbors are retired, just wanting an affordable way to live in Hawaii near the ocean. Each day, I wake up sipping Ka’u coffee after carefully grinding the beans and pressing the magical elixir in my french press. The whistle of my tea pot signals the beginning of this ritual which celebrates my slow mornings. No more rushing through the streets of NYC with a fast cup of Joe that I spill on the subway. Instead, I stare at the waves from my front lanai and whisper sweet nothings to my coffee.
So how did this happen? A 35 year old guy living the good life in Hawaii? No, I wasn’t one of the original founders of Facebook or Google. I didn’t sell some weird little company to them for an obscene amount of money. I have no trust fund. What happened is that I have built up a successful private practice as a Healer over the past 8 years. Many of my clients now work with me by phone or travel to Hawaii for a personal healing retreat. In short, I offer my clients a piece of what I have found in my own life.
By saying I’m retiring early, I don’t mean to make it sound as if I have stopped working all together. Nor do I think everybody stops working when they retire. I remember visiting a friend’s grandparents in Wisconsin a few years back. We stayed in a custom made, spacious house on several acres of forest and farmland. Vibrant and busy, the two retired school teachers watched the grand kids, tended to a ¼ acre vegetable garden, cleaned house, made lunch, and clipped trees that were part of a forestry stewardship program. I was winded just trying to keep up with these retirees.
While the grandpa drove me out in his all terrain vehicle to survey his land, I asked him, “How do you like retirement?” He shared, “I like it just fine. In fact, some days, I am busier than when I was working full time as a teacher and raising kids.” I laughed and asked him, “what good is being retired if you are still so busy?” He replied, “The difference is that I get to choose what I do each day. Nobody tells me what to do anymore. If I don’t feel like picking vegetables, then I don’t. That pure liberty is what retirement is all about for me.”
That conversation has floated through my mind often over the past few years. Who decided 65 was the magic year of retirement? Social Security? I wasn’t going to wait to be independently wealthy to live the life I have always dreamed of living. And I wasn’t waiting until I was 65 years either. So 8 years ago, I started my new career as a traveling Healer. People began inviting me to come to Los Angeles, San Francisco, Santa Fe, and later, Hawaii, to come share the intuitive healing work that made me a trusted name among my clients. Armed with a massage table, psychic sight, soothing hands, and a sense of humor, I worked on doctors, lawyers, teachers, mothers, and celebrities. It too work, a lot of work. But it was fun. It was my heartfelt choice. My desire to travel met my passion for sharing the inspiring work of an uncanny form of self discovery. My life would never be the same.
7 Years ago, I quit my day job at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center as a Research Associate, forfeiting my plans to go to med school. At the time I was deathly afraid to tell my family that I was no longer going to be a doctor. After all, I was the pride of the family and they had high hopes for me. They got over it. Many of them still ask me “what do you for a living again?”
4 Years ago, I had to face my fears of leaving NY, an experience that felt like I was pulling myself off a spiderweb. My whole life was there. So many of my friends and family were there. NY comforted me because it brought the world to me. Even with so many cultures and new ideas at my fingertips, Something inside of me needed to go and meet the world in new ways. I still miss NY pizza. I’m still glad that I never moved back.
2 Years ago I moved to Oahu, which lead to an even slower pace of life on Big Island, Hawaii. I still travel to major cities to work with people and teach, but it’s at a much more liveable pace than my when I started the foundation of my practice in my 20′s. The mix of city stimulus when traveling with the slow nurture of nature suits me well. I like falling off the map when the job is done, only to get the itch to travel again.
3 hours ago, I saw a long time client in my new home office. So many clients have shared on the phone that they could hear the ocean in the background. She was the first one to experience the fresh cut tropical flowers and ocean waves in-person. New tones of teal, browns, and hardwoods created a fresh, soothing décor to the healing room. The new colors signaled a new chapter in my life. Before the session, my client walked by the ocean to clear her head. It helped her slow down enough to recognize the new chapter in her own life. It meant letting go of the old ways of worry and dread. It meant embracing that she was in a new place, a place worth celebrating. At the end of the session, her genuinely smiling face showed that she was ready for her dreams to come true. Sharing my wisdom and inspiration had helped her to find encouragement and renewed courage in her own choices. Helping her brought me immense joy. When you are living the life you truly want, that’s pure liberty. That’s early retirement. Join the movement.
An hour ago, I paid my bills online, then took a nap in the middle of the day. The early bird special is looking really good at the local Hawaiian eatery. I guess I really am retired after all. Hungry?
Please send your friend requests to G. Kamana Hunter FaceBook page http://www.facebook.com/people/G-Kamana-Hunter/669812856 and join me for a Hawaiian early bird dinner sometime.
More stories to read about travel, transformation and early retirement at WeSaidGoTravel!
April 25, 2012 | 4:17 pm
Posted by Lisa Niver Rajna
Hello friends and family,
I have arrived in Kandahar, after a long week in Kabul. The military base called KAF that I am on is huge, like a mini-city. There are approximately 35,000 people here. It is quite dusty and loud because of all the aircraft that come and go all day and throughout the night. I haven’t moved into my room yet, but I should in a few days. As for now I am staying in a barrack style housing, that I am sharing with one other guy. I have a couple of days of orientation, meeting people I will be working with, then I start my job.
I am on a Mobile Outreach Support Team which means I will be traveling around the province supporting and advising the District Support Teams (DSTs) with any projects they are implementing. The projects include working with the local Mayors, Governors, Ministry Officials and tribal elders to set up Rule of Law & Governance, helping to establish the justice and court system (maybe law school after this?), Health, Education, Infrastructure and Agriculture and Economic Development, helping farmers put value added on their products and getting them to market or for export. I am also integrating myself with the military, I admire their structure and discipline, I think it helps me. I work long hours, 7 days a week 10 hour days, except Fridays are a half day. I’ve already been told to start planning my first Regional Rest Break for the end of May, I am looking forward to it.
The base is also known as Camp Cupcake because of all amenities it has. There is an area to hangout at called the Boardwalk, it’s got TGI Fridays, KFC and other places to eat as well as other shops to buy just about anything you want. The Boardwalk is made of wood, raised and covered, it does feel like you’re at the beach, well almost. It circles a soccer field, beach volleyball courts and an outdoor hockey ring for the Canadians. This is a NATO base, so there are troops from many countries here. I hear every Saturday there is a bazaar where we can buy local goods and crafts. The base is dry, which my liver will appreciate, although I have had a couple of nonalcoholic beers at some of the restaurants.
More information and news at www.wesaidgotravel.com
April 18, 2012 | 9:59 am
Posted by Lisa Niver Rajna
I blame my wanderlust on my first love—my grandfather. He was the one that got me hooked on National Geographic by having a full magazine collection in his basement that I’d pour over every summer vacation, launching a full-blown childhood dream of becoming a travel writer. And then my parents clinched it by allowing me to tag along with them to Europe when I was an impressionable ten years old, and I’ve never been the same since…nor have I wanted to be.
For the next two decades after that first taste of international travel, I’d aimlessly create lists of countries that I just knew I’d visit as soon as I became a jet setting grown up. But I’m sure it comes as no surprise to you that this list sadly gathered dust in my drawer as life’s realities—college, career, relationships—took first priority. Sure, there was that brief study-abroad stint in Buenos Aires, and the occasional tropical vacation. But when it came to becoming a bestselling travel writer, I filed that dream away on a shelf.
I did hold true to my roots though and studied non-fiction creative prose at Penn (class of ’04) and pursued a career in magazine journalism, and at one point I thought I was getting closer to my goal when I landed a job at a national travel magazine in New York. Score! Now I’d get my chance to sip cocktails with foreign correspondents and interview mysterious sources in exotic locales—not. As I reported from my desk about African safaris and the Great Pyramids of Giza without ever checking off either item from my bucket list, I felt empty inside, and worse…like a fraud.
That did it. I handed in my articles to my editor, pulled out my dusty list of countries back home, and started scheming about how I could take a year off to experience the same adventures that I only wrote about. I adopted a budget for the first time in my life, found a roommate, and scrimped and saved for more than a year until I stumbled across a simple but brilliant way to travel. It’s a form of voluntourism called work exchange, which trades the sweat of your brow—rather than the money from your pocketbook—for room and board with locals abroad. Wait…that meant that my trip suddenly got cheaper! So I immediately bought a one-way ticket to Sierra Leone via Morocco, gave notice at my travel magazine, let my adorable apartment go, and stuffed all my goods in storage. There was no turning back now.
Starting on January 1, 2011, I took my first step off a plane and into a solo round-the-world adventure that included 19 countries on six continents. My work exchange led me to teach HIV/AIDS orphans in Kenya, become a desert guide with the Bedouin tribe in Jordan, teach English to Tibetan Buddhist nuns in Nepal, mend fences on an aboriginal cattle station in Australia, shuck oysters on a black-pearl farm in French Polynesia, save baby sea turtles in Guatemala, teach music to Roma (gypsy) children in Romania, and herd a thousand sheep as a nomadic shepherd in Austria. Oh, and I can now finally say that I’ve been on an African safari and have also stood in the shadow of pyramids…
I returned to the States just a few months ago on January 1, 2012—exactly one year after I left—and I’ve been trying to find the right words to describe my last year to friends and loved ones. “Life changing” seems too anticlimactic. When I look up other superlatives in the thesaurus, I get more of the same. All I can say is that you need to throw caution to the wind and launch your own grand adventure to understand the inspiring journey that I experienced.
Oh, and what about my dream of becoming a bestselling travel writer? Well, now that I’m represented by a bona fide literary agent, I can say that my prospects are definitely looking up for the first time in my career.
March 27, 2012 | 3:51 pm
Posted by Lisa Niver Rajna
Change has been good to me. I have been evolving from having a fixed mindset to a more growth-based model, and from a heavy, single girl unsure of what to do next, to a sassy skinny married one who is a traveler, teacher, blogger, now appearing in a major women’s magazine!
Not only have I changed; now our blog has undergone a shift. We have joined our two web sites and left both Weebly and Blogger for the widely used WordPress. I hope you enjoy our new and improved site. Please send us your comments as we continue to finalize all the parts and pieces.
This transformation requires support. I must personally thank many of my friends, family members and mentors and would like to publicly recognize our website Advisory Council, including: Kit Herring of The Backpacker’s Handbook, Dave Thompson, Dave’s Travel Corner, and Dr. JessieVoigts and Ed Forteau from Wandering Educators. Also the technical wizard on our team, Ateeq Khan. Without them we would not be ready for this next step!
I also want to thank First for Women Magazine for including me in their story and the capable team that prepared me for my first Magazine photo shoot!
My First for Women Magazine Photo Shoot Team:
Photographers: Amy and Stuart
Stylist: Krystina Van Dyk (Banana Republic Gemma Wrap Dress, Laura Elizabeth Jewelry)
Hair : Stefanie Cuesta for Fiore Beauty
Make-up: Phoebe for Fiore Beauty
Hair Color: Mark LaRocco at the Beauty Collection
More links, photos and stories at http://www.wesaidgotravel.com/
March 12, 2012 | 9:51 am
Posted by Lisa Niver Rajna
Recently I was interviewed for L.E.A.N. Traveler about staying fit while traveling. I lost sixty pounds from when I first met George to when we got married!
Here is part of the L.E.A.N. Traveler interview:
What are your top three tips for staying lean while traveling?
My top three tips for staying lean while traveling are:
1. Don’t let yourself get too hungry. Take a snack or have a piece of fruit in the afternoon so you can say “NO!” to the breadbasket.
2. Walk everywhere you can. I personally lost weight while traveling in Asia for a year because we walked all the time.
3. Portion control: if you are traveling with someone, share a entrée since portion size in the USA has gone haywire and restaurants serve enormous quantities of food.
Look for photos to come in the March 26 glossy magazine: First for Women!
Our YouTube channel went over 10,000 views! Which of our 35 videos is your favorite? The most recent one Exploring Penghu Islands in Taiwan or Taipei with over 3300 views?
There is always more on our website: www.wesaidgotravel.com
March 7, 2012 | 10:53 am
Posted by Lisa Niver Rajna
The upcoming holiday of Purim and the story of Esther remind me to reveal myself and take off my mask. Many Jews celebrate Purim by dressing up and putting on a mask. The semester I lived in Jerusalem, was the first time I saw Purim could be as large a celebration as Halloween in Los Angeles. Wandering the streets of Tel Aviv, I was amazed at the number of Esthers, and Hamens that bumped into me in the celebrating crowds.
This holiday celebration includes being confused about good and evil. This shadow between good and evil and the line of intentions and when they become actions informs some of my travels and decisions. Sometimes we forget that at the corner where we work at the 7-11 is a man who is from Burma who speaks five languages and was a tour guide at Schwedagon Pagoda. We forget that this man in front of us has a history and wears a mask. Most of the people we interact with have some issue that plagues them and causes them to wear a mask and hide some part of themselves.
While I have often picked easy costumes for my work, such as coming to school as a Crayola crayon, in other areas of my life I have proceeded differently. Lately I have picked problematic travel destinations. Being in Sri Lanka this summer, so soon after the civil war ended caused me to really examine why I travel and where do I go. Being in an area with barbed wire around the beaches was nerve-wracking for me, but meeting people who were so happy to have peace and so welcoming to us as strangers to their country made it worth it.
Having recently watched, “Strangers No More”, the Academy Award-winning Documentary Short film about an amazing school, I am thinking about Tel Aviv, Strangers and Masks. In Billy Joel’s song, “The Stranger,” he sings, “We all have a face that we hide away forever, and we take them out and show ourselves when everyone has gone.” Travel allows us an opportunity to break from our every day routine and get outside ourselves.
When I travel, I hope to learn about the place, the people, the history, and the culture. Mostly I learn about myself. When my husband George and I were away for nearly a year, I cried in the beginning on almost every country. I even cried while snorkeling one time. I thought he would not notice. When we travel, our masks are off and we are the strangers. I frequently need help to find the bathroom, the bus, the hotel; everything is up in the air. Our daily routine no longer is there to support us.
I think of the young students showing up at Bialik-Rogozin School, having survived long walks in the desert, seeing parents killed and now managing their first day of school in a language they do not understand. The teachers seem so kind, compassionate and willing to help. The children of Darfur, South Africa and Eritrea who show up and move forward with hope and potential inspire me.
Adam Rosenthal writes in Koach:
“Each of us has emotions, thoughts and aspirations which we conceal on a daily basis. We hide these parts of ourselves by presenting others with a prepared image. We wear masks, denying others, and sometimes even ourselves, a glimpse of the vulnerable “stranger.”
I am thrilled that our travel blog will have this new home at the Jewish Journal but now I wonder if I can really show my travel stories and travel foibles and take off my mask to reveal what our travels are really like. I ask myself: will anyone care to read about our adventures?
Travel has given me the opportunity to evolve from a sidekick to a superhero. I have learned so much about my relationship and myself. I did not want to quit my job and travel for a year as a test of our relationship. I wanted to be engaged or I would not go but I did go and eventually we did get engaged.
The story of Purim remembers Esther who hid her Jewishness in the beginning and Haman who hid his anti-Semitism. In the end, both must reveal their true selves. This is what travel does for us. We must show up as who we really are without our masks.
Queen Esther and her uncle Mordechai foil the plan of Haman, King Ahashuerus’s prime minster, to exterminate all the Jews of Persia. All secrets are revealed, all masks are off, and once again the Jewish Story continues. Join me March 24 to hear about the story of how the Jews have been welcomed and sent away for centuries in Morocco.
The Megillah Esther literally means “to reveal what is hidden,” join me as we wander and wonder about the history of the Jews, our planet and mainly ourselves.
March 4, 2012 | 9:11 pm
Posted by Lisa Niver Rajna
Here is the beginning of the Interview:
Lisa Niver Rajna is our Geography Awareness Editor, a world traveler, and a science teacher in Los Angeles, California. Think that science isn’t international? Think again! I’m impressed with the work that Lisa does with her students - exploring the world, and the people in it. She’s the publisher of two websites that combine her love of travel and teaching science - We Said Go Travel, and Science Isn’t Scary. She embodies the true meaning of international education - and practices it every day.