Every Day, Adventure: Kansas City

“Whether our cities are physically bad or physically good is our responsibility” — J. C. Nichols (developer, Country Club Plaza, est. 1929)

“To travel is to take a journey into yourself.” — Danny Kaye

Wasn’t hard to develop a big ol’ travel crush on Kansas City in just a weekend. Barbecue, storms, champagne, romance, shopping – a little something for everyone. Recommend all of the eateries featured, whole-heartedly.

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If I let the threat of thunderstorms keep me from an adventure, I’d never go anywhere. 80% of my trips seems to involve rain or thunder. That’s okay. If you let the weathergods dictate your life, you will see life only from your living room couch. | View from Intercontinental . Would be a tad more convenient on the other side the street/river, but there are lots of hotel choices in the plaza.


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Catching up with an ol’ college buddy of Chris’, James. Listening to your mate tell the story of how you met never gets old.


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Kansas City is known for its statues and Spanish-inspired gardens and fountains. This booty-full one sits in front of Seasons 52.

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I love a great cityscape shot at night, don’t you? You’ll eat well in Kansas City, but you can walk it off in the plaza or even running or biking by the river.

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Popular breakfast spot – worth the wait – and how pretty is my mocha? Eggtc.

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What I feel like on a good day.

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I do so love a good old train station. Kansas City turned this one into a full entertainment center with a museum, cafe and cinema. Union Station est. 1914.

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With my favorite fellow explorer on the third level of Union Station. Nice when someone offers to take your pic so you don’t have a phone full of vacation selfies, huh?

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Last day of the Da Vinci exhibit at Union Station. As my readers know, Da Vinci is my all time favorite genius/mentor/crush for his weird, fabulous mind as the ultimate Renaissance man (which inspired Dating da Vinci). The exhibit wasn’t exactly worth the hour long wait in line but it was nice to see his ideas turned into models.

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That exhibit called for an afternoon snack. (Can barbecue be a “snack”?) Interior at Jack Stack, est. 1957. Get the burnt ends. Trust me on this.

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I ordered a cheap wine while Chris was away for two minutes. Ugh. Lesson learned. I really should be better at this by now.

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My kind of brick graffiti art.

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See? The sun really will come out tomorrow!

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A little cloud porn, bridge edition.

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If I had to pick a favorite place, I’d say it was Gram & Dun in the plaza where we met James and his wife Piper for dinner. Cool ambiance, great food. Too bad I was still a little full from that “snack.” I ordered the burnt ends mac & cheese (can we say obsessed?), but I resisted taking my leftovers back to the hotel for a late night “snack”. (Who says there are no regrets in life?)

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Gram & Dun. Sliding windows, cool patio. A little noisy when full, but I could just be getting old. #speakup #lipreading

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What happens when the waiter tell you you don’t have to wait for the bathroom you are standing right next to because there’s one across the restaurant and down a flight of stairs and down another long hallway…in stilettos! Thanks, man. I snapped this private room down there, though. #didn’tbreakmyneck

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As were were leaving Gram & Dun, we see people enjoying the patio and I wanted to hop over and live there…

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In researching restaurants and asking friends, they all recommended this cool little champagne bar, Ca/Va. Nice double meaning. Cava is a sparkling wine and in French, Ca va means roughly, “I am fine.” Quaint size, pretty good selection of bubbly. Wish we had places like this in OKC.

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On the patio at Ca/Va. We clean up nice, yeah?

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Final morning. View from Brio Tuscan Grille in the plaza, which was my second favorite spot and favorite meal. I need Sicilian omelettes in my life, forevs.

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I mean, Seriously! Sicilian Omelette @ Brio

Cherrywood smoked ham, bacon, sausage, caramelized onions, tomato compote, Mozzarella, Provolone, Parmesan, brunch potatoes 12.75

That’s all, my gorgeous Mers. I write Every Day Adventure posts to share cool spaces and adventures to inspire others to get out of their own ponds and see the world anew. Good to remember that life is pretty awesome when you make time to enjoy it. So where are you headed this summer? Would love to hear in comments.

Next up: Eureka Springs and Cancun. Finally got me a passport. Look out, world.

To living in the deep,


xo and pass the omelette

A Mermaid Tribute to Daughters

Sixteen years ago today I gave birth to a dream. Not only did I want a daughter (after having a son two years earlier) but I also wanted a fairytale

Thanksgiving 2014 with my girl.
Thanksgiving 2014 with my girl.

mother-daughter bond. Thankfully what I got was far better. I got mighty lessons in life and love from a tiny human who would make me grow as she grew each year. I’d like to say I’m now sixteen years wiser, but moreover, I’m sixteen years humbled. That’s right. Parenting humbles us, challenging our belief system and personal narrative about what it means to be alive and share our lives. Parenting puts a mirror up for us to see both our wishes and our weaknesses.

In honor of my only daughter’s 16th birthday today, I’m sending radical loving vibes to all of our daughters out there. All year I’m honoring bold, brave women on my blog I’m calling mermaids and today that wish extends to all of our girls. Don’t we want to raise fearless, independent, smart women who feel they have permission to be both fierce yet also gentle? To honor their nature while influencing their personal power to achieve their unique goals in life?

My beach-lover in Hawaii.
My beach-lover in Hawaii.

In getting real about our hopes and dreams for our kids we sometimes lose sight that they are humans who are not belongings but becomings. I think our sole job is to love them and support them as they figure out how to do life. We want them to have it all and by all we mean love, happiness, peace and to do and be even more than we did.

Parenting has taught me how to fail well. I am not some queen of a castle, but a servant wearing many hats, so my shortcomings are many. I have no qualms about telling my kids when I’ve messed up. (Like knowing I got a speeding ticket in a school zone this year. Ugh.) I’m awesome at burning dinner. My brain files are too full. I can be too critical and unrealistic — like wanting my kids to love what I love. I know that there is no such thing as a perfect parent or a perfect child. What fun would that be?

Another thing? Daughters call us out on our bullshit. I actually like that she disagrees with me sometimes even though we will stay on our sides of the argument. It shows me she’s thinking. We aren’t raising puppets. How sad would that be?

Children test us and stretch us. I want to give them the world, but they don’t always want my version of it. When I told the kids that our first summer trip this year would be camping in Arkansas, my daughter said, “Mom, no, you know I’m not that kind of girl.” You know what? She’s right. I recalled a few months earlier when my beau spoke up to say that my idea of a Grand Canyon hike this summer would not bode well with her – he was right –  so after I’d already done all the research, I asked the kids where they would like to go for our big vacation. They unanimously said the beach so off to the sand and surf we’ll go. (The boys and I will have a grand time camping the week before!)

Life is a dance.
Life is a dance.

Our daughters show us what humans are capable of – sometimes an even bigger dream than we had for them. My daughter is a fearless performer, taking up competitive dance when she was 10. I think she’s far more confident and prepared for life than I was at her age. She doesn’t care what people think and isn’t afraid to do her own thing or speak up for herself. I honestly don’t know what part of “me” has contributed to who she is today but I do know that it’s my shortcomings as well as my successes that shape her life just as my parents and grandparents shaped mine. That’s not only okay, but a necessary part of our evolution.

If you’re a mama, be kind to yourself. Cut yourself some slack. If you have a daughter, sit back in amazement at what you have co-created and then let her be whomever she will be with your gentle encouragement and boundless love. Here’s a nice article I found on improving the mother/daughter bond that’s worth a read. Here’s to being flawed and fabulous.

And Happy Sweet 16, Aud. Loving being on this ride with you. (Drive safe! Buckle up! Don’t text and drive!) Whew. There. I feel better now.

To living in the deep,






On Synchronicity…Signs from Somewhere

“How do you know it wasn’t just a coincidence?” my daughter asked me after I told her what happened at the bed and breakfast.

I’ll tell you what I told her, but first here is psychotherapist Carl Jung’s definition of synchronicity: Synchronicity is the coming together of inner and outer events in a way that cannot be explained by cause and effect and that is meaningful to the observer.

A bit of background: I was raised by my paternal grandparents and was very close with my grandmother, Zola Mae Brown. She was a quiet force — petite but commanding. When I close my eyes I see her gardening, sewing a quilt, standing at the stovetop cooking, riding her bike, fishing, on her tiptoes two-stepping with my grandfather, squeezing my hand as she tucked me in at night. Her 4’11” frame was adorable next to my Papa’s 6’3″ build. They flirted voraciously – with each other. Yes, I adored her.

My grandparents and me and my sisters and cousin.

She died of heart disease at 60. I was 19, having just finished my freshman year at the University of Oklahoma. I was in complete denial about her illness and figured (hoped!) she’d live forever like most kids do. Needless to say, her death was devastating to me. Was? It still is.

So, yeah, I still miss the hell out of her 24 years later. I don’t dream of her often but think about her a lot. My Papa appears in my dreams with more frequency, but occasionally I send out a wish for her to appear in my dreams hoping it might help her show up. Happily, I dreamed of her just before Thanksgiving last year and in it we were in the kitchen and I told her we needed to decide what we were going to do for Thanksgiving. She just looked at me and I said, “Wait, you’re dead, aren’t you?” Then I woke up, crying.

Fast forward to this February when I again dreamed of both of my grandparents and in the dream I told them I wanted to pick them up so we could have dinner together. In that dream I didn’t realize they weren’t really alive but I did say, “I miss you. It’s been so long since we had dinner!” (I also though in the dream that I needed to teach Papa to how to text. Hilarious.) So I woke up happy/sad that we didn’t even get to eat together in my dream.

I was re-telling my dream to my mother the following day and she said my grandparents are always with me and to ask for a sign from my grandma. As soon as I got off the phone, I said aloud to my grandmother how much I loved seeing her in my dream and that I really wanted to communicate with her, and that I loved and missed her.

In the lobby of The Ladysmith.
In the lobby of The Ladysmith.

A week later my beau and I went on a road trip to Tishimingo to stay at Miranda Lambert’s bed and breakfast, The Ladysmith. I grew up in a small town loving country music so I felt right at home there. The next morning Chris and I went upstairs to the dining room promptly at 9 a.m. for breakfast.  Another couple was already seated in the middle table and two ladies were at another larger table. That left us two tables to choose from. Chris picked the table closest to the door and sat on the far side. I sat across from him and then looked down at my plate and could hardly believe my eyes.

It was my grandmother’s china pattern. The same china I’d eaten on every Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter growing up. I looked at the other tables, at the other china. They were all different. A part of the charm was that each place setting was unique. I was the only one with that china. I told Chris about it and smiled. I knew it was the sign I was looking for.

The breakfast china at my setting at the Ladysmith.


I texted my sister Tina, who had my grandmother’s china set in her china cabinet at her home in Woodward. I wanted to make sure it was the same one. Check it out.

My grandmother's china at my sister's house in Woodward, OK.
My grandmother’s china at my sister’s house in Woodward, OK.

So why is this synchronicity and not just a coincidence? Well, a lot had to happen for that particular china plate to get there.

  1. The innkeeper had to set the tables and picked which china to use.
  2. The other guests picked there tables before us and didn’t sit in “my” spot.
  3. Chris had to pick that table over the other free one and choose the seat opposite me.
  4.  I recognized the sign and it was meaningful to me. That plate probably would not have been meaningful to anyone else in the room and that’s why it was synchronicity.

Now if I really thought it was grandmother sending me a message, it might be something like this…

“Good morning, Malena! You wanted to eat together and here I am. I’m serving you on some china you will recognize so you’ll know I’m thinking of you and love you.” – Grandma

My sister said it was grandmother’s way of saying she loved me and was happy for me. I think it was her way of answering my wish and I feel absolutely thrilled that she was part of my road trip and that she is still with me in spirit.

For those of you who may not be religious or spiritual, may I say that doesn’t matter? Whether or not you are religious and believe in ghosts or angels or spirits or believe that everything has energy and that it can be channeled, the fact is it was synchronicity because an inner event – my dreams and memories and the outer event – getting served on china like hers – made it a meaningful coincidence.

What I’d like to leave readers is the call to stay in the present moment, be open to whatever beauty the universe has in store. If I hadn’t had the two “dinner” dreams and asked for a sign, I may have thought less about the “coincidence” of her china pattern showing up for me, but I did and may I say it was well-played? My grandmother served me hundreds of meals in the 15 years she raised me, so why not one more?

To living in the deep,



P.S. Next week I’ll be back with another real life mermaid for you to get to know. In the meantime, I hope you’ll make some time to splash and play. Also, kiss and hug your loved ones. You’ll wish you’d done that more when they are gone. xo

7 Guaranteed Joy Boosters

Vita Allegre (Joyful Living) is Ramona’s goal in my novel Dating da Vinci. While getting your groove back after a big loss (death, divorce) takes some time, I’ve gathered up 7 Joy Boosters that work for me to shift my energy and keep my spirits up. I’d love to hear yours in comments.

1. Singing really loud and dancing like a crazy person. People who ride with me know this. If you are easily embarrassed by a singing/car dancing driver, then by all means, Uber yo’self. But when I’m in a down mood, I seriously crank it. Current car dance  favorite: Hood Go Crazy.  May seem like a little thing, but a great road trip partner feels like hitting the jackpot. Going on dance competition road trips with my girlfriend Jill made all the difference and shopping with her for decorating clients is so much for fun than going alone. And I’m never, ever bored on a car trip with my guy. I think if you find someone you travel well with on both short and long trips and don’t feel the compulsion to open the door and leave them on the side of the road, that’s a very good sign.

2. Coffee and/or drinks with a girlfriend and one-on-one time with my kiddos. I love a great cup of java and a good red wine so adding in a girlfriend for a venting/laughter sesh turns that frown upside down. If it’s not possible to meet in person, a quick phone call can also do the trick. I also make an effort to schedule one-one-one time with each kid so I can tailor the activity for just them and give them undivided attention. (Which also means putting our phones away.) Since my kids are boy/girl/boy and spread apart in ages, it’s even more important I find that time to connect with them individually. My 17-year-old will watch the nerdiest documentaries with me on Netflix while my 15-year-old daughter says, “Mom! This isn’t health class!” Ha. So with her, it’s best to go shopping or find a ghost story or rom com to watch together.


3. Getting my nature on. It’s really hard to stay upset when you’re looking at a stream or standing in the path with a deer or looking out at the horizon from atop a mountain. Seriously, go try it. I dare you.


4. I work out. Getting my heart rate up is a complete no brainer to shift the brain chemistry and get the good feelings flowing. If I’m feeling anxious, I know 20 minutes on the stair master and treadmill will kill it. Feeling tense? Barre3 or Pilates provide a tough workout but also completely relaxes my mind with all the stretching and breathing and whatnot. Concentrating on those small movements keeps you in the present moment while kicking your ass. Love it. If you’re feeling angry, might I recommend kickboxing or lifting weights? Seems to work out my Hulk moods jes’ fine.

Hawaiian selfie on my way to the gym at sunrise in Maui last summer.
Hawaiian selfie on my way to the gym at sunrise in Maui last summer.

5. Kissing. My nerdy side loves the scientific reasoning behind a good lip-lock. In The Science of Kissing: What Our Lips Are Telling Us, author Sheril Kirshenbaum tells us, “The cascade of biological reactions during a passionate kiss plays a role. Research shows that kissing boosts levels of neurotransmitters like dopamine (which is involved in craving and desire) and serotonin (which elevates mood and can help spark obsessive thoughts about a partner). It also causes a jump in oxytocin, the so-called “love hormone,” whose release during orgasm triggers attachment between couples. She says kissing helps us evaluate the suitability of a partner, both in the beginning and assessing the health of a relationship long-term. I discuss the language of love in my novel, Dating da Vinci, but it’s way more fun in real life. Anyhoo, more please.


6. Change your scene. Those of you who have read Family Charms know I based the novel on my estrangement with my mother for twenty years. Our relationship has been a rubber band that stretches over the years and she reached out to me after hearing about my divorce. She’s been a very healthy and helpful presence in my life since last October and we get each other. Last December I was lying in bed on a Friday night in my studio apartment feeling lonely when I called her and she told me to get dressed and go to the mall just to change my scene and energy. I did and shopped for a gift for my daughter and bought a dress for a client’s holiday party, which prompted me to reach out to a guy I’d met earlier that week. He asked me to meet him at a restaurant in front of the mall. So my glum Friday turned into my first date and first kiss with a great guy who likes that I sing and dance like a crazy person in the car and goes on big and little adventures with me. So, yeah, change your scene, change your mood. You may even get a passionate kiss at the end of the night.

A hiking trip with Chris to the Wichita Mountains in February.
A hiking trip with Chris to the Wichita Mountains in February.

7. Try something new/go exploring. I thrive on change and learning so I probably have to do this more than the average bear, but I’ve found it’s not just big new adventures that can keep my spirits up, but those everyday adventures, too like taking the back roads to get to your destination. I also found out I get a high from other people having new experiences. When we took my kids to Carlton Landing and they kayaked for the first time and then to Grand Lake and my oldest learned how to drive a wave runner and when I met a friend for her first paddle board yoga class – it’s the same feeling I get when it’s me having the new adventure. Being an everyday adventurer means exploring wherever you are. When Chris and I stayed at the Waldorf in NYC, we explored the empty ballrooms and got to see much more than if we’d just segregated ourselves to our room and lobby. So reach out and invite someone to do something new with you. Of course writing about someone else’s new adventures works for me, too. In my brain, it’s as if I’ve lived it out. It’s still trippy to me how that works! I often tackle new writing challenges for this reason. Instead of writing from one woman’s point of view, I wrote about four women’s life transitions in Oklahoma City in my novel Something New. Now I’m working on my first mystery.

The Waldorf, NYC.

What about you? What works to keep your spirits up? 

5 Big Lies Women Tell Themselves

Vita allegre. Joyful living. His eyes danced with excitement and awe and insatiable curiousity. Not just for America. For life. I ached to feel that again. This is why I gave him a ride. This is why I rented my late husband’s studio for scraps. I hoped some of da Vinci’s joy would rub off on me, though I had meant it more in the metaphysical sense than the physical, but that wouldn’t be entirely bad, either. — Ramona in Dating da Vinci

In light of my re-launch of Dating da Vinci, (available now on Amazon) my novel about a woman searching for la dolce vita – the sweet life – two years after her husband dies, I’d like to write a few posts this summer on the topic of Vita Allegre. My job as a novelist is to create the journey for each of my characters, taking them through the highs and lows. In real life, we’re each responsible for our own story and handling those lows is what helps us grow. We can be our own worst enemies when it comes to our happiness. Let’s start with a few lies we’ve all told ourselves, shall we?

1. I don’t deserve X, Y, Z. We get to a certain point and stop believing that our own needs matter. Often this coincides with a baby emerging from our vajayjays or a certain number of candles on your cake. Yes, you deserve your hobbies, interests, me-time, companionship, love, great sex, good friends, fulfilling work, big and little adventure and whatever else strikes your fancy if it’s good for you. The bottom line: you deserve happiness and you don’t have to stay stuck.

2. My body can’t be changed. Not to pick on moms here, but often we believe after we’ve had children that our bodies are just done. While our shape changes after babies and with age, believing this lie could keep us in a cycle of unhealthy choices as time goes on. Look, we’re smart women and we need to pass on not just a healthy body image but also the importance of a healthy lifestyle and diet. Each of our bodies are unique and only 8% of women have the bodies we see in magazines so we need to strive for our own reality, not some fantasy. What can be changed and what can’t? I could reshape my body and get rid of fat and build lean muscle and still be realistic that I would never have a J Lo butt. Since I started focusing on my health two years ago, I’ve lost 25 pounds and have kept it off for more than a year. We need to be patient with ourselves and not rely on a quick fix. My aim was to be healthy and fit, not skinny. I’m certainly not shaming anyone who doesn’t want to live a certain way – it’s our choice, period as long as we realize we are making a choice. Working out regularly is good for our minds, too. I’m less anxious and worried and generally feel more positive, especially when I was going through tough times. Do you want to live longer? The wellness blog at NY Times sheds light on longevity and exercise. And if you need a documentary to prove why this lie is a load of crap, watch the incredible transformations featured in Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead. What are your misperceptions about your health? Are you willing to put in the work to make it happen?  Your body may not look exactly like it did in years’ past, but it can be healthier and in some cases, the best it’s ever been.

After a stand up paddle board yoga class with friend Laura Nance.
After a stand up paddle board yoga class with friend Laura Nance.

3. Believing other people’s story about you (and giving them the power). Perception is a funny thing. I read a great article last year that talked about everyone’s “story” about you being different because they see you through their own lens. Your mom has one story. Your mate another. Your children, another one still. Work, ditto. Trying to keep up with all of those “labels” and expectations on fitting into other people’s stories can make us lose our own identity. Get Real truth here: you only matter to most people based on what you do for them and of course secondarily how you make them feel. I know that sucks, but the GOOD NEWS is that you matter a ton to a smaller set of people who will love you just the way you are – weird quirks and all. What matters is who you know yourself to be. Self-awareness is crucial. Say yes when you mean “hell, yes!” and no when you sincerely don’t want whatever is being proposed. Put the power of your life back into your hands. Don’t let others make your life choices for you. I was very open to others’ advice before and after my divorce (especially the doctors, therapists and close friends) but be careful because friends and family may work more to “convince” you than listen and understand you. That makes sense because they aren’t you. They aren’t in your head. Yes, they want “the best” for you but sometimes the best means making hard choices and letting go. They may then switch to blame and finding out what’s “wrong” with you. Believe me, I’ve heard it all and while I took some of it to heart, the rest was best left in the “good intentions” waste basket. Another biggie: Be aware of your own self-limiting beliefs. Stop shoulding all over yourself and stop letting others should over you, too.

What do you want from life? Drop the labels and dig in.

4. My happiness is reliant on good circumstances (or others). When I was 28 and started an advertising agency with a friend, I found the quote, “I shall not let circumstances dictate my joy.” That’s been my mantra whenever anything shitty happens in my life. Every struggle is an opportunity to grow and personally I set a time limit on feeling sorry for myself.  I also have go-to “kick in the pants” confidantes to help me see the light.  It may seem counterintuitive to believe we can feel that life is still ultimately good when we are undergoing hard times (divorce, disease, grief, et al) but we can. It’s not about shrugging our shoulders and putting up with the shit, either. In fact, it’s more important than ever to be honest about what’s happening (Get Real) and see what we need to do about it. (If anything.) Divorce and the aftermath is by far the hardest thing I’ve gone through in life, yet I was still ultimately a happy, positive person through the tough times even though I was very unhappy about the circumstance. That’s the difference. Happiness is a slippery slope if you are relying on what’s happening to you versus who you are. At your core, are you happy, positive and hopeful? If not, why not? I also like the quote, “don’t put your happiness in someone else’s pocket.”

5. Love is enough. It’s a huge cliche that “love is all you need” and it’s a big lie we as women start believing when we are tiny tots in pink tutus watching Disney movies. Sure, I think love in all its forms  is why we’re here but it should not be idealized or glamorized and it certainly doesn’t come easy. Yes, this is coming from someone who has a romantic sub-plot in every novel, but even in my stories it’s not roses and unicorns and hot sex and happily ever after. It’s “Wow, relationships are hard and life is tough but I choose you to share my journey with.”

And, parenting? Whew. I love my kiddos to pieces but parenting them is incredibly difficult because they are human beings separate from me, not puppets on a string. I can guide them but not control them. I have to let them make mistakes and yet consistently monitor what’s happening and when I need to step in. It’s exhausting, isn’t it? (And to make the point in #4, if my happiness was reliant on their attitudes of the day, I’d be in a world of hurt.)

Regarding romantic love, I recently discovered author Mark Manson and he does a nice job of discussing the realities of relationships and self-development. In this article, “Love is Not Enough,” his #1 point is “Love does not equal compatibility. Just because you fall in love with someone doesn’t necessarily mean they’re a good partner for you to be with over the long term. Love is an emotional process; compatibility is a logical process. And the two don’t bleed into one another very well.” In another article he defines how important chemistry and compatibility are for a solid relationship. Unfortunately, loving and caring for someone is not enough. Making worlds (dreams, goals, ambitions, lifestyle) mesh requires practical solutions, not wishful thinking. If you believe “love is the solution” ask yourself if that really solves the problem or if it’s a band-aid that lets you cover up what’s really going on because it’s painful and will require work. You don’t need someone else to complete you, but to complement you. It has to start with self-love.

In Dating da Vinci, Ramona’s inner thorn was not only her grief about losing her husband, but giving herself permission to be happy and find love again. Finally she’s ready to remove those thorns. For some deep reading on this subject, I recommend The Untethered Soul and particularly his analogy on removing inner thorns instead of creating a life to work around the thorn. A big eye opener for me.

I’ll be back next week to talk more about Vita Allegre.  If you read Dating da Vinci the first time around, might you leave a review on Amazon and tell your friends about it? As ever, xo and here’s to every day adventure.

Adventures pics of the week- Grand Lake with all my guys for 4th of July weekend.

My boys tubing. Loved seeing them try new things.
My boys tubing. Loved seeing them try new things.
Heading out for a morning paddle board into the cove.
Heading out for a morning paddle board into the cove.
Three days of boating fun with my captain.
Three days of boating fun with my captain.

Why Quiet Adventure Matters

In “Listening Below the Noise,” author Anne LeClaire implores us seek quiet to listen to what our heart needs to say. I think the same goes for adventure. As we create our bucket list full of thrills and high-octane fun, it’s important to add the quiet, low-key adventures to our calendar, too. Not only do they bring us peace and grace, but help us feel completely rooted in the body and become aware of the chatter of our minds as we turn inward. Awareness sharpens, appreciation and awe grows. What matters – and what doesn’t – becomes clear. We lose ourselves in our surroundings, assimilating and merging and settling in. Any discomfort begins to wash away as we allow ourselves to just be.

Wishing you some quiet get-away time this summer as I share a few of my favorite silent moments from recent months.

xo, Malena

As we neared the precipice, I caught our reflection and couldn’t resist. Solid. @ Wichita Mountains, OK
A quiet afternoon with my youngest, who hates to have his picture taken. Red dirt, blue water and a full heart. @ Lake Arcadia, OK
Seeing my tech-obsessed spawn on the water, kayaking for the first time as I watched from the dock (before joining them again.) @ Lake Eufala, OK
A tranquil cloudy morning on the lake, in a canoe, with my love. @Lake Eufala, OK (Carlton Landing)

Meditations on New York (and why you should go)

My bucket list had a Big Apple in it and I picked it over Memorial weekend with my guy Chris for some big adventure. Maybe like me, you’ve heard all of your life how amazing New York is and you MUST GO yet you were a little apprehensive because you think of the sheer size and traffic and busy people. You may have even heard New Yorkers are rude (in fact, NY was cleaner, greener and friendlier than I expected). Now that I’ve experienced it in person, I have to echo, ‘YOU MUST GO TO NEW YORK’.

Instead of a list of the best places to see like a jillion tourist sites out there, I’d like to share some meditations on New York because it’s true that travel shows you who you are and where you want to be in life; that adventure makes you grow and bonds you with those you travel with; that as you look back on the years you’ll remember things you DID, not things you BOUGHT. Adventure enriches our lives and that’s why I made “every day, adventure” my motto this year.

1. New York can make you feel a little worldlier and grounded at the same time. Worldlier in all the big learning experiences: from seeing dinosaur bones to medieval spears to European sculptures to a Sphinx to Van Gogh. New York has something for you to think about and feel. We visited the American Museum of Natural History and the Metropolitan Museum of Art – both highly recommended, but don’t try to see them both in one day. Grounded in that you see what a speck you are in the grand scheme of things. NY knocks you down and lifts you up at the same time. It’s trippy. It says, “you are one of many” but it also says, “look at what’s out there for you. Anything is possible.”  It fills you up and yet leaves you wanting more.

Skyline view at sunset from Ink 48. Gorgeous.
Skyline view at sunset from Ink 48. Gorgeous.
Yes, ask the waiter to take your picture. With my love at Bull & Bear Prime Steakhouse before Broadway.
Yes, ask the waiter to take your picture. With my love at Bull & Bear Prime Steakhouse before Broadway.

2. Explore with all five senses. Make that six. The city itself is one large canvas painted with a million hands. You and I could have completely different tastes and both find things to love about this creative city that houses priceless art and artifacts going back thousands of years, towers teeming above us and the bustle of the subway below. Get the most of the experience (any experience) by staying fully in the moment and taking it in with as many senses as you can. Hear the birds in Central Park. Touch the tomb inscriptions. Smell the wine and food to enjoy it even more. See the little things – the signs and architectural details. Lastly, feel the energy of the spaces. What does the energy of  Broadway and Times Square feel like in contrast to walking through the hotel or museum or park? You are walking in historical spaces and making your own history at the same time.

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@ The Met: Sphinx of Hatshepsut Period: New Kingdom Dynasty: Dynasty 18 Reign: Joint reign of Hatshepsut and Thutmose III Date: ca. 1479–1458 B.C. Geography: From Egypt, Upper Egypt; Thebes, Deir el-Bahri, Senenmut Quarry, MMA excavations, 1926–28
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@ The Met: Who wants to joust?
@ The Met: Vanderbilt’s fireplace. Proof women do the heavy lifting.
@ The Met: Sarcophagus of Usermontu Date: ca. 1279–1213 B.C.
I call tails.
I call tails. @ American Museum of Natural History
Exterior of the Met
I couldn’t get enough of the ceilings at the Walforf Astoria NYC. “The second Waldorf-Astoria hotel opened in its current location on Park Avenue on October 1, 1931, as the tallest and largest hotel in the world.”
Flat Iron building, as seen from the Empire State building observatory. Nice use of space, huh? “The Flatiron Building, originally the Fuller Building, is located at 175 Fifth Avenue in the borough of Manhattan, New York City, and is considered to be a groundbreaking skyscraper. Wikipedia Address: 175 5th Ave, New York, NY 10010 Floors: 22 Opened: 1902 Style: Renaissance”
Art deco lights in a bar in Waldorf Astoria. Love.
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Grand Central Terminal is absolutely a must to see in person. You get an idea of scale here, but it definitely lives up to its name. A timeless classic in Beaux-Arts style.
“The Cathedral of St. Patrick is a decorated Neo-Gothic-style Roman Catholic cathedral church in the United States and a prominent landmark of New York City. Wikipedia Address: 5th Ave, New York, NY 10022 Opened: May 29, 1879”
Architectural style: Beaux Arts Built: 1897–1911 Architect: Carrère and Hastings Location: Fifth Avenue & 42nd Street
Love the mix of old and new and the blue skies help.
Most elegant lobby ever. “The Waldorf Astoria Clock was executed by the Goldsmith Company of London for exhibition at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893. It was purchased by the Waldorf Astoria and was the focal point outside the Rose Room of the original hotel at Fifth Avenue and 34th Street. This clock weighs approximately two tons and stands nine feet tall. Around the eight sides of the base are likenesses of Cleveland, Harrison, Washington, Grant, Lincoln, Franklin, Jackson, and Queen Victoria. Under these are bronze plaques depicting various sports and scenes. Westminster chimes ring on the quarter hour.”
Desserts from Waldorf Astoria's famed brunch. I tried them all.
Desserts from Waldorf Astoria’s famed brunch. I tried them all.

3. Let yourself go and live in wonder. All too often we vacation based on a to-do list and stick to a regimented calendar. We, too, had a big list of places to visit as you see from the pictures, but mentally give yourself permission (and encourage yourself) to try new things and “go with the flow” sometimes. Go off the beaten path. Order shellfish if you ordinarily wouldn’t. Be like a kid and let yourself be amazed at what’s in front of you. For me, living without wonder isn’t really living and NYC is full of wonder.

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Inside the Park is a courtyard restaurant across from Waldforf. Loved this flower peeking its head through the railing.
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Sunshine and smiles in Bryant Park. The Moroccan lamb kabobs at Bryant Park grill were amazing. “Bryant Park is a 9.603-acre privately managed public park located in the New York City borough of Manhattan. It is located between Fifth and Sixth Avenues and between 40th and 42nd Streets in Midtown Manhattan”
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Cityscape view from Central Park.
Another beauty from Central Park.

4. Connect the past to the present and connect with each other. Travel gives us the opportunity to connect with something old and new and helps us make sense of the present. We learn more about ourselves. A shift happens. From the plane ride to the wait times in line to the actual big ticket events, it’s an opportunity to learn more about each other and truly listen. Be giving with each other and you’ll all be rewarded. Adventure is a natural bonding experience, but it still requires staying in tune and getting out of our heads to enjoy the moment and each other. New York has all the right ingredients for big adventure and bonding. You just have to do it.

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One of the “highs” of our relationship so far. Empire State Building observation deck.
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Also ended our trip on a high note with this amazing view from Ink 48.

What’s on your summer adventure list? Who would you like to go with? How can you make it happen?

Happy Summer, readers!

For a video (with no sound) of my trip:

Book news:

New cover reveal for Dating da Vinci since I got my rights back from the publisher. I love it and can’t wait to share it with readers in June. Launch date coming soon. I’m also working on a non-fiction book I hope to share with you later this summer.