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Today is February 1st – just 14 days until the launch of “Because I’m Small Now and You Love Me” the charming chronicle of conversations and adventures with my four-year-old daughter Lulu.

And in honor of everyone’s life adventures, I am proud today to kick-off my guest blog series: “Travel Memories.” 

First up, an essay from a dynamic woman known as “Mama Lou, American Strong Woman, who “More” magazine placed on its “Fierce List” alongside First Lady Michelle Obama!  

Known for her strength of character as well as her physical prowess, Mama Lou is a wonderful role model -especially for young girls like Lulu, who LOVES her. We were fortunate to host Mama Lou at our home a couple of weeks ago here in Italy before she went off to perform in Germany. 

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Lulu and Mama Lou! Cooking up some healthy cuisine of course!

Now a seasoned world-traveler, here’s her take on one of her first “worldly” vacations:

Take it away, Mama Lou!

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My family didn’t travel much. My parents grew up within ten miles of where they were born and “vacation” meant visiting relatives in nearby states or family reunions, but rarely did it mean new exotic locations, adventure and the unknown. That was for other people.

My parents divorced when I was 11 years old and my dad decided it was time to make some memories. The closest big city adventure was to make the 6 hour drive from Kansas City to St. Louis for the weekend. Being that we normally never left the city limits, 6 hours on interstate 70 seemed like a lifetime! But somehow we made it. I was fascinated to think that I-70, the same highway we used all the time back in Kansas City, somehow connected me to St. Louis, if you just keep going!

We checked into the Drury Inn. I thought it was so fancy! Well, it is fancy if you are 11 and have never stayed in a real hotel before. The weekend consisted of typical family vacation things. We went to the zoo, Six Flags amusement park, and visited the St. Louis Arch.

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My memories of the Arch are the most vivid I have from that trip. I remember looking up at the arch and not being able to believe that anything was so big. We went inside and took the ride to the top – and I was terrified! I looked down one side of the Arch and got vertigo! I was sure we were all doomed. If too many people stopped on the same side of the building we were going to topple the structure for sure! Somehow the explanation of the structural perfection of an arch didn’t seem to reassure me.

When we went home, driving back on I-70, I felt I had seen the world. It was the first time I realized the whole country was connected if you just keep going! I saw the world as bigger – containing possibility – that there is magic waiting at the end of long stretches of highway.

When I graduated from high school my mother gave me a purple luggage set as my graduation present. I thought it strange as I hadn’t ever needed luggage in my life. She said it was because she hoped my life as a grown woman would include travel and adventure. I guess she got her wish.

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I’m now on the road 9 months out of the year. Exotic locations are normal now. I’m flown to places Cabo San Lucas, Honolulu, Singapore, Iceland, and New Zealand for work. With my traveling lifestyle, 6 hours in a car is a short travel day for me! My, how things change… But I will never forget where I came from. I will never forget to be grateful for my life and the adventure it is. For a girl from Kansas, I guess I’m doing all right.

Signing off, from a lovely little town in Tuscany…

Mama Lou: American Strong Woman

Thanks, Mama Lou! We all have dreams and no matter where our lives eventually take us, we all have things we can be grateful for.   How about you, out there?  Have a travel memory you’d like to share?  Any adventure – far or near, funny or poignant, please send me your 500 words or fewer essay to GinaLondon@gmail.com and I’ll do my best to post them all during my guest blog series, “Travel Memories.” 

And if you like travel and adventure – you’ll love “Because I’m Small and You Love Me:  The World According to My Four-year-old”   Available NOW for PRESALE ORDERS in the US. 

Hope to hear from you,

Ciao!

Gina

 

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