Photo provided by Shari Hattis.

I love traveling. It brings out a part of my soul that can’t be described in words but rather in moments. When I get to the beach, I hear the ocean beckoning me to put my feet upon the sand as the waves come over me. I hear the seagulls talking as if they were having a conversation with anyone who could or couldn’t understand them. I smell the salt air and feel as if I’m being soothed with the feel of a cosmic spa that overtakes my body. It’s a paradise that gives a complete feeling of home. When I’m in the mountains, I can literally smell the greenery from the plants and trees. The aroma of the flowers in full bloom will fill my nostrils with fragrances that are unique to the area I’m in. You can almost hear the sounds of the mountain music that dwells within the hills and the streams that flow can have a peaceful ripple of a gentle lull as it enters the rocks and allows one to lose themselves in a mesmerizing moment. To me, both places are a bit of paradise.

I’ve traveled all over Europe, parts of Asia, and the States. Every time I venture into a new domain I always find a slice of paradise unique to the parts that I’m visiting. For example, España has many villages near big cities but those villages contain a heart and soul that the city doesn’t capture. The olive trees are robust and full of life. There’s a history in the countryside that doesn’t show all the blood, sweat, and tears that were needed in order to produce the quality that you see. Yet, one thing all layers of various concepts of Paradise include is the common thread of displaying nature in its finest. Never had I encountered so many olive trees. It was also my first introduction to the drink of Sherry. It was quite tasty. España offered me a taste of architecture that was difficult for me to comprehend how many centuries the buildings had withstood the test of time. A person can not see the maintenance that goes into preserving buildings like these. But the contents of those buildings can be their own paradise because the historical meaning is truly great. King Ferdinand and Isabella were among just a few of the resting venues that I was able to see, and as such, my thirst for history began to become a little more satiated. When you walk into living history, it can be a form of paradise.

Asia has so many things to offer as well. Like anywhere else, there are beaches but there is something special about Asian countries. The food is succulent and spicy. The pace is fast and there is a stern yet carefree approach that exists when visiting. There were parts of Asia that were not my favorite but the fruits and markets there were different than what I experience in the States. There are parts where the technology is on the cutting edge and then villages that work as if you are back in time. There is a pride among the Asian community and respect among the elders is extremely high. Honor means something to them and it isn’t just swept to the side like in many other areas of the world. The work that they show in their art and everyday life is filled with pride. No matter what area you may visit there, the one constant that I learned was that nothing is ever what it may appear to be.

South Africa has a huge part in my heart. When I look back at all my adventures, South Africa makes me long to visit again. There was a peace there unlike anything I’ve ever felt. It’s a country with a lot of unrest. The animals are at risk of being hunted for trophy’s on a wall but the spirit that I felt while there made me feel as if a huge weight was extracted from my soul. The first time I ever witnessed Black Mambas was in the wild. It scared and excited me all at the same time. I began to see that the reptiles that had me living in fear also represented letting go of the things in life that restricts us. When you have the opportunity to travel, you see the world in a different scope. It’s not just beaches and mountains, nor is it cities versus villages, it’s about people. It’s about what is important to the people residing in those areas and nurturing the things that they value. The land shows this. There are parts of this world where outsiders are not allowed. It’s rare but to those who inhabit those areas, it’s their paradise and they don’t wish to have it invaded by those who do not know or understand their ways.

Mambas mating in South Africa
Photo provided by Shari Hattis.

The States call me to travel all over them as well. Alaska is one of my favorite escapes. I could literally lose myself in those mountains. The snow covers those mountains as if it were a blanket protecting the mountains. I will never forget the first time I took a plane through the mountains of Alaska. It was my first orientation to the mosquitoes there. Someone close to me at the time asked the pilot about the mosquitoes and the reply was that the mosquitoes had their own landing strip with their size. There are parts of Alaska that are still too treacherous to reside in. It doesn’t take away from the breathtaking views that can be seen.

Chicago is one of my favorite cities to visit. Yes, it is a windy city but there is so much history in it. When we are willing to learn from history, any place that touches us in a unique way has its own type of paradise. Some people think that a bookstore is their version of paradise. For me, bookstores are an escape from the everyday world. I prefer having a book in my hand as opposed to reading it on my phone. I’m less likely to skip over the good parts if I read it in my hand. Let’s not forget the food from any place that you may consider to be paradise. In New Orleans, the food has a spicy and unique flavor. I like to think that it’s the heart that gives the food a blend of spices and aroma. Since I’m allergic to shellfish, I can’t really have shrimp but I can tell you that there are so many other dishes to try that may make you feel as if you have walked into your own version of paradise.

Many of my friends are Disney fanatics. I’m not as die-hard as they are but I respect how they feel about Disney and that for them, the Disney World park and Disneyland Parks are their own version of Paradise. Disney has opened up all around the world so that many others can have the experience that Walt Disney envisioned. The imagination is its own form of paradise. If my mind had to close off to the things it thought of, I think I would go bonkers. I love a good story. For me, paradise comes in so many different ways. It can be traveling, using my imagination to travel, experimenting with different things like arts, crafts, hobbies, food, clothing, and even music.

We’re all wired differently. What’s paradise to one person may not be to another. What’s important is that we don’t close off the opportunities that we have in life. Every day that we are on this earth, is a chance to explore more territory. My hope is that you are all able to enjoy a little slice of paradise every day. Even if you can’t get on a plane and travel to a new place, try something different. Maybe take a class on something that is out of your comfort zone. Pick up a book and read it if you haven’t read anything new in a while. Take risks in life. You never know. You just might discover a new paradise just waiting to be explored.

Photo provided by Shari Hattis.

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