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Tuesday, January 3, 2006

Finding Inspiration and Looking Ahead

So this website is a little more than a year old. Actually www.travelandtransitions.com was originally registered some time in February of 2005, but I started an earlier version at a different URL in October of 2004.

As you may know, this website was originally inspired by my own personal early mid-life crisis, by my uneasiness about the stresses of modern life, by a general feeling of being burnt out, wanting to try something new and searching for my real passion. From about 2002 and onwards I had spent quite a bit of time soul-searching, thinking about who I thought I am, what I might be good at, what I can't stand, what I might be passionate about, and how I might be able to make a small difference.

I started to realize that my existing life-style was not working for me any more: being stuck behind a desk all the time, working hours and hours on spreadsheets and marketing campaigns and dealing with paperwork just wasn't cutting it any more. There was an adventurer, a traveller, a hobby philosopher and closet idealist with boundless curiosity waiting in the wings, just itching to be released.

So I started wrecking my brain as to how I could reconcile these newly rediscovered personality traits and do something with them. And after some trial runs with other concepts, www.travelandtransitions.com was born.

Our multi-cultural pot luck lunch

A little more than a year after its inception - where have things gone with the website? Well, right now the website has just over 300 pages of unique content. Since the beginning of the website I've travelled to a variety of places and written a multitude of live travel stories from these exciting spots:

- Spain (including Barcelona, Tarragona, Valencia, Ibiza)
- Austria with a short side trip to Italy and Slovenia
- a ski trip to Quebec
- a wonderful socio-cultural and linguistic learning experience in Havana - Cuba
- an extended weekend in New York City
- a fast-ferry trip to Rochester
- kayaking on the Ottawa River
- a wonderful 5-day trip to Victoria and Vancouver and a visit to the Servas Conference ("travelling for peace")
- the phenomenal Toronto visit of my brother, his wife and 2 friends and their first time in Canada or North America for that matter
- various local explorations including the St. Lawrence Market, a weekend admiring scare crows in the Kawarthas, a fall country tour to Caledon, Fergus and Elora
- a wonderful extended weekend trip to one of my favourite cities: Chicago
- and a 16 day road trip to Florida with my husband to explore "Orlando Off The Beaten Path".

We all enjoyed each others food

I've seen quite a lot. And I've learned a lot. I spent huge amounts of time learning about web design, internet marketing, website traffic building, online publicity and related issues. But in addition to my Internet activities with the travel website, I also discovered renewed vigor to dedicate myself to my full time business, www.textronics.com, my language services and translation company.

I now have a fabulous team of people from all over the world: our linguistic experts reside in virtually every region and every country around the globe. My in-house staff is very multi-cultural in itself: I am currently working with people from Pakistan, Mexico, Russia, China, Ethiopia and we will soon have an intern from Japan. Previous interns have come from India, Nigeria and Germany.

In addition to allowing me to discover the world, the team that works with me has given me the opportunity to explore multi-culturalism right here on site. My staff are a pleasure to work with and I am truly proud of them. Just before Christmas we had a lovely potluck lunch and we were sampling home-made foods from 5 or 6 different countries. Along the same lines, we must have had about the same number of different world religions represented in our group, and it warms my heart to see that all these people from different places are getting along well. They recognize the similarities that exist among all of us as human beings, are open to learning about our differences and they appreciate the unique customs and traditions that may exist in our native cultures. It is extremely inspiring to be part of this multi-cultural learning experience on a daily basis.

In November we had a big cause for celebration: we celebrated 15 years in business and jointly with a great Toronto organization by the name of Skills for Change (a local immigrant settlement agency) we celebrated diversity and the positive impact that new immigrants can make in our workplaces and our communities. My multi-cultural staff members shared their stories of coming to Toronto, of some of the difficulties they faced initially until they found a placement with Skills for Change and received a full-time job as a result.

Having fun.....

All these experiences confirmed that one of my key purposes here in this lifetime is to communicate this message of understanding, tolerance and peace. A message of connecting with people from other cultures, locally and abroad, to break down barriers, mistrust and prejudice.

This past year has really given me an opportunity to come into my own as an entrepreneur who runs a couple of unconventional businesses: a small business serving a mostly corporate clientele that provides high-quality multi-lingual services, and a website dedicated to unconventional travel. Both of these ventures deal with multi-lingual and cross-cultural issues and they complement each other quite nicely.

The coming year will hold a number of new challenges: first and foremost, we will shortly be launching our huge story contest, with the top prize winner receiving an exciting expedition cruise through the Amazon River, sponsored by Canada's biggest adventure travel company: G.A.P Adventures.

There will be more travels ahead: so far I have planned a ski trip to Banff/Lake Louise in March, around April of 2006 I am planning to head off to Mexico and the beautiful colonial city of Cuernavaca to study Spanish. There will be other small excursions to Montreal, Ottawa, the Muskokas and of course various local discoveries in my beloved Toronto. The fall may hold another language study or adventure trip, possibly somewhere in Latin America. And in December we are planning a big reunion with my brother and his wife in the Canary Islands, part of Spain and located just off the coast of North Africa.

Of course there will be plenty of interviews with interesting and inspiring individuals, there will be practical advice, feature articles, and finally, there will be travel stories written by you, the readers.

What can I say - 2005 has been a great year, a year of learning, of experiencing, of travelling, of broadening my mind, and a year of realizing what I am meant to do. In retrospect I may have been right on the nose when I picked the name for this website: "Travel and Transitions - Life is a Journey - Explore New Horizons".......

Related Artices:
Who the heck is behind this website?
What makes me tick & why I love Toronto
That darn midlife crisis....

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