It’s my Birthday and I’ll Write What I Want to

In the words of 1990s rap sensation, DJ KOOL, “Let me clear my throat.”

I’m just going to get this out of the way. Today is my birthday. I was born in 1974. I know you’re mentally borrowing from the two in 2012, so let me just do the math for you. I’m 38.

There, I said it.

Yes, 1974 was a good year for other reasons other than my arrival to the world. A gallon of gas averaged $.55, a new house could be bought for $35,000, Charles de Gaulle Airport opened in Paris, The Exorcist scared the crap out of movie goers, and Eric Clapton “…Shot the Sheriff”. What’s not to love about 1974?

Leah2

I’m not one of those “today is all about me because it’s my birthday” kind of girls. My brother would argue that I think every day is all about me, but that’s neither here nor there. You won’t catch me walking around with a crown on my head {Although, I do wear an invisible tiara daily} or pinning* a dollar on my shirt in hopes of others adding to my bank roll.

Leah3

No, I simply treat it as I would every other day. Perhaps I go out to eat. I certainly get a lot more texts and phone calls, but with the advent of Facebook, that’s not much the case anymore. I’m fine with the fact that people know August 16th as the day Elvis died and Madonna’s birthday.

This birthday got me to thinking, not about how 40 is hiding behind a bush ready to club me over the head with a baseball bat, but rather what I’ve done since last August 16th. As I mentally flipped through the calendar, I realized that I’ve done some pretty kick-ass things in the last twelve months. Thirty-seven has been really good to me.

Leah1

Here are some of the highlights:

September: I pressed “publish” for the first time on this site. “Why I travel: A Dedication” is still my most personal and favorite post to date. My post, “Lubbock, Texas: Welcome to the Wild West” still holds the record for views in one day at 2,703, none of which were SumbleUpon hits. It was my 13th post ever. Amazing!

• October: Saving for an upcoming trip, I didn’t travel at all. Instead, I watched a whole lot of football on TV, which is the next best thing to traveling in my mind.

• November: I set off for three glorious weeks in New Zealand with my husband. While in Queenstown, I met two of the most sincere and lovely people ever. Gareth and Shauna Roughley not only gave me their friendship, but also a few lessons in photography and a Thanksgiving dinner complete with Pavlova. New Zealand carved a prominent place in my heart. I think about it on a daily basis.

• December: I crossed Tokyo off of my bucket list, but am dying to go back, if only for the sushi. A ten-hour road trip across Texas took me to Ft. Davis for a white Christmas.

LBW5

• January: I traveled just a few miles down the road to Galveston in order to hop a cruise ship bound for Mexico. My dad sent my brother and his family along with my husband and me on a short cruise to Cozumel. Despite the great time with my family, this helped solidify my hatred for cruises.

January was also the month that I met some of my very favorite people in the whole wide world. The Texas Tweetup in Austin brought Lola and Raul into my universe.

• February: I made my first trip to South America in my visit to Rio de Janeiro. I visited Christ the Redeemer and attended the Carnival Samba Parade, knocking both items off of my bucket list.

• March: This month I stayed close to home as I was in the midst of my Go with Oh picture campaign. I did visit the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, which is the largest in the world.

LBW2

• April: The Emerald Isle called, and my friend, Karlin, and I answered. In seven days we toured the southern part of Ireland, cut crystal at Waterford, and managed not to have a single fender-bender.

Probably the most amazing thing that happened to me during my 37th year on this earth was winning the Go with Oh grand prize. The month-long stay in Europe will be fantastic, but what winning did is set me on a new path with my site. Opportunities started rolling in and doors began to open.

• May: I took my very first trip to Chicago for the Windy City Tweetup. Not only did I get to see my travel partner in crime, Lola, but also my handler, Raul. In addition, I got to meet some great Midwest bloggers: Pola, Ted, Francesca, and Aaron. Let’s not forget the deep-dish pizza or sub-par doughnuts I stood an hour and a half for.

• June: The summer started with a trip to the Desert Cities of Southern California. There I met Ana, aka Mrs. O Around the World.

A trip to Keystone, Colorado for TBEX {Travel Blog Exchange} also occurred in June. It was my first time attending, and I had the most wonderful time. I was not only able to put faces to blogs, but I got to meet so many others. The people behind Captain and Clark, Stay Adventurous, Flying Photog, Travel, Rinse, Repeat, and The Lazy Travelers left me encouraged about the travel blogging community. Connecting again with Lola and Raul was icing on the cake.

LBW6

• July: Like the Independence Day fireworks, my July began in an explosive way. In the spring I wrote an infamous post entitled, “I Hate Cruises”. BBC found that post and asked me for an interview on their radio morning show. Yes, that really happened.

Baseball, beer, and my best girl, Lola, brought me to Boston in July. A trip to Fenway Park for a Sox game, along with many cocktails, was just a warm up for our weekend of planning world blogging domination. Did I mention the cocktails?

• August:  I received an early birthday present yesterday that made me pretty damn excited. This lil ol’ blog was named a finalist in TBU’s {Travel Bloggers Unite} Travel Bloggy Awards in the category of Best Travel Writing.  Since this is an award based on nominations of fellow bloggers, I’m inclined to give a Sally Field-at-the-Oscars speech.

But, then again, this could be a Sissy Spacek moment from the movie, Carrie. Maybe I should be waiting for the bucket of blood to drop on my freshly-colored hair.

Either way, I’m happy to be nominated, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t REALLY want to win. I’m VERY competitive (see my Go with Oh campaign). Whatever the outcome, the nomination certainly is a fitting end to my 37th year.

WHEW!

Leah5

A lot can happen in the span of 365 days. I’m so very grateful for the experiences I’ve had and the people I’ve met along the way in my 37th year. Exploring the world solo, as well as with my family and friends, has brought me an unimaginable amount of joy. I’ve made memories and friends that will last a lifetime. And thanks to this site, I’ll be able to go back and relive all of my thoughts, feelings, and experiences whenever I desire.

Thirty-eight has a hell-of-a-lot to live up to, but I’m going to make it the best year yet. September takes me to Las Vegas and Spain. And in November, I’m off to Europe with Lola for my biggest adventure to date. I’ve got a few more plans not yet hatched, but I’ll tell you that they are going to be unexpected and certainly out of my comfort zone.

John Lennon said, “Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.”

This Type A personality is beginning to learn this is indeed true. I can plan all I want, but ultimately life is going to happen. Many of my favorite experiences during my 37th year were spontaneous, so that gives this planning-obsessed gal some hope. Therefore………

leah and the salt lick-5

As I start this, my 38th year, my intentions are to plan a little and live a lot.

*FYI: Some Americans pin a dollar on their shirt to signify it is their birthday. Others then pin additional money to their shirt. I think it’s the most uncouth thing I’ve ever seen. It’s certainly right up there with the money dance at a wedding. Don’t agree? That’s fine. Hey, it’s my birthday and I’ll write what I want to, remember?

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56 Comments
  • @mrsoaroundworld
    August 16, 2012

    Super Happy Birthday, my dear Leah! What a year, huh? Thank you for coming into our lives – mine and Mr. ‘s – all things happen for a reason! Can’t wait to see you again next month in Spain and then again somewhere in Europe before the year ends.

    Loved the pics – you are adorable! Have a wonderful day – and keep an eye on that phone!

    xx
    Ana

    • Leah Travels
      August 16, 2012

      Yes, it has been an amazing year, much of which has to do with you and Mr. O being introduced to my life. I’m truly blessed.

  • @mrsoaroundworld
    August 16, 2012

    And congratulations on your blog award nomination! You are a damn good writer and this is just the beginning!

    • Leah Travels
      August 16, 2012

      That means the world to me, Ana. I’m so glad that you think so.

  • lola dimarco
    August 16, 2012

    oh! happy birthday Leah!! i know we’ve only just met at the beginning of 2012 but i’m sure that you only get more beautiful & wonderful in every way with each passing year. i’m truly honored to be your travel partner in crime and I KNOW this year will be your BEST yet 😉 39 will have a lot to live up to!!!

    xoxoxo – lola

    • Leah Travels
      August 16, 2012

      Has it only been since January? I feel like I’ve known you FOREVAHHHH…We’re like Brennan and Dale. My dear Lola, “You have the voice of an angel. Your voice is like a combination of Fergie and Jesus.” 😉

  • Fiona
    August 16, 2012

    Happy Birthday Leah!! Wishing you an amazing travel-filled year!

    • Leah Travels
      August 16, 2012

      Thank you, Fiona. A travel-filled year is the best I can hope for. 🙂

  • Aaron
    August 16, 2012

    Happy Birthday Leah! Enjoy the day. Great pics! May the next year bring you lot’s of happiness and lots and lots of fun travel too. 🙂

    • Leah Travels
      August 16, 2012

      That’s really sweet, Aaron. Thank you so much for the birthday wishes.

  • Emily in Chile
    August 16, 2012

    Wow, 37 was quite a year for you! Hope 38 matches it. Happy birthday! (And I did not know that about the money pinning and am appalled. This is going into my category of “this is why people hate America.”)

    • Leah Travels
      August 16, 2012

      You and me both, Emily. Thirty-eight is going to be tough to beat. As for the money pinning thing, I didn’t know about it until I came to Houston. Maybe it’s just a Southern thing…which makes it all-the-worse. 🙁

  • Chris
    August 16, 2012

    Oh yeah? Well it’s *my* birthday and I read it!

  • Anonymous
    August 16, 2012

    It’s your birthday too, Chris? Well, I suppose I’m in great company!

  • Shauna
    August 16, 2012

    You are an inspiration! The last year of yours has been amazing, and I’m so lucky I got to meet you in there. This next year holds so much for you, I can’t wait to follow along. Cheers to another year of living life to the fullest beautiful lady xoxox

    • Leah Travels
      August 16, 2012

      No, you’re the inspiration. Anyone who can live with their husband in a van for a year is the definition of inspiration! 🙂 I wish I’d see you as you head to Austin this September. The next time I see you things will be much different in your life. Blessings cometh your way, my friend. Love to you and Gareth.

  • Sara Robles
    August 16, 2012

    OMG!!!!!!! Happy Bday to our dear Leah!! I wish you all the best cause darling you deserve it all!! Besos!

    • Leah Travels
      August 16, 2012

      You’re too kind, sweetheart. I’m excited to share your birthday in Prague. I only hope that I can keep up with you, pretty young thing. 😉

  • Raul (ilivetotravel in Twitter)
    August 16, 2012

    I had never heard about pinning the dollar thing. I love your childhood pix – a cutie! I know your birthday day is not as big a deal to you vs. any other normal day (mine is a big deal for me!) but it is the day I remember to be thankful that that birth took place – enjoy your 38th even more than your 37th, my friend! And, a little secret, the 4-s, when they get here for you, will still be a blast – personal experience 🙂

    • Leah Travels
      August 16, 2012

      Yeah, that dollar on the shirt deal…I’ll have to explain that a bit later. It’s so weird. Anyway, thank you for all the memorable times and laughs you’ve given me this year. I am certain that we will have many more. And I believe you about my 40s. Age is a state of mind, after all.

  • Julie Sheridan
    August 16, 2012

    What a lovely post, Leah. From all of us at Go with Oh – still delighted you won and can’t wait to hit the road with you later this year:)

    • Leah Travels
      August 16, 2012

      Please tell the entire staff thank you from the bottom of my heart. I’ve so enjoyed working with y’all and the trip hasn’t even gotten here yet. I can’t wait to have y’all over for some gin and tonics at my kick-ass Go with Oh Barcelona pad. 🙂

  • Kristin Shaw
    August 16, 2012

    Happy birthday, fabulous Leah! You were a cutie then, and amazing now. Loved reading your post and glad to know you!

    • Leah Travels
      August 16, 2012

      You really know how to flatter a girl, Kristin. You are just one of the many people that this year has brought into my life. Thank you so much for being part of it.

  • Robin
    August 16, 2012

    Happy birthday!

  • Erik
    August 16, 2012

    Happy Birthday and congratulations on your nomination! It is well-deserved. Wishing you a great year and many successes.

    And 40 isn’t that bad (for the 12 days I’ve had so far) so don’t dread it!!!

    • Leah Travels
      August 16, 2012

      You’re always such a kind and supportive man, Erik. Thank you! I’m so sorry I missed your birthday. Happy belated. I really enjoyed your 40 photos for 40 post. Very cool, my friend.

  • Erik
    August 16, 2012

    Love what you said about New Zealand. It’s a place that will never quite leave my system. For all the mess at work I returned to, just thinking of NZ makes it all a little better. Happy Birthday!!!!

  • crazy sexy fun traveler
    August 16, 2012

    Happy birthday again 🙂 Congrats to all the things you achieved recently and wish you even more in the future 🙂

  • HAPPY BDAYYYYYY WOOT WOOT!

    😀 I hope I get to spend more time w/ you and Lola next time, TBEX was a whirlwind

    To many decades to come, gorgeous! xo

    – Maria Alexandra

    • Leah Travels
      August 16, 2012

      Oh, yes, my dear. TBEX was way too fast and furious. I’ll be dedicating more time to it and spending time with people in Toronto. Thank you so much for the birthday wishes. I hope everything is wonderful with you.

  • Tawny - Captain and Clark
    August 16, 2012

    You have had one hell of a year, lady! We hope that this new year will bring you even more adventure and frivolity. Your pictures are priceless… you should probably show us more little Leah in the future. Wishing you a wonderful day and an even better year!

  • D.J. - The World of Deej
    August 16, 2012

    Man, Texas is one weird place. I’ve never heard of this dollar bill to the shirt thing…

    Happy Birthday:)

  • Leah Travels
    August 16, 2012

    Thank you very much, Mary. Your encouragement and support means the world to me. I’ll keep writing if you keep reading. 🙂

  • Jaime
    August 16, 2012

    Thrilled to have been able to even experience the last 365 days as an observer of yours. So happy for all that is happening for you- pretty exciting stuff!!!! Happy birthday!

  • the lazy travelers
    August 16, 2012

    birthday birthday birthday! way to make the most out of your year, and can’t wait until we have our next run-in in person. clue: it will be in paris in the fall and you will not expect it and that will make it just a little creepy, but it’ll be FUNNNNNN.

    • Leah Travels
      August 16, 2012

      Will you two be dressed like Lola and I? We’ll need to be aware so we know which direction to run. #SingleWhiteFemale

  • Ginger
    August 16, 2012

    Happy birthday!!!

  • Ponce
    August 16, 2012

    Happy Birthday. Enjoy life as best you can… May you have more B-days to come. God bless you.

  • Lisa
    August 16, 2012

    Happy Birthday!!

  • Kadice
    August 16, 2012

    Leah what a great year. I remember just a few years ago we were all telling you what an amazing writer you are and that you should really consider writing as a job. Look at you now. Way to go girl!! Happy birthday:)

    • Leah Travels
      August 17, 2012

      That’s right, Kandice, you were. Thank you so much for your continued support. Thank you for the birthday wishes, too.

  • Traveling Ted
    August 17, 2012

    What an amazing year in travel for you and also for your blog. Congratulations for achieving so much and hope you had a wonderful Birthday. May your next year find you on firmly entrenched on Nomadic Samuel’s top 100.

    • Leah Travels
      August 17, 2012

      Ted, one can only dream of being on Nomadic Samuel’s top 100. To be able to rub shoulders with the likes of you (because I know you’ll be back) and DJ (because I know he’s about to crack that top 100) is my ultimate goal. The hardest part is not getting to the top, it’s staying on the top. I’ll figure out the last part once my name appears on that list. I can’t wait to put that widget on my site. {sigh}

  • Kieu
    August 17, 2012

    37 was one hell of a year and I know 38 will be equally as awesome if not better. Happy birthday, Leah!

    • Leah Travels
      August 21, 2012

      You’re so right, Kieu, at least that’s my hope. Thank you so much for the birthday wishes. 🙂

  • Diana
    August 17, 2012

    What a great year you’ve had! Yes, 37 is definitely one to live up to, but you’re well on your way! Happy birthday,fellow Leo!

    • Leah Travels
      August 21, 2012

      Oh, so you’re a Leo, too? There are lots of us celebrating recently. Happy birthday to you! Thanks so much for the well wishes.

  • Craig Zabransky
    August 18, 2012

    what a wonderful year… and it was a pleasure meeting you at TBEX…and I wish you all the best in your new year…

    And as I read your year, i’ll admit I found myself hoping for a few teenage images, some great late 80s early 90s fashion…. I sure you wore it well like a true fashionista… styling with the latest and greatest just like you did at TBEX.

    stay adventurous, Craig

    • Leah Travels
      August 21, 2012

      Yes, meeting you at TBEX was certainly one of the highlights. And, no, you weren’t getting any 80-90s fashion (or hair) pics. I’m not that self-deprecating. BUT, I do appreciate your attention and compliments on my style at TBEX. Dress to impress, right?

  • Jenna
    August 19, 2012

    What an amazing year you have had! You and I are almost the same age–I will be 39 in November, and like you, I try to get as much in as I can. That is so cool that you went to Rio for Carnival. It is such a beautiful and unique city (besides the traffic you mentioned on fb…). I look forward to following your upcoming year, especially your time in Europe.

    • Leah Travels
      August 21, 2012

      Thanks so much, Jenna. I hope you win the trip to Florence; it would make an amazing birthday present. Plus, we’d get a chance to meet!

  • Stephanie
    August 20, 2012

    (belated) happy birthday ma’am! I’ve become such a fan of your blog after I read your Christmas in Ft. Davis entry. Hope you have another wonderful year!

    • Leah Travels
      August 21, 2012

      You are so kind to say that, Stephanie. I’m so happy you liked the Ft. Davis entry and have continued to come back. Thank you for the birthday wishes, too.

  • Pola (@jettingaround)
    August 21, 2012

    You certainly had a fantastic year! Enjoy the next 12 months, you have lots to look forward too (including your virgin trip to that one awesome French city… 😉 ). LOVE the photos from when you were a girl, so cute.

    • Leah Travels
      August 22, 2012

      Thank you so much, Pola. One of the highlights was spending time in Chicago with you.

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