We Crave the Opposite of our Rigid Origins

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Photo by Jukan Tateisi on Unsplash

What do you believe in now?

How has your past shaped your present set of beliefs and actions?

Over the years, I have found many people to be living lives that reflect everything that is opposite of their childhood origins.

For example, if a person grew up with an alcoholic parent I have often found that the individual has never touched an alcoholic drink nor do they desire to.

Or if a person has grown up without a father and then becomes one, I often see them take up the “superdad” mantle so as to be everything their absentee father wasn’t.

I also see this craving to be “opposite” play out in the area of faith. Whereas, if a person grew up in a dogmatic or rigid religious setting, oftentimes that person rejects any affiliation or desire to ascribe to any similance of it as they grow older.

Rejecting the old and formative associations with the past are ways individuals feel they have a re-defined since of autonomy and authority over their lives. There is even a newfound sense of identity that feels self-made with serendipity in control.

But why do we reject and despise our origins?

Why do we take the 180 degree approach as the only redemptive path that will be satisfyingly acceptable?

Why do we choose to put all of our energy into a life that produces anything that looks completely opposite from the past?

What is the true motivation for rejecting our origins?

Is it to feel “better than” those we’ve viewed as failures, or brainwashed, or incompetent?

Or is our approach well thought out with true liberation of the soul and spirit as an end intent?

Obviously, to the examples posed earlier of an alcoholic parent or absentee father there are positive motivations to not repeat this lifestyle. A craving for an opposite life regarding these types of things are commendable by all means. Thus, I am not speaking to these types of situations. But those individuals who ferociously live a life of visceral word and action which oppose their upbringing, because they personally did not enjoy it or liken to it, that cause for question. It’s as almost as if they are running away from their past because of their personal disdain for it. They don’t want any part of anything that resembles it, because closely associating themselves with it would mean acceptance and agreement of the past; including loved ones who brought them up this way.

Once again, I see this largely played out in the area of faith or what some say “religion.” It is difficult to have a conversation with someone who is utterly opposed to even being open to hear about matters of the faith when they have made a personal pact with themselves to be closed off to it. Even if what you have to share is of fresh revelation and unique perspective that is different than how that individual has been previously exposed to it. Because it resembles their antagonistic origins in nature, they are closed off to the possibilities of a new and truer understanding of it.

But not all are like this, some actually are able to break the bubble of self-protection by allowing someone new to help them re-define, heal, and break free of the self-bondage of their adversarial beginnings. Those who are, are often able to make reconciliation and peace with their past and truly live a life of freedom.

If any of this rings true to you, will you give yourself a chance today?

How has a Creative World Ceased to Support Creatives?

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Photo by Daniele Levis Pelusi on Unsplash

In my numerous attempts to “find my passion” work-wise in this world…I’ve gone through more jobs than I can count on my hands and toes. Each time the boredom creeps in or the lack of pay collides with the reality of bills. I end up choosing the jobs that disgust me only because I need to work. As a creative I have found that this world does not support, value or provide immense opportunity toward creatives. Now when I say creatives – I’m talking about gifts and talents that aren’t math, science, business, and economics based. Fields that aren’t medical, engineering, IT and administrative based. You get my drift? Not that these positions don’t involve creative people or people who posses creativity, but I”m more so referring to people such as painters, photographers, thinkers, designers, organizers, concepters, etc. if you do a job search, there are less than 10% of “available” creative jobs posted online. You’re either going to see business, admin, IT, education, or customer service.

Call me bitter but none of these fields sound interesting to a creative. Even in some of the “creative” jobs there’s still a “box” that you are put in which prevents you from feeling fully creative. So unless you are one of the resourcefully fortunate ones who is able to succeed in their own creative start-up and maintain full creative control – more than likely you are left either “double-dipping.” Which is doing a job you hate but have to do to get a decent pay and doing your creative work on the side. Or worse, muting your creativity and hoping for that day when you can finally be free to be the creative you really are. I’ve come to really realize just how much society does not cultivate, nourish or facilitate creatives. Just take the scheduled classroom curriculum for example. The disparity of art to math classes is evident. Most kids doodle in math class and come alive in art class! I want to encourage all those who feel the say way. From one creative to another – create what you can…don’t get discouraged or feel less than, defeated, or frustrated when you find yourself in a less than creative world…be the you – you were created to be.

Financial Advice I Would Have Told My Last Year Self

In reflecting on my current financial situation and behavior patterns that have led up to today, I’ve noticed a stronger focus on quite a few areas in my life that needed some financial refinement. One such area was how I spent money on food. A part of this change has a lot to do with my lifestyle change of reducing the amount of processed meat and food items I consume/purchase. This has forced me to grocery shop, meal prep and be on a strict budget. In a few months, it’ll be one year that I would have successfully completed adhering to a $50/week food budget. I am glad my last year self spoke this bit of financial advice over me, because it has truly helped me reel in my spending in this much needed area. Now, there really isn’t much else I would have told my last year self as I did the best I could with the income I was afforded. The only thing I would have told myself to do was start this food budget MUCH earlier in the year so that the final cost savings would be a bit greater.

What would you tell your last your financial self to do?

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Photo by Fabian Blank on Unsplash

P.S. This year’s focus is to save 5,000 by the end of the year.

You better Belize it!

Belize ….known by many retirees as an option for the expat life. It boast of sandy beaches and low cost living. Definitely a recipe few can resist.

The Cayes are the destination of choice for both expats and vacationers. Many celebrities either own property or frequently visit the adjacent islands for what promises to be private fun in the sun.

I took the trip down to Caye Caulker to see what all the buzz was about.

Upon arrival to the BZE airport I took a crazy taxi to the ferry port where I boarded a 45min ferry/speedboat to the island; bumpy ride for sure. On the way there I was told Leonardo DiCaprio owned one of the free standing islands we bypassed. Now how true this was no one will know…but hey it was worth the share.

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After finally docking to what seemed like an endless bumpy, windy, speedboat ride I departed the boat and made my way to “shore.” I put shore in quotes because there really wasn’t much of a shore as the edges of the island were pretty short in width and lacking in any significant beach line action.

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There are many golf cart drivers waiting to take you to your hotel/accommodations- of course for a fee. I choose to walk as the island is not that big and my hotel wasn’t that far from the dock.

While walking to the hotel I tried to spot any sign of locally sourced/unique food and found very little. I tried this one little restaurant by the beachside that sold a fish plate with a side of cole slaw and something else that was clearly not memorable enough. It was just okay.

The next day I met up with some locals who I knew and that’s when the Belize party fun in the sun started. Now the one great thing about Caye Caulker (at least when I went) was that the water is shallow for quite a ways out. Additionally, it’s calm and clear so you can snorkel or simply look down and see the many schools of fish that are swimming right underneath you. Seeing the snapper was probably one of the coolest finds. There was a seaside restaurant that you could order food and drinks while swimming in the ocean. This was the trickiest part of the trip because the water is so nice and tepid that you just want to stay in it all day. Which we did and I got incredibly sunburnt! Yikes!!

Oh well- lesson learned.

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Outside of this time in Belize with my friends…I really didn’t see the wow factor that would cause me to want to return. As the dogs ran free and there were many local guys cat calling at an uncomfortable level. Additionally, there was a constant sewage smell that was unpleasant and unenjoyable to sit out on the hammock and catch the breeze.

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But for those who don’t care about any of that stuff then maybe the Belize Cayes are for you.

The mainland itself also didn’t boast of anything remarkable to aspire to see. Of course, I’m only reporting back the route I took from ferry port to airport. There very well could be other towns and cities that are lovely.

All in all though, Belize Cayes are for the avid snorkeler and scuba diver. For those that like to lay out on the beach shoreline I’d find another island in the Caribbean to do that.

 

Podcast Episode – The Freedom of Forgiveness

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Click here to listen!

Transcription:

I’ll begin today’s Conversation Starter with a look at biblical scripture …

I’ll be reading from Romans chapter 12 verses 9 through 21 it reads:

So let’s get personal…are you ready? Moment of transparency here ….I’d like to share a bit of my past for the sake of this message today to break the ice over the subject of forgiveness. Now I’m going to put myself out there first because I know some of you have already clenched your teeth at the sound of that word. But before you mentally tap out on me – as if “I’m good” or “I’ve heard this message before and ‘know’ all there is to know about forgiveness” – I ask that you put whatever your take is on that word aside for the next 15 minutes and hear me out? Deal?

You see growing up, I had a terrible problem with dealing with offense. It was extremely bad during my childhood and adolescent years. I had an especially difficult time dealing with offense from those closest to me whom I cared about. The hurt was intense and would hit me at such an extreme level that it would put me in the worst mood ever and I would literally nose dive into an emotional depression. I would take every offense as a personal attack which would cause me to feel an extreme sense of rejection and internal torment.

For years, I would bottle all these feelings up inside not knowing how to address the offense or deal with the offender. So I developed a pattern of “the silent treatment,” isolationism, and avoidance. Depending on the offense I would rotate alter egos from Bitter Betty, to Negative Nancy, Petty Patty or my personal fav Heisman Harriet.

In my early twenties ….as life continued to hit me with more and more situations of hurt and relationship offense, I found myself gripped by the need of doing things differently – mainly because internally I was going insane. I was losing it! I just couldn’t keep functioning that way! And as we all know the definition of insanity is doing the same things over and over again expecting different results.

So I resigned for a new way to handle offense …through healthy conflict resolution…. but I didn’t know where to start…. because for one – I had developed such an unhealthy behavioral pattern that it had become 1st nature to me at that point….and (2) healthy conflict resolution or dealing with offenses in a Godly way was not something that was successfully modeled to me growing up.

It wasn’t until I attended a prayer night church service that God would work a Psalm 37:4 in my life. That is a “Delight yourself in the Lord and He shall give you the desires of your heart.” Side note: most of us use this verse for the obtainment of material and fleshly passions when really it’s intent is rooted in the will of God not ours.

Okay so back to matter at hand….I was at this prayer service and walked up to one of the facilitators to ask to receive prayer. Before he agreed to pray for me, the gentleman asked if I had been struggling with anything that he could pray for?

I…. a bit timid….but courageously told him that I was really struggling with unforgiveness in my heart.

Immediately the gentleman told me “I feel like the Lord wants you to read the book The Bait of Satan by John Bevere.”

Mmm okay….Although a bit befuddled and taken aback by the seemingly random remark, I looked him in the eyes and said- “Ok! I will find it on Amazon, order it and read it.”

The man proceeded to say a brief simple prayer and I went home that night thankful I was brave enough to take the first step.

Now at that time, God had already been directing me to book after book after book through various other encounters with other people. So I took the gentleman’s remark serious, and went and ordered that book.

When I received the book in the mail I was overwhelmed by a hideous cat litter odor coming from the book when I opened the package. I quickly threw the book in the trunk of my car hoping it would air out as I didn’t want to bring that smell into my house.

Not at all now anxious to read it, I left the book in the trunk and finished reading the other more “exciting” books.

After a few weeks went by…. I finally gave the book a go as the smell had dissipated quite a bit. As soon as I began reading chapter one, I knew in that moment, that this book had been God ordained. Each line pierced me to the core as it literally felt like daggers were coming out of the book into my soul and spirit.

I was undone.

As I read, I specifically remembered hearing the voice of the Lord gently tell me: “hey…you remember the original stench of the book when it came in the mail?…well…that’s the exact smell of your heart from you holding onto all that un-forgiveness.”

OUCH!!

What a physical representation for what had been going on spiritually in my life all these years!

Each day I read the book a new layer of un-forgiveness began to peel off of my heart. Despite these daily revelations, each day I would dread reading the next page of the book because it was so painful to see the truth about unforgiveness and the patterns and condition of my heart that I had developed all these years.

The book taught me that offense is the tool of the enemy of God to bring people into internal captivity. Often those who are offended do not even realize they are trapped, in which they are oblivious to their condition because they are so focused on the wrong that was done to them. They are indeed in denial about their captivity.

There are two categories of those who have been offended: those who actually have been treated unjustly, and those who believe they have been treated unjustly. Usually the latter group who believe they have been treated unjustly draw their conclusion from inaccurate information….or sometimes their information is accurate but their conclusions are distorted.

Pride will distort these conclusions as they will keep a person from admitting their true condition. Pride causes one to view oneself as the victim. The attitude becomes, “I was mistreated & mis-judged; therefore I am justified in my behavior.”

Because you believe you are innocent and falsely accused, you hold back forgiveness.

Though your true heart condition is hidden from you, it is not hidden from God.

Hebrews 3:13 states that hearts are hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. If we do not deal with offenses, it will produce more sin (bitterness, anger, resentment).

This hinders our ability to hear God’s voice, love others, and enjoy life.

You see the unforgiveness I was harboring inside was preventing me from enjoying life. I was miserable! Additionally, the mental and emotional wear and tear manifested itself physically as my body began to feel the weight of harboring unforgiveness. I was essentially killing myself!

Believe it or not- medical doctors & scientists have linked unforgiveness & bitterness with certain diseases, such as arthritis and cancer. Even many cases of mental sickness are tied to bitterness and unforgiveness. Some people are so tormented by unforgiveness that they hope for death instead of relief (i.e. forgiveness). This should not be so! We must deal with unforgiveness now, we must come to the place where we trust God to be our avenger for any wrongdoings.

As we just read – Romans 12 gives us the promise of this as it encourages us in verse 19 – it states “Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.

Give. Place. To. Wrath.

God’s Wrath – Not ours

It is unrighteous for us as children of God to avenge ourselves, but that is exactly what we are seeking when we refuse to forgive. If you feel cheated by this then you have lost your view of mercy that has been extended to you (by Jesus). We must recognize that Jesus forgave us first and continues to forgive us. When we seek to correct the wrong done to us, we set ourselves as a judge. We must make room & give place to the only just Judge (Jesus)….don’t worry He judges rightly.

Why do we get so bent out of shape and question God when offense seems to not be given the wrath we feel is due?

There is need for patience in light of this apparent escape of the offender. We as Christians need to view the real role of offenders – not as victors but as temporary escapists. We need a renewed since of peace and confidence in our position as sons and daughters of a just and timely God who is eternally minded and works outside of our scheduled time according to God’s own will.

This is by far easier said than done! When we are in the midst of unfair situations or offense there is an automatic cry of immediate justice. We can’t seem to even understand why and how an issue could even get to a certain point and why, quite possibly, the culprit will leave unscathed. It is in these moments we are tempted to be our own avengers and get justice in the way we believe proper retribution should take place.

Despite our satiable desires to fulfill justice on our behalves, we must make room for God’s vengeance to take place in the timing of the Lord. While there are times where we are certainly empowered by God to proceed to take steps towards recompense. Overall, we must trust that God’s wrath is more powerful and righteous than our own. And we could never come close to distributing full punishment to the wicked -no matter how much we think can do the job ourselves.

So what is your knee-jerk reaction towards offense? And do you truly trust God to act justly without manipulating the situation?

Now I would be remiss if I did not make two additional points about forgiveness…. and that is ….while we wait on the full justice of offense to come from God, we are still called to do our part as peacemakers….as the previous verse in Romans admonishes us to do so. Verse 18 states that “if it is possible, as much as depends on YOU, live peaceably with all men.”

Notice the verse didn’t say “as much as it depends on the situation” or “wait on them to come to you because they are mind readers and know that they have offended you.”

No! To the contrary this is the ultimate personal accountability verse that puts the onus on YOU!

Meaning it is calling you to live a life of a peacemaker. This is the truest form of the Matthew 5 “Sermon on the Mount” or “Beatitudes” lifestyle which states “Blessed are the peacemakers. For they shall be called sons of God.”

Again one should note that the verse did not say blessed are the peacekeepers or those who like to “keep the peace” and sweep things under the rug and avoid conflict… but it says peacemakers. Those who take a proactive step towards healthy/godly conflict resolution and reconciliation.

Again, as much as it is possible to peace make with the offender. It may not be possible to reach reconciliation and resolution…and at that point it could quite possibly be a moment where after you’ve spoken to them in love (again its not just what you say but how you say it)….you may just need to “agree to disagree.”

Instead of getting to this point, many of us, resign to the “I don’t hate them, but I think it’s better that I love them from a distance.” What do we really mean when we say this? Can we truly trust the former statement of “I don’t hate them” as an honest assessment of our hearts towards our fellow person in question? Or is there just a tinge of underlying disgust and hopeful demise of their life festering underneath?

For many, the use of this phrase is one of two things. Most say this and use it as a cop out so as to not do the work of a peacemaker with the individual who has caused the offense towards them. Others, truly say this as a last resort after trying arduously to make peace and continue in a relationship with someone but simply need to create healthy boundaries.

As you assess which category you fall in make note of who you have said this about and the real reason behind your feelings towards this person. Ask yourself if the use of this phrase is truly Christ-like and Christ-honoring? If you come to find out that your use of this phrase has been immaturely self-serving then be encouraged to begin discarding this sentence from your vocal library. And work on true forgiveness and peacemaking with that person.

Oh how we can thank God that nothing separates us from the love of Christ…even our offense in our hearts towards God about an issue or a disagreement we have with God regarding an outcome or situation. The unconditional love of God chooses to fully love us as near as we allow it to. Let us use the same model as we overcome evil with good through true forgiveness.

The last point I want to make is this other popular phrase that I hear all too often and that is “I forgive but I don’t forget.” Again I ask, is this true forgiveness?

Scripture shows us that this too ought not be our way of living. Psalm 103:11-12 state:

“For as the heavens are high above the earth, So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; As far as the east is from the west; So far has He removed our transgressions from us.”

Hebrews 8:12 displays how the Lord will forget the sins of Israel as it declares “For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.”

WHAT?!!

If the Lord will do His part…we should do ours….”For if you forgive men their trespasses your Heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

Now I know what many of you may have been thinking throughout this entire message…”Well…you don’t know what this person did to me….”

Well you’re right ….I don’t know….and it very well may have been incredibly traumatic and inconceivably tough thing that happened for you to even consider forgiving them…I in no way shape or form want to brush off the many terrible and evil things you may have had to endure….

Having said that…There is essentially only one sin that the Lord states in the Word that God Himself is unwilling to forgive and that is blaspheming the Holy Spirit….(which is in essence denying Jesus as Lord….which is a whole nother podcast)…but for the sake of staying on topic…if our infinite God has narrowed down unforgiveness to one act…albeit a pretty big thing…how much more should we re-consider forgiving that person who has wronged us.

The choice is yours.

With the help of the Holy Spirit….No offense is too small to begin exercising your peacemaking abilities

And ….No offense is too large to overcome if you truly desire the freedom of forgiveness.

Podcast Episode – Is Travel An Asset or Liabilty

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Click here to listen!

Transcription:

When deciding whether or not to travel you can take the age old financially-based approach and look at the outcome based on overall value: will the upcoming trip be an asset or liability in your life?

To quickly review for all the non-financial gurus out there, an asset is an investment that you have acquired that brings more long-term value in your life than a liability.  That is really the short end of it. We could get into more particulars and define these terms more specifically but for the purposes of this post, we will use this definition.

With that said, lets get back to the question at hand- is travel an asset or a liability? Well, in my eyes, travel is an asset! Here is why I put travel in the asset category. First, any money that is spent on travel is a long-term investment in the overall value of your life. I have said this to many people after returning from my travels overseas, “anyone can steal your material possessions but no one can take the experiences and memories you create while traveling.” It is true, you can lose a souvenir, photos, or money but you will never lose the life-changing moments of entering into new territory. Exploration provides a unique sense of “roi” that other investments simply don’t compare to. When you engage with new people in a new environment with new smells, sounds and sights your body is never the same. Not providing your senses with this development is truly a disservice to yourself. Travel, whether locally or abroad is truly an asset that is worth the monetary investment.
You don’t have to go thousands of miles away to acquire these assets. If you’ve never explored your city to the max or even your state for that matter there are untapped reservoirs of travel assets awaiting!
Get out and travel!

Podcast Episode – Personal Finance 101: Dealing with Financial Loss

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Click here to listen

Losing money sucks. I don’t know anyone who takes pleasure in taking financial losses – no matter how small it is.

No one is immune to monetary setbacks. No matter how hard you plan. Financial loss is a part of life. Period.

Financial loss often feels like you’re playing an unfair game of hopscotch…where you take one step forward then…. not 1, not 2, not 3 but 4 steps backward!

These losses cause you to wonder if you will ever get any sort of financial momentum to reach your financial goals in life. It may even feel like the harder you try the more the curve balls just keep being pitched your way. So you resign at homeplate thinking “I’m just gonna strike out because I just can’t catch a break!”

But what if instead of giving up for not getting on base, we took those strikeouts like a hall of fame champ and say: “I’ll get em’ next time.”

Given the certainty of financial loss, I think it is less about the loss and more about how we respond to it. So what are a ways in which we can process through it?

I think learning to live off less is one way to counter our attachments to the reality of financial loss. When we do not attach our life’s value and satisfaction to only being able to enjoy life when we occupy spaces of financial gain we can continue forward through whatever level of financial loss occurs.

Also I think learning to view financial loss as a character development moment and less of a personal vendetta is a much more healthy way to process through the currency casualties. By seeing financial loss as an added value instead of a loss in value to our lives can help one process through it.

Oftentimes, the loss of money forces us to take a hard look at the purpose of this life and the things we once held onto as “the prize.” When we see that those things are not the true riches in life we then add true value to our lives greater than any silver or paperback can ascribe. No it’s not some philosophical consolation to make you feel better when you take a financial hit, but truly a way to holistically view it.

Financial losses are necessary segues in life. Financial losses are life reset’s to cause one to re-evaluate the path and purpose of life. Without financial loss, I’d gather to say we would probably become more and more narcissistic and prideful. Thinking our continual gain is because of our own prowess and intellect. Losses (or the threat of it) humble us and remove this smokescreen from our sights.

It’s interesting, the older I get the more I’m starting to realize how little you can control or predict your financial security for the future. Yes, there are things you can do to begin putting a few things in place now to build for the future; but there’s no guarantee that those long-term predictions will pan out. I’ve heard many stories where people have worked their whole lives, saved 401ks, stocks, IRA’s, mutual funds, and savings only to have some “incident” wipe out nearly their entire account (if not the whole thing). Account’s they worked hard to stack up for years… even decades.

Now of course there are others who have been fortunate enough to escape these monetary perils and fly under the radar towards financial paradise. But, it is of my belief that percentage of people who fall into this category are less than double digits.

So don’t let the financial loss or continual losses cause you to feel as though you are stupid, not doing something right, or are of less value than others. Are there certain financial decisions that are dumb or weren’t the best option – yes! But don’t let that bad decision determine your financial identity.

Know that life is an AND….it is both financial gain and financial loss. No where on this planet is there a pathway of just pure gain 100% of the time. There is a reason you are taught all four elements of mathematics when you enter primary school. You cannot have just addition and multiplication without subtraction and division.

While I’m not a fan of money and the whole development of economic systems in the first place. I realize that even if we didn’t have money, we would still be bartering, trading, or losing something to someone. So we can’t just sit up here and blame money or have an attitude with it. What we can do instead is view financial loss as both a present and future guarantee. So we don’t have to be surprised when the loss comes knocking at our doors. Instead we can take the loss for what it is and find ways to keep moving forward.

24 hours in Vegas and I couldn’t leave fast enough

Vegas….I just don’t get the hype

Yeah I said it…

The only real reason I even stepped foot on the Nevadean city of lights was so that I could stop hearing people ask me: “oh wow – so you’ve never been to Vegas?!”

Now I can squash those comments/questions and move on with my life.

Livin’ it up in Vegas really depends on the kind of person you are. Since I’m not into gambling, clubbing or heavy drinking, my take on Vegas will probably be a bit different from most others. Which is largely why I say that I could not get out of there fast enough! As the day quickly proved to me that there just wasn’t much to hold my interest or cause me to want to stay any longer. So here’s how I viva Las Vegas in 24 hours:

I hopped on a 9 a.m. flight that would get me into Vegas around 11 a.m. I chose this time because my return home was set for a 1 a.m. flight that next morning. Thus, 12-plus hours in Vegas, in my opinion, would be enough to accomplish my sightseeing to-do list.

On this list were all the major hotels on “The Strip” (both inside and out), the famous “Welcome Sign” and an evening show. I had hoped to also check out Fremont Street (historical Vegas), yet I opted out of taking the additional taxi there (but just know that it’s certainly a doable feat).

When I arrived at the airport, I purchased a round trip Super Shuttle voucher to the Strip and back. Although I later realized that I should have taken an Uber/Lyft to the strip and selected the rideshare option that picks up other passengers as it is the most economical option. I also found that there is also a shuttle that is $8.50/each way that you can purchase by baggage claim (The other options for ground transportation will cost you more).

My goal was to try and stay under $100 for the day, so I ate outside the hotels and fancy restaurants for both brunch and dinner. You can get a decent meal for under $15 each by doing this. So as far as the ever so popular food buffets… I did not partake. I did, however, have a decent breakfast at a side cafe directly opposite of Yard House by the High Roller (sorry I can’t remember the name and neither does google). Other than that the food options to me were just ….meh. My dinner consisted of a Chipotle meal in a dingy looking food court w/ a homeless person pacing around fervently as they set an empty table with scraps from the trash can and talked to their imaginary table guests out loud.

Yep….it was quite epic…definitely my “what happens in Vegas” moment.

Now as far as my site seeing “to do list,” I was able to check out the following hotel’s: Flamingo, Caesar’s Palace, Bellagio, the Venetian, MGM grand, Excalibur, and the Luxor. Some of the more notable add-on’s incorporated with these hotels included a small botanical garden (Bellagio), real live flamingos in a walkable outdoor patio (Flamingo) and a replica Italian gondola river (Venetian).

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I recommend getting a map so you can strategize your hotel visits, but keep in mind objects on the map seem closer than they appear! It’s a bit tricky because it may seem like you can just walk the entire strip and do a loop but I highly discourage this. Just budget in the extra money and get a rideshare to take you to the other hotels. That extra $3-5 spent is well worth it!

After perusing through several hotel lobbies, I took a break from hotel hopping and caught a rideshare to the famous “Welcome To Vegas” sign. There was a long line of people waiting to take a photo, but since I didn’t have to have that perfect shot, I just stepped to the side a took a selfie!

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After this, I headed back to the heart of the strip to browse through a few more spots un-conquered. For all you shopaholics check out The Forum Shops at Caeser’s Palace. Even if you’re not into shopping, it’s worth checking out just for the interior spectacle.

I rounded out my evening with one of the many shows offered – which was a welcome diversion from all those steps I logged. I purchased a ticket to the WOW waterworks show at the airport (only a few dollars more) as I was unable to snag a Groupon in advance. They sell half price tickets at the airport and even on the strip; so don’t fret if you’re unable to secure a tix in advance.

I found out most shows have a 7p or 9p start time so I was unable to catch the volcano explosion outside of the Mirage hotel (8p) because my show tix was for 7pm. After the show, I trekked over to claim a spot to catch the Bellagio water and light presentation. It was a five minute choreographed water show that was set to a musical selection. The night I was there it was “I’m proud to be an American.”

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After the show, I was BEYOND exhausted and ready to head back to the airport. But unlike me, if you have more energy left in your tank you can visit other hotels, check out the M&M factory, CSI Experience, or simply grab a late evening snack. You could even use this time to snag a last minute souvenir before you head back to the airport (I recommend buying it at a drugstore as the costs are significantly cheaper).

Unable to do any of these aforementioned options above, I took an Uber/Lyft to the airport and hung out with a coffee in hand to wait for my name to be called on the standby list. Thank God it was because I would have had to “hangover” in Vegas for another round.

Sigh….