Welcome ...

One day I was contemplating the advice I had been sharing with hundreds, if not thousands, of people over the years. I decided it was time to put my experiences into the written word and hope that you find as much pleasure in my adventures as I have ... and maybe, just maybe, if your travels cross some of the same places that mine have, perhaps my words of wisdom will make your journey that much more fun and exciting.

So whether it's local restaurants or exotic destinations ... as my Uncle Jim described me, I am the "intrepid traveler", always ready for an adventure, whether traveling solo or leading the way ... you never know what will pop into my head and come out on the keyboard.

Monday, December 9, 2013

New Book Title Bubbled Up

It's been over a year since I last posted here ... unbelievable how time flies and so much of my life has changed.  I'm hoping that the shifts that have happened for me can be proof that shift can happen for anyone, anywhere, anytime ... as long as we are open to it, curious about it, fearless about it, and everything in between.

Years ago, I was in the car with my Mom and she asked a question along the lines that if I was to write a book about my life, what would the title be. Without missing a beat I said "From Womb to Tomb".  That has never left me and as a matter of fact, we discovered someone painted a wall library of books and there was my Opus.  :)  

However if she asked me the same question today, what bubbles up for me is "From As the Prop Turns to As the Karma Burns" and it would be my shift from adventure on the high seas to an inner exploration of my Self that would leave many an astronomer and astronaut wondering why they need a telescope or a space ship.  

The depth of who we are goes far beyong the imagination of who we perceive ourselves to be and we are only limited by our past programming and the illusions of which we look at the present.  We are vast ... we are everything while also being nothing. We are the microcosm while also the macrocosm.

My undaunting spirit of adventure thrives, no longer on the high seas feeling like Christopher Columbus or all of those sailors who went before me. What now captures my attention and captivates me so is the adventure of inner exploration which is silent, vast, profound.  And even in that silence I am not alone ... everyone who has ever touched my life is the blanket of stars and planets which light my path.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Walk Down Memory Lane

This afternoon was I was going through my recipe box and came across a list of questions that the passengers used to ask me.  David Letterman has his top 10 list that he gives every night, and I had my top 9 list that I used to give every week with my disembarkation talk.  For those of you who have never been on a cruise ship before, a disembarkation talk is a presentation given by the Cruise Director to help the passengers, now called guests, to transition from ship to shore on the last day of the cruise.  It was also presented in order to drive our ratings ... reminding guests that while we couldn't control the motion of the ocean or the weather in port, what we did have control over was the quality of their cruise vacation.

I used 9 questions because our ratings went as high as a 9 - we figured there was no such thing as a 10 in the world.  Apparently the person who decided that hadn't spent any time staring at George Clooney on the big screen or saw Daniel Craig exit the ocean in a bathing suit.

For some of you, this list will bring back memories and if you have any additions, please send them to me at yvette.sechrist324@gmail.com.

  1. What time does the 8 am tour meet? or What time is the Midnight buffet?
  2. Which beach is closest to the ocean? or Is the island completely surrounded by water?
  3. Do these stairs go up or down?
  4. Will THIS elevator take me to the front of the ship?
  5. What's the elevation of the ship?
  6. How can I tell which photo's are mine?
  7. Do the crew sleep on board?
  8. What do you do with the ice carvings after they melt?
  9. What religion are the people who wear the patches behind their ears?
Yes, seriously these were questions I was asked and had to answer completely straight-faced.  Although I do distinctly recall the lady who asked me if the stairs went up or down.  I replied "Both.  If you are at the top, they go down and if you are at the bottom, they go up."  All she said was "Wow!"

Friday, February 17, 2012

Create & Keep A Customer

"The purpose of business is to create and keep a customer."

I can confirm that I am a BELIEVER in this. So what should businesses do to keep a customer?  First and foremost, this is a no-brainer, THEY SHOULD HIRE WELL.  This allows a business to deliver a great customer service experience and keep their customers returning because if they hire badly, they need to discount in order to make up for bad customer service.  If I can get a good experience and save money at the same time, that's terrific.  However if I am saving money but have a bad experience, you can bet I'm NOT coming back again.

For example, I was out shopping with a friend who wanted to buy a camera.  We went into a store that had the model that he wanted, and it was a good price BUT the sales associate who waited on us, was TERRIBLE.  It was almost as if he knew he had the sale in the bag and could barely give us the time of day.  Instead of saying yes, my friend and I left to continue shopping. Needless to say, we found another store with the same item, but it was $20 more. However the CUSTOMER SERVICE EXPERIENCE was outstanding!  The new sales associate couldn't have been nicer.  Not only did he give us a warm welcome, he took the time to point out every single feature the camera offered.  My friend asked me my opinion.  It wasn't my money, so he could do what he wanted however, I told him that I would rather pay the $20 more for the customer service.  Consider it a $20 education because the sales associate showed my friend how to really make the most out of his camera plus the guy threw in a camera case.  

In the end, he bought his camera at the store that charged him $20 more. Why?  It was the customer service experience that closed the deal.  This particular sales associate sold himself more than he sold the camera.  And this is what business should be all about. We forget that the first point of entry into a sale is the sales person, not the store.  The store name may attract you and can put all the pretty displays out but if the staff can't sell themselves out of a paper bag, the store might as well close up shop and go home for the day.

I was ecstatic when Nordstrom's opened in Nashville. Do they charge more for their merchandise? In some cases, probably, however it's the customer service that keeps me coming back.  From buying clothes, I now have a personal shopper who knows what I like and then emails me when certain styles and colors come in.  This saves me TIME, something that is absolutely priceless to me. Their staff is ENGAGING.  And I can honestly say, it's been the same from Nordstrom Seattle, to Nordstrom San Francisco to Nordstrom Nashville so I can also mention CONSISTENCY.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Making the Days Count versus Counting the Days.

Recently I imported over 2000 photos from my phone to my laptop.  As I sat and watch my flash across the screen, I sat back and realized how many wonderful memories were captured.  Ladies, men always seem to wonder what we do to fill our days and nights and this is what inspired todays blog.  Enjoy.  May you find some inspiration, as I know some of you will find your faces here too, and I would love to hear what YOU do to make your days count.

We find simplicity.

We keep our heads above the clouds.

We love our furry friends.

We camp at 10,000'.

We get and give hugs.

We get silly.

We install ceiling tiles.

We express ourselves.

We get pedicures.

We tantalize our tastebuds.

We admire the view.

We drink Champagne simply because we want to.

We find the magic.

We wait for the sunset.

We laugh with our family.

We look for love.

We eat dessert first, because life is too short.
We celebrate with good friends.

We love our Moms and Godmom's.

We extend ourselves.

We find hidden treasures.

We get dressed up.

We cook delicious dinners.

We drool over delicious men.

Friday, February 10, 2012

The Cracked Conch

I recently spent two weeks in Georgetown, Grand Cayman and ended up being amazed by the depth and breath not only by the beauty of the beach and the ocean but by the wide variety of food. And not just food, but fine dining.  As most of my friends know, I LOVE good food! Wherever I go, I make it my mission to find the best restaurants.

One lazy afternoon, I ventured out with the car. This was my first time driving on the opposite side of the road, just like they do in England. I felt like a 16 year old, just learning to drive!  It was a bit intimidating, but no guts, no glory. My new friend Kirsten, also an American, gave me a valuable piece of advice. Since the drivers seat was on the left side of the car (normal for us here in the good old USA), as long as the curb was on my side, I was on the right side of the road. It worked. (Kirsten, you are brilliant!)

As I love to do, I simply drove until I got lost, but honestly, how lost can you get on an island. Just look for the water as all roads lead back to George Town. Part of my wandering took me into neighborhoods which the average tourist wouldn't see, some stunning and some not so stunning, but interesting no matter what. I had to brake for chickens, turkey's, tourists, and the icing on the cake was braking for iguana's. How often does THAT happen?

The highlight of my drive was lunch. Located on the Northwest end of the island, I found the Cracked Conch, Grand Cayman. Since it was late in the day by the time arrived, as luck would have it, I had the entire restaurant to myself.  A Key West-style house, painted white with quaint blue shutters, the Cracked Conch sits perched on a rocky cliff overlooking a popular dive spot. Soothed by the Caribbean wind, I watched the dappled sunlight on the surf and sighed with sheer relaxation.  With my book in hand for entertainment, I settled in for what proved to be an amazing lunch.
What a culinary experience! Appetizers included the typical Conch Chowder ($9), Cracked Conch ($11) and Honey Jerk Tuna Tartar ($12). Entrees included Jerk Pork Belly Sandwich ($13), Chicken Tikka & Arugula Salad ($13) and Mahi Mahi ($15). With that in mind, here is what my tastebuds danced with:
  • Appetizer:  Conch Ceviche ($11) served with tomatoes, red onions, cucumber water lime juice, avocado and cilantro.  This dish was like eating sunshine! The conch was so thinly sliced, I could see through it and it literally melted in my mouth.  The Chef had added a touch of Scotch Bonnet peppers to the dressing, so the splash of citrus combined with the warmth of the peppers was delectable.
  • Entree:  Tuna Nicoise ($16) which included seared tuna, poached egg, french beans, fingerling potatoes, tomato & black olives, vinaigrette. Typically when we have a Tuna Nicoise salad, it consists of canned tuna with a hard boiled egg on top of a mound of lettuce.  The sheer surprise of how well all of the ingredients melded together ... who would have thought of combining fresh seared tuna with a poached egg. And not one leaf of lettuce inside.  This dish was served warm and was exquisite.
  • Because the first two dishes were incredible, I had to move onto Dessert. I was already full so couldn't imagine eating one more bite but because the appetizer and entree were so full of flavor, I couldn't imagine that dessert would be a disappointment. It would have been like a PBJ with out the bread. All things must come full circle so I chose Pineapple Ravioli. Yes, you read right. Pineapple Ravioli.  Two ravioli pastries stuffed with sweet, fresh pineapple, served over pineapple foam and a bright pineapple sorbet on the side, with a sprinkling of powdered sugar tying the ingredients together.
For anyone bound for Georgetown, Grand Cayman, whether by ship or by air, be sure to put the Cracked Conch on your "To Do" list because for me, this will be on my Top 10 favorite restaurants in the world. The Cracked Conch is only open December through May and local attractions include the Turtle Farm and the Swim with the Dolphins Theatre.  I have no idea what a taxi would cost you to get there, but you could combine sightseeing and lunch ... and then head back to the ship or your hotel.  It's worth it.

Monday, October 17, 2011

What Is A Nap?

As we edge further and further into the Fall, one of my favorite things to do on a breezy Sunday afternoon is to curl up under a light blanket and take a little nap.  There's nothing quite like sitting in the sunshine, warmed in the sun's rays.

Just like a cat, to drift off into a nothingness, even for just a little while.  Or it's the perfect chance to do something we loved to do when we were children ... nap time in kindergarten.

So I got to thinking about what napping really is.  Is it the length of time and a lack of depth?  Light and dreamless?  No alarm clocks?  Perhaps the tv on a quiet noise level ... something to keep us from going into the arms of a true slumber?

I've seen people nap on the deck of a ship.  A book or magazine in their hands, suspended for the reader and then it slowly creeps lower, towards their laps as their eyelids get heavy.  Next thing you see, chins settled on chests.  Or how about sitting quietly on a train, hearing the wheels go clickety clack on the track, the same rhythm over and over again as the mind quiets and your eyelids get heavy.  Then there is the short nap during commercial breaks on tv, except these days, with DVR and TEVO, there is no need for that kind of nap.  Scratch that.  Or how about the refreshing nap before dinner?  You come home from a busy day and just want 10-15 minutes to relax away the stresses of the office.  Shoes off, feet up, tilted back, the warm smells drifting in from the kitchen.

One of my favorite places to nap is in a hammock. This summer when I was up in Mammoth Lakes, my Uncle strung the hammock up for me and I would head over with my blanket and pillow along with a book, which was only there for appearances because I was intending on taking a nap.  Lulled by the cool breezes coming off the mountains, suspended and gently rocking, curled up under the blanket, off I went.  Was out asleep?  No, as I heard the casual conversations of people wandering by.

One couple even commented on how comfy I looked, the perfect way to spend some time on a lazy mountain afternoon.  They had hammock nap envy, I could hear it in the husbands voice.  I smiled in my nap haze and listened as they wandered further away.  So I've come to the conclusion that .... taking a nap helps to take the edge off, relax us, indulges the inner child, I mean who am I to say you can't have your cookies and milk when you wake up?

NAP:  Dosing lightly in order to Never Appear Peeved.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Meals Are Memories

There is a quote that says "We do not remember days, we remember moments." and it's one of my favorites but if I was allowed creative license, I would rewrite it in order to personalize it and say "I remember moments because of the meals I've enjoyed."

When I was a little girl, my Mom hosted these fabulous dinner parties pretty much every Saturday night.  There were no restrictions as to who would be there, but after the word got out at what a fabulous cook she was, everyone vied for an invitation!  Whether it was a co-worker, boss and his wife, even a Brazilian businessman who was in town, all were welcome.  The expectations were good food, good wine and good conversation.  There were no other children, I was the only one.  I wasn't banished to read or watch tv in my room.  I was welcome at the table just as everyone else was.  Who would have realized back then what an impact it would have on who I would become as an adult.