Prayers from the mosque’s loudspeakers meld with reggaeton blasting from multiple car windows and techno music that reveals a party taking place on the second floor of a nearby McDonald’s. This is Casablanca. And in this city—immortalized in a film by vintage Hollywood—one is affronted by a cacophonous yet complimentary swath of cultural influences that make up Morocco, a country directly south of Spain in Northern Africa.
Many people have asked me how I do it - travel constantly without losing my mind or my bearings. It's true my travel schedule is jam packed with so many things, at times it seems like way too many.
Grounding yourself is very important when you travel. It's very easy to go off balance and turn into a complaining [insert whatever profanity works for you here] when you're jetting from airport lounge to terminal gate, airplane to train to bus to taxi to pedicab to hotel room.
But what I've done that really works for me is to establish a morning routine or a morning ritual. That's the first thing I do in the morning to get yourself ready to face the world - whichever part of the world I am in. I believe the reality you create on the outside is reflective of who you are inside so it's very important to check in and take care of yourself - both inside and outside.
Let me share with you what I do:
I do a morning meditation (anywhere between 20-30 minutes) depending on my time. This doesn't have to be anything grand or done out loud with chants and gongs and monks or religious statues, but just simply:
I lay in bed and check in on the thoughts inside my head. What's the topic of conversation in my head today? I just listen to the natural thoughts buzzing inside and I let them flow... and then I let it go.
I don't question my thoughts, I don't wonder why I think my thoughts, I don't scream my thoughts on the top of my lungs. I don't do anything about them, I just observe them. I say to myself "How interesting that I feel that way." No, "I wonder why I feel that way." or I don't judge myself or try to fight them. I just lay in bed, let all the emotions and thoughts wash over me, and then I let them go. I clear my head of yesterday so that I am able to let the new day in. This is easier said than done. This practice of reseting, freeing yourself to truly be in the moment is something I learned (and am continuing to learn!) to do from the 10-Day Vipassana Meditation Retreat I did. Check out my article about the Seven Things I Learned from FREE Vipassana Meditation Camp. This is something I highly recommend if you're able to take some time for yourself and it's 100% FREE. By doing this, I remind myself that I am in control of my emotions and I don't let that emotion dictate the rest of my day.
After my meditation, I Set An Intention. Out of the one million things that need to be done right now, what are the two things that am going to get done today? Then I think of one or two more pending items on the to-do list just in case I get through the two things that I am going to get done.
Once I decide on what my intentions are, I Listen to Music - My song of the moment is Modest Mouse "Float On" [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CTAud5O7Qqk]
I LOVE the guitar riff! It's also a great reminder that "we'll all float on okay... and we'll all float on anyway, well... do do do do do do!"
Yesterday, it was The Killers "Human"
And to this music, I jump around and wash my face, brush my teeth, shower, and Abyanga (self massage) lovingly.
I feel completely jazzed to face whatever the day brings.
And if things are a lot more cray cray than usual, I take a minute out of my busy schedule and sing. Yep, I belt it out and lose myself in some YouTube karaoke. My mom's Filipina so karaoke is in my blood. The Philippines is a nation that is obsessed with karaoke. Every family I know in Manila has a karaoke machine and isn't afraid to use it, even early in the morning.
I made a little video for you to sing away your stresses... with me! So whenever you find yourself discombobulated and want to sing but feel silly singing alone... sing with me! Just play this video!
31. Try the Lobster Pad Thai at House of Siam (25 NE 2nd Ave # 116 Delray Beach, FL 33444, (561) 330-9191, houseofsiam.info). This little Thai place in Pineapple Grove serves up a mean and really pretty Lobster Pad Thai. Their ingredients are fresh - they grow their herbs fresh in planters right outside their restaurant.
32. Grab some yummy fish, deep fried Thai-style, and oh, some sushi too, at Ziree (401 W Atlantic Ave Delray Beach, FL 33444, (561) 276-6549, zireethai.com). A local man who spent his formative years in Thailand took me here with his wife. They say this is the town’s best Thai restaurant. It just so happens to serve Japanese food as well. So you can get your fill of spicy Thai food along with sake and sushi. It is a little bit away from Atlantic Avenue, but this place is worth the drive.
33. Invest in art at DeBilzan Art Gallery (38 E Atlantic Ave Delray Beach, FL 33444, (561) 266-2090, williamdebilzan.net) William DeBilzan’s striking art comes in several forms – the static kind for hanging on walls and such or the mobile kind like on bags and luggage, perfect for a traveler like myself – I love the latter.
34. Check out the wine and food pairings at the Delray Wine and Seafood Festival (dbwineandseafood.com). If you’re in town in November, get drunk at this festival and get an all you can drink pass – be warned the food is cash only do bring loads of cash if you don’t want to get drunk fast like I did and pass out at 7pm on Day 1.
35. Check out the Garlic Fest (dbgarlicfest.com) in February for the best of the best of everything garlic and amazing musical acts! A video of me trying their famous crab cake that literally draws crowds is coming soon!
36. Listen to local musicians jam out at Kevro’s Art Bar (166 SE 2nd Ave Delray Beach, FL 33444, (561) 278-9675, kevroart.com). This art bar is a bit off the strip. It’s a funky find that feels like you’re hanging out in someone’s garage. Peppered with pool tables, pinball machines and hula hoops, and a huge open space to hang out under the Florida sky, it’s a great spot to meet locals.
37. Catch a show at the Arts Garage (180 NE 1st St Delray Beach, FL 33444, (561) 450-6357, artsgarage.org). A musical act or a play, My friend Anna Haas played a show at the Arts Garage and I also saw a girl that I went to NYU with Lauren Gundersen was having a play reading there. Delray is rich is supporting the arts.
38. Sake and sushi at Yama (200 NE 2nd Avenue # 110 Delray Beach, FL 33444, (561) 266-9929, yamafreshsushi.com). Located in the Pineapple Grove Arts District, this tiny unassuming sushi joint serves up some great sushi. Sit at the bar and get to know the sushi chef and maybe he’ll even make you your own sushi roll! He made one for me, the Patricia roll: eel, salmon, avocado, and brown rice.
39. Grab an Irish coffee at Park Tavern (32 SE 2nd Ave Delray Beach, FL 33444, (561) 265-5093, parktaverndelray.com) and watch the game. Doesn’t matter which game – football (American or European), this tavern is one pretty cool spot. I met up with local John Butler here – pretty awesome guy who runs Delray’s ATP tennis tournaments – and we shot the shit over multiple Irish coffees and beers.
40. Get your coffee with cinnamon at Caffe Martier (411 E Atlantic Ave Delray Beach, FL 33483, (561) 450-6169, caffemartierdelray.com) Uber-friendly local fitness-trainer schooled up me on how cinnamon is a healthy sugar substitute that does wonders for your sex drive. Thank you, Stan Frydrych!