Thursday, June 26, 2014

Solo Traveler: Fear to Fearless

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”

As I soar thousands of miles in the sky, I'm wondering if this is a good idea. Frolicking through the streets of Old San Juan in Puerto Rico or Jungle trekking throughout the beautiful island of Dominica...Alone! Maybe, maybe not!?! But at this point, there's no turning back! Am I afraid? A little! But that's what courage is about, charging your fears like a bull! Fear is a natural emotion but it's unnatural to allow an emotion to control your life.
Flying over Dominica

Traveling solo is an exciting and new adventure! I've traveled a few places within the states but always with friends and family. In the past, I would make plans only to cancel if I couldn't find a travel buddy. Though this world consist of 7 billion people, the idea of traveling "alone" seemed foreign and daunting. Despite fear, I booked a flight to Dominica and Puerto Rico with passport in tow and boarded the plane! That's how you go from fear to fearless, just do it! Nothing is ever as bad as it seems! Like I mentioned earlier, this world consist of 7 billion people! Essentially, we are never "alone". It's about perspective! There are so many opportunities to meet amazing people! For example, I met an interesting fellow name Cerni , en route from Puerto Rico to Dominica! As we boarded the small plane, he shared his story of growing up in a small country called Andorra (located in the eastern Pyrenees mountains and bordered by Spain and France) and how he recently quit his job to travel the Caribbean Nations! 
Plane Mate Cerni
Below are some revelations I discovered while traveling solo:

Benefits to Traveling Solo

One rainy morning in Dominica, I ate breakfast and then hiked 12.4 miles down to the Valley of Desolation and Boiling Lake, a UNESCO World Heritage site (only two in the world , second one in New Zealand)on the side of an active volcano! None of my family or friends would have been excited to experience this adventure, but i was ecstatic! Traveling solo gives you the opportunity to do or not to do whatever you want! Wanna sleep in till 2pm? It's OK! Wanna sign up for every activity available? Why not! Your free!

Breakfast View Jungle Bay Dominica

Valley of Desolation Boiling Lake
Valley of Desolation Boiling Lake

Another benefit of traveling alone is the fact that you are more flexible. You can stay in one place as long as you like and are able to change your itinerary on a whim. It is also very relaxing. You don’t need to make any plans for the day, and can take things as they come. While in Puerto Rico, I woke up at 5am and walked to Condado beach. After a couple of hours of exploring the area, I stumbled upon this amazing Jamaican Restaurant, Blessed (I know, I know! I'm in Puerto Rico but I couldn't resist the food and music). Later, I took a tour of the Bacardi Rum Factory and Listened to Live Salsa Music at Nuyan Rican Cafe till 4am (my flight departed at 650am). No agenda, No schedule, Complete blissful randomness!. 

Old San Juan Condado Beach Puerto Rico

Castillo de San Cristóbal (Puerto Rico)

Blessed Restaurant Old San Juan

Old San Juan

Yolanda At Nuyan Rican Old San Juan Puerto Rico

When traveling with friends and family, your focus is centered on the group. Your less likely to entertain others and are less approachable. When traveling solo, people are more likely to approach you and you can focus on meeting new people. My first night in Dominica, I had dinner with 4 German men and a Swedish woman name Nancy! My hiking buddies were newlyweds from Norway and England! Also joining me on hikes and excursions were a mother/daughter team from France and Mike from Philly! While hiking Trafalgar Falls, I met a Hungarian woman while soaking in the natural hot water springs! She was on holiday for two months and decided to island hop from Jamaica down to Trinidad. Dominica was her 133 country visited. Her goal was to visit all 196 countries in the world! 
Trafalgar Falls Dominica
Trafalgar Falls Dominica

Carlos At Jungle Bay
My new friends From France

Mike From Philly

I loved traveling solo! I'm so happy I didn't miss the opportunity to meet amazing people on an amazing trip because of fear! Hopefully my experience has taught you to never be afraid to pursue your dreams!

OK Tips for traveling Solo

Be safe & smart -Use common sense! The same precautions taken at home should be taken while traveling! If traveling international be sure to check the US Passport and International Travel  website for updated information and be sure family and friends are aware of your whereabouts!

Leave a paper trail! I made three copies of my passport. I gave one copy to my daughter, kept two copies on my persons at all times, and emailed a copy to my personal email address. I purchased a small lock that I use to store my passport and personal items safely.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

About Me

"Make a career of humanity, commit yourself to the noble struggle for equal rights. You will make a greater person of yourself, a greater nation for your country, and a finer world to live in." ~Dr. Martin Luther King

Puerto Rico 2014
Life Enthusiast~Writer~Adventurer
My name is Sapphire Starr. My mission is to inspire others to overcome life's challenges, follow their dreams, and LIVE the best life ever! I come from humble beginnings growing up in the projects of Savannah, GA. At a young age I wanted to make a difference in this world. My passion became humanity when I started volunteering with my mom at the age of 12. Volunteering became the pivotal force that drove me to pursue a career in Healthcare. Though I became a teen mom at 14, I graduated from Savannah High School and later obtain a B.S. in Biology (2001) and B.S. Medical Technology (2002) from Armstrong Atlantic State University. I've worked as a Clinical Laboratory Scientist since 2002 and continue to Volunteer in my community and abroad! In 2014, a  medical mission trip to Haiti reignited my passion for Travel. My Vision is to travel the world spreading peace, love, and  philanthropy! Hopefully I empower you to create the life you want to live!

Travel the world spreading peace, love, and philanthropy!

Mission Statement
Through life experiences, I hope to empower others to LIVE the best life ever!

Principle Pillars
Faith, Family, Fitness/Health, & Finance

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

My life on the run: Mailbox to Marathon!

Sunrise Training Run Hilton Head, SC

I Love running! This wasn't the case 10 years ago. I was overweight and out of shape! I couldn't run from my front door to the mailbox at the end of the driveway!  During this time, I decided to make a lifestyle change. In a quest to overcome a fast food addiction, I joined the YMCA and started making healthy food choices. In a couple of months,  I'd lost weight and was feeling great! But, I became bored with the gym and wanted to try something new.

One day I over heard fellow gymmates discussing upcoming Tybee Marathon. Sounded interesting, so I decided to sign up!  As I proceeded to fill out sign up form a young later asked, "Have you ever run 26.2miles before?" I gasp, as I stared blankly at her. "What?!? People run that far? At the same time?" Remember, I couldn't run to my mailbox. She quickly recommend I start with a 5k and my life on the run began!

Yes, my running journey began out of boredom and ignorance.

I downloaded  C25k app to my cell phone and began training. I also signed up for my first 5k, Run of the Lakes in Rincon, GA. This was the hardest thing I'd ever done! My self training started on the treadmill and eventually I built the courage to run at the park.

In 2005, I ran my first 5k and won 2nd place for my age group. It was only two of us, but nonetheless, I'd won! This did wonders for my ego!

At 5k, a fellow runner suggested I sign up for the Atlanta Peachtree 10k Road Race. I signed up, and after  my first Peachtree I was hooked! I'd never seen so many people,  in one place, at one time,  doing one thing...Running!

Jeff Galloway Peachtree 10K 2009

Peachtree 10K 2010

Peachtree 10k 2011

Peachtree 10k 2012

After my 5th Peachtree 10k, I wanted to run further!.
But I needed help. While I was training and running races, I hated running!

Breast Cancer 5K 2008

Gate River 15K 2010 Jacksonville, GA

Enmark Bridge 10k 2008 Start

It was hard! I ached horribly and could hardly breathe once I got started.
While running with my mentor, she suggested I seek the help of trainer Isaiah Douglas (15+ Boston Marathon Runner). This man changed my life! Isaiah taught me  the art of running down to proper breathing, proper shoes, pacing, etc. He challenged me to run a half marathon!

Tybee Half Marathon 2010 Isaiah Douglas

 Because of his training, I began to fall in love with the sport. (Especially when I experienced the runners high).

Five years after running my first 5k, I had trained and completed Tybee Half Marathon!
Despite 35 degree weather, torrential downpour, and knee injury I crossed the finished line!  It was exhilarating, emotional, challenging, and rewarding.

After conquering a 5k, 10k, 15k, and half marathon, I began to ponder that prosperous idea of running a full marathon!

My trainer had faith! So we trained. But shortly afterwards, I relocated to Atlanta, GA (HIll City). With trainer and running group left behind in Savannah, I was forced to complete Marathon training alone. Working two jobs in a new city, I started to doubt the possibility of making the impossible possible!
But  I was determined.

Once I became settled in my new job, I met crazy people who loved to run also!

Black Girls Run Atlanta

On March 2012, I signed up for the Savannah Rock -N- Roll Marathon ( 7yrs after making that ignorant declaration at the local YMCA). There was no turning back. Blood, sweat, tears, shin splints, etc. I was going to become a Marathoner!

Race day, November 2012, arrived and I was standing at the start line. This was a very surreal moment. I'd train long and hard. Running was over 80%mental!  If the mind can conceive it, the body can achieve it. And trust me, at mile 20 my body gave up! I telephoned a friend (literally) for inspiration! She said, you can do it, Don't give up! That was the push I needed to finish the last leg of my marathon.

Victory never taste so sweet than when I crossed that finish line. I officially change my name to Sapphire Marathoner Anderson! NO words can describe the feeling you get when you make your dreams a reality. After completing a marathon, I felt invisible and nothing could stop me from LIVING my Life!

Savannah Rock n Roll Marathon 2012

My Two Cents: Want to start running?

1) Just do it! Start walking or jogging today! Even if its only to your mailbox!

2) Set SMART goals! Specific, Measurable, Attainable, revelent, Time-centered! Want to run a 5k, sign up today and then begin to train!

3)Train, Train, Train! There's a plethora of training schedules and guides to help get you started! Also the best decision I made was to join a local running group!  Great for accountability and a opportunity to learn from your peers. Download free running apps such as C25K and Runkeeper.

4) Running Shoes! Go to your local running specialty store and get fitted for a good pair of running shoes! I initially got fitted at Fleet Feet Savannah for my first pair of running shoes and once i found the perfect shoe, I then ordered shoes online Investing in a good pair of shoes is essential to becoming a good runner! 
5) Have fun! Enjoy the journey and the amazing people you will meet along the way! 

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