My big fat European vacation and why it’s taken me two years to take it

Remember when I wrote this post about what I’d imagined I’d be doing at 40? It involved writing – a blog post, a short story, anything really – while at a cafe in Italy. But it involved a version and a vision of myself that didn’t exist back then. Even if I’d been able to financially swing the trip, in my head I just wasn’t ready.

And I am always in my head.

And my head kept asking “What if you can’t get it together?”, “What if you’re not in the shape you want to be?”,  “What if things don’t go the way you planned?”, what if, what if, what if…

So for two years I let my head talk my heart out of taking a trip I’ve always wanted to take.

This year my heart wins out.

The interesting thing is I’ve made this trip before. In 2005 I flew to Europe, alone, met up with friends and spent 3 amazing weeks in London and Florence.  So what’s so different now?

That trip was pre-40, I was in better shape and was in a completely different mindset. This time, post 40, I felt like I wanted this trip more but that somehow I wasn’t ready for it. Doesn’t make much sense does it?

So what’s changed? Why this year and why now? Because life doesn’t wait for us to be perfect, or even ready, for it to happen. Time passes while we talk about the things we want and think about the things we want. And then before we know it, we’re wishing we’d done it – whatever it is.

I’m tired of wishing and tired of waiting for my life to be perfect.  I’m tired of being so afraid of moving in the wrong direction that I don’t move at all.

My life will never be perfect. I may one day have the financial freedom I’ve always wanted, the relationship I’ve dreamed of having, and the health and fitness that’s been a lifelong struggle for me. But even if those things miraculously fall into place all at once, my life will still never be perfect. But it will always be my life. One that for all its ups and downs I’m blessed to have.

So I’m off to Europe for two weeks in the fall to enjoy my wonderfully imperfect life. It’s my own personal self-indulgence tour, one in which I plan to reawaken my senses. I even wrote my own little travel manifesto, which I’ll share next week. Spoiler – it involves being less self-conscious, more spirit conscious, eating without obsessing, and maybe even a gorgeous Italian or Frenchman or Brit…

As I plan for this trip, I wonder why so many of us put off doing the thing(s) that we really want to do. I wonder what we’re so afraid of and what separates those who “just do it” from those who don’t. What have you always dreamed of doing and what are you going to do to make it happen? Share your thoughts here or on our Facebook page.



Kalin’s Chronicles: San Francisco is Golden

I love the Tony Bennett Song, “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” — because I left my heart there too.  It’s one of my favorites cities to visit, and was recently listed number 5 on Trip Advisor’s “25 Best Destinations in the World.” (Photo: Kalin Thomas)

This is a great time to visit, since the city is celebrating the 75th anniversary of the Golden Gate Bridge – San Francisco’s most iconic landmark.   When I visit, I like to walk the bridge and get fabulous photos of the city’s skyline and the bridge itself – especially beautiful at sunset.

Though several festivals were held around May 27 – the day the first car drove across the bridge in 1937 – there’s still plenty to celebrate for the nearly 10-million people who visit the bridge each year.

Here’s a selected list of events to celebrate the Golden Gate’s 75th:

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art – Golden Gate Desserts:  An Offering of Bridge-Themed Desserts at the Rooftop Garden Blue Bottle Coffee Bar (through Aug. 31)

Presidio Trust/Walt Disney Family Museum – The Bridge on the Big Screen film festival with seven films starring the iconic bridge (through Sept. 15)

American Institute of Architects – Postcards from the Edge:  Exhibition of Postcard Views of the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco (through Oct. 1)

n  Antenna Theatre – Golden Gate Sunset Dial:  Map of the places and times the sunset can be viewed between the two bridge towers (through Dec. 31)

If you’ll be in San Fran this month and just have a couple of days in the city, check out 49 Hours in SF:  July Vibe.   And for more information on Golden Gate Bridge celebrations and cell phone apps, visit

So why not celebrate turning 40 in a city that’s already celebrating.  I bet you’ll leave your heart in San Francisco, too!  And remember:  “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness.” – Mark Twain.

Kalin Thomas is Women at Forty’s Travel & Leisure Editor. She is also Senior Writer/Photographer for SoulOfAmerica. Before starting her own multimedia company, Kalin spent 17 years at CNN where she won several awards for her work as producer/correspondent for CNN’s weekly travel program, CNN TravelNow. She is currently writing a book about her travels. For more information on Kalin, visit

PBS Auto-tuned Mister Rogers and it is awesome

Our generation grew up watching Mister Rogers and we loved him. Now PBS Digital Studios (yes that’s a thing) has auto-tuned him and he’s serenading us to enter the garden of our mind. I miss Mister Rogers…