In the end, we only regret the chances we didn’t take

Every day is a gift and every day can be the last, so I try to live by that and take every chance I have to do things that matter to me, whether it is spending time with loved ones, travel, or follow my dreams and passions. One of my passions is writing and I have redesigned my own travel blog to make it look more professional so I can build on that platform in the future. See the new site at www.marielstravels.com.

The gift of travel

Oh the gift of travel, I can’t think of anything better and I never get tired of it. In this past year, I had many opportunities to visit new and old places and it feels this year was one big trip. I went back to several places that have a special place in my heart like Paris and New York. I rediscovered places I sort of had forgotten about, like London and Palm Springs, and fell in love with them all over again. I discovered new places and added new destinations to the list.

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The big trip this year was Cuba. I have wanted to go back ever since I visited years ago and finally booked the trip for October this year. I booked a cultural trip to Havana and Varadero and it was everything I had hoped for and more. Havana is a wonderful mix of old and new, with great food and music. We toured the city in a 1952 Chevy, exploring the old town. We attended a private performance at one of the top dance schools in the world, joined a cooking class and went to jazz and brass band clubs.

I am lucky that I have to travel for work and can combine that with fun. In January, I had a work trip to Europe and spent a couple of days in London, Paris and Milan with my colleague Michelle. We had a blast walking Abbey road, Notting Hill, Montmartre and looking for street art in every city. I did the same in Madrid in March. In May, work sent me to Brazil and I spent a long weekend in Florianopolis, the tropical island in the south of the country. Brazil has been on my list for years and I am happy I finally had a chance to visit and I will have to plan a return visit.

We had 2 fun weekends snowshoeing in Lake Tahoe and a great spring break in Palm Springs with Andrea and family. There were plenty of food explorations, two that stand out: a weekend exploring culinary Seattle in May and a great weekend walking and eating our way through Nashville in November.

At the end of June, I checked off a big bucket list item: Halong Bay and Hanoi. Halong Bay is so breathtakingly beautiful that it is hard to capture in words or pictures. Hanoi was a pleasant surprise: a vibrant young city that was fun to explore for a couple of days.

The summer was one big vacation with a string of long weekends. We kicked it off in Tahoe for Fourth of July with the California gang, went glamping in Sequoia with Mandi, we had a girls’ winetasting weekend – with Eamon ? – in Paso Robles and a fabulous birthday weekend in the Big Apple.

The gift of friendship

The nice thing about travel is that after a trip, I love being at home hanging out with friends. I am so lucky with all the amazing friends in my life who support me. Not having kids is probably one of the few regrets and that is why I am so grateful that my friends have always made me part of their kids’ lives.

I love our weekends when we go for hikes or swims followed by avocado toast. We have impromptu shopping trips, coffee, drinks and dinners. We go to concerts and games, we dress up and we dress down.

There are the parties that have become traditions: birthdays, Thanksgiving, Ugly Xmas sweater party, mulled wine party. I had a month of birthday celebrations with friends and family, starting in New York, followed by a garden party in California and finally a dinner in Veldhoven.

The gift of passion

My life is full and rich. I work hard and I play hard. When I do things, I do them with passion. I love my job and as we say in Amazon “work hard, have fun, make history”. We continue to make history with Alexa and it is special to have been part of her development from when she was 2 years old until now. Amazon gives me the opportunity and freedom to continuously explore new ideas and build new products and experiences. I love being part of a company that consists of dreamers and builders and I was lucky to attend Amazon’s very first re:MARS conference in Las Vegas.

Another passion I have focused even more on this past year is writing. I am still writing my regular blogs for de Wereldwijven platform (www.dewereldwijven.com), and we launched our second book in October.

I wrote my first letter at the end of 2010. The title of that first letter was “2010, it was a good year”. When I reflect back on 2019, it was another good year and I am already looking forward to 2020. I know that I am truly blessed and fortunate to live the life I have and it is something I never have and never will take for granted.

“I’m not afraid of getting older; I’m one less day from dying young. So I drink and love and whisper all the things I know are right. Someday, I will leave this world, but maybe not tonight” – Rob Thomas

 

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