Life is Too Short ~ Poem


Life is too short
To live in the past

A day, a year
It slips by so fast

Goodbye to good people
Goodbye to the past

Off to a new adventure
In case it’s my last

~Michelle Istanish


Enjoying the Late Summer Garden ~ Forest Hills, PA

The Garden Path

The Garden Path ~ Michelle Istanish

During high school and college I took an interest in gardening and transformed my mother’s yard into a garden filled with trees, shrubbery and flowers.  Since that time, I have moved around a lot but when visiting, as I am now, I spend time fixing problem areas, performing routine maintenance and enjoying the scenery.  So before summer fades to fall, here are a few late summer garden pictures…

Summer Sedum

Late Summer Sedum by Michelle Istanish

The Garden Terrace

The Garden Terrace ~ Michelle Istanish

The Trees

The Trees by Michelle Istanish

Pink Hydrangea Blooms

Late Summer Pink Hydrangea Blooms ~ Michelle Istanish

Stepping Stone Being Loved by Nature

Nature Loving Stepping Stone ~ Michelle Istanish

Next Years Bloom

Next Years Bloom by Michelle Istanish


Glass Art by Jason Gamrath at Phipps Conservatory ~ Pittsburgh, PA

Phipps Conservatory ~ Jason Gamrath Glass Art

Phipps Conservatory ~ Glass Art by Jason Gamrath ~ Photo by Michelle Istanish

Whenever I’m living in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area I visit Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, at least once every season.  This has been my tradition since attending the University of Pittsburgh, beginning in 1993.

This summer, in addition to all the amazing greenery, flowers and butterflies, Phipps presented SUPER. NATURAL. Glass Art by Jason Gamrath.  In the past, there have been other glass exhibits at Phipps and some of these pieces are still on display.  The glass art by Dale Chahuly can be seen in the image below…

Phipps Conservatory and Dale Chahuly Glass Art
Phipps Conservatory ~ Glass Art by Dale Chahuly ~ Photo by Michelle Istanish

While I enjoyed the Dale Chahuly exhibit, The Jason Gamrath Glass Flower experience is currently my favorite.  His glass pieces are brilliant and larger than life.  It was an absolutely tripping flowers experience for sure…

Phipps Conservatory ~ Jason Gamrath Glass Art

Phipps Conservatory ~ Jason Gamrath Glass Art

Phipps Conservatory ~ Jason Gamrath Glass Art

Phipps Conservatory ~ Jason Gamrath Glass Art

Phipps Conservatory ~ Jason Gamrath Glass Art

Of course, there were all the usual amazing displays as well…

Summer 2017 at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens

Summer 2017 ~ Phipps Conservatory Pittsburgh

Summer 2017 at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens

Summer 2017 at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens


Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra at Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall

The Sailor

My daughter both graduated high school and joined the United States Navy last month, June 2017.  One of our many celebrations of these momentous events was attending the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra (PSO) “In Honor of Service” concert at Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall.  It was a fabulous event, in a magnificent location and PSO was outstanding.

The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra has been in existence since 1896.  It has rich history full of recognition and awards for their performances, both in Pittsburgh and abroad.

Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall & Museum has been honoring veterans since 1910.  It, currently, is the only military memorial dedicated to honoring all branches of the services, from all generations and conflicts since the Civil War through today.   There also is the stately 2300 seat concert auditorium where we enjoyed the PSO.

We ended the evening adventuring about the city of Pittsburgh eating, some of us drinking and all being merry…

The Best Work Around the World Site

The Best Work Around the World Site

I’m in love with the site.  It’s a work, volunteer and cultural exchange site for both volunteers and hosts.  I’ve spent hours, for the past few days, reading about amazing working opportunities and reviews from both volunteers and hosts.  This site is going to my make plan of working and traveling around the world possible, exciting and so enjoyable.

My desire is to experience the locations that I’m visiting.  I don’t want to travel as if on vacation and Workaway is just what I needed.  I found olive harvesting in Italy, conservation projects around the world, gardening projects in unique settings, Bed and Breakfasts everywhere, hostels on beautiful beaches, horse farms in the most amazing locations and so much more.  These are the experiences that I was looking for and they include room and board.

I’m continuing to look for the best starting location and experience combination.  I have set a start my traveling date of no later than January 2018.  Until then I will be enjoying the experiences that my current location has to offer, ramping up my online businesses, continuing to improve my financial situation and completing all of my pre-travel preparations.  It’s going to be a busy and exciting second half of 2017.


Choosing to Volunteer Around the World

Deciding to Volunteer Abroad

After setting my Short Term Pre-Travel Goals in my last post, I began reviewing my finances.  What I found was, I don’t feel comfortable traveling about with my current financial situation.  However, after reading many sites about budget traveling, I believe that I don’t need to delay my adventures.  There are many amazing volunteer programs I would be honored to be a part of and that would be of interest to me.

So far, my favorite source of information is A Little Adrift’s Grassroots Volunteering Database.  I was happy to find many different types of opportunities, in very desirable locations.   There are animal sanctuaries, coffee farms and teaching opportunities, just to name a few.   I’m also considering World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF) after reading Nomadic Matt’s post, How to Travel and Work Around the World with WWOOF.

My next move seems to be narrow down my choices and create a Curriculum Vitae (CV) or two.  I have an impressive engineering resume but It’s NOT what I need for my new adventures.  My time as an engineer at Lockheed Martin was very exciting and enjoyable.  However, I’m so happy not to be returning to that lifestyle.  I’m loving where my future is headed and now it’s time to start those CVs.


Setting Short Term Pre-Travel Goals

Set Pre-Travel Goals

It’s time to set some pre-travel goals.  After reading many sites about this topic, I’m still a huge fan of Nomadic Matt’s site.  I really appreciate the Start Planning Your Next Adventure Here section.  The information is just what I need and the site arrangement and ease of use is top notch.  So anyhow, that’s enough fangirling Nomadic Matt, for now.  I believe the following to be my current short term pre-travel goals.

  1.  Get My Finances in Order
  2.  Obtain a Travel Credit Card
  3.  Define Travel on My Budget

I’m on it.  Hope to have details soon.


I want to be an Independent Traveler

Independent Traveler

I want to travel on my own but NOT as the anti-social traveler.  I want to meet new people and have amazing experiences with others.  However, I want to remain independent.  I want freedom and I’m very excited about obtaining it.

Living the American Dream, owning homes and cars, having a high paying job and other obligations, has made me feel like what I assume a wild animal feels in captivity.  It’s not the life for me.  In the past, I have always traveled with at least one other person but my desire to be on my own is very strong.  I love being by myself, enjoying my own company.  So, during times that I am alone, I’m never lonely.

I have found others that travel solo and they are my inspiration.  It all started when National Geographic shared a video about David Welsford….

After watching this video all I could think about was traveling on my own.  I just didn’t know how to make it happen.  I searched and eventually found many people who travel alone and provide detailed information on how to make this dream a reality.  So far, my favorites are Nomadic Matt and A Little Adrift.  I’m following their advice and preparing to be an Independent Traveler.  I’m in the planing process, months away from my departure but I’m going to make this happen.  Stay tuned…


If you were music…

If you were music...

If you were music, what would you sound like?  I love music and enjoy a wide variety, from Classic Rock to Classical, specifically of the Baroque period.  I think music can tell volumes about a person.

For me, what I sound like describes my current feelings.  Maybe it even captures my soul allowing others to hear and possibly better understand, like or even dislike me.  When I love a piece of music, song or album I listen to it ad nauseam, where ad nauseam could be defined as hours, days, weeks and sometimes even months.  I listen until I don’t feel it anymore, because what I sound like has changed.

While looking for places to travel, I have been listening to the music that describes these locations.  One location that I’m very interested in is Morocco.  I love so many things about Morocco, including what it sounds like.   The following is a collection that I have become addicted to.  If I were music, this is currently what I would sound like…


If you were music, what would you sound like?


My Bucket List (Item) is Complete

My Bucket List(Item) is CompleteI recently read a blog post by Nomadic Matt about getting rid of his bucket list and felt a small sense of relief that I don’t have one.  I mean, I did have one, sort of.  It was a list of one item.  So, I guess what I really had was a Bucket Item and I completed it two years ago.

His reasoning for getting rid of his bucket list went something along the lines of, he never followed it, didn’t care and therefore it wasn’t a list of items he was dying to accomplish before dying.  Then I wondered, was mine really ever a Bucket Item?

I wanted to see clear, tropical waters before I kicked the bucket.  I have been close to death a few times and while lying in intensive care, the thought of not completing this item actually never crossed my mind.  What I was thinking was, how to get myself better and out of this place as soon as possible.

If you remove the trendiness of the “Bucket List”, the Bucket List Syndrome seems to be a thing that happens to one when the end is drawing near and regrets all of the things one never did but wanted to do.  Maybe this regret is because they only did the things that society dictated appropriate and allowable.  I don’t really know because I don’t have that problem, although I know a few people that wish I did. 🙂

I have always lived my life to the fullest within my circumstances.  I want to travel but if I died tomorrow, I would have no regrets and nothing that I feel I missed out on.  I have had the most amazing life.  My life situation is such that I now have freedom to travel, an opportunity I’m most definitely going to take.  I will not be creating a new Bucket Item or list but I will be continuing on living a happy life, without regrets.