Retro Post – I was Scammed by Ponce de Leon

The homepage graphic of

So, somehow I forgot that I used to blog. Back in the 90′s. Before blogging existed (the term was coined in 1997), I started a website for family and friends called My tagline was, Come on it… Make yourself comfortable. The homepage was a living room as seen from a curtained window. I put it together from clipart. Go seet it! No, don’t. It’s awful.

But it is kinda fun to read some of the posts. Some are cute. Some are funny. Some are god-awful boring. And the writing is terrible on most entries.

This one, though, cracked me up. Written in November, 1996. And particularly applicable to me today. I thought I had been scammed by the Fountain of Youth back in 1996… now I know I was scammed by the Fountain of Youth back in 1996.

I didn’t change anything. Not the font, the size, the formatting, the midi files! This post is sixteen years old! The writing is terrible but I feel a duty to preserve it!

Ponce de Leon’s Fountain of Youth

When Russell and I reached St. Augustine (Saturday, Nov. 23, 1996) the first thing we did was check out the Fountain of Youth. (It was the first thing we did because I pouted.) we followed their signs till we came to a rough parking lot type thing next to a camp type thing enclosed by a wooden fence type thing. It really looked like a giant fort or something. That is, until a choo choo train trolley came by giving a tour. A blue and red choo choo train. No Lie. I have to admit, I was a little confused. Russell, having grown up in Chattanooga where tourist traps are the “thing”, knew what we were in for. I, however, did not.

The girl at the counter told us that the Fountain of Youth was inside the Spring House. (Now, in a million years, I never would have guessed that The Fountain of Youth would be inside a building. But it is. The Fountain of Youth is not outside.) And that there was a tour you had to go on to see it. After I whined a little, she did admit that you didn’t have to go on the tour to see it though.

So, after I paid the $9.50. (I have to point out that Russell, knowing full well the scam we were about to encounter, stepped away from the counter when it came time to pay the money. This is Kristine’s little adventure and Kristine can pay.) Okay, so I give the girl the money and head for the Spring House. There’s people inside so we gotta wait. We wander around and discover we are inside a reproduction of an old Indian village. Scattered around the village are old cannons which I found odd, yet somewhat interesting. Anyway, my excitement is waning but I’m hanging in there waiting for the Spring House to clear out so I can go drink from the fountain and ensure my youthfulness forever.

We wander up to a building with this wrinkled man standing at the door. He says, “Would you like to go into the Discovery Dome? Inside you will be treated to a short, 8 minute presentation of the early history of the Spanish discovery of the New World.” I’m thinkin’ who cares? I want to drink from the Fountain of Youth and ensure my youthfulness forever. But, the Spring House is still full and we’ve got the 8 minutes so we go in.



Let me just run you through the so-called, 8 minutes.

  • The lights go out. It’s pitch black.
  • A curtain opens to reveal a giant two story globe glowing with the help of a black light.
  • The music starts… it’s the Theme from 2001: Space OdysseyEarphones. I do not tell a lie.
  • The globe starts to rotate. Painfully slow.
  • A man with a very deep and boring voice speaks (painfully slow):
    • “You are looking at a giant globe 56 feet in diameter and as high as a two story building.”
    • Silence
    • “This is a very special globe”
    • Silence, 5 or 6 seconds crawl by
    • “With the help of this globe, and some very special lighting, you are going to learn about the early history of the Spanish discovery of the New World.”
    • Silence, I can barely take it
    • A child starts to cry
    • “Early in the history of the Spanish Discovery of the New World,…” blah blah blah… Do you get the picture? 8 minutes of this! EIGHT TORTUROUS MINUTES!!!!!!
  • The Globe stops rotating (I figure we got thirty seconds to go. My left leg is asleep and Russell is cracking jokes in my ear.)
  • The man stops speaking. Presentation over, right? No… We’ve got to listen to the stupid theme of the stupid movie, 2001: Space Odyssey AGAIN!!!!! And what do we do? We sit and stare at the same giant globe that we have been staring at for the last 7 minutes and 30 seconds and wait until the song is over.

When the song ends, the lights come up and the wrinkled man politely invites us to the Planetarium. No way, man! Russell and I rush for the door!

And what do we see? The Spring House. Completely empty. And roped off. And guarded by two high school girls who are more than well aware they have the most uncool part-time jobs in the whole junior class.

We beg them to let us in. And against their better judgment they do.

Let me stop here and say that there is no way I can do justice to the scene inside. You have to visit it yourself. If you like a good laugh, it’s well worth the $9.50. Inside the Spring House is a museum display. Life size Indians are standing around a pool of water about two feet wide. That’s it. There’s no more. The state of Florida has enclosed the Fountain of Youth in a building and surrounded it by fake indians. I don’t care. I head for the water when, out of the corner of my eye, I see a trash can. I go over and peer inside. It’s filled with little plastic cups. My heart dropping to my stomach in anticipation of a great disappointment to come, I swing my head to the right. There is a card table with a blue plastic pitcher resting on top. Surrounding the pitcher are about 20 little plastic cups filled with water. Water, I can only assume, that came from the Fountain of Youth surrounded by plastic, life-size Indians, that is supposed give me youthfulness forever.

Yeah, well. What are ya gonna do? Russell and I each pick up a cup and toast. “To eternal youth!”, we say. And drink.

Thumbs Up Thumbs Up Thumbs Up Thumbs Up Thumbs Up Thumbs Up Thumbs Up Thumbs Up Thumbs Up Thumbs Up
  • $4.50 is not that expensive when you think that you just might be buying a ticket to eternal youth!
  • It’s fun for a good laugh
  • There are some very old cannons and conoes and stuff like that. It’s kinda interesting.
  • The staff is very adept at laying guilt trips. They REALLY want you to take that tour!
  • The Globe – see above
  • The “actual” fountain is a large disappointment. (I left feeling so betrayed! just kidding)



Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends On It <– 10 Reasons to Read this Book Now!

A friend of mine from college wrote a book entitled, Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends On It. The ideas in the book changed my life. They can change yours too, if you let them.

Here are my top 10 reasons why you should read this book.

1) You can trust the author. Kamal Ravikant is a Silicon Valley entrepreneur who found himself at rock bottom – a soul-sucking, heart-crushing, body-wrecking bottom. He pulled himself out of that mess with a simple vow to love himself fully, deeply, and completely. He has no motive – not to make money, not to become famous. He just wants to share what he learned with other people so they can maybe avoid going through what he went through.

2) The book is blessedly short. You can read it in under an hour. The author isn’t a scientist, psychologist, or personal development guru. He’s just a guy. Like you. Like me, but not a girl. Having zero credentials works here because he doesn’t spend pages and pages boring the reader to hot “get-to-it-already” tears explaining why he’s qualified to write the book. Nor does he waste our time with scientific gobbly-gook about how the brain works.  (That’s the point at which I normally put a book like this down – for good.) He simply explains the exercises as he does them, encourages you to make them your own, and wishes you luck. Minimal pontification. I’m a fan.

3) The cover kicks ass. I know you are not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but in this case an exception should be made. The cover stops you cold — makes you think. The book does too. I’ve read it half a dozen times and I still go back and reread, rethink, analyze and dissect. The cover was designed by Sajid Umerji. I think he’s a rock star.

4)  Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends On It comes highly recommended by really cool people. James Altucher, who encouraged Kamal to write the book, wrote an incredible review immediately after reading it. James is a trader, investor, writer, and entrepreneur who brought himself back from the brink more than a few times. He knows good stuff. This book is good stuff. (Tim Ferris recommended it too!)

5) It’s a steal! It’s 99 cents if you buy the kindle version on Amazon. (Did you know that you don’t have to have a Kindle in order to read a Kindle book? You can download kindle software for free on your PC or Mac.) Or it’s $4.99 for the paperback version. I bought both. My life is better because of my version of the practice Kamal outlines in this book. MY. LIFE. IS. BETTER.

6) The practice that Kamal describes is simple and easy. It doesn’t mean that it’s not work. It is work. But it’s the kind of work you feel good about doing because the results are instantaneous. They will vary for everyone. We’re not all in the same place in our lives or in our minds. But if you approach your own practice with honesty, openness, and a sincere desire to be compassionate to yourself… you will see change. Big change.

7) The stuff inside works. I’m living proof. Since Paris, I’ve been making some pretty significant changes in my life. Loving myself has made it so much easier to make those changes. Has anyone noticed that Russell is happier lately? That’s because his wife has been happier lately!

8) It’s not a cure. It’s a practice. You have to apply what you are reading. Kamal incorporates this into his message by talking about his own experience with letting things slide. You can’t coast. You can’t be lazy. There are no empty promises in this book. No one says, “read this, your life will change.” Rather, it’s “apply this. There will be magic.”

9) The book is dedicated to me! Yep, you heard me right! It’s dedicated to James Altucher, yours truly, and Sajid Umerji because we “made this book happen.” I am the turkey in between some seriously talented bread in this dedication sandwich, and I am so honored. I earned my spot by reading the book when it was simply a collection of Kamal’s thoughts on what he’d been through. I’m grateful that he decided to share it with people.  Based on the reviews, they’re a pretty grateful bunch, as well.

10) It’s a solid foundation. The practice that I’ve developed from the ideas in this book has become my foundation. When I’m dedicated to it, magic happens. When I’m not, when I allow myself to coast, to be lazy, (those exact things I said you can’t do) the difference is startling.  Things start to feel a little “pre-Paris.” I feel low. It’s easier to feel  sad. Eventually, when I’ve had enough, something will remind me of the one question that Kamal gives us as a tool to return to our practice. It’s my favorite part of the whole book. The one question.

If I loved myself truly and deeply, would I let myself experience this?

No, I would not. I have no reason to ever again not love myself as completely as I possibly can.

And so I begin again, the work that is changing my life and that I expect will continue to do so for years to come.

You should read this book

Café, Thé, ou Moi? Or in English: Why I Love French Waiters

The view from my table at Jardin des Tuileries. Of course, I wasn’t in the view, I was at the table. You get the idea. My flirty waiter took this snap.

I’ve talked a bit about my ten days in Paris. It was an important time because the trip gave me some badly needed clarity about my life. One of the reasons I was able to achieve that clarity was because I had so few decisions to make. Do I have cheese or bread with my saucisson sec? Or both? After all, I am on vacation. The decisions I did make only affected me, not my work, husband, or children.

And I had QUIET time. Something that is virtually non-existent in my house. It’s not even quiet when everyone is sleeping. Both Russell and Mgazi snore!

In Paris, I felt like I had permission to enjoy “moments” because there was nothing pressing going on. Nothing to distract me from being present. Does this make sense? I’ll try to explain by telling you about one of those little moments.

I was visiting the Jardin des Tuileries. It was lunchtime and I wanted to eat. I sat down at a cafe in the middle of the park and practiced my French on my very forgiving waiter. After the poor man endured that bit of torture, he brought me a lovely cobb salad and a glass of wine. (I thought I had ordered mussels with fries but no matter.)

I took my time and enjoyed my meal in peace. No one was asking me to cut up their chicken. No one was complaining that the mashed cauliflower didn’t taste like exactly like mashed potatoes.  I didn’t have to forcibly remove my house cat from the dining room table for the umpteenth time.

It was quiet and I was content.

Twenty-five luxurious minutes floated by and I had just finished my last bite when the waiter revisited my table. In English, he asked, “Coffee, tea or me?”

I couldn’t help but smile (and probably blush). “I think I would like some dessert,” I said.

He returned my smile (although he pretended to look a little disappointed too) and turned away to leave. As he passed the couple at the table next to me, he leaned toward them and stage-whispered, “Did you hear that? She didn’t say ‘no.’”

I laughed. The couple at the next table laughed. The waiter laughed. It was a little moment. But one that I got to enjoy fully because no one was making demands on me or my time. It was a moment I had time to savor.

Paris was full of moments like that. They are a part of what made the trip so special. I will never forget these moments and I will always relive them with a smile.


It never would have occurred to me to share this simple little story even though it makes me so happy to remember it. But I read a post today about an unexpected bike ride on the blog, The Deliberate Mom. She was writing about the magic of the mundane with encouragement from the blog Sofia’s Ideas. I thought it was a great idea and decided to do it too.

Thank you, Deliberate Mom and Sofia! I got an extra boost of “happy” today by writing this little memory down.

Post-Paris Kristine

I have referred to myself jokingly and not-so-jokingly as “Post-Paris Kristine” dozens of times in the last few months. Twice I’ve tried to explain what the term meant and both times the result was dissatisfying. I was only able to scratch the surface, not fully explain. I realize that I don’t fully understand it myself.

Post-Paris Kristine

Before I went to Paris, I was living a very nice life. After the initial logistical and emotional upheaval of the adoption, our family had found our routine. The kids were going to school, learning, growing, and happy. Russell and I had found our groove too. It took us 15 years of sometimes tumultuous marriage but we finally realized we could not be everything to each other. The relief was immense and immediate and our relationship improved by leaps and bounds. It was the first time in years that I considered myself “happily married.”

I was finally working in the field I had coveted for 10 years. It was far from what I expected, but there was a certain pride at having achieved this goal, despite the sacrifices I had to make.

The shell of my life, what surrounded me and supported me was functioning, humming right along. Inside of me though, not much was going on.

I started working out and taking better care of myself. There was pride in this, but also guilt. Just like many other 40-year old woman — rattled by the signs of aging that confronted me daily, I started spending money on treatments and creams and anti-aging promises. I started wearing make-up for the first time at 40 years old. I no longer believed that the untouched-up me was good enough to present to the world. I longed to be attractive to people other than Russell. (This would prove my worth, as his opinion seemed to matter less for some reason.) I was unable to extract myself from the sticky muck of nostalgia, even though I knew deep down that it was unhealthy. I was terrified of getting old.

So I took up jogging.

My future wasn’t bleak, it was just there. I didn’t expect there to be joy in my life. My happiness would come from professional accomplishments, pride in my children, experiencing new people and places through travel. I didn’t expect to learn or grow. Happiness certainly would not come from within me. There was nothing to draw on.

I no longer believed in God. When I died, I would disappear.

In a way, I already had.

As Pre-Paris Kristine I was grateful that my life had reached a stability and level of comfort that it had not had until then. But if pressed, I would have uneasily acknowledged that I believed this to be a bitter trade-off. Stability but no magic. Contentedness but no joy. Expectations but no hope.

I was existing, but not living. I diligently executed my responsibilities in my roles as mother, wife, and professional. There was no fulfillment in being me. There was no me.

Then came Paris. Ten days of being responsible to no one but myself. Ten days during which the biggest decision I had to make was what I would drink with dinner: red wine or white wine? Those ten days of “freedom” allowed me to be open and relaxed enough to set aside my cynicism for a little while. I allowed myself to consider ideas that I had previously and whole-heartedly rejected.

Those ideas came from a friend to whom I’ll be forever grateful. They came at the precise moment, and possibly only moment in years, when I was able to listen.

I had fascinating conversations while in Paris. At home, I didn’t have the time or the patience to discuss anything at length. I didn’t have the courage or the confidence to even attempt introspection.

My life had become so muted, that I didn’t even know that I needed these things until they were happening. I didn’t fully realize that I had given up until I had stopped giving up. In Paris, I had the time. I had the courage.

While I explored the city outside my apartment, I also explored my spirit. I learned that there were exciting “places” that I could take myself, my mind, and that the world was full of possibilities. Without fully comprehending what I was doing, I began a journey.

Of course, eventually, I had to return home. I wanted to go home. I missed my family. But I didn’t want to leave my fascinating life in France. My life at home had become muted, neutral. In Paris, my life had colors. I was afraid to “go back.” What if it all went away? What if Paris wasn’t magic at all, but simply a dream?

For a while after I returned, I found comfort in the belief that I had “learned” a lot in Paris. But in retrospect I realize that I wasn’t really learning as in “incorporating”, I was just opening myself up to the possibility of accepting new ideas (or old ideas I had previously rejected). This was still important, but it made things slightly more difficult when regular life resumed.

The best example of an idea I thought I had learned: I have everything inside of me that I need for happiness and fulfillment and love.

Before Paris, if someone said to me, “Kristine, you have all the tools you need inside of yourself to be everything you could ever want to be,” I would have replied (if I had the courage to be perfectly honest), “I want to agree with you, but I just can’t. Other people may have that, but I do not. It’s simply not in me. I am too afraid.”

Immediately after Paris, if someone had said the same exact thing to me, I would have replied, “Yes! I just learned this. Isn’t it wonderful?”

Of course, that response would have been a good example of my Post-Paris high. I didn’t learn really learn that. I heard it. Remembered it. But was I living it?

Not sure.

As the Post-Paris glow faded, I struggled.  If someone said to me a couple of months later, “Kristine, you have all the tools you need inside of yourself to love yourself and be a complete, content human being,” I would say,  “Yes, I believe that too. But I am not there yet. I am trying. It’s more difficult than I expected, but I hope to reach that place someday.”

And that’s why I have committed to doing a “big thing” each month of 2012.  I’m being proactive in changing my life. I’m not sitting around waiting for it to happen. And I’m finding, slowly, that as a result, I really like me.

My time in Paris transformed me. It was slight but it was significant. As the same dear friend likes to remind me: a small degree of change can make a huge difference.

Things I that did learn in Paris:

  • Possibilities do exist. This is probably the most important thing I have learned. I don’t always believe it 100% of the time. But since Paris, I have always and continuously returned to it.
  • I do have in me what I need to make changes in my life. Real changes. I used to think that life ruled me for the most part, and that any changes in the direction I wanted to go were coincidental. I don’t think that any more.
  • People can manage fear by letting in light.

Things I have learned Post-Paris:

  • I believe I have in me what I need to be happy and feel love without the constant yearning for validation.
  • I cherish myself.
  • Forgiving myself is okay. I don’t always have to be so hard on myself.

When I look at this list, it’s not small stuff at all.

The new me is Post-Paris Kristine. It’s not future me. In referring to my old ways of thinking I sometimes say the “real me” but that is not accurate. The real me is the me of today. I am Post-Paris Kristine. It’s not just a moniker.

Before Paris, I had expectations but not hope. Today I have both.

I hope that I can teach my girls what I’m learning. I’m embarrassed that it has taken me this long to be clued in. I don’t want that to happen to them. When I walked over fire the first time, I did it for me. I told the people around me. “I’m doing this because this is the year that I’m learning to love myself.” Then I walked over 12 feet of burning coals. When I had the opportunity to do it again, I didn’t hesitate.  I did it for my girls. I said, “I’m a mom and I don’t want my girls to be 41-years old before they walk on fire.” What I meant was, I don’t want them to be struggling like I have been when they are my age. I want them to be confident and self-fulfilled women well before they reach the age of 41.

I am a firewalker. I am Post-Paris Kristine.

I want to earn a new moniker. I want to earn several. Paris was a wonderful gift and my moniker reminds me every day how blessed I am. Imagine how magical my life will be if I collect monikers like badges on a Girl Scout’s sash.