Japan: Travel, Culture, and Hula Hoops

I remember as a kid I would tell my Dad I wanted him to take me to Japan. In those days I was mesmerized with Harajuku fashion. The chances of that actually happening seemed to be close to 0.01%, though. Yet, this past December of 2014, during my yearly visit to the Philippines, my Dad decided we would visit Japan! Interesting how things happen, huh? We left on January 11 for our 6-day stay where we would visit Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto and Nara.

We flew in as the sun was about to set, sending us on a ride through a lit-up Tokyo after arriving. As if it couldn’t get any better (I mean, we’re in Japan!), we had a 23rd floor view of the city. It was incredible. The next day we would be going to the Tokyo Tower, Imperial Palace, and another Shine that I can’t remember the name of. It was a good day in all, ending early and allowing me to go out and walk about in Tokyo. I explored the streets, drinking saki and discovered my new love for tempura and Udon Noodles at a spot I found not far from the hotel. Having been in the Philippines the prior month, I truly appreciated the sense of freedom I could have in Japan.

DSCN3155

Delicious Udon and Tempura

DSCN3131

The proof.

The third day we left Tokyo and headed for Fuji; I was prepared with my hoop. The mountain was so large we could see it from the hotel room in Tokyo. After an hour long ride out of Tokyo, we drove up to the 4th station of Mt. Fuji. You could see mountain ranges across the entire horizon from here. Despite the fact there was snow, it didn’t stop me from immediately throwing off my gloves and hoodie as I proceeded to start filming my next hoop video. I’m not gonna deny it, it was pretty badass hula-hooping on Mt. Fuji and you can watch the video at the bottom of this post!

DSCN3093

Next stop: Lake Ashi. Arriving, we took boat ride to the Kagome Ropeway and that ropeway took us to the top of a mountain where we could see bodies of water, green mountains, and the glorious Mt. Fuji. On the mountain itself, there was a shrine and a very natural setting that warmly welcomed you to explore. It seemed though as soon we got up, it was time to go down. From there we traveled to the train station and took the bullet train (which is the coolest train ever) to Osaka, our next day completely free to explore.

DSCN3202

My step-mothers first time around snow!

DSCN3274

The view of Mt. Fuji

I went to Shinsaibashi area in Osaka the next day to find a pair of boots and go to Neko no Jo, a cat café. I managed to take the subway all by myself (bonus points from myself) to get there, spending all day walking around and taking it in the different sights. Off the main road, there were narrow streets with shops, one after the next, loud music blasting from many, selling lolita clothing to fuzzy accessories that looks like small animals.  So, I found my boots, and found the cat café. My number one goal of going to Japan: complete. (Yes, it was to go to a cat cafe).

The next day was a tour in Kyoto and Nara. The rainy day didn’t stop me from enjoying my last tour of Japan to the fullest. We visited the places in Kyoto, including the Nijo Castle.  Then, 70 minutes away in Nara we visited the Todaji Temple, home of the world’s largest Buddha. This city was particularly interesting due to the large amounts of free roaming deer you could feed and pet. Nature and humanity joined as one here and it was a beautiful thing to experience.

DSCN3303

A Temple in Kyoto

DSCN3317

Deer in Nara

In all, Japan was an incredible experience and I can’t wait to go back! The country itself is a very organized and functioning society yet also has a vast variety of culture that anyone can find something they enjoy! Just taking a walk around the cities you will always have something different to look at and discover. If you had the opportunity to go to Japan, what would you do?! Comment below and be sure to check out my ‘Hooping Japan’ video!

Thanks for reading and happy travels!

-Kayla Marie

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Set Goals, Not Resolutions this 2015

This year I spent New Years in The Philippines. How crazy is that? It was actually quite annoying about half the day, with continuous noise makers going off and those snapping gunpowder things that sounded like gunshots, I was afraid to even go outside.

It was quite amazing at the same time though. Once the clock hit midnight, the entire community was shooting off fireworks. We went up to our roof and had there not been a tree blocking the view behind us, would have had a 360 degree firework show. Check out the video below:

 

2014 was my first year out of school, so my focus was hoop dance, working, and growing my career in anyway I could. I had remembered that I wrote my goals for 2014 in my journal the year before, what I discovered was awesome.

Here was my goal list as written (and what happened with the goal in parenthesis).

  • Sell 30+ hoops (I don’t know the exact number but it came close)
  • Get 2 Shows (Got my first at Edinboro Manor and would have appeared in the                                         homecoming parade had I not left town, I still feel accomplished)
  • Go to France (Nope, I was also in a desperate mindstate to leave.)
  • Move out (Check.)
  • Get AFAA Certified (Check.)
  • Good Health (Meh, it was on and off.)
  • Learn to Meditate (Didn’t happen, but did attempt.)
  • Blog (Check.)
  • Have a successful performance page (It’s going and still on it’s way.)
  • Visit Colorado (Went there plus California, Texas, Georgia, and MANY others.)

Of course I didn’t make every goal but the ones I did make were nonetheless, substantial moves and life changing. I’m already excited about seeing what my 2015 goal list will bring me.

So why set goals over resolutions? How many times have we tried resolutions and seen them fail? Exactly. Resolutions make us enter the year acting upon our resolutions immediately and in doing so, they burn up. Not implying that it’s impossible to not live up to our New Years resolutions, but for those who have trouble sticking to resolutions, try writing this years goals instead.

The goals I made last year were all things I had in mind that would better myself in the future, as a person and in my business. I envisioned who I would become from accomplishing these things as my motivation when writing, and viewed them as the next steps in my life. The best part was, I didn’t start immediately in 2014 as many people would with resolutions, my goals were more like general guidelines.

For 2015, I encourage you to try this and put your list somewhere you’ll see it often. Don’t have a sense of urgency to start to it all because of the New Year, relax, you have the whole year ahead of you, all that matters is that you start somewhere.

My 2015 Goals:

  • Move somewhere
  • Continue blogging
  • Reach 800 YouTube Subscribers (you can support at: youtube.com/misskay4201 ;))
  • Start Newsletter (Round 2)
  • Set-up and do 10 performances
  • Get regular hoop teaching gig
  • Get off my thyroid medication
  • Gogo dance
  • Teach @ Return to Roots again
  • Get Stronger

What’s on your goal list for 2015? Comment below and follow me endless inspiration!

Happy New Year!!

-Kayla Marie

Find me elsewhere:                                                                                           youtube.com/misskay4201                                                                facebook.com/kaylahoopdance                                        instagram.com/wanderingkaylamarie

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Philippines Flight Commentary

Live writing and thoughts as I travel to The Philippines:

Right now I’m sitting at the Erie airport waiting to board. Jackie and I got up at 3:30 AM to head to the airport and we made an early arrival at 4 AM for my 6 AM flight. I haven’t really processed that I’m here again already. 3rd times a charm they say. This next two months I’ll be in The Philippines, yeah, I got this. I think.

Always somewhere… #travel #airport #Philippines #passport #asia

A post shared by Kayla Smith (@kaylamarieisfire) on

Airports are so good for people watching, like, probably the best place to in fact.

My connecting flight to Asia the past two years has been Detroit, this year it’s Chicago, thank goodness, because this airport is hella cool. Considering I have a three hours layover it’s a pretty nice airport to spend time walking around in. I had to stop walking though. 1. Carrying all my shit is killing me and 2. I’ve sweat through my shirt already. Like come on, can’t I at least get to Tokyo before this becomes a problem? I should probably stop drinking lattes all day.

Time to check out the new book I just impulse bought.

I swear, some airports suck when it comes to internet.

Tokyo also kinda sucked when it came to internet. You know that that means though, I survived the 13 hour flight. Now I’m ready to board again to head to Manila. Four more hours and I’m out! I’ve been awake close to 24 hours now which isn’t as bad as my past trips to The Philippines.

#Tokyo

A post shared by Kayla Smith (@kaylamarieisfire) on

If you ever fly to Asia, I recommend ANA airlines. Japanese style flying is way cooler than any U.S. flight I’ve ever been on.

People watching now. This woman is struggling to put her carry on in the over head. Pretty sure she’s gonna have to put it elsewhere. Ohp (yes I spelled that right), the attendant took it. Okay, well, peace. Until next time, I will be in The Philippines.

Made it to the #Philippines check out the patio view! It even has space to #hoop ! #travel #Asia #dance

A post shared by Kayla Smith (@kaylamarieisfire) on

Hey travelers, what’s the best flight you’ve been on and where did you go? Comment below and if you’re on instagram don’t forget to follow me on my adventures!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

United States Road Trip Round-Up!

As I sit here in Georgia reflecting on my trip, it’s surprising to me how little I think of what I just did. My purpose behind this journey was to do something for me, not to travel the USA in particular. Traveling was just my way of doing something for myself and my sanity. I’ve been behind on my work and decided to skip my blog about Denver, Colorado. As everyday passes I think I should get it done but now the time has come where I’d prefer to keep things present as possible. Therefor, here is my USA trip round-up and stats that I just did.

Miles driven: 6, 041 (approximately)

Hours driven: over 101

States gone through: 22

Cities visited: 12 cities visited, 17 stops total

  • Slippery Rock
  • Pittsburgh
  • Dagus Mines
  • Philadelphia
  • Washington D.C.
  • Cary
  • Atlanta
  • Shreveport
  • Dallas
  • El Paso
  • San Diego
  • Los Angeles (Venice Beach, Hollywood, Sherman Oaks, Santa Monica)
  • Las Vegas
  • Boulder
  • Denver
  • Kansas City
  • Saint Louis

Days on the road: 71

Favorites:

My number one place for food goes to…El Paso! If you want REAL mexican food, come here. You will be in LOVE.

Radio stations…Atlanta. If you love hip-hop, this is THE place to be. Los Angeles is number two as they have many great DJ’s playing daily.

Weather…El Paso and San Diego! Sunny! What else can I say?

Drive…Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, and Colorado are all at a tie. They are some of the most gorgeous states I got to drive through and had me in awe at almost every turn.

Here is a video for y’all just shot in Georgia, you know I couldn’t leave you hanging!

I hope you have enjoyed this blog series as much as I did traveling to write about it all! Next up I will be flying to Erie, Pennsylvania this weekend and then heading off to the Philippines on December first. The next adventure is just around the corner…

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Two Days in Sin City

Las Vegas: A land where chapels are open 24/7 and you can hire strippers from driving billboards. As they say, what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, and you know what? It’s true. Despite the crazy-ness it was, I felt settled there. Maybe it was the constant stimulation and freaks running wild, either way, I loved it.

I left Santa Monica around noon on a Sunday, bound for Las Vegas. I was exhilarated realizing I was starting my trek back East. I arrived at about 7 PM, met my host and his family, and hit a place called The Spike. The Spike was this cool spot to eat, drink and play giant versions of Jenga, Cornholl, and Beer Pong. Although entertaining, it couldn’t quite compare to my fascination with Fremont Street. There were three stages with live music at them all, impersonators, and things happening in every direction. Although I was not planning to busk, I felt that I had to here and went out the next night.

Arriving I parked behind two people who were just getting out of their car. Seeing that they were getting something put together I had a feeling they were going to be out on Fremont and I had to talk to them. Crazy enough, I discover that they were from Cory, Pennsylvania, a town only 40 minutes from Edinboro. It was crazy meeting someone so close to home, never had I even meet anyone from North Western, PA. My new friends gave me the low down on working Fremont and I was off! I had an incredibly fun time hooping there and meeting many great people. I learned that Vegas is full of characters and I loved it. On top of this, I proudly managed to meet my goal on what I wanted to make busking. I tell you, it was one of the most magical nights of my life.

My last full day in Vegas was spent on the Strip, where I decided to shoot this destinations video. The Strip was full of the hotels we’ve only heard of, tourists, and street entertainers. I could only imagine how amazing The Strip would be at night! I spent my time just walking around and taking it in, then left to meet up with Arash, my host’s friend who had the night before taken photos of me busking.

That night I got to sleep by 10 PM preparing myself for the next days 13 hour drive. I woke up at 3 AM, finished the last of packing and was on my way to Boulder, Colorado.

Check out the photos and video below:

IMG_90

Busking on Fremont Street, Photo credit: Arash

                                          DSCN2888

 On the Vegas Strip.

DSCN2866DSCN2870

 

As soon as your on Fremont…                       Like I said, places we’ve only heard of

DSCN2903

 Cows chillin’ in the road in Utah.

DSCN2914

An amazing Canyon in Utah.

And of course this destination’s video:

Now, what is one of the craziest places you’ve ever gotten to experience? Comment below, I’d love to know!

Please follow and sign-up for my newsletter for the latest updates and content only my readers get here.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The City of Angels

Realizing I was heading to one of the country’s largest cities was unbelievable, it was also funny because I remember being terrified to drive into Philadelphia and by the time I hit LA I was like whatever, I got this. They say traffic is ‘crazy’ but really, it’s not. Yes, there is A TON of traffic but when I heard ‘crazy’ I thought everyone was going to be an asshole. I found that California drivers are 10x calmer than us East Coasters when it comes to driving, actually.

I started my journey by couchsurfing in Sherman Oaks and spent my first day driving into Venice to check out the beach everyone had been telling me about. I loved every artist I met, I felt like talking to them was an easy flow,  but there are also a lot of people with not very welcoming vibes. I then got the crazy idea to go busk there the next day, I made $15, $13 of which was tipped by this pervert,  leaving me with a sleazy impression and sick of Venice.

In the midst of this my host had to kick me out (I did nothing wrong, I promise!) and was left needing to find a place to stay that weekend. It was scary and felt like a huge stress but I made it work and managed to find a different place to stay both nights.

In my last days I went to Hollywood and Santa Monica. In Hollywood  my best friend from childhood met me and we got to explore the boulevard, it was everything you would imagine it to be and very cool to experience. Seeing a friend from home was also amazing, I had not spent time with anyone like that since Philadelphia.

My last day I ended up in a photoshoot with Tiffany Grove of Balancing Warrior Yoga. We ended up having yogis and aerialists there for the shoot too. We took everything down to muscle beach and spent the time shooting there. I even got to try silks for the first time (I want to learn now!) and spent time with the girls on the greens practicing acro yoga. Now if only everywhere had a gathering of acro-yogis!!

I decided to change up my usual video and did a promotional video for Tiffany’s hand-painted yoga pants. There is some amazing talent to see here! If you love the pants she makes, follow her @BalancingWarriorYoga in order to win free yoga gear!

You can find the video underneath my photos from LA 🙂

DSCN2788

 

Sitting in Kat Von D’s gallery shop.

DSCN2791

 

I couldn’t not take a photo of Michael Jackson’s star!!!

 

DSCN2796

And this is what I do when there are hand prints all over the ground…

 

DSCN2815

The Hollywood sign from the observatory!

DSCN2817

And a shot of L.A. from the observatory!

Check out the video below to see some amazing talent and sick clothing design!

Until next time everyone ❤

Kayla Marie

To get all of my content and not miss a thing, sign-up for my newsletter here and recieve a FREE mini hip-hop hoop dance workshop. http://eepurl.com/YG3oD

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

There’s no going back: San Diego

After a 12 hour drive (yes, I kid you not) I made it to Oceanside, California to post up for the night. My arrangements were to stay in Oceanside with my couchsurfing host Michael but learning that my friend and mentor Sarah Jordan, of Teach Kids to Hoop, was going to be moving into her and her husbands new place, I ended up in San Diego staying with them. It worked out perfectly.

Arriving in California was amazing, it meant that I had made it and could not turn back. Turning back only meant I could complete my journey as I had planned. The feeling that I really did it, was incredible. It almost brings tears to my eyes thinking that I made it to California, thinking that only 40 days before it was only a thought and of course, a goal.

I didn’t originally plan to go to San Diego but after knowing that was where Sarah was, I had to visit! It was so great to see her again and to finally be able to meet her husband Chad, and dog, Ziggy, whom I had seen many photos of before.

Being my first taste of California I was in love with it. I spent much of my time around the Ocean Beach area, meeting as many characters as I could and eating as much delicious food as possible (my downfall). Newport Avenue, a busy place that had lots of cool shops is where I ended up spending almost ALL of my spending money. The verdict: As long as I make it back to Georgia, it was worth it.

In all, I enjoyed the most beautiful weather yet and had so much fun getting to know California for the first time.

Sarah and I collaborated on this destinations video, using California Dreamin’ on the track. The choreography is created by me and includes additional freestyles.

On another note, there will be no more tutorials, I have tried my best to keep up with them but due to a recent lack of energy and stress I can not continue them until I am feeling more stable.

And last but not least, my top photos from my stay 🙂

DSCN2645

Spent this night out busking with Sarah, it was a successful night!

DSCN2655

Probably the BEST sign ever!

DSCN2666

The beautiful palm trees captivated me.

DSCN2685

A view from the pier at Ocean Beach, so amazing!

DSCN2712

A shot from our  video shoot!

Thanks again for reading and following up with my adventure!

-Kayla Marie

P.S. Don’t miss a thing and sign-up for my newsletter here: http://eepurl.com/YG3oD

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment