" A PARADISE CLOSE TO HOME."

It had already been a few months since our last vacation to Canada. After taking 4 in the month alone of December 2015, Sarah and I were ready to hit the travel trails again. The thing with constant travel is that you're always looking forward to the next trip with loads of excitement. We had a big trip coming up, but decided that we needed to get away now. We made the decision to stay close to home and it turned out to be one of the best decisions we could have made.



      Like Joshua Tree, Lake Arrowhead was only ninety miles outside of Los Angeles. A hop, skip and a jump away from the city. We had heard nothing but great things about it. Once again we were lucky and dodged traffic on the way up. Speaking of which, on the way up was one of the best parts of the trip.


      The mountain road you take to get up to Lake Arrowhead had some of the most aesthetically beautiful sights you could see anywhere. Sarah and I, never shy to snap photos or videos, were in total bliss. You know how they say, some places on earth can put you closer to heaven? Well, within the hills of San Bernardino this was it. It's a scene you just have to take time to admire while taking deep breaths of the fresh clean air. All the while, you can feel your soul being revitalized. WOW, was all I could think of.


   We reached our resort and was eager to get the trip started. It was about 54 degrees Fahrenheit so we had to dress a bit warm, but I didn't mind it since I'm a huge fan of winter clothes. The resort was built like a large log cabin out in the woods. I feel like anything that's created with that amount of a natural resource is bound to ground you in a wonderful peaceful way. That's the main objective when taking a trip that's predominantly a natural location.
 
     We rented a boat to take out onto Lake Arrowhead and had an absolute blast. Our captain was a native, so he gave us a ton of background on the entire place. We saw some of the most elegant houses imaginable.  There were a few celebrities that vacationed during the winter who made great contributions to the community. You could tell that the spirit of this place was rooted in tranquility. Sometimes the best sounds are the sounds of your own breath. Peace in your heart, pep in your step, and joy in your surroundings. This is a recipe for one amazing getaway.
 
  If you're looking to connect with nature, relax, go out on the water, and even do some shopping in the village, Lake Arrowhead is a great place to do it all. If nothing else, you can enjoy the immaculate sights along the way. It's sure to take your breath away. We're just thankful that we have "A PARADISE CLOSE TO HOME."
 
Cheers,
 
Shaun Grant
CEO Uplifter Entertainment

"A 'KEY' PART OF OUR LIVES."

Before I met Sarah Fullerton, the only time I had ever heard anything about the Florida keys was watching the Notorious B.I.G.'s video, "Hypnotize." Now that we've vacationed multiple times in the last few years, it's hard to believe that as close as I was,  living in southeast Louisiana, I never visited once. But at this point in my life, I'm a firm believer that things that are meant to stay for a lifetime will always come at the right time. Enter KEY COLONY BEACH, FL.

 
     It was December of 2011, and this was our first big trip together. It would be an understatement to say I was nervous. At this point, I had won over pretty much everyone that was close to Sarah, but the real test would come when I was set to meet her parents, Brian and Lolly. I had only heard a few conversations over the phone about my would be in-laws. All in all, they seemed like really great people. The one thing that stood out in my mind was, you better be on your A game!
 
      Sarah and I had only been together for a few months, but we were madly in love with each other. I know she was excited to take me home, so I wanted to live up to all of the expectations that she created for me. Still, NO PRESSURE! Lol. So many emotions to experience all at once, and the time had come to see what the future would hold.
 
     We arrived at the airport in Fort Lauderdale safely. After we got our baggage, we met up with her parents and we were off on the 120 mile trek to Marathon Island. The great thing about the ride down to the keys is you get to see how truly beautiful South Florida is. As I sit in the back of the car, I start to think about some of the people I idolized and how they vacationed or even lived in this part of the country. In a way, I sort of felt like that. It was a cool moment for me, especially considering that I could spend it with the woman I loved and her family. Sarah's mom Lolly, whose one of the sweetest people you would ever meet, helped make me feel more at ease by asking questions about my background. Surprisingly, I enjoy reliving my journey considering where I've ended up today. It has shaped me into a person who loves to inspire others. This was a great way to start the trip. I was feeling confident and ready for anything. I couldn't quite read her dad, Brian, right away but I could tell he was a good, kindhearted generous man whose occasional jokes would light up a room. All in all, we all felt like family when they truly realized how much I loved Sarah. This set the tone for the rest of our lives together and the abundant joy we would all experience in this unforgettable place.
 
   Key Colony Beach is wonderful because it offers so many outdoor activities as well as kind people. It has a peaceful sense about it. A place where you can wake up to the morning sunrise, enjoy the view of the ocean, and watch sunsets that would make Picasso jealous. After my second time going which happened to be our wedding, I always thought of it as "THE PLACE WHERE STRESS NO LONGER EXISTS." If you can imagine that type of place, then you are right in the heart of Key Colony Beach. We are huge fans of nature and one of the best highlights is Crane Point. Crane Point is a Natural Reserve Park that was inhabited by one of the first families in Marathon Island. Before there were businesses, it was all mangrove. What's so dynamic about it is that you can feel like you're right in the jungle with all of the wildlife that surrounds you. The park also rescues wounded birds from the wild and treats their injuries. This is one of the more impressive sights within the grounds. All things aside, if you're looking for peace, nature, aesthetic views and education, Crane Point is a must see for you.
 
      Another one of the most amazing things about Key Colony Beach is the food. Now, I'm sorry that you'll probably never get to taste the wonderful delicious pancakes that my mother in law makes for breakfast. Not to mention, they come with pure organic maple syrup that her and my father in law tap from their own trees.  Aside from this little piece of heaven, there are a lot of great places to choose from. Often times, the emphasis being on seafood. Being from New Orleans and being a huge shrimp fan, I was in an eater's utopia. With so many places to choose from, you can have your pick of the litter. Some of our favorites are Burdine's, Island Fish Company and Sweet Savannah's (ice cream, yum! Non dairy options as well.) The best advice is to find a place you love and keep going back for the down home cooking experience. You won't be disappointed.
 
     Great vacation is one thing, but when you think about what is being done for the good of the ecosystem in the Keys is top notch. Not far from Key Colony, there's a Dolphin Rescue Resort. We had the pleasure of swimming with these terrific mammals and it seemed like everyone had an ear wide smile. By far one of the most exhilarating experiences for us all. If you can envision 600 pound "water" puppies with tons of personality, this would be something you wouldn't want to pass up.
 
Lastly, the reason this place holds such a dear place in my heart is because it's the place I married my soulmate. On December 28, 2012 my life changed greatly. In a small ceremony of mostly family and friends, Sarah and I tied the knot. Every year since we have gone back to spend Christmas with her wonderful parents. Key Colony Beach holds nothing but the fondest memories for us. It gives us a sense of excitement and tranquility at the same time. We become ecstatic whenever we can get the chance to go back, which has become very often. Sarah and I are both fortunate to say that it has become a "KEY" part of our hearts and a "KEY" part of our lives. If you're in the area, visit and experience some of the most amazing experiences you could ever have.
 
Cheers,
 
Shaun Grant
CEO UPLIFTER ENTERTAINMENT

"PLAY, LOVE, MEXICO"

I don't think most people would ever realize it until they see it for themselves, but Mexico is one of the most beautiful countries on this planet. From the colorful bath like water on sandy beaches, to the ever flowing lush palm trees, Mexico is a one of a kind place. My birthday was coming up and we had just got back from Thailand a few months earlier and Sarah wanted to do something really special for me. I had always wanted to go to Mexico, but for some reason I never had the chance. That, my friends, was about to change. 

I was getting ready to turn 34 and was wondering what should I do? Ever since I turned 30, I started to realize that a year older is a major milestone. You evolve so much physically, mentally and spiritually that it’s important to reward yourself for a year done well! Playa Del Carmen caught my eye in a luxury magazine a few years back. I knew I was going to get the chance to go, but I wanted to be able to share it with the person I loved the most, my wife. When Sarah found out about this desire I had to go to this paradise, she didn’t waste anytime booking it. To my surprise our trip was booked for one week in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico. To say I was excited was an understatement!

We had to fly to the Baja side of Mexico near the Caribbean Sea. Although a bit long, it was worth the wait. When we reached Cancun, we were greeted immediately by people carrying water bottles and tequila. I was like whoa! I guess they do like to party here. We drink from time to time, but only for special occasions mostly, so we passed on the tequila and went for the water. So we hop in our shuttle bus and we are off to our resort. What I find amazing when taking shuttles in a country you aren’t familiar with is that you can learn so much from your driver if you’re willing to be talkative and friendly. The gentleman we had escorting us was truly amazing. We talked about all things from real estate to the best places to eat and areas to frequent while we were here in Mexico. He was truly one of a kind, but more importantly it reiterated one of the most significant lessons when traveling: Get as much information as you can from the locals, and it doesn’t hurt to make new friends.

The Shawshank Redemption has always been one of my favorite movies. In one of my favorite parts of the film, Red played by Morgan Freeman walks along a beautiful beach to meet up with his friend Andy, played by Tim Robbins. Before Red reaches his destination, he expresses the joy between excitement and uncertainty. It’s a fine line, but it’s what makes a new place a soulful experience. As we walked the beach, this is what I felt inside. It was paradise. We were the ones in the picture of the luxury magazine. The exhilaration that creates is something you must experience for yourself. It was truly a dream come true unfolding right in front of our eyes.

One of the best parts of the trip was swimming in the Caribbean Sea. The water is clear and you can see all of the uniquely beautiful fish. Before I conquered my fear of deep water, I never realized how being underwater could place you in a whole new world. As creations of God, we are all connected in every way. What better way to feel that connection than to put yourself in position to experience it the same way as the fish, whales and dolphins do. As I watched Sarah swim through the water like an enchanted mermaid, a life lesson arises in my mind. That lesson, simple yet effective, is: “WHEN WE SEE THE WORLD THROUGH THE EYES OF OTHERS, THEIR WORLD BECOMES A PART OF OUR OWN. HENCE ,BROADENING OUR PERSPECTIVE ON OUR LIVES AND THE LIVES OF OTHERS.”

Whether it was the walks through the jungle, the candle light dinners or the nights spent reading in our aesthetic suite, Mexico gave us the feeling of being all that you are destined to be in this life. It taught us that the balance of giving yourself time off is essential to your health and happiness. You can’t give 100% if you’re not 100% yourself. The many people we met, consistently show us that kindness is what keeps humanity going. It’s what makes human beings feel alive. A smile, a nod, a hand wave, any kind gesture can change the route of anyone’s day for the greater.

In conclusion, why visit Playa Del Carmen? Because the beauty that lies here, you can take with you anywhere. Life is about discovering beauty in any place at any time. The type of beauty that stops you, makes you think, smile and be so grateful that something this wonderful could exist in the three dimensional world right in front of you. To touch it  see it, feel it, smell it and taste it is unlike any other feeling on this earth. This is life, this is love, this is joy, this is peace, this is Mexico.

Cheers,

Shaun Grant

CEO Uplifter Entertainment

"THAI PARADISE"

Traveling is by far one of our most favorite things to do. Just the thought at taking in new experiences by exposing ourselves to new environments is something Sarah and I always try to take advantage of. We've been to many places since we've been together, but one place that sticks out greatly is our trip to Thailand. This trip was special for me in a number of ways. One, Sarah's family has a history with one of the most amazing orphanages in the world. Two, it's on the other side of the globe. If you ever want to truly experience life different than you have, make it a point to take an excursion across the vast oceans. Three, most importantly, it was another amazing journey with my wife. Life only comes around once, so what better way to spend it than with your favorite people along for the ride.

When we found out that we were going, we were super excited until we found out about the near nineteen hour flight. I thought to myself, wow how will I ever keep busy. Great thing is, it wasn't as bad as we thought. Sure you get a little bit stir crazy and your feet swell, but once you realize what's ahead of you, patience and jubilation set in all at the same time. After a stop for a few days in Hong Kong, which was amazing, we made our way to Bangkok. To be honest with you, the last time I heard about Bangkok was in the Hangover 3 film. Needless to say, I knew it would be interesting regardless. We got off the plane and immediately the weather was so beautiful. "Sawadika!...Sawadika!" The expression for hello in Thaiis uttered politely and consistently by the natives. The initial vibrational expression of generosity is apparent after being in the country for only five minutes. It was extremely hot at the time and every person I could see had sweat spots on their shirts. I'm not a huge fan of the heat, but I instantly realized that it could be a lot worse. Not to mention, there was always a lovely Thai woman or man handing out water to us, so that really made a huge difference. If I learned nothing else from this trip thus far, I've learned that kindness is an awesome ice breaker. 
 
We hop in our car and we are off to Pattaya. As we travel along the freeways you notice all of the building development taking place. In a way it's good to see a country evolve into a more modern state of living. What's interesting is that for every building that's constructed, there is still the beautiful natural reserves of Thailand. The trees are lush and green, the soil is full and red and the wildlife seems content for the most part. There's so many emotions that permeate through you as you ponder what's ahead, but being able to stay in the moment and frequently express gratitude can keep you calm and seeing things from a good perspective.
 
After a two hour drive, we reach our destination, the Dusit-Thani Resort. I look at Sarah and realize we have just hit paradise. I think to myself, wow I can see why this is my father-in-law's favorite place to stay. From plants, trees, to marble fountains, this place had it all. Often what's most important to us is the vibration of the place. Does it breed happiness, love, peace, joy, tranquility? It had all of these! When we reached our room, the first thing that catches your eye is the ocean. Up to this point in my life, the only body of water I had been exposed to was the Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific Ocean. My eyes lit up and in a small calm voice, I heard: "YOU BELONG HERE, ENJOY IT!"
 
We didn't waste anytime experiencing all that Thailand has to offer. From zip lining to bamboo rafting down a jungle river, to snorkeling in water that feels like your taking a warm bath, we did it all. Each adventure gave me a chance to step out of my comfort zone. One of the most memorable experiences would be snorkeling. Although I'm not the greatest swimmer, having my wife and mother-in-law, who are phenomenal, has helped me immensely when it comes to the water. Six months earlier, an unforgettable life lesson was taught to me in South Florida. I finally felt tired of being afraid. I stood on the edge of a boat in Key West staring at the Caribbean colored water. This was it. I made my move and plunged into it. As I opened my eyes underwater, it seemed as if I was cleansed of my fear. Clear, quiet and cool I embraced the water as it surrounded me and floated back to the surface. To say I was completely elated was an understatement. Throughout the excitement, the lesson I learned was: "WHEN YOU'RE WILLING TO TAKE A LEAP OF FAITH AWAY FROM YOUR FEARS, YOU DISCOVER A POWERFUL PART OF YOURSELF AND THE WORLD." 
 
After visiting the Phi Phi Islands, the site infamous for Leonardo DiCaprio's hit movie The Beach, Sarah and I were excited to hit the water for snorkeling. Once we reached our destination it was like we stepped into a painting. It was beautiful! Sarah felt right at home in the middle of the sea. She didn't hesitate to jump in, and all you heard was laughter and excitement. I was ready to go off the side, but then I paused. With my wife having the time of her life cheering me on, I stopped and thought about what I had learned six months ago. I regained my confidence and leaped into the unknown waters. What I saw was not only a whole new world but a dream come true. As I swam around and watched the intricate design of the coral reefs, the unique colors of the blue and yellow fish and the transparent view of the water, I slowly realized that we were experiencing heaven on earth. This is why you travel. This is why you long to experience the wonderful creations of God.
 
The beauty of this trip was that it was comprised of so many elements that make us who we are as a couple. Having Sarah's parents there for half of the trip was wonderful. They are two kindred spirits that are generous, loving and grounded in so many ways. This trip was full of education. We learned so much about the Thai people and their culture. There are values they shared that we still carry with us today. The food was delicious, flavorful and GMO FREE! Amazingly enough, I lost 15 pounds on the trip because the of the food, and working out of course. There was adventure! Snorkeling was only one experience. We actually fed monkeys, zip lined, rode ATV'S, bathed elephants, hiked mountains and rode a bamboo raft down a river in the jungle. Needless to say, this was absolutely an unforgettable trip, but the most memorable part of it all was the Pattaya Orphanage.
 
For a lot of the children in Thailand, rough goings early on in life is, sadly, a prevalent thing. You can't even imagine what these kids go through just to survive. I won't get into details, but just imagine you or your own kids being beaten, raped, cast down, left to fend for themselves or even sometimes left for dead at a very early age. It's shocking! When you meet these little angels, somehow they still seem to keep their love and innocence at the forefront of their existence. As soon as we walked in, they made us feel so welcomed. Personally, I'm a hugger and let me just say, other than my wife, I've never experienced such pure true love. So many kids rewarded us with gifts from their own belongings. To think a child has only two toys in the world, and they willingly give you one of them is the most profound act of generosity that I've ever seen. No one knew my name, no one knew where I was from, no one really cared. All they cared about was that we were there and receptive to their adoration. Once again, I felt right at home. From a soul level, I knew we needed to be here. 
 
As I grew more in love with Sarah, she opened up more of her life to me. This was one of the biggest aspects of that journey. The Pattaya Orphanage is a place that was very special to Sarah's brother Jody. He loved every bit of it. So much so, his family became involved. I'm sure he is beyond ecstatic to see how far it has come. Although I didn't have the chance to meet him, his spirit looms in the hearts of everyone who frequents this establishment. His love, kindness and generosity is commemorated by a statue that stands proudly in front of the orphanage.
 
Our Journey to Thailand was a phenomenal trip to say the least. In the twenty days we spent in this country, we learned that love is not something that comes from what we see, but rather what we feel from a soul's perspective. We don't ever have to know anything about anyone to love them. It's what we were put on this earth to do. It's important for us to take the best aspects of other cultures and implement them into our own lives for our continued evolution to a greater existence of humanity. This is why travel is so important.
 
 
Cheers,
Shaun Robert Grant
CEO Uplifter Entertainment

"THE MAGIC OF AJIJIC"

 

Mexico, by some standards, has often been put in a bad light over the years. But, I'm happy to say that's only true for the people who haven't had the pleasure of visiting, experiencing the rich culture and mingling with the natives. Sarah and I have had the past five days to experience all of this awesomeness in a place you might not be aware of, but is easily one of the most exceptional places on earth. I know that's putting a lot on it, but let me convince you why I'm spot on with this observation. Enter Ajijic, Mexico!!

My wonderful in-laws discovered this gem of geography in January and were thrilled by their experience. So much so, they purchased one of the most beautiful homes you could ever imagine. It is completely out of this world and the environmental vibration just adds to the mystique. The antique lights and furniture almost make you feel like you're in an episode of Downtown Abbey getting ready to have tea with the queen. Not to mention, the gorgeous patios, that are spacious and endowed with latino inspired culture, make you feel right at home. What a thing of beauty it is! But the greatest part about it is not just the lush gardens, spacious rooms or huge kitchen. The beauty is getting to spend time with Sarah, Brian and Lolly. The last five years we've grown closer and it seems as though each time we get together it always gets better. I'm thankful that I'm poised to spend time in this one of a kind home, with the one of a kind people I care for so much. The magic is not only in Ajijic, but is forever in the relationships with the ones you love.

Now it's one thing to have a beautiful home and beautiful family, but the community is following a close second. Similar to a cobblestoned path neighborhood in a small Spanish town, Ajijic gives you a taste of some the finest art and architechture along it's streets. The fine art compliments the fine people. Whether it's a kind greeting or sincere smile, the people of Ajijic are as nice as they come. As I'm experiencing this, I think about how much Mexican culture has been stereotyped throughout my life. It's truly a shame, because the people here are so much more than that and have so much to teach just by their simplistic yet effective ways of living. As we were sitting by Lake Chapala awaiting the sunset, I noticed happiness on everyone's faces. Whether it was the kids indulging in a game they created with minimal resources, the love a husband showed to his wife as they sat on a bench or the smile of the old lady who spent her entire day gifting the community with her homemade desserts, everyone was happy and filled with joy. This is what life is truly about: LOVING THE MOMENT, LOVING EACH OTHER AND LIVING WITH ABSOLUTELY NO WORRIES. How much peace and joy could we experience if we made this our first priority? Wouldn't that be amazing?

Speaking of amazing, if you like to eat without breaking the bank in half, book your tickets to Ajijic now! The restaraunt prices are nominal, but it doesn't reflect in the quality of the food. In the five days I've been here, I've had some of the very very best Thai food, vegan food, Italian food and Indian cuisine all for the price of about two caramel frappucinos at Starbucks....Sounds great right? Look at it this way, my sentiments don't even come close to doing it justice, I'd rather you taste it for yourself.

All in all, if you're looking for a place with phenomenal food, kind&friendly people, lots to do and terrific vibrations, come experience THE MAGIC OF AJIJIC!!!

 

Cheers,

Shaun Grant

CEO Uplifter Entertainment