When Possible, Always Have a Trip Marked on the Calendar

Van’s New Year’s Resolutions

Travel, Travel and more Travel!

“I’m not vain enough to think that most people beyond my mother care about my New Year’s Resolutions. My intent is for my former clients, and for all other readers, to examine the values and goals implicit in my resolutions to help them create their own.”

                                                                                    -H. Van Smith

  1. Music Festival


“I increasingly think myself and my clients would be greatly helped if they focused on mindfulness. That is to say being completely in and experiencing the moment in front of you as one of the enduring elements of regaining happiness and maintaining balance in our lives. I think that’s why concerts and clubs have enduring value. Because if you think about it, why would I spend money to go to something I could look at online or on demand for free?

I think there is remarkable power in experiencing something collectively in the moment, without distraction. So, for me, that translates into a New Year resolution in the form of an outdoor concert experience. I’m sure some of you are rolling your eyes saying, “Van has gone off the deep end and is headed to the next Woodstock.”

“Well, not quite, but I’m going to a concert this year and there will probably be a tent and a campfire involved.”


  1. Germany


“I believe most writers travel so that when they return they become a tourist in their own country. By that I mean I think it’s common for people to come home from war or from a trip abroad with new perspective on their home. I think that’s true but I think it’s understating the real impact of a trip.

“I don’t think you can have a transformational view of your own life or of what you want for your community or country without travel to new places.

I liken it to a pond without a fresh water source; it will eventually dry up. It needs constant replenishment.

I also think that as we get older and our sphere of awareness broadens, where we go and distance traveled must lengthen. Basically, the older you get the farther afield we must travel to get replenished.

Travel means renewed energy but also a renewed vision for yourself and for where you inhabit.

For me, that means my family and I will likely travel to Stuttgart, Germany for a visit with a war buddy of mine. The trip will also include a jaunt to Paris, another place I have yet to visit.”


  1. Minnesota Wedding


“My wife’s best friend from high school is getting married this summer to a German professor who teaches European History. The wedding is in Minnesota.

“A land that can produce both Garrison Keillor and Michele Bachmann in the same decade is worthy of our attention and further study.

“I’d venture to say that even Minnesotans would not encourage travel there in the winter and spring months.

Apparently if you get married there after Labor Day you need a dog sled team to get to the honeymoon. That’s just what I’ve heard. I’ll report back.”


  1. Horse Show


“Recently there was a pictorial map made of the United States and each state was given a picture designed to showcase their unique sporting culture.

Steeplechase, horse racing and general equine enthusiasm was selected for Virginia. At first I thought, “Well isn’t that charming, a sport for the wealthy and another example of Virginia needing further democratization.”

However, after further study I decided I was too easily dismissing the horse and the culture of the horse. I like history, and I like Virginia history. The horse figures prominently in that culture. There’s a sense in this historic place for an appreciation of nature and of good craftsmanship. To me those features combine in horse culture.

My former assistant was very into showing a breed of horse called Saddlebreds. I’m not talking the stuff of cowboys.

I mean the Downton Abbey-esque, derby hats, wool 3-piece suits, four-wheeled fine harness, patent leather riding boots side of the equine world. She informs me that these people aren’t always from great piles of money.In fact, there are many who engage in the culture by making sacrifices in other aspects of life. They do this simply because of their undying passion and appreciation for these horses.

I would love to go to a horse show to really roll up my sleeves and see what it’s all about.”


  1. Tangier Island


“So that the eastern part of the state doesn’t feel left out in my 2014 travel plans:

I was reminded how much I love the bay on a recent trip to the Tides Inn in Irvington, Va. The Tides Inn is classic Virginia stuff, good hospitality, elegant, yet humble architecture and feel, and an heir of pretention that’s diffused by a healthy scoop of spoon bread. The way of life and the food remain humble and secure, and with a deep awareness of what it is and what it’s not.

“A deep sense of community can be felt perhaps nowhere more than Tangier Island, down the Northern Neck, an island off the coast, that retains a deep sense of community.

I’m told that the accent of the inhabitants of Tangier Island most closely approximates the accent of Elizabethan England, which was the dialect heard during Shakespeare’s time.

“As a ship bound for the James River moved into the Chesapeake Bay it came into a giant storm. All would have been lost but for the shore of a small island at the mouth of the bay. In spite of the odds, they stayed on the island, and over 400 years later, their descendants still live there. There is something very inspiring and romantic about a shipwrecked people putting down roots on an island. Every now and then you hear stories of a graduating class of 20 people and of children leaving, many times for good.

“There is always the sense that this group of people is one graduating class, or one bad economy away from disappearing altogether.

“So, I’m going to go and check it out, maybe have some good seafood.

PS:  Help Van pick the right outdoor concert or festival!  Comment below or post at Facebook.com/SmithStrongPLC

H. Van Smith
Trusted Virginia Family Law Attorney Serving Richmond to Williamsburg
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