Samsara documentary

I just finished watching a beautiful documentary called Samsara. This 2012 feature was filmed on 70mm film and took five years to complete. “Samsara” in The Hindu tradition is defined as the cycle of birth, death, and rebirth. This documentary explores this metaphor throughout the entire film, 25 countries, and no dialogue. We explore young Buddhist monks, inmates in the Philippines, destruction of natural disasters, the remarkable wonder of Hawaii’s Pele, and a pilgrimage to Mecca. Being a wanderluster at heart, I couldn’t help but long to visit these places the film took me to. But what an impactful masterpiece. Watching was like staring at a beautiful photography exhibit or sitting for a two hour meditation. All is communicated through our eyes in this film, which soak up the brilliant array of colors displayed in each scene. The documentarians display the vast difference lands and the citizens that reside in them. As I watched, i noticed most of them did not smile. I wondered is anyone here happy? Buddhists note that pain is inevitable and unavoidable, is this what unites us in this human experience? This film leads to further self reflective questions then answers. Take a peak…

Fat Tuesday

image.jpegSeveral years ago, I embarked on a 40 day journey during the Lenten season to try to live life through the eyes of a tourist in my own backyard. Being raised Catholic and having attended solely parochial schools, I was brought up with the concept of Lent. For 40 days, I would give up an excessive pleasure, prove my internal strength of the ability to withhold something desirable, and by Easter I was rewarded. I tried to stick to the stringent time limited vows I made. As I progressed to Catholic high school, I realized I didn’t have to just give something up. I could improve how I was living. Instead of avoiding candy bars for 40 days or later eliminating red meat, I transformed my pact to such things as choosing to be vulgar free.
As I grew older and this concept of making a change in my life for a specified number of days remained enticing, even if it was outside the borders of the Lenten season. I could conquer something time limited. Anything is possible with an expiration date looming over it. I had been known to simplify my life by doing the Master Cleanse for 10 days annually, a 30 day bikram challenge, and undoubtedly the annual new years resolution. All of these were common short paths to a more enriched self.

Since the Lenten season approached during this burned out period, I was eager to start a new transformation of my life. Although I was no longer a practicing Catholic, the preparation and Lenten framework were ingrained in my head, and served as the perfect parallel process. For 40 days I would live life as a tourist.

Travelling was generally my solution to needing a break from my overwhelming life, but I didn’t have forty days off. I planned to be a tourist, but the caveat to this is I was not going anywhere. This would be an internal trip.
This concept of viewing life as a tourist made perfect sense to me. When I have travelled, I have had spiritual moments and felt connected to the world as whole. I felt the universe protected me on my expeditions, even more if I travelled alone. As Tennessee Williams stated, “I have always depended on the kindness of strangers,” who have served as my guides and at times saviors. I have had serendipitious conversations with strangers on trains, in coffee shops, or in a crowded hostel room. Sometimes, I am overwhelmed with awe by the history a city holds in it’s cobblestone streets. Or I felt pure peace in a quiet seemingly abandoned church.

It’s ironic that I was now prescribing myself homework. As a therapist, I was generally the one who guided others in ways to live a fuller enriched life. Seeking help from therapists wasn’t helping me this time around, nor was engaging in a multitude of alternative healings. That year I had tried acupuncture, bikram yoga, massages, crystals, self reiki, feng shui, traditional therapy, physical therapy, master cleanse, and wearing ionic bracelets. Nothing helped. I needed an extended self-induced assignment. I turned the therapist chair around and prescribed the remedy: a staycation.

I did this several years ago, and this year decided to replicate it. If you want, choose to go on your own staycation with me for the next 40 days.

40 years of smiles

Snl celebrated 40 years of comedy. For over the past twenty five  years I have been watching this show religiously.  In grade school , the skits were what we talked about on Monday mornings. Almost all major comedians are launched from this show. And now living in the uk , I still have to watch the show on my I Pad thanks to my VPN. It’s comforting , the jokes of what’s going on in America from up and coming comedians make me smile. Here’s a clip from the cold open yesterday .

Love is the only religion

imageToday i had a small internal revolution. I woke up early, since nobody else was in my hostel room, to do my morning meditation. It was 5:30 and in morocco, I could hear the Islamic call to prayer being sung. I am slightly becoming adjusted to this, as I heard it frequently in Istanbul last month. My meditation is more from a Hindu tradition, including some forms of yoga. Afterwards I did my morning ritual of the Tibetan fountain of youth, and read my Buddhist book of meditation. Did I mention I was raised catholic?

I can’t stress how important it is To travel and form your own opinions instead of ruminating on judgements you have heard. This small 30 minute moment for me today that included basically 4 world religions seemed to briefly unite everything.

regardless of your upbringing, hearing the call to prayer can serve as a reminder that perhaps there is a higher being guiding us all. How can we stop and reflect the busy-ness of our lives and offer gratitude and perhaps treat those around you with that same reverence?

At the end of each yoga class , the word namaste is said. Do yogis who are there for a work out know what they are mumbling? Namaste means the divine in me recognizes the divine in you.

Strip down the prejudged stereotypes , cultural barriers, and any other judgements you may have… There is a United quality in all we meet.

Flight smiles

image image .

Travelling can be stressful. This morning My plane is scheduled to leave at 6 am therefore getting up at 3!  I arrived at the airport to find my shoes broke , but what makes me smile is being on a full plane and having an entire row to yourself .

Creative Valentine

imageThis month I decided to send my husband a creative valentine.  It’s come to a point, where I realize there’s no more need to buy anything.  We are blessed to have everything we need, and almost want.  i reflected, how could I show my husband I cared in a way that he would appreciate, keep, and use frequently.  I created a jar of memories.   It’s slightly borrowed from a post regarding inputting accomplishments into a mason jar each month, which my friend posted on my page during the new year. Instead of posting my accomplishments this year, I chose to write down over 180 funny memories, inside jokes, one liners, and moments shared only between my husband and i.  In preparation for this, I spent one week primarily focusing on these different areas: places we’ve travelled to, our support system, food we have cooked together, random strangers that impacted us in some ways, things that always will bring a laugh to us.  It’s interesting what this can do to you.  After we’ve been with our partners for awhile, we tend to focus on negative aspects that may brood between us.  Lingering hostility of a petty argument, may turn into a nag about an additional chore, and perhaps a full out fight. But what if you purposefully just spent sometime remembering the special-ness between you two.  We do this when we first get in a relationship or about to get married, but try it for no special reason at all. I chose to write these down on backs of ladybugs which hold special value to my husband.  Ladybugs were spiritually significant to his mother, who he lost several years ago to cancer.  Whenever he sees a ladybug, he knows his mother is closeby.  Everyday, he now will have the opportunity to pull out a ladybug memory.  His kickstarter mantra for the day can start with a positive reflection between us, versus an irritation. Try creating a variation of this for someone, or even yourself.  By taking the time to focus on the positive, and having it stand in a prominent place in your home, you’ll be sure to be surrounded by contagious smiles.

Friends forever

I think part of me is always going to be a cheesy adolescent who is sentimental about friendships :


Kindness tag

The other day I saw on a friend’s Facebook page the following post….I am excited to see what’s next . Post if you are interested

I only need 5 positive forward-thinking people. WHO’S IN??!? After all the recent terrible tragedies that have happened and are happening, this world needs as much kindness as it can get. I’m participating in the ‘Pay it Forward’ initiative: The first five people who comment on this status with “I’m in” will receive a surprise from me at some point during this next calendar year- anything from a book, a ticket, something homemade, a postcard, absolutely any surprise! There will be no warning and it will happen when the mood comes over me and I find something that I believe would suit you and make you happy. These five people must make the same offer on their Facebook status. Once my first five have commented “I’m in” I will forward this message to you privately, so that you can copy and paste it, and put it on your status, (don’t share it) so that we can form a web of connection of kindness. Let’s do more nice and loving things in 2015, without any reason other than to make each other smile and show that we think of each other. Here’s to a more enjoyable, friendly and love filled year!






Backpacker ethos

I stumbled onto this article today. although I haven’t truly backpacked for years, my heart could relate . “The whole world is our temple.”