Trusting Your Travel Intuition

Go with your gut, particularly when it comes to travel.  Although I know this in theory, it’s easy to lose sight of this.  We think others may know better.  They are more familiar with the terrain, have travelled more extensively, and perhaps you have not researched enough.  But what’s important to keep in mind is only you knows what you are looking for.

            This was the case for me yesterday.  I was driving to Wales for a sound healing training.  I chose this one particular Georgian beach town to visit, as it was only 45 minutes away from where I was headed.  It was a four hour drive away.  When I inquired with a colleague familiar with the area, she frowned.   She noted how that town disappointed her, as it was rundown.  She suggested another town that had more vibrancy and I would appreciate it more.  I looked at a virtual map, it was only three hours away.  I thought somehow I would be saving time.   When I landed in the town, I found the center: a shopping mall.  This was fine, it could be my base.  It was across from a tiny river.  I parked my car, found clean toilets, grabbed a latte and then I began to explore.  Although the town had some high street stores, there was no charm to it.  It was pure chain stores.  To me the town felt rundown, deprived of historic culture, and was simply a low income eyesore.  When I sat in a restaurant to look at the driving distance from here to my retreat center, it was nearly another three hour drive!!!

            Not only was the town disappointing, but my total hours in the car was going to be extended by two hours!!!  I was highly frustrated.  It was a beautiful day, and I wanted to be in nature, in a charming town.  I didn’t want to be surrounded by stores that I could see in my own backyard.  I was upset at myself for asking for the opinion of another and wasting an afternoon in an ugly town, when I could have been surrounded by inspiration. 

But I tried to remind myself that this lesson of trusting my gut versus asking the opinion of others was luckily not an expensive one.  It didn’t cost much money, just additional hours of my time.  How often do we pivot our lives to please others?  How often do we take jobs, move to cities, remain in a long term relationship, purchase an expensive piece of property, or cut off ties with people because others say so?  In life, we have to listen to our gut.  What do we really want?  What are we looking for? We can listen to others’ advice, if solicited, but it’s important to remember what your intention is.

            I was not clear with this when inquiring with my colleague.  I was simply asking her opinion.  What I actually longed for was beautiful scenery or perhaps to be surrounded by nature.  I did ruminate about my poor decision and spontaneity during my Welsh countryside drive, which cost me an afternoon.  But as I drove my additional three hours to the center, I stumbled upon this beauty.  

I paused.  Got out of the car, and simply sat to take it in.  This is what I was actually looking for.  A moment like this, when the world stopped.  My heart was reset and inspired again.  Perhaps I would not have been given this opportunity to view this if I had not been re-routed.  

I was reminded that travel doesn’t always go as planned.  We can’t always have wins or beautiful moments.  Like life, there will be disappointments, detours, frustrations, and self-doubt.  Can we let that go and learn?  Can we accepted the flawed with the unexpected beauty?  Can we take in the totality of a moment?  Detours can take us to the unexpected.  All is part of the journey.

“I’m a big believer in winging it. I’m a big believer that you’re never going to find perfect city travel experience or the perfect meal without a constant willingness to experience a bad one. Letting the happy accident happen is what a lot of vacation itineraries miss, I think, and I’m always trying to push people to allow those things to happen rather than stick to some rigid itinerary.”-Anthony Bourdain

To Remove is To Reveal

Earlier this week, I decided to cut out an additional side project in which I would be coaching part time for a particular organization.   There were hours of training, an exam, and structured sessions necessary to partner with them.  This seemed to be like a lot of work for only a several hour weekly commitment of a side job.  In the past, I would simply go along with this, not thinking much of what was required.  Yet the older I get, the more I try to pivot towards authenticity.  I am asking myself “What do I really want to do?” versus telling myself “this is something I should do.  I am turning up the volume of my internal wisdom.  Not only is the sound getting louder, but I am finally listening.  

To say no to this does not equate with fear that nothing else will come along. To say no is to say yes to a more true me.  After I made this decision, I listened.  The next day synchronicity arose from the books I was reading, and ideas shared within them.  Clarity arose.  I recognized I wanted to focus my extra energy and hours (outside of my full time job and other commitments) towards my writing world.  A brilliant idea came to pitch a course to another organization, and finally self publish my second book, that has been sitting for the past year, waiting to be read.  

When we remove the excess, truth is revealed.  

This does not mean when “stuff” is removed, it should automatically be replaced with more “stuff.”  What it means is that when we declutter, space is made available to see our internal longings.  From this, we can choose to act wisely.

It’s up to you of how you want to view what “stuff” means to you.  “Stuff” can equate with tangible things like clothes, shoes, paperwork.  What it can also mean is busy-ness, toxic people, negative thoughts, commitments.  Ironically, this is what my book The Subtraction Method: Mastering the Art of Less is about.   More to come on that in the upcoming months. 

Ask: What in your life can you work on removing?  

Release: Can you allow yourself the privilege to release that which no longer serves you?

Intuit: Once this process is completed, listen.  What does your intuition say? 

Act: Take action.

The process is simple, but it’s so necessary to allow space to listen before replacing.  Then act from a place of wisdom versus fear.  Share your experience with me.

Life is Short

“Life is short, break the rules, forgive quickly, kiss slowly, love truly, laugh uncontrollably, and never regret anything that made you smile. Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”- Mark Twain

Is it possible to live a life without regrets? 

If so how is that done?  

How am I going to live, knowing that I will die? 

I ask myself these questions frequently.  Nearing middle age, I remind myself “life is short.”   Time is a valuable resource, which is limited, the question unknown to all of us is the amount.  A colleague of mine says weekly, “we only have so many heartbeats.”  And knowing this, how do you want to live your life?

For many of us during covid, we had nothing but time to pause and reflect on what we want to do when lockdowns lifts.  What was it we really valued?  Was it travels to adventurous places?  Visiting friends and family?  Being in a romantic relationship?  Changing careers?  Deepening one’s spiritual community?  Trying a new hobby you have been putting off?

I know I write about this topic frequently, but the essence is important.  There is an app called “we croak” , which reminds us five times a day we are going to die.  This is taken from a Buddhist tradition from Bhutan.  When the app warns you, death is imminent, and inspirational quote follows.  This is not meant to be morbid or dark, but remind you that your life is waiting to be lived. It’s interesting because I share this app with so many people, I even talk about it when giving presentations or workshops.  So I found it interesting when I shared the above Mark Twain quote with a friend this past week, he shared a quote with me from the we croak app. “If you don’t like the road you’re walking, start paving another one.”-Dolly Parton

Time is a valuable treasure.  In our youth, many of us feel we are immortal.  Death will be during “old age,” but the truth is none of us knows when this will come.  If you are not proud or joyous in the life you are living, you have the luxury to take that other path.

We have all these opportunities to course correct our lives.  If you are dissatisfied, will you take it?  If not, why not?  What are you waiting for?

Take Yourself On A Date

Have you taken yourself on a date lately?  

Julia Cameron, author of The Artist Way, encourages all creatives to do three things each week: morning pages (freestyle journaling each morning for three pages), 20 minute walks daily, and artist dates.  Although we may not view ourselves as “creative”, these are amazing weekly activities we all should participate in.  The idea of taking ourselves on a date, may feel awkward.  We tend to only try new restaurants, see shows or films, or go to museums in the company of others.  There is nothing wrong with having dates with others, but it’s also important to date ourselves.  When we date someone, intimacy develops.  We peak into the other’s likes, dislikes, passions, interests, dreams through deep conversations, exploration, adventure, and a sense of wandering.  It is vital we do this with ourselves.

Artist dates do not have to equate with going to a museum, writing conference, or painting class (although it can).  I tend to view these dates as a form of self-care, it could include everything from a much needed massage, to a walk along a beach, sitting in a coffee shop sipping a latte, or going for a hike.  We simply need to be intentional with these acts, and inquire within to listen what our heart’s desire longs for this week.  And enjoy.  Lavish in the date.

During the lockdown, I admit my artist dates were not so unique.  They included such things as making a new cuisine for myself (in which I splurged on ingredients for), watching a film on Netflix uninterrupted, coloring in my hygge adult coloring book, and sitting in the park reading a book.  Yet, on my recent trip, I engaged in numerous artist dates.  I couldn’t wait to report back to my virtual Artist Way group about them.  These included numerous hikes, coffee shop visits with journaling time, a West End show, street art walking tour, and a front row seat at the Pump Room (a Bath restaurant from the late 1700s) where a musical trio performed.  Artist Dates inspire us to live a more enriched life, and appreciate the small moments.  We may find that we are content with living a luxurious life, that doesn’t really cost much money.  We don’t have to wait to live the life we want.  We are already living it.  

So I encourage you readers to take time out for yourself this week.  Treat yourself to an artist date.  Share with me what you did!!! 

The Flux of Routine on Vacation

“If you think adventures are dangerous, try routine: It’s Lethal.”– Paulo Coelho.

We travel to break the monotony of our daily lives.  This includes leaving our jobs, responsibilities, familiarities, and tendencies at home.  We travel to restore ourselves, try new things, let go of our contained selves to allow movement to our souls and bodies.  Yet, what I am finding for me is that we need to navigate a balance of ourselves on trips: our vacation self, disciplined self, playful self, curious self, and wise self.  

It’s easy to let loose on vacation.  I hadn’t left my home to stay overnight in ten months, and to embark on an adventure was celebratory.  This included my senses being on overload with sights, smells, walks, and tastes of non-stop fun.  But we can overdo it, or at least I did.  Somehow much of the food I ate the past several days caught up with me: full English breakfasts (even though they were vegetarian), burgers, chips (also known as French fries to Americans), a lack of hydration, partnered with non-stop tourist attractions, driving down windy British back roads, and being around people 24/7 post covid overwhelmed me.  In addition, I longed for seafood and perhaps overate to simply taste the pleasures of the coastal life.  After 2 days of this, I felt as if I woke up with a hangover.  It was not due to drinking, but non-stop going, and being out of my eating regime.  During trips we want to let loose, and we should.  Yet a balance may be necessary, depending on what your day to day life looked like before.

I’ve allowed myself the space for my morning discipline to take place: meditation, journaling (also known as morning pages), gratitude, silence, intention.  But I realized I need the additional centering from the rejuvenation of naps, stillness, and slowing down.  How can we enjoy vacations if they are at full speed?  The luxury lies in the ability to slow down. 

I took an evening to do nothing, skipped a meal, slept, rehydrated, and allowed myself to recalibrate.  And I feel much better.  As I continue the remainder of this week long journey, I know my days must balance the adventurer with the self-nurturer.  This will lead to an enriched sustainable journey.Who are you when you vacation? Do you live a life of excess, moderation, balance, or flow?  How has the pandemic impacted who you are when you travel today?  What can you do to allow stillness and presence to arrive in the midst of vacation

Stillness In Sailboats

I arise to the sounds of birds calling from my room.  At 5:00 am, I take it as wake up calls to get out of bed and take in the day.  I am staying on the Isle of Portland, in the Jurassic Coast.  This is the first time I have stayed overnight somewhere that was not my home in ten months, due to covid.  For a wanderluster, like me, it feels like years.  But as I watched the stillness of the sailboats, I realize I don’t need much to bring me to a place of tranquility.

I have been longing for this.  Months of non-stop work at my place of employment, and my side projects have kept me busy. Although I love staycations, and find enjoyment in my home, I do appreciate exploring the world outdoors.

Nobody in the hotel or town is up yet, and therefore I put on my shoes and light jacket and step outside.  I find the perfect spot for my morning meditation: sitting on the pier outside of my hotel.  Today my meditation consisted of closing my eyes, and simply focusing on the sense of sound.  There are seagulls but many other birds I can’t identify.  Are these mating calls, wake up calls, or simply shout outs to friends to gather nearby and find food?  I hear waves, not from the water in front of me, but somewhere in the distance.  The atmosphere appears silent, but in reality, it’s oozing with life.  And then I hear and sense the tiny raindrops that fall onto the water in front of me, and I sense them on my skin.  I do not run for cover.  It’s England.  I simply embrace the moment.  

Although I am one who loves travelling to exotic lands, or the ends of the earth, there is something refreshing with the stillness of sailboats in calm waters.  Perhaps as we are drawn to water, because so much of us internally consists of water.  Or the sailboats are reminiscent of memories I can’t place.  There is a universality to seeing sailboats in Old Saybrook Connecticut, Paros Greece, Honolulu, seas of Jordan, or Long Beach California.   It may be in our collective unconscious to find rejuvenation when gazing at the simplicity of a sailboat.  

When choosing a place to say, the Isle of Portland, became our hub.  Just outside our door, was the Navy and Air bases that were the departure points for DDay for many Americans, a castle built during the time of Henry the 8th, and a location hub for the Olympics in 2021 for sailing competitions.  Despite all this history, this town is modest, quiet, and non-elitist.  Other sites in Dorset county, pull the attention of tourists to it.  The hotel is no frills but boasts a beautiful view from the window sill of our room, which I make as my makeshift writing nook.  

We travel for adventure, vitality, escape, restoration, bragging rights, and a break from boredom.  But sometimes all we desire is a reason to slow down from the busy-ness of our everyday lives.   We don’t need a fancy hotel, expensive restaurants, or an over the top Instagram snapshot.  We solely need to view of the stillness of sailboats, and find once again the stillness that can exist within.  

Landing Home

As I write this, I am one week shy away from taking my first mini vacation in nearly ten months.  Yet, “landing home” is not the literal concept I am referring to as I write this.  It’s returning to one’s connection to the wisdom within.

 Currently I have been working full time, enrolled in two additional coaching certifications, writing a book, trying to create weekly podcasts and this blog, and record additional meditations for various meditation apps.  I realized how exhausted I am this week.  Outside of taking care of my elderly dogs when I get home from work, all I can muster the energy to do is make dinner, watch a brief program on Netflix and try to catch up on sleep.  

As I write this blog piece, I notice my mind begins to rhyme, and I further slow down, as my remaining words shift to a poetic pace. 

I’ve been surviving 

but not thriving.

            Working, doing, learning

                         But yet not being.

            Not breathing.

Then my weekend arrived.  

It’s luxury. 

 I had no plans.

An empty space

            For me to land. 

Non-doing

            Treasure in my 

            Pleasure of 

            Leisure

Of nothing.

Landing home to myself. 

Warm rises by 

            The sunshine

And not the alarm

            Grace and space

                        Given

            To not do 

                        No exercise

            In what I had planned

            For there are no plans

            As I land home

                        To myself.

And that has made all the difference.

May we remember the gifts the pandemic did teach us, which is the ability to pause and embrace what is in front of you. Slow down, exist, be, and land back to yourself. 

The Recognition of Juneteenth

“You cannot dismantle what you cannot see. You cannot challenge what you do not understand.” 
― Layla F. Saad, Me and White Supremacy: Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor

It has now been made official that Juneteenth will forever be recognized as a federal holiday.  There has been a shift throughout numerous states and organizations who were individually commemorating this event, but as a collective whole to note the importance is monumental.  I admit it wasn’t until the past several years that I even found out what Juneteenth was, and until last year truly paid attention.  

Below are two collages I made for a Juneteenth local celebration:

Part of the Anti-racist movement is to recognize the societal racism that exists within you.  It is to not just point fingers at the loud destructive ways people exhibit racism, but the microaggressions that occur on a daily basis.  Even as a person of color, I can admit that I have participated in some of these microaggressions unconsciously.  These things have been ingrained in us, and become woven as part of us.  It’s easy to become defensive and note one is not racist or is purely color blind, but this is not reality.  

This past year I have read multiple books on Anti-racism, my current book is by Layla F. Saad entitled Me and White Supremacy.  It breaks down reflective questions regarding systemic racism, white supremacy, silence, power, and privilege in a span of a 28 day challenge.  There is such change that can happen when we can note the ways we have participated in this and to begin to take a stand in conversations with our friends, co-workers, family, and in our communities. 

As you celebrate Juneteenth this weekend, explore ways for you to dissect and reflect on how this has been part of your life.  It’s uncomfortable, but it’s the only way change can occur.

“Here is a radical idea that I would like you to understand: white silence is violence. It actively protects the system. It says I am okay with the way things are because they do not negatively affect me and because I enjoy the benefits I receive with white privilege.” -Layla F. Saad

Negative Bias or Wrong Goal?

Currently I am involved in my fourth coaching program.  Yes, my problem is I am addicted to learning.   The program is Positive Psychology and Wellness Coaching, and twice a week we must be a client and a coach.  This means I must come up with a wellness goal two times a week.  I try to change it up, but one I have focused on twice. 

The other day, I chose the goal of wanting to work out more than twice a week.  Generally, I tend to work out only on the days I am off or teleworking, as I seem to find I have more hours in the day.  But squeezing in additional workouts during the week has not been happening.  I thought I would have the consistency to do weights or the thigh master while on group zoom calls, but lost interest. The coach tried to have me explore small areas which I could add small bits of exercise, but with each suggestion offered I quickly responded with a counterargument.  She offered getting up earlier or changing my morning routine, but 4:33 am is my earliest.  Sleep is precious, as is my morning meditation and journaling.  She queried about anytime after work, but I wouldn’t budge.  My biggest conflict is my aging dogs.  

My life currently revolves around work, creativity, and my English Bulldog Puzo, who turned 14 earlier in the week.  This is astounding for this breed, or any breed for that matter.  Overall his health is good, but he walks slower, sleeps more, and is extra needy.  Perhaps we all get like this when we age.  The days I do yoga or pilates at home, I have to ensure he has been walked, fed, and is taking his first nap of the day.  If he wakes up during my flow, cries and growls will repeatedly come out of his mouth.  It’s anything but relaxing.  What follows is my pet mom guilt.  Free time should be spent with these two dogs, which includes Bella, my 12 year old chug.  Guilt prohibits me from working out in the evening, as Puzo’s new bedtime is anywhere between 4:00 -5:00 pm.  

Back to my coaching story, upon processing the session, I apologized for being a “difficult” client.  I didn’t mean to be.  She said, “I guess we need to know what it’s like if we have negativity bias.”  I automatically got defensive, to call me negative seems like blasphemy.  I feel I’m an optimist at heart.  Was I really being negative?  I shared with her, “I guess exercise is something that’s not high on my value list.  The truth is my dogs are my number one priority, I don’t know how long they will be alive for.  So I’m not negotiating that.”  She offered that compassion may have been more beneficial at the moment versus pushing me, and I agreed.

I repeated that conversation in my head later that night.  What went wrong?  I was not agreeable to placating her with physical commitments I would make.  I knew that was inauthentic.  Exercise is not a top value of mine at this moment.  This is not a bad thing.  Society makes us feel we should make it a priority, but the reality is “if everything is a priority, then nothing is.”  I have accepted that right now, my priorities are work, my dogs, and my creativity.  If workouts are squeezed in, they are added bonuses.  Yet, I will not force myself to commit to goals that aren’t truly mine at the moment. 

I am curious for you reading this.  What goals have you set this year or decade that you haven’t achieved?  Upon reflection, are they what you value at this juncture in your life?  Or are these goals simply accepted as ones that you feel you “ought” to do because society expects it of you? 

Drawing Upside Down

This weekend I began an online version of an art class Drawing from the Right Side of Your Brain.   I have heard accolades about this book and class for years, and I was determined to take the course (even it was in the confines of my own home).  One of the initial homework assignments was to draw a Picasso drawing upside down.  This may sound preposterous to the average person, but there are reason behind these odd instructions.  The instructor noted that many of us tend to use the left of our brain more predominantly, which is more verbal, logical, and sequential.  Yet what drawing and art require of us is to use the right side of our brain, which is the creative and free flowing side.  When we draw for example lips, we draw what we think lips should look like versus what we are actually seeing.  Naming an object actually prohibits our experience of it.  Therefore, to draw an image upside down, we learn to draw what it is front of us versus our perception of what it must be.  This concept reminded me of aspects I have heard authors and speakers Eckhart Tolle and Adyashanti discuss before.  

            Spiritual teacher Adyashanti once shared on an interview with Oprah on her Super Soul Sunday the following quote: “Once you give a bird name. You no longer see the bird. Try to go through life without naming things. That brings the wonder back. You’re living in abstraction. No longer an intimate experience with life. That’s what we crave.  An intimate experience with existence…That’s what attracts us to the innocence of children. They feel the wonder of the world. They know they don’t know. Adults, we think we know. Just because we can call something a tree doesn’t mean we know what it is. Our labels can disconnect us from the intimate experience of existence.”

            I want to encourage you to reflect on how your naming of an object impacts your relationship to that.  This could be your expectation of what meditation looks like, what a relationship is, love is, one’s purpose, the concept of beauty, and numerous other possibilities.  Our expectations cloud our perceptions.  Try to see something for what it truly is.  Not what the label defines it as.  Maybe even try taking an art class where one draws from the right side of one’s brain. 

For More information on the book and course, check out https://www.drawright.com , Author and Instructor Betty Edwards.

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