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.

Memorial Day Getaway

For Memorial Day weekend, I decided for a different type of getaway.  I chose an internal one.  I decided to take the plunge on my first ever gong bath.  I didn’t know what to expect, but I was up for it.  As a yogini and curious wanderluster, I find myself in surreal experiences oftentimes. 

This was advertised as a monthly reiki gong bath.  I had reiki previously, which is energetic healing on our chakra system.  I’ve done tai chi, qui gong, acupuncture, yin yoga and numerous other methods to shift my chi (also known as life force energy).  This evening’s event was to do the same.  It was a group setting in a room with a massive gong behind us, with mats on the floor as we entered the room.  Gong regulars were prepared, bringing not only pillows, but a proper duvet for this experience.  

The instructor warned us that the sound would have a healing impact.  Emotions or old memories could arise.  If they did, we were to “not think about them too deeply, but let them pass.”  Old wounds and pains could heal.  We could be expected to love it or hate it.  When an attendee next to me asked if there would be movement, the instructor informed us there would not be.  She had no blanket or pillows, as she thought it was a yoga class.  We were in a yoga center.  The only thing that would be moving is our chi.  Another individual wanted to know what would be the best area of the room for the night.  The teacher reminded her we would all hear the gongs and the experience would be what it’s meant to be for her that evening.  “Choose a spot that calls out to you tonight.”  

I wondered what was I in for? 

As my eyes closed, we were led through a brief body scan relaxation.  Then a gentle etheric sound arose.  It wasn’t the gong I expected, and the teacher travelled with this over our bodies individually, as she walked around the room.  We literally were being bathed with sound.  I couldn’t help but compare this experience to an ayahuasca experience.  Both involved people laying on mats, music playing, and were meant to be healing to our systems.  Yet for this we were solely ingesting sounds, and not substances.  

And then the gongs began.  It was very Disney Fastasia like.  The sounds appeared to be an ominous entity approaching, but they were not all consuming.  The gongs were tempered between other instruments throughout the evening.  It was as if it was a musical performance to be experienced lying down, eyes closed, in an altered state of consciousness.  A concert for our energetic senses.

I drifted in and out of sleep, as this is what my body needed. 

 But near the end of the evening, a thought arose.  

“I am a performer.”

Let me give this context.  Prior to the gong bath, I had spent the day reading, reflecting, and writing about my life’s purpose, regrets, and how I want to pivot my life.  I was writing about how we are pivoted to live up to the standards of an American dream, and queried what life would be like if we stopped trying to push agenda on our youth and allowed them to express and live into their authenticity.  As I wrote that, nothing sprung up for me.  I was unaware of who I was at my core, as I had lived up to the expectations of my family and society. 

But in the gong ceremony, I realized I am a performer.

Multiple early memories, connections, and synchronicities internally arose.

I realized that recently I was allowing that internal performer to reveal herself, but in different ways.  Becoming a yoga instructor has allowed the performer to peak through.  Facilitating retreats, workshops, and classes were all variations of being a performer.  In addition, I had been in two dance performances post the age of 40, and even taught a bellydance class.  I had an understanding that my current job had allowed the opportunity for me to remove the performance anxiety I had developed over the years.  The job served as a cacoon for the performer in me to be molded, shaped, and transformed into a new version of my purpose, which I would have never imagined.  

The ceremony ended with the facilitator offering chocolate bites that were meant to ground us. 

 When I arrived home, on my front door someone had left a Swedish Jazz cd.  It was a sign waiting for me.  It made sense, I am a performer, I was a performer.  I connect with creatives, being a creativity coach was aligned with my being.  Creatives reside on my wave length.

My intuition in the morning nudged me to read the book Soul Plan, all about one’s life purpose.  Thoughts about this resided in my head all day, and I was grateful that this realization arose during the ceremony. 

If you have the opportunity, I highly recommend immersing yourself in a gong bath. Perhaps you will have an early memory arise, a revelation, release of emotions, or perhaps even just a relaxing hour nap. Either way your sixty minutes immersed in music is definitely an experience not to be missed.

Sunday Strolls

Sundays are opportunities for reflection for me.  It’s generally the day of the week I choose to stroll to the park with my dogs and simply be.  This morning at 8:25, we arrived at the gates of the park, minutes before it opened.  We found a little nook to sit, where the sun could shine on our faces, as we waited patiently for the park staff member to open the gates.  Runners passed by, other dog walkers, couples, parents with children, and solo elderly individuals all peaking if the gates were yet opened.  Our mornings were at the mercy of this staff member to open the gates.  How often we talk parks for granted?  Open spaces that are free to the public to immerse their senses in, with flowers, park benches, and an ever evolving atmosphere of greenery. 

            I witnessed regulars in the park, particularly one neighbor who volunteers at the park.  Although she brings her dog daily for their morning walks, the walk is just as beneficial for her as it is the dog.  I observe her as she talks to strangers, neighbors, and friends with every few steps she takes. Her cocker spaniel waits patiently at her side. This is their routine, as the park serves as her social gathering place.  As we walk further along, I watch another elderly woman walk her two pet ferrets on leashes towards a tiny pond.  They jumped in for a refreshing a swim. As she walked past us, she mentioned their remaining part of their walk was to dry them off.   I have never seen ferrets puttering around on leashes before.  Our paths crossed again thirty minutes later.  I was curious about these peculiar pets.   These ferrets were only three years old, they had half of their lives ahead of them.  Their life spans are generally 6-7 years, and she noted the sadness that will arise when their time is up.     “It’s always hard losing a pet.  But in the mean time I can give them a life full of love.  

As I sat on the park benches with my dogs, I pondered on how I want to live the rest of my life.  I was 42, middle age, just like those ferrets.  How can I give the remaining part of my life the love and care it deserved?    And as I sat there, amidst the locals, I realized this is it.  I wanted to stroll in the park and notice the fluctuations in flowers and gardens and the familiarity of the elderly trees.  I wanted to feel the sun in my face without worrying of having to be in a particular place or be a particular person.

When we are children, the number one question asked is “what do you want to be when you grow up?”  Answers are occupations, which generally include years of education, overtime, office politics, and sacrifice.  But as I sit here now, middle age, I question not what do I want to be but how do I want to be.   

And so this is my Sunday reflection question for you:

How do you want to be with the remaining time you have on this Earth?  

Life Lessons

“In a mirror is where we find a reflection of our appearances, but in a heart is where we find a reflection of our soul.” Anonymous

Yesterday I had my 42nd birthday. Birthdays in the past generally were filled with ways to celebrate my uniqueness, a time to connect with others, or splurge on myself. Yet the older I get, I realize this is actually a time necessary for a reflection. It’s parallel to the new year, as it is a time to take stock on where your life has gone and potential new goals to attain. There is a realization that if you are not satisfied, you can always pivot the course of your life.

And so for this birthday I did a multitude of self reflection and artistic projects. One was a list of 42 life lessons. This is by no ways an exhaustive list, but the points in it arose for me at this phase of my life. I pass this on to you, perhaps you may find nuggets of wisdom for your life. In addition, I encourage you to take the time during your next birthday (or even today) and create a list of life lessons for each year you have been born. You will be surprised with the wisdom you have attained. And with each year, we do not have to fear but can lean into the life knowledge that we have breathed into.

Multiverses and The Midnight Library

                              

“The only way to learn is to live.”

The Midnight Library, Matt Haig

            I recently began reading a fictional novel called The Midnight Library, which was released in the past year.  The premise is a mid 30s small town British woman is about to commit suicide.  She hates her life, as it’s not where she thought it would go.  After losing her mediocre job, her pet, and ruminating on numerous other losses she decides to end her life.  But not before a surreal experience occurs.

            Nora, the lead character, enters the Midnight Library.  This a space between life and death where one can explore all other ways your life can go.  The library is filled with books of alternate endings of one’s life, and the librarian who leads her through this journey was the same librarian she had in 6th grade.  

            Anytime I fall in love with a book, I must share it.  Exceptional books do that.  They stir up emotions, reflections, and conversations among us.  We ruminate on the impact the book can have in our lives.   This book seems to combine principles from the Akashic Records, Multiverses, Parallel Lives, and The Butterfly Effect.

            Who would you be if you made different decisions?

            What if there are parallel worlds where you did make these decisions simultaneously existing right now?

            How would this have impacted those around you? 

            I am still only halfway through, but I began to write out a list of multiverses for myself.  These are just one liners in my journal that I have jotted down who would I have been if I …

            -Stayed married.

            -Went into a different career field.

            -Never married.

            -Remained in my hometown.

            -Had children.

            -Did not have my pets.

            -Pursued my childhood dream.

            -Got married to a different person.

            -Never took that three month European backpacking trip.

            -Chose to not live abroad.

            So far I have written 100 of these multiverses, which I will probably continue to do.  I encourage you to do this same activity.  We are a product of our decisions.  Saying yes to one thing is saying no to another.  There are still numerous ways our lives can turn out.  This reflective exercise is not just exploring regrets we have, but ways our lives can still shift.

            You have the power to pivot your life in a myriad of directions.

            Who would you be if you took more risks? Took less?  Does it matter if there are multiple lives where these decisions were made differently?  I encourage you to either read this book and/or reflect on this concept of multiverses in your own life.

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