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Learning to Dream Again

19 Jul

Well, I didn’t mean for it to happen… After five years of travel, big leaps, amazing challenges and opportunities, when I came back to the US all I wanted to do was rest. While elated by my journey, I really wanted a big taste of life that seemed more “normal” to me.  Thankfully, that’s exactly what I got. As a little more time passed, my time and energy went into getting some of the basics going in my life… work, a place to live. This was all good, but after nearly a year of a lot of hard work, focusing on the practicalities of life, and a big dose of “normal,” something started to happen… my capacity to dream was shrinking away.

I wasn’t quite sure what to do… I lived for five years on a healthy appetite and desire for gobbling up new destinations. Despite the obstacles and challenges that came with it, year after year each new international travel opportunity roused excitement in my soul and gleamed inspiration in my eyes. But in the end, after five years, two continents and six countries I found myself in a deep need of restoration and something different… and I wasn’t quite sure what that was.

The Dreamer Card from Doreen Virtue’s Angel Tarot

Here I am over a year down the road, and where does that leave me?  I have found myself lately feeling the need for a new dream but also feeling depleted, at a true loss for it and no inspiration in sight.

So recently I have been taking small steps to get myself into some new space. Ignite a new light. Perhaps open a tiny little door.

Last night I attended a Meet-Up group in Asheville called “Being in Business.” The idea behind it is folks who are interested in exploring and cultivating a spiritual element in the way and how they do and develop their work.  Last night our featured speaker was Lauren Foster, a “happiness coach.” As she told her story, I could really relate to her journey of overcoming many obstacles to reach her dream but also needing support, a new vision and assistance to continue to cultivate new possibilities in her life.

She had us do a simple exercise where we imagined our lives 3 years down the road and wrote down our dream in the area of joyful work. She encouraged us to let go of limitations. As I sat to do the exercise, it was almost as if my dreamer was dead.  She had been down this road before. My dreamer had been on high gear and worked over so hard for so long, it was hard to get her cookin’ again.

Poem by Shel Silverstein

Author Elizabeth Gilbert tells the story first offered by Mark Manson that each creative dream comes with a “shit sandwich.” And that if you really want something you have to be willing to live with the shit sandwich that comes with it. And the truth was, after five years of travel, I had grown beyond belief, had done things unimaginable to me… but was also fully aware of the downsides of it as well as my own personal challenges and limitations.

So where to go now? In doing the exercise at the Meet-Up, I couldn’t bring myself to imagine a specific goal… but I did allow myself to gently explore how I’d like to feel in joyful work in three years. Some images came to mind. Ideas. We then shared our dream with a partner and that made it even better!  What great feedback I received as well as my partner’s additional thoughts regarding my fledgling images, notions and inspirations.

One of the participants in the evening it turns out is international best selling spiritual author, Tori Hartman, who has just released a new book. How satisfying it was to meet someone who had cultivated that level of success in her own life.

I returned from the evening a little… inspired and more at ease. What a relief it was to meet my dreamer again. My dreamer was grateful that I wasn’t going to force her in the road ahead or insist that she live life this way or that way but instead make space for just a glimmer of a softer, gentler notion.

So for now, I am glad to merely have wooed the dreamer back in.  No big expectations. No harsh realities. Just a little tender dreaming that feels good and satisfying instead of just a more harsh routine that was trying to dominate me. Plus, a few concrete ideas of new stepping stones to take…. to keep the dreamer alive.

How about you? How has your relationship with your dreamer been lately? Have you taken just a moment to invite the dreamer in?  Sit him or her down for tea? I wonder what they might have to say. If you have a dream to share, even just a glimmer, I’d love to hear about it. Feel free to share them in the comments below or even send me a private message.

Reflections

29 Apr

It’s a quiet Saturday morning in Asheville.  I am enjoying a morning of just feeling more at ease and good in my bones and can’t help but think of the long journey that brought me here.

I have to say, it is good to be in the United States for now and in some ways I am starting to feel at home and appreciating the many fortunate simple things I presently have in my life.  But I am also aware that it was my epic journey around the globe that brought me to this point.

I have always loved travel and been drawn to it.  A child of the midwest in a community with little interest in international exploration, looking beyond our borders and having an adventure were always things that excited me.  If you’ve followed my blog you may know that my 20s brought some unexpected challenges my way and I ended up on the anti-depressant Paxil for over ten years.  When I went off of it the withdrawal/discontinuation symptoms nearly flattened me and it took me years to get some small semblance of “I’m alright.”

A few years after this when I began my international journey,  I was thrilled to consider something that brought excitement back into my life and truly lit me up and inspired me.  At the same time, I was still just a shell of myself and experienced many persistent issues that made daily living and “normal life” hard for me.

So here comes the benefit of my journey.  While traveling – my unexpected epic five-year adventure to Germany, France South Korea, Austria & Thailand – lit me up and brought me to life in ways I can hardly express, it was also extremely challenging for me.  Daily I was pushed in small and large ways.  The beauty of this journey and experience is it forced me to grow and develop in ways that I NEEDED to do to begin to get my life back after the impact of Paxil and also the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. The scared, limited, wounded shadow person that I was after the impact of Paxil withdrawal and other life challenges slowly began to chisel away, shift, develop and take new shape.

And so with my gratitude for a bit of ease and restoration on “home” territory also comes my appreciation for all the excitement, struggles and challenges along the way that brought me to where I am now.  A new plateau.  I am aware that while I still have my challenges, my abilities and capacities that are serving me now are the fruit of my journey.  This growth could have only happened in foreign territory.  A life abroad helped me to drop my “regular” paradigm and demanded that I adapt and grow to new ways of being. This ultimately brought me some freedom and allowed me to drop some of the limiting patterns and behaviors locked into and stuck in my more familiar environment.

So if you are someone who wants to travel, should travel, needs to travel but hasn’t for a whole assortment of reasons… just know that it’s possible to travel, no matter what your circumstances.  Surround yourself with good grounded people who will support you in this idea.  And know that challenges don’t mean travel (or whatever it is you want) is not for you, it just means that overcoming those challenges will be part of the equation.  And that’s okay.

Not long before I left on my epic journey I had just begun chanting with the Buddhist organization SGI.  I was chanting for true change and growth in my life and that is exactly what I got. Through the excitement and inspiration of my travels as well as facing and working through the MANY challenges I experienced daily, I grew.

Admittedly, I am still under development and my life is still a work in progress.  But I am aware that I am in a better place today as a result of my journey.

I appreciate my current location and being back in the US, but I also look forward to cultivating a life where adventure and international life are again a part of the landscape… in my own time, in my own way.

So for today, I am just feeling grateful for and acknowledging the ride, the challenges and journey that brought me to where I am now.

Heavy Groaning Doorways

2 Apr

It’s a spring day here in Asheville.  Thank God.  I think I have had enough of winter’s coldness and ready for some softer spring energy to come my way.

I am still here in Asheville making my way in my somewhat reluctant American life.  Although I have been back for a year already, I am still hesitant to load myself down with too many belongings or make big plans. This American life is filled with appreciation for some of the easier ways of living here but also some conflict about what to “do with” all the colors and experiences packed in my body from my life abroad.

While I still get a little glimmer in my eye when I see and consider locations abroad, for now that spark is quite dim and a larger part of me wants to be more settled in some way.

I can recall my Reiki teacher, Elizabeth Ohmer Pellegrin, advising me that when I returned to the States I would have to practice not getting in a rut. And alas, I find that is true.  When I returned all I wanted to do was relax and just lunge deeply into some of the more “normal” and “comforting” things of American life. But I find it’s a fine line and I have to be careful not to lunge and lounge too deeply for too long.

With Spring arriving in Asheville, it’s hard not to smile with the sweet song of the birds outside my door and the gentle blues skies and warmer air.  But at times I am not yet at home here and adjusting to my somewhat regular rhythm of work and more ordinary life.

This morning was a nice time for me with a positive burst of energy from my local SGI meeting.  It’s always good to be lifted up by the spirit of the organization and the feeling and reminder to never give up, whatever that means for me at the time.  Historically it was that never give up feeling that launched me from one international adventure to the next and supported me as I faced my own challenges with anxiety and more while working and living abroad.  And now, back on American soil I still turn to it as I feel somewhat uncertain what I want and where to put my efforts now and also sometimes shy and sheepish to go out and explore.

Today at the meeting a new friend and experienced SGI member shared a bit of her story overcoming deep challenges with bipolar disorder and PTSD to reshape and rebuild her life.  I am forever inspired by such people as I know how challenging life can get and feel sometimes.  How wonderful to be around people moving through those challenges, lifting themselves and others up, and never giving up on themselves and their circumstances. (You can check out her award winning memoir here!)

I am reminded that this year, 2017, is a number 1 year in the world of numerology (2+1+7=10 1+0=1).  It’s coming after a number 9 year, a time of big change, and now with the 1 it is a time of new beginnings.  After big changes for me in 2016, I am certainly in the midst of new beginnings in 2017, rebuilding and unsure of what it will hold.

I will end with a wonderful quote I found recently by SGI President Ikeda that really spoke to me.  It says

  • You must not for one instant give up the effort to build new lives for yourselves. Creativity means to push open the heavy, groaning doorway to life.

And so I leaves you now from Asheville, the land of unmistakable beauty and… a few of my own heavy, groaning doorways.  But thankfully also some good connections, fresh spring air and an easy relaxed Sunday afternoon.

Turning a Corner

2 Oct

Well, it’s been a long time since I have written.  Mostly, it has been a slow, restful time for me soaking up the much-needed quieter pace and regularity family and the midwest have to offer.  My time has undoubtedly been… low-key.  And honestly, just what the doctor ordered.

I’ve mostly been in my mom’s small town just beyond the suburbs of a midwestern city. I’ve taken in its quiet days and most impressive big blues skies and cloud formations. I’ve appreciated long drives down country roads.

I am very grateful to my mom for opening her doors and letting me hang around her home for much longer than either of us expected.

And now it’s time… I am, turning a corner of sorts.  Tomorrow, I am off to new territory! But the difference this time is I won’t be getting on an airplane.  I am not spending my days meticulously packing trying to fit my whole life into two bags and not exceeding 50 pounds.  No, this time… I will be packing up my car and driving away.  And while my personal belongings don’t exceed far beyond two bags, there is some pleasure in having a little more ease in packing, a little extra room for my belongings to belong.

I am not going to share just yet exactly… where I am going.  But rest assured, tomorrow I will be on my way.  Still feeling at least a little like a “new” nervous driver after being off American roads for 5 years.  Still getting my American legs back and looking forward to stretching them a bit as I hit the open roads.

I will soon share my new destination.  In the meantime, I am appreciating the quiet where I am and feeling a peaceful excitement of a little adventure and travel on the horizon….Grateful for the time I spent here and looking forward to turning a corner and exploring new territory.

Life Back in the USA

24 Jul

It’s a pretty hot day here in the mid-west.  As I look out my window, all I see is the penetrating sun and the quiet streets as there is not much motion in the summer heat.

I am here still in the mid-west in small town USA.  I am grateful for my extended stay with family and earnestly, I am here longer than I expected.  This time is undoubtedly a crossroads for me and I am thankful to be able to explore options and choices for my “what’s next.”  I have had a few opportunities come my way, but so far nothing that has felt like the right fit for me.  So here I am, continuing to pay attention, explore, research, investigate, apply.

In the meantime, I am doing temporary work.  At first I felt like a fish out of water back from Thailand working in the mid-western office scene.  I practically had to wear a parka in the iced air conditioned offices after my months of Thailand’s deep thick heat. Even the little things caught my attention, like I didn’t know how the use the new fancy coffee machines.  Copier technology is WAY cooler than the last time I worked in an office.  And filing is now done… electronically.  Who knew?

While it has taken some time to get my “American office legs” back, I am grateful for the good things it has brought my way.  Of course I appreciate the income, but it has also helped me to regain my confidence back in the American workplace. My first temporary job, intended initially as just a three-day work agreement, extended to nearly six weeks.  I was thrown into the hot-seat of a busy title company, something totally foreign to me. I had to keep my eyes on all of the balls coming from all directions and with equal parts hard work and answered questions, I made my way to the other side… now knowing quite a bit about the title business and feeling successful and acknowledged for my efforts.

newwheelsA new big change for me… I now have wheels! Returning to the US, I was… hesitant to get a car for many reasons.  Part of what has kept me flexible and traveling these past years has included keeping things ultra simple and also keeping my personal expenses as low as possible. Abroad there was almost always a way to get around via public transportation.  Whether it was riding in the back of a red truck in Thailand, traveling the U-Bahn in Vienna, or catching the regular bus to Seoul, there was always a way.  Here in the US it is of course a different story. Public transportation in most cities is just not a priority. Where I am currently staying, it is literally non-existant.  And so a few weeks ago… I did it! I got a car. In many ways I am so relieved.  What a blessing it is to be mobile again as I continue to explore and make my way.

How are things wherever in the world you are?  It is always great to hear from you! Good-bye for now from quiet summer days and life back in the USA.