Archive | Back in the USA RSS feed for this section

Back to the Basics

30 Aug

I am here in the Texas countryside towards the end of my current housesit.  In the midst of everything going on in the world, I’m glad to have been hunkered down for a bit caring for two sweet kitties and a whole mess of plants in the Texas heat.

As time lingers on and the world and the US face many challenges, I have to remind myself to make an extra effort to get back to the basics. For me, these are the practices, the way of life that best supports my health, wellbeing and my mental and spiritual health, development and growth. 

As we’ve been sailing through these unexpected seas for a while, I certainly have had my moments when I wanted to crawl back into familiar territory and habits that don’t necessarily serve me.  While of course it does my spirit some good to have some lighthearted breaks and treats, it also does me a world of good to continue to build my foundation on those things that truly nurture me and support an unshakable foundation when so much seems to be crumbling around us.

Reiki has been and continues to be one of the steadfast pillars in my foundation. I find sometimes in the midst of all that is happening I get restless or frustrated and want to settle things “my way” instead of leaning on my spiritual resources. Of course time and experience remind me how uncomfortable this can be and instead to lean more heavily on the steadfast ways that have served me as I have wandered around some of this planet over the past decade.

As a Second Degree Reiki practitioner, sending distance Reiki is a big part of this. This is the same healing energy experienced in a hands-on Reiki treatment but it can be sent anywhere and to anyone regardless of time and space. I remember one time I was driving with a friend who was having painful sinus issues. As she was the one driving I couldn’t very well give her a hands on treatment at the time so I asked permission to send her Reiki. She agreed and immediately she noticed her sinuses start to loosen and drain. Recently I sent Reiki to a friend who had financial and personal challenges stacking up and needed to move forward. The next day she had a breakthrough. I have to smile remembering reconnecting with a friend who is also a Reiki student. I told him I would send him some Reiki and immediately began to do so.  “Are you sending now?” he asked as he took note of experiencing that “Reiki energetic feeling.” “I am!” I replied!

As a traveling house and pet sitter, I also rely on using Reiki to clear the energy regularly and repeatedly of the places I visit.  All homes, all places are filled with the thoughts, history, and chaos of the moment and the times. I clear the energy because it helps to support a more harmonious living circumstance and honestly, just makes things feel better!  It’s also a great foundational tool to support improved mental health, emotional health and any challenges or changes that may need to happen or be addressed in the home or space.

I remember when I was just starting out in Reiki. I was crazy sensitive in the wake of slowly tapering off the anti-depressant Paxil to the tune of extreme withdrawal challenges. I had picked up a little gig working for a friend in their tent at a festival. So many people… all that energy was a big challenge for me especially in my circumstances. My Reiki teacher encouraged me to clear the energy of the tent over and over again while I worked. I was skeptical at first. But in earnest, it made a difference and made working possible in my still pretty fragile state.

I also recall one housesit some years ago where something about the energy of the place just didn’t feel right. It was palpable. I couldn’t sleep at night. My Reiki teacher encouraged me to clear the energy regularly and I did. I was there for a while and with regularly clearing the house felt great and I slept like a baby.

Would you like to explore Reiki energy in your world? A distant treatment can support mental, emotional and physical health as well as challenging circumstances and situations. Clearing the energy of your home can support a more peaceful and harmonious environment.

At a time when many of us are still spending more time at home and there are a whole slew of challenges about, I would love to support you with Reiki.

For a limited time I am offering the following Reiki treatment options:

Distant Reiki
• $35 for a 45 minute treatment
• $60 for a 20 minute treatment four days in a row.  A treatment four days in a row in Reiki is very powerful.
• $108 for a 45 minute Reiki treatment four days in a row.

Distant Reiki Home Energy Clearing
• $25 for a 30 minute energy clearing of your home or selected address

Reiki Sample
• $35 Distant Home Energy Clearing (15 minutes) and Distant Reiki Treatment (30 Minutes)

If you’d like to know more about Reiki please follow this link. It shares a bit more about my practice and experience as well as some helpful links.

If you’d like to schedule a Reiki appointment or have questions, please email me directly at gypsywomancafe@gmail.com.

These are unusual times. But also a useful time to practice shifting our attention, taking our time, going within to explore new pathways for living.

House Sitting Escape

12 Jul

In the midst of my midwest coronavirus detour hunkered down with family an opportunity recently came my way for a new housesit. So I took a little leap and here I am in Texas Hill Country enjoying some new scenery, peace and respite on a lovely property.

I was chatting with an old friend the other day who had many questions about house and pet sitting. It occurred to me that many folks out there with a heart and spirit for travel may not realize how possible and viable house and pet sitting is as an avenue to travel. So whether you’re ready for a coronavirus diversion, if even just in the next town, or you’re not ready to travel yet but your heart and soul could use a little future travel planning and daydreaming, read on!

Before I started house and pet sitting I had done quite a bit of travel relying often on work exchanges via personal connections and the website helpx.net. I had always been curious about house and pet sitting but hadn’t yet taken the leap and honestly, wasn’t sure how difficult it would be to “get my foot in the door.”  But it was certainly on my mind.

A few years ago while living in Asheville I met a full time traveling house and pet sitter at a local meet-up group. She was generous enough to share her experience. It was so helpful to simply have a conversation with a real person who was doing it and to be reassured that yes, it really was possible and accessible.

I didn’t jump in right away and continued with life as usual. Then over a year ago life “gave me a push” as it sometimes does. My apartment unexpectedly flooded and I had to hit the road. Sometimes in the midst of uncertain times lies an opportunity to take a leap and do something new. For me, this led to my latest adventures in house and pet sitting.

Whether you’re a full time traveler or simply curious about embarking on the occasional diversion, house and pet sitting is worth exploring.

Choose a House Sitting Platform, Join and Set Up a Profile
Some people may be unaware that there are many house and pet sitting websites where you join for a modest fee and have access to apply for house sits all over the world. Typically homeowners post their house and pet sitting opportunities, interested subscribed house sitters apply, and the chosen house sitter cares for their home and pets in exchange for a place to stay. There are many sites out there including Trusted Housesitters, Nomador and HouseCarers

After you choose and join your site, you begin with setting up a profile. When I set up my profile, there were a variety of things I paid attention to:

  1. I chose photos that reflected my experience caring for others including people and animals. I also selected photos that reflected my experience traveling.
  2. In my written profile I highlighted all of my personal and work experience that demonstrated I was a reliable and trustworthy professional. I also focused on all of my experience caring for pets and animals and caring for houses.
  3. I shared information about me that was unique and distinct.
  4. I included external references as the system allowed since I didn’t yet have any reviews within that house and pet sitting community.
  5. I took my time writing my profile to present myself well.

Diving In!
After I set up my profile, getting started was as simple as applying for sits. I had received some advice that it can be helpful when you’re just beginning to apply for local sits to get your foot in the door. This may make a homeowner more comfortable plus you have the possibility of meeting them before they leave which is often appreciated.

When applying for sits I did my best to present myself well, address the homeowner and their pets personally and by name, and highlight my enthusiasm and the ways I felt I was a match for their needs.

I was fortunate to find a wonderful two-week sit for a sweet little dog in a laid back coastal town as my first sit. From there for me, things continued to flow. I applied for sits that felt like a match for me with homeowners, home and pets plus responsibilities. I chose locations that weren’t too far from my current sit. As I got additional sits and started receiving internal reviews, it made it easier for me to apply for sits with more applicants and be considered as a contender.

When you apply for a sit, some home owners may choose to interview their top candidates.  When discussing the opportunity on the phone or Skype, I would do my best to have some prepared questions, to learn about the temperament and needs of each animal, and be thorough in my responses and inquiries.

As I continued with my house sitting journey, an important piece of the puzzle was to leave the house in great shape, better than it was left to me, with a little token of my appreciation, often a note with some flowers or a plant.

It’s fair to mention that of course house and pet sitting has been impacted by our current national and worldwide circumstances with COVID 19. House sitting websites do currently have opportunities, but for now those numbers are certainly reduced from the typical fertile field.

What Now?
So how about it? Do you want to hit the road? Maybe even just a safe escape to a nearby location? If you’re ready to jump in now or down the road, follow this link to save 25% on a Trusted House Sitter membership.

Whether it’s in the coming months or future plans, house sitting is a wonderful opportunity to be of service to home owners and their pets while offering you an opportunity for a little escape or adventure. Full time travelers and part-time explorers alike can benefit from the opportunities of house and pet sitting.

How about you, what are your house and pet sitting stories, adventure and advice?  If you’re curious to know more, feel free to ask any questions about house and pet sitting!

Wholeness

22 May

Greetings from the midwest as the Coronavirus journey continues! Like many of you out there, I am shifting through an unexpected set of life circumstances at this time. In an effort to relate to what’s so in my life in a way that serves me, I am doing my best to expand and adjust my way of thinking and not get lost in my own mind or tripped up on the intense world of emotions out there out in plain sight and hiding in some unexpected corners.

In the past weeks I’ve tuned into a handful of zoom meetings and youtube videos in an effort to keep myself tuned to a positive channel.

Here are few of my “favorite hits” and resources from recent weeks!

Krishna Das Chai and Chat Series
I love this series of little snippets of Krishna Das having tea while answering questions from selected curious minds. If you’re unfamiliar with Krishna Das, he is a well-known Kirtan Artist and loved and respected worldwide for his soulful chanting and humble, fun and down to earth nature. What I love about these videos is I feel he is the real deal sharing simple earnest truths from his journey. I love the vibe of his talks, the information shared and the way I just feel better after I’ve relaxed in them for a bit.

The “I” of the Storm
This is a book I am reading with an online Unity Church book group. We’re just a few chapters in, but already it is assisting me is shifting and developing a new point of view. The heart of the message of this book is that nothing is against us. The journey so far supports coming from a place of wholeness, outside of our automatic beliefs and meaning that we assign in this world of opposites, and living, making choices and viewing our lives from this lens.  He refers to this as the “I” of the storm.  A worthwhile read and a great lens for strengthening new muscles and adjusting points of view!

Creative Mornings Acts of Wholeness by Katherine Wintsch
Creative Mornings is an international meetup group in cities around the world that supports gatherings of creative folks – which is all of us!  They recently shared this video in their regular email offerings. It’s a fresh light story of a professional woman’s journey of needing to totally reevaluate her life when it was broken and not working. She shares some wonderful metaphors and her own experiences reminding us to start within in assessing what we need to make our life work and build out from there.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy, Reiki Master
Maureen has a distinct intuitive gift and offers numerous light-hearted and fun reminders of how we can stay tuned to joy in our lives no matter what our circumstances.

The unmistakable theme of all of these is wholeness. In my experience, it’s easy to get lost in feeling fragmented and tripped up. There are so many distractions out there that invite us into that!  I found all of these to be like signposts and simple reminders that it needn’t be so.

How about you? What beacons of light or simple joys are helping you stay connected in a positive way?

Thanks for tuning in!  Here’s wishing all of us wisdom and grace as we continue this journey!

 

 

 

Back in Texas

10 Oct

I’ve been in the Austin, Texas area for about a month now. I have to admit that my landing has been a little less than elegant. A series of car issues and just a feeling of “adjustment” have had me feeling not quite on my feet.

I lived in the Austin area for a few years in 2005 in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Known as an “evacuee” at the time, it was a powerful and transformational period for me. Returning almost 15 years later is quite a trip. Austin has, shall we say, exploded! Honestly, it was a bit of a jolt to see the maze of new highways, strip malls, building and shopping developments in the town I lived in and called home for a bit. As I’ve been here a while longer I have had glimpses of the town that I loved and the place that for a little while felt like “home.”

One of my favorite places to return to has been Unity Church of the Hills. This church was a bit of a refuge for me when I lived here post-Katrina. It’s where I first heard Gary Renard speak (author of Disappearance of the Universe) which had a major impact on my spiritual thinking. It’s where I went to a sound healing session and got my first truly deep restful nights sleep in the wake of the upheaval of hurricane Katrina. Years later, with new ministers at the helm, the church is as dynamic and alive as ever. Their message is so gentle, powerful and loving. It is a great community to take a dip in while I am here.

Black Tourmaline

After a year of traveling and house and pet sitting in the US, while in many ways I am so grateful for the diversion and new scenery (and still want more of it!), I am also a bit exhausted from the constant change and travel. More recently here in Austin I have found myself in need of a bit of an “attitude adjustment.” Stumbling upon a few friendly reminders like “laughter yoga” and the importance of laughter for health and even a “chance encounter” with a powerful healing stone, black tourmaline, to lift off some of the negativity (in myself and the world at large) have made a difference.

Some of the people I turn to for wisdom and advice talk about this time in general as one of great change and spiritual shift. Perhaps even an inner revolution of sorts. Can you feel it? I know I feel that myself, my world and the world are being rocked in a deep way.

When “the going gets rough” I turn to my favorite trusted resources to help smooth out the ride.

Young Living Oils Lavender and Valor

  • Young Living Essential Oils  These oils are my constant companion, especially when things feel a bit rough. Valor and Lavender (among many others) are a few big hitters that bring some groundedness, soften some of the anxiety, and restore a bit of equilibrium to my mind, body and being. Would you like to learn more?
  • Healthy eating.  Wow, it really makes a difference. I have to be honest, when I am stressed or feeling a lot of emotional intensity I want to run for comfort food. But I do my best to make good choices in times of stress. Eating a healthy base makes such a big difference in my body, mind and mood. It’s critical. Recently I’ve been revisiting the site of Kris Carr (https://kriscarr.com/), cancer survivor and wellness guru. I’ve especially loved reading about her meal planning tips (https://kriscarr.com/blog/kris-carr-crazy-sexy-meal-plan/) and exploring some of her recipes!
  • Spiritual Nourishment. I have to say, I love God. And for me spiritual nourishment, connection comes in many forms. My daily reiki practice. My buddhist chanting practice of Nam-myoho renge kyo. Time in nature. Being inspired by the beautiful music of “Celebration” at Unity Church of the Hills. It’s all good. And for me, it’s all needed, helpful, useful and inspiring. What do you turn to for your spiritual nourishment?

When I feel like I am in the dark, I also appreciate pulling a few cards. Sometimes this means a tarot reading from my own deck or a professional reading. I also enjoy getting a quick burst of insight from Collette Barron Reid’s online card ap (https://www.colettebaronreid.com/). I am amazed at how often her cards deliver a morsel of wisdom that helps me refocus, regroup, realign in way that is meaningful and helpful.

Here’s wishing you a little peace, wisdom and laughter wherever you are in the world, whatever your journey!

Landed

10 Jun

My world has been in motion! Since my apartment flooded in October 2018 and I loaded up my car and flew the coop I have been in Texas, North Carolina, Virginia, Massachusetts and Michigan. My recent series of house and pet sitting appointments have served me well – some downtime, new scenery, BIG personal growth, old & new connections. Each location has been a burst of fresh air in its own right (and at times a burst of cold air… brrr… with chilly spring temperatures up north) plus appreciated doses of natural beauty.  

My most recent trek found me leaving Ann Arbor, Michigan and on to my current nesting spot where, happily, I will be for the summer. I have landed in a charming college town in the heartland, not far from family. My last few days I have been busily undoing a bit of my travel-self tucked up in my SUV and settling in… just a bit more with the luxury of a little stretch of time.

I am pet and house sitting for a senior woman off for the summer in her rented cottage in France while I happily stay here with her kitty and tend to the modest needs of her home. My mind and body relax just a little as I hurriedly rush around unpacking but then – catch a glimpse of the trees, hills, open blue sky and lush green land leaping inside from the window.

I have just dipped my toe in the new scene of my summer abode. You know the standards… a visit to the local farmers market and neighborhood food coop – both lovely and satisfying with high quality and a friendly easy atmosphere.

My mind and body are still somewhat on the go as I do my best to coax them into a little stillness. Tending to a little old business, a little new business and a new furry companion who is friendly, but definitely still keeping an eye on me to see if I meet with her approval. There is a downstairs room filled with a Steinway grand piano where I try to coax out a few songs from the memory of my childhood hands that so loved to play.

And so the journey continues. Landed for now in a soft and sweet spot. Here comes summer!

Day Trippin’

26 Aug

As I haven’t had any international escapades in some time, or much wandering of any kind really… it’s time for this gypsy soul to have a little movement. No big agenda, no big plans. But for now – a little day-tripping. You know how it goes… getting out of the familiar, if even just an hour or so away, and exploring some new territory.

How lucky am I that my current abode is seated right in the heart of some astounding natural beauty. So off I’ve been exploring some of the area… not too far away, but still getting out of town!

Caesars Head State Park

Just a 45 minute drive and I found myself in South Carolina at Caesars Head State Park. A gentle mostly scenic journey, I easily made my way to the visitor’s center and checked things out.  The park staff directed me up the road to the top attraction, the view. While my glimpse at the scenic overlook was shall we say… a bit foggy ( it was like staring out into a white abyss…)… thankfully, after a brief hiking excursion when I returned I had a better view. It was something like this.

View Caesars Head State Park
Triple Falls

DuPont State Forest

This well traveled North Carolina Park packs a powerful waterfall punch! Strung together by a series of mild to moderate (at times somewhat steep!) trails, this friendly well marked park is a breeze for getting out into nature and taking in some breathtaking scenery. How fortunate to have such amazing blasts of nature not too far down the road.

The waterfalls of DuPont State Forest include Hooker Falls, Triple Falls and High Falls. My favorite was High Falls. I also loved the base of Triple Falls. There I climbed the somewhat extensive series of steps to find my way to the base. How satisfying it was just to be in its presence and to take in not only the beauty but the feel of the falls.

High Falls

Swamp Rabbit Trail

Swamp Rabbit Trail Travelers Rest

This 22 mile rails-to-trails greenway runs from Greenville, SC to just beyond Travelers Rest, SC. Greenville is about 50 minutes south of me so I made an afternoon of it and checked out the area a bit.

As my ankle never fully recovered from a tumble down some stairs in France, I am always on the lookout for new flat places to walk – kind of a odd exploration when you live in the mountains!  Nonetheless, I continue my quest!

I started in Travelers Rest, the trail end closest to me. I parked my car near the heart of downtown and took in the scenery. The trail was easy to find – friends and families out on a Sunday afternoon mostly pedalling and some walkers on the trail alongside the road. I checked out the small collection of restaurants and shops blossoming near the trail. And when my curiosity was satisfied, I headed for the trail myself.

Swamp Rabbit Trail Greenville

True confession – I perhaps “cheated” just a bit in my first Swamp Rabbit excursion. As I was on foot, I quickly decided this portion of the trail is perhaps best suited for cyclers. I walked for …just a bit… in Travelers Rest as bicyclers buzzed by and not too much scenery to take in for the “slow travelers.”  I soon decided to return to my car, drive to Greenville and check out the other end of the trail. Kind of like reading the first page of a book and then skipping to the ending…

I caught the trail again in Greenville at Falls Park in the heart of the city. A tiny little green refuge in the midst of Greenville’s small but notable city bustle, the park features a man-made waterfall and hooks you right up with the Swamp River trail.

Falls Park on the Reedy Greenville

Paris Mountain State Park

Lake Placid Loop Trail

Just outside of Greenville, I found my way to this park as part of a little shopping excursion. Always great to get back to nature when out and about! While this park doesn’t offer the “blow you away” kind of nature, it was still a satisfying immersion and connection with some trees, earth and water – ah, something that always soothes the soul! A gentle loop trail around the lake (helpful for those of us with a history of getting… shall we say… misdirected out in nature) this simple diversion was a welcome and restoring break!

Dam at Lake Placid

How about you? Have you done any day trippin’ lately? What a way to go when you just need to get away, take a break and change the scenery a bit!

Opening Doors in the New Year

1 Jan

Happy 2018!  Well, time is rolling along and I can hardly recall where 2017 has gone. It’s fun for me to remember that while it’s 2018 for many of us, in Thailand it’s the year 2561 with a calendar based on the Buddha!  That was one thing that traveling always offered me… just when you thought a thing was “so” – it gave you an opportunity or experience to see that it just wasn’t the case.

I am here in Hendersonville somewhat bundled up with the chilly air outside.  It’s been a satisfying and at times quiet holiday season for me. While in some ways I am used to spending the holidays on my own with my years of traveling abroad, I find I tend to approach this season a bit tenuously not always sure what to do with myself  and in some ways just doing my best to “make it through” until it comes around next year. This year it’s been a pretty nice balance of connection and independence and I am grateful for both.

Last week I took just a couple of days to visit the Art of Living Center in Boone, NC to spend some time with the head of the organization, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. I first stumbled upon the Art of Living in post-Katrina New Orleans as they were there offering courses to support the community in the aftermath of the storm. Something about the energy of the organization caught my attention. I attended an information session to learn more and when the wife of a favorite minister joined the session as an experienced participant with the group, I knew I was in the right place.

I took their foundation course called the The Art of Happiness and their practice called the Sudarshan Kriya quickly became part of my morning routine. In the craze and aftermath of life post-Katrina, I took a little refuge in the peaceful feeling of this organization and periodically attended their evening long Kriya’s, gatherings and service opportunities.

That was over ten years ago. Since then I’ve been fortunate to stay connected with the organization and the practice. I’ve connected and practiced with local groups while traveling including Vienna and Kansas City.  To my amazement and delight, I was also able to attend their World Culture Festival in Berlin in 2011 while I was staying in Wettenbostel, Germany.

Sri Sri has brought yoga, meditation and practical wisdom to millions of people in over 150 countries. I was encouraged by a trusted friend to take their second flagship course, Art of Silence, in their European Center in Bad Antogast, Germany in 2014.  This was an opportunity not just to grow further spiritually through the framework of this course, but also to meet and share a little space with Sri Sri who would be at the European Center for a few days of the course.

Since that experience in Germany, I keep in mind that it’s a good idea not to miss an opportunity to be in Sri Sri’s presence and that is why I headed for Boone over the holidays.

Sri Sri was in Boone teaching an advanced course to students who had taken at least eight Art of Silence Courses (I have taken one) and have practiced with him for many years. The evenings were open to the public for chanting and an address from Sri Sri and that is where I fit in.

When I first arrived, making my may up the windy roads to this somewhat secluded mountain escape, who do I see walking solo down the road but a small Indian man.  Is that….?  I thought… and sure enough it was… it was Sri Sri walking down the road apparently taking some respite from the intense teachings of the day. What do I do?  Uncertain… I slowed down, rolled down my window, waved and said “hello!”…

At first, it was a bit of culture shock seeing this tiny spiritual man dressed in robes coming straight from the throws of more regular American life. But it was a good reminder to shift… to turn the dial just a bit and take things in a little differently.

With over 1000 students attending this course, I joined the busy dining hall for a modest meal of Indian fare, rice and dessert.  I sat with a few folks participating in the class who have been long-time students of Sri Sri.  They talked of spending time with him over 25 years ago at the simple Ashram in India and noting the many differences and shifts in their life since then.  I also met a woman who lives in Asheville, also a long-time student of Sri Sri, and a great reminder of some of the benefits of these practices in the long-term including a youthful spirit and demeanor.

Then I headed to the large meditation hall where I joined the 1000 plus participants as well as other guests, friends and family. Sri Sri eventually came and took his place seated on the stage up front. He didn’t speak for long, but his simple and refreshing words were a great reminder to me about this whole thing called life. He started by asking us to imagine all of the conversations we’ve had, thought, participated in, watched on tv… and then to imagine that we were separate from that.  And to consider that all of that, this changing world of conversation, beliefs and opinions, can distract us from experiencing the unfathomable joy and beauty found in our inner depths. He encouraged meditation as an important tool on this journey. All in all, he just reminded me that half the things I was worried about, considering, trying to figure out were in many ways distractions from the very opportunity he was talking about.

I left from my time there reminded of this. Of course I still think too much, still need to make life decisions and don’t always know what to do… but this simple message and his presence reminded me to continue to explore opening a door just beyond on all that… and that journey is always available to me no matter what I may or may not choose to do in this life…

And so, here I am, trying to enter a bit more gently and mindfully into 2018.  Sometimes gracefully, sometimes less so. Trying to not take all the conversations in my head and with others too seriously.  And just taking it from there.

Here’s wishing you a little extra dose of peace, happiness and well-being this New Year!  And may we all find that little door within us, in our own time and own way, that opens us up to greater gifts of joy, wisdom, peace, freedom and happiness!

A Walk in the Park

2 Dec

What sustains you when all else falls away?  This was a question asked of me during a particularly harrowing time some years ago.  I thought about it and for me, some of those things were very simple – the feeling of the sun warming my body and shining on my face….and walking.  Those are a few simple things I can count on no matter where I am or what I am facing.

So over the years, I’ve done a lot of walking. I can remember walking the streets of my old neighborhood in New Orleans during a particularly challenging time faced with much uncertainty.  I didn’t know what would unfold in my life and I felt a great deal of anxiety.  So, I walked.  I’ve walked my way down streets and alleyways in many places around the world now.  Through twisted backroads in the French countryside. Along the erratic and hot cement sidewalks in Chiang Mai when noone else was foolish enough to walk in the afternoon heat(except the monks!…).  And among the potato fields in the snow in Germany.

When there is uncertainty… I walk.  Which means essentially, where there is life… I walk.

So here I am now in Hendersonville, North Carolina surrounded by the mountains, woods and lush nature…. and walking. I walk in the abundant trails and walkways surrounding my current home.  Sometimes alone.  Sometimes with others.  It’s like a constant that forges a passage from one phase of life to another… big or small.

 

How about you?  What sustains you when all else falls away?  What are your simple comforts and joys the move you through the uncertainty of life’s many passages?

It’s always great to hear from you!

A Year In the Mountains

7 Oct

It’s a quiet Saturday afternoon here in Hendersonville and a rare cloudy day in the land of regular sunny blue skies. Although there’s hardly a sound inside or out, I still find myself a bit uneasy in the noise of so much happening in the US and world as of late.

As of this past week I have been in the Asheville area for a whole year!  When I set out to come here, I was excited to be in and explore this beautiful mountain area. While the first few months were simply delight after delight of taking in the sheer beauty of it all, admittedly, some of that has faded away as I’ve waded further into in the nitty-gritty of more regular life.

I am grateful for the time I have spent here so far offering healthy doses of some things I wanted most – some peace, quiet and space for nature; connection with like-minded folks; the refuge of great yoga classes.

This past year I’ve heard different stories of people’s acclimation to living and being in the Asheville area. Some folks come here and feel like they’ve found their spot… and others find a distinct sort of struggle living here amidst the backdrop of beauty. For me, while this area has offered much of what I was hungry for, a year into my time here I am still unsatisfied in some ways. Ways that may work themselves out in time or may need some adjustment on my end.

I’ve relocated three times since first arriving back in October 2016.  In many ways, these moves have just felt like part of the flow of my new life adjustment being back in the States after being abroad for five years.  Still traveling light, it was relatively easy to shift from one place to the next… appreciating the simple things that each spot has had to offer. Still today I am only “somewhat” settled, living a kind of “semi” American life, afraid to load myself down yet with too many things.

My current residence, stop #3 on my Asheville area journey, has me living in Hendersonville, just 25 minutes south of Asheville.  While it’s just a hop skip and a jump from Asheville, in many ways it’s a very different scene. Quieter. A bit flatter. More traditional. More conservative. In some ways I find it a nice refuge and appreciate its simple beauty. And in other ways I am hungry for… a bit more.

Not long ago I had an opportunity to present about my five-year adventure at an Asheville Meet-up Group, Being in Business.  What a treat it was to tell my tale and to take a dip in the spirit of my journey.

While I’ve been back in the US for over a year now, I still run into echos of my years abroad. Just today I had that “funny” moment of confusion crossing the street… unsure of whether to look left or look right. While there are plenty of thing I appreciate about being back in the US, lately I find I miss my “foreign self” – that experience of life defined by different borders and boundaries than regular American life.

And so for today I continue on my journey, presently perched in my American “half-life” in Hendersonville. So grateful for work and a quiet, beautiful place to live. Appreciating some time to be more at ease.  But also still… paying attention as to what calls to me now as I continue this journey of life.

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.

%d bloggers like this: