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Safe at Bear Creek

28 Sep

Greetings from Texas! A few weeks ago as my rural Texas sit came to a close, I did my best to ride the current of some unexpected rearranging and landed at one of my favorite spots on the outskirts of Austin, TX.  I was fortunate to return for a bit to the location of last winter’s long-term sit set on beautiful stretches of land along a sparkling creek. Here I am hunkered down with two of my favorite kitties doing the “kittie shuffle” – you know the one… open the door, let the cat out… open the door, let the cat in… and enjoying some time and space in a peaceful and familiar setting.

Like many, these are uncertain times for me. They are heightened due to our current world and national circumstances.  But even before this all hit, I waded through years of uncertain living.  Honestly, it’s something I never fully got used to. While I might have a little more practice with the ebb and flow, when things come down to the wire it’s been a challenge for me to keep my peace and negotiate the uncertainty.

That’s why, now more than ever, it seems like a good time to practice some of the spiritual notions that have been knocking at my door this past decade and… improve in my attention to and use of them. It’s a good time to clean up some of the debris in my “inner world.” Here are a few considerations at the forefront of my traveling house sitter/pet sitter coronavirus Jedi training.

1.  Mastering My Mind. I have to admit, as much as anyone… maybe more than others… I have a very fertile and active mind.  At times this is fun and useful, but when uncertainty peaks it is at best a distraction at worst anxiety provoking!  So as my life and the world “turns up the volume” I am making an effort to pay attention to my thoughts, to indulge  “less” in mental pathways that bear no fruit, and to simple be an observer of my thoughts and my reactions to people and circumstances rather than go along for the ride!

2.  Set My Intention for the Best. While I am watching my thoughts, I am also ramping up my practice of turning my intention towards the best. When a situation comes to mind that has potential for upset, I am practicing being conscious in seeing things work out for the best and sending warm, loving thoughts to the situation. Minimally, this practice reduces my anxiety and at best sets a framework in the fertile ground of potential.

3.  Practicing Being Present. So many teachers out there remind us that presence is where it’s at!  Fearful thoughts of the past or future simply do me no good and also can limit my access to potentiality and options available. So when the uncertainty boat goes a-rockin’ in my world, I do my best to toss that aside and reconnect here in the present moment.

4.  Being Open to My Intuition. I will never forget when I was first introduced to the world of intuition and psychic ability living in New Orleans, LA. I met an interesting… yet possibly shady character at a local coffee shop who gave me a reading that blew my socks off.  Since then life hasn’t really been the same. Before then, I had never been plugged in at all to the idea that we have access to knowledge beyond our typical senses. And while my intuition and I have had our challenges along the journey, as I continue to get quieter and connect within I am making a little extra space to notice the quiet voice within.

5.  Practicing Refraining from Judgement. This topic has flirted with me many times over the years. And I would practice it from time to time. But now more so I seem to realize that judgment of others and myself really cuts me off from all the good, the flow, and limits me.  I’ve come to imagine it like I am floating down a stream and judgment is like grabbing for the branches along the way. It just blocks me and stops things up. So for my own freedom and peace of mind, I am making an effort to practice being mindful of my judgments.

6.  Spending More Time Connected to Spirit.  In addition to my favorite spiritual practices, lately I am simply taking more time to get quiet and connect with my heart and the Divine.  As so much rattles in the world around me and the uncertainty of my own life, more and more access to the infinite seems to be where it’s at. It’s the place it “makes sense to me” to park my car, reroute my address, build my home.

And of course, I call all of this practice… because that’s what it is!  I am simply just paying a bit more attention to these things daily and reaping the small waves of gentle benefit that come my way in restored ease and peace.

Where in the world are you and how is your Jedi training going?  I’d love to hear from you!

Finding Your New Normal

20 Apr

Hey there! How is everyone doing out there? Here I am, in many ways I imagine, just like you doing my best to hunker down, lay low, play it safe and stay sane. I imagine also like you, my life has been rearranged in ways I wasn’t expecting. My living circumstances and location have changed. My surroundings have changed. My lifestyle has changed. And some days this is all okay. And other days it feels like everything just might come crumbling down. I have had my good days and I’ve had my bad moments and days.

As I was wading through some really intense emotions that I just didn’t know what to do with, I had a bit of a breakthrough. I needed to let it out. I got out my journal which had been neglected for nearly a year and wrote… and wrote and wrote. And I got out my drawing journal where I occasionally do a bit of colorful abstract meanderings, sharpened my colored pencils and just sort of went at it and… I feel a bit better. In the midst of all of this, I feel I’ve “figured out” a few things… so this is how it all looks to me.

Our lives have all wreaked havoc and our external “normal” has been stripped away. While this is uncomfortable and challenging, the opportunity here isn’t to get back to “normal” but to shift from within to a new normal. Let’s face it, our “normal” lives, while we were used to them and their familiarity, didn’t always work and left certain essential aspects of ourselves out in the cold. With our normal stripped away, it actually grants us an opportunity to disentangle from the trappings of that pattern that weren’t serving us and reconnect within to some of our inner lights that have been disconnected, forgotten, neglected or cast aside. I saw in myself all the large and small ways I had kicked important elements of myself “off the boat” for a variety of reasons – I didn’t have time, I felt I wasn’t good enough, I was more worried about making money. I was even ashamed of certain aspects of myself or too worried about what other people thought, so I ignored them or tossed them aside.

But here’s the deal, when we’re not being ourselves our lives don’t fully work. And while sometimes this may present a challenge as we feel people in our lives or society at large demand that we be a certain way, it truly is our life’s journey to become more aligned with who we really are. So as our normal is stripped away, it’s an opportunity to connect within to what feels true, soft, real for each of us personally and allow it – give it just a little breathing room to be. Through this experience we can transform from the inside out into a new normal.

Some of us may be feeling trapped, but perhaps the real trap is the myriad of ways we have cut ourselves off from our authentic selves. Access to freedom comes in reconnecting to ourselves and what is true for us if even in small ways.

So how do we do this?  I imagine this is a distinct journey for each of us, but here are few of my thoughts…

  1. Do something you love just for the joy of it. Not because it will get you something (recognition, approval, money, success) or that it is expected of you but simply because it’s a joy for you to do it. Let that be enough.
  2. Start a daily journal. It doesn’t have to be anything prolific or fancy but just a place where you can come daily to write down what’s so for you on this day. And if it inspires you, get yourself something cool, beautiful or fancy to write in.
    • Here’s a link to a pretty spiral bound notebook for journaling.
    • Here’s a great journal to revisit and chronicle your life called This Life of Mine by Anne Phyfe Palmer.
  3. Explore keeping a visual journal. This doesn’t have to be much, you can get a spiral bound blank sheet notebook and some colored pencils without much expense. Then just show up at the page daily or from time to time without judgement and just let it out.
  4. Support your journey with Young Living Essential Oils. I have to tell you, these oils have been a life saver in assisting me with moving through and transforming the emotional challenges and rocky roads that have come up recently along the journey. Favorites include Young Living Stress Away, Lavendar and Valor.  If you’re curious about these you can read more here and feel free to reach out.

One additional note of something I recognized in myself… it’s easy to blame those around us for any challenges or for feelings trapped. We’re all human – I know I am!  And truly some circumstances may work better than others or not be a fit for us. But as a starting point, I am seeing my own access to greater freedom comes from not looking outside but instead looking inside myself and beginning, one day at a time, to continue the journey of setting myself free as a launching point to a better “reality.”

Those are my musings for now from my temporary respite in the midwest. Wishing all of you the best in your own journey of excavation and finding your new normal!

Refuge

21 Mar

For over a year now I have been on the move, roaming about the country as a full-time house and pet sitter. Honestly, it’s been a time of uncertainty for me and the flexibility and change has been a way for me to stay in the flow as I continue to explore… what now and what next. I’ve been hanging out in the Austin, TX area for the past six months or so fortunate that the sits in the area have kept coming. It started with a few months in a community just outside Austin and then extended to a wonderful respite caring for two kitties on a beautiful stretch of land on a creek on the outskirts of the city limits.

More recently, I was settled for a bit in a suburban South Austin neighborhood until… you guessed it… coronavirus. Not a good time to be a housesitter. My clients were on an extended trip abroad in Southeast Asia and, as can be expected, they made a decision to come home early. Because of their travels and the risky airports they had to fly through on their way home, they were understandably asked to quarantine for fourteen days and so I had a quick window to pack up myself, prepare their home, and redirect my life for the short term.

As I am sure you can imagine, the housesitting world is quite shut down right now. My standard housesitting websites that are regularly a bounty of options if not in the neighborhood at least in the region are simply not available. I am fortunate that my mom offered for me to stay with her and so earlier this week I once again packed up the SUV and trekked from Austin to the midwest.

So here I am hunkered down in my mom’s guest bedroom surfing through some of my regular life of tending to my remote work. And like the rest of us, doing my best to stay informed while keeping that balance of not “too much.”  I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t taking a toll on me. Like I am sure many of you out there, I feel anxious, nervous and overwhelmed while also simply doing my best to stay centered and at ease.

As a full-time solo traveler for much of this decade and a remote worker these past years, it would be fair to say that I have some experience with isolation. At times it can be joyful and satisfying. At other times a bit trying and maddening. Over the years I’ve done my best to appreciate the opportunity in it, seek the joy in it. That said, I can’t deny that yes, while our current circumstances are temporary, there is an unmistakable ring of confusion and anxiety in the air that makes it challenging for me to just sink in and enjoy the time.

That said, here are some of the things that I regularly lean on when the world around me feels confusing or I feel disconnected or off-kilter.

1. Reiki.  Ah Reiki. I have been practicing Reiki for nearly 15 years now. It’s a regular part of me and my life and its flow through my world is akin to breathing now. With my years of travel and someone who lives with and is healing from at times paralyzing anxiety, it has been a necessary and extraordinarily useful ingredient in making my way from point A to point B in the world and overcoming challenges and moments day to day that have me at times feeling stuck, overloaded and stopped. Regular doses of Reiki for myself and others are an important fuel that forms the basis of my daily life.

Would you like to try Reiki?  Reiki is something that can be done from a distance. Just for fun, for this coming week, I will offer four 15-minute distant Reiki treatments for free. Would you like to be one of them? Simply contact me in the next couple of days and lets set that up. If you’d like to learn more about Reiki, visit my page on Reiki.

2.  Nam Myoho Renge Kyo. I have been chanting this almost daily for nearly a decade now. It’s so simple. I keep doing it because I can’t deny that when I chant things shift and I feel better. Have a little time on your hands? Try chanting for ten minutes. Here is a link to a video to show you how.

3.  Young Living Essential Oils. I have been using Young Living Essential Oils for over a year now. I love how they can shift my mood, support my health and deepen my spiritual practices. I am leaning heavily on Thieves oil at this time. The history of this oil goes back to the plague when thieves used this combination of oils to protect them from illness. I’ve had some amazing experiences with Young Living Thieves oil myself including stopping a severe reaction to mold in its tracks. Follow the link if you’d like to learn more. And feel free to reach out with questions.

4. Ho’oponopono. My trusted Reiki teacher just reminded me today of this prayer and Hawaiin practice. It can be used for others, for ourselves, current circumstances and those from the past. Surely we can all use a little forgiveness at this time for ourselves and others.  I know I can. It goes like this: I’m sorry, please forgive me, thank you, I love you.

Well, that’s all for now from coronavirus in the heartland. My life once again recently rearranged.  I’m in it with all of you… laying low, watching some movies and doing my best to stay centered and connected with powerful tools and practices.

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!

The Adventure Continues

22 May

I am cuddled up in my quiet new digs in the latest stop on my house and pet sitting adventure. This new journey that launched me from Dallas, Texas has taken me to the coast of Wilmington, NC and the busy Virginia “suburbs” of DC. Next, I landed in the Boston, MA area where I happened upon a series of pet sitting opportunities which kept me in the beautiful but “a bit too chilly” Northeast for over month. I departed just recently and am now happily resting in Michigan for a few weeks caring for a fluffy friendly kitty and an enthusiastic assembly of hens.

In my travels and meeting people who travel, I was always curious about exploring house and pet sitting. When I landed in Asheville, NC for a few years, as I got a little restless, it was steadily on my mind. So when it was time to leave my temporary abode in Dallas it seemed only natural to throw my hat into the house and pet sitting ring. It started with securing one gig… then another and another.

So far, my traveling times as a pet and house sitter have been of the satisfying mellow variety. I’ve enjoyed the simple happiness of residing in “four new walls,” the steadfast company of some friendly furry creatures, and the leisurely exploration of my new scenery and surroundings. In a lot of ways, it’s been and continues to be an important time to regroup – lean on the spiritual practices I love including Reiki, get rest and nurture myself, and continue to tend to the fires, challenges and interests of my “inner world.” Along the way, I’ve had the pleasure of connecting with a few welcome faces from the past.

It’s been fun from time to time to take a little outing, a trek to someplace new in my latest temporary hood.  Whether it’s connecting with a local Art of Living group for long Kriya, taking in a little jazz at the local piano summit, or diving into the beauty of nature… “getting out” and “getting away” in an easy, “no-stress” way is an important part of the journey.

As always, the rhythm of my life and journey is met with my own challenges with overwhelm, anxiety and fatigue. Being a steadfast caretaker of my health in ways that feel natural, supportive and healthy to me are a big part of my daily way. No matter where I go, I rely on the simple things like my joyful geekiness in seeking out the local natural and organic stores (there are about FIVE or SIX DIFFERENT ones in my latest location!!).

More recently, in the past year or so, I have added Young Living Essential Oils to my daily natural health dance. It is a true joy to be so gentle with myself using and experimenting with the oils to soften the constant nervous tensions often locked in my body. Recently I made an essential oil spray from Lavender, Peppermint, Frankincense, Panaway and Copaiba Young Living essential oils combined with a natural fractionated coconut carrier oil. It makes such a difference to start and end the day with them. Since adding this practice I have days and moments when I am just so aware and appreciate the ease present in my body that simply wasn’t available or accessible to me before.

It’s a mostly rainy day today in my latest abode. There’s been a lot of rain lately. I am using it as an excuse to take it slow and am fortunate to be sitting in the midst of a beautiful glass sunroom as I peck away at my computer.

So long for now from the “it’s a little too chilly for Spring” land in the Northern US.

New Territory

1 Mar

I pulled a few cards this morning, as I sometimes do, from a guidance deck (www.colettebaronreid.com). The first card was “Compass” with the message saying that I am in unchartered territory and the importance of staying pointed to True North (God, Spirit, Buddha Nature). Plus a reminder that those other things – money, property, prestige, romance – can’t help you find your true path. They are just things you may experience along the journey. All helpful reminders.

So here I am in unchartered territory, the coast of North Carolina to be more precise. As my temporary Dallas abode quickly wrapped up, I was fortunate to get a brief housesitting opportunity in a North Carolina coastal town. So I went through the familiar but not quite fun process of undoing the little life I had set up in Dallas, shrunk my belongings back to car-size, neatly packed up my vehicle and was on my way.

Transitions are never easy for me. During uncertain times there is one thing I can be certain of – that I will need to lean heavily on my collection of spiritual resources to make it through. My favorites include my practice of Reiki, my chanting practice with SGI and the delightful and supportive aromatherapy of Young Living products.

The bright side, of course, is that in this space of great change and uncertainty my mind, body, soul and being don’t have to stay in a rut. While my travel wheels feel a bit rusty after being mostly still for a few years in the Asheville area, it undoubtedly does me some good to let go a little bit, move out and about and shift.

For now, I am in a comfortable bed in a house on a quiet tree-lined street with the companionship of a sweet black fluffy dog equally grateful for my company. I am here just for the short term. Enough time for a few good walks on the beach, the smell of the fresh sea air. And then, on to more house sitting!

Where it will go from here is still quite a mystery to me!  Sometimes this uncertainty bothers me and… sometimes I find myself just more comfortable with it all. As my dedicated Reiki teacher always reminds me, allow things to unfold. When we try to plan, project and figure it all out mostly we end up with a ball of stress, but likely not any creative solutions. So I plan some. I tend to the practicalities that are needed. I seek and explore. And yes, I sometimes end up in a ball of stress! But then I do my best to put those things aside and lean on the things I know I can count on – the sound of “nam myoho renge kyo” reverberating through my body, the comfort of Reiki energy bringing back a renewed sense of equilibrium.

For today, it looks like rain. From the looks of things so far, the intense lounging of the dog by my side and my own casual feel, I think it will be a quiet day for us both today. A little work. A little tending to things and exploration.

How about you? Any new territory being explored in your life?  How do you nurture yourself during times of great change and uncertainty?

Bye for now from my unchartered territory on the coast of North Carolina.

Going with the Flow in the New Year

5 Jan

It’s the New Year and I find myself in unexpected territory. I am curled up in my bed indulging in an extended Saturday morning. But there are no mountains outside my window. No cold North Carolina winter breeze barking through my door. I am, of all places, in Texas.

Why am I in Texas you may ask? Well, as things tend to go with my life I was, let’s just say… redirected. As you may know I was living in the Asheville, NC area, Hendersonville to be exact, in a simple ground floor apartment. One particularly rainy wet morning I got up to what I assumed would be an ordinary day and instead was greeted by a pool of water in my kitchen. A good size puddle. I soon discovered that this watery invasion was not just in the kitchen but throughout the apartment… in the living room, the bedroom, the bathroom. I called my landlord who lived upstairs in the home above me and she scurried down to clean up the water and I began to pack my things. As the rain continued to come down and we were more than saturated in recent years with rain, we weren’t sure what might unfold.

In the end, it wasn’t much. But it was enough… to wreck the apartment and require my landlord discern how and if she would move forward with repairs. As I could no longer live there, we parted amicably and I hit the road.

All my things fit in my SUV. Thankfully I was still sort of living my gypsy ways. Hesitant to buy things. Not liking to have “too much” or burden myself with belongings. The apartment came furnished, so with just a moderate amount of discomfort and unexpected effort on an early rainy morning, I was packed up and out the door.

I spent a few days at a friend’s home in Asheville then headed to the midwest to visit family and stayed with my mom for a few weeks. I returned to Asheville for a business meeting and then… I went to Texas. Texas wasn’t exactly part of the “plan.” But it was a generous offer from a friend in my Reiki community for an available and safe place to land. With a bit of exhaustion but fair degree of willingness, I made my way.

The backside of this story is the idea of change was in the air. I hadn’t traveled in the two years I had been in Asheville and was hungry for some new scenery. I had been feeling stuck and in a rut, yet wasn’t sure what to do about it. In comes a solution, as unexpected and inconvenient as it may be.

I’ve been here a few months now. This diversion has offered a taste of freshness and newness I was needing. But it has also been a big adjustment. Instead of hearing the sounds of nature, I hear the buzz of the busy road nearby. In my first week I managed to accidentally drive on two toll roads and run a red light that had a traffic camera on it. One day for reasons beyond my understanding, my GPS started speaking Spanish.

So here I am, tucked in my temporary Texas abode. There’s a fire in the fireplace and the roar of local traffic outside my window. As I awaken into 2019, I am on a detour of sorts and not quite sure where the road is going. With much gratitude and some anxiety along the way, I am doing my best to go with the flow in the New Year.

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!

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.

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