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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.

Little Magic

2 Jul

It’s a quiet Sunday morning.  Just what I’m in the mood for this week.  I am writing from a slightly different location than earlier Asheville posts.  A little over a month ago I learned I would have to move again.  So I prepared to depart from my cozy North Asheville abode to someplace… at the time still to be determined.

I have to admit when my current “landlords” and house-sharers told me they were leaving Asheville which meant I too would have to move, I felt that spark of excitement in being open to a new place to live and new territory.  After further exploration into the Asheville rental market, that spark diminished as I felt less enthusiastic and optimistic about what was available at a price I could afford.

After a little blood, sweat (no tears thankfully) and a lot of chanting, I was very fortunate to find a modest but cute, safe affordable little place in a neighboring town called Hendersonville.  Hendersonville is part of the growing collection of towns surrounding Asheville that are attracting new people and a growing transplant population.  Just 30 minutes south of downtown Asheville, it’s a bit of a quieter, slower older town with it’s own downtown and a spirit of it’s own. Admittedly, it can be a bit more “rough” around the edges than Asheville.  For example, there’s a Guns and Amo store located conveniently just down the street from my new neighborhood.  But the people are undoubtedly kind and friendly and I’m grateful to be here… for now… you know how that goes.

I am enjoying a much needed, deeply introverted weekend.  After a busy few weeks and recently learning of some big changes with my contract job and employer (including fewer hours for me), it stirs up ideas of what I want to develop with work and life at this time.  I went by the bookstore in search of a little inspiration.  I found my way to the book Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert and so far it’s been just the ticket for some pretty thick reminders about creativity and life.

Her book brings to light some things I’d kind of lost track of …. in my recent busy-ness tending to regular life, work and deadlines.  She reminded me about the gentle importance of curiosity and that when exploring new options and opportunities it’s much easier and more fun to explore my curiosity rather than trying to “get it right.” And she’s also reminded me of the joy of being open to the inherent creative nature in all of us and the magic in life that comes with that. Tapping in to that in some way is a really important part of being happy in life.  I know it is for me.

She shared a nearly unbelievable anecdote about a “big magic” experience she had with author Ann Patchett and her book State of Wonder.  I was totally lost in the content of her story and then was startled to notice that the very book she was talking about was sitting right next to me on my bed stand –  a gift from a friend waiting for me to read.  A little bit of magic right there.

As I explore additional/new work opportunities and options, in addition to other things, I have added a new “page” to my blog highlighting my writing skills and experience.  In addition to writing for marketing and business, as well as writing this blog, I realized recently that I really love to write for people and help them communicate what’s important to them in a fun, clear or interesting way.

In the spirit of curiosity and exploration regarding future work opportunities and ideas, while I have my own thoughts…I am curious… if you have any ideas to share. Knowing a bit of my life and work experience and looking at what’s next… what would you further explore and/or develop in the realm of work life?  Any ideas or even opportunities to share?  I’d love to hear from you! Feel free to share in the comments below or write to me via my contact page.

With that I leave you for now… to my day of quiet introspection and little magic. If you’re curious to check out the book Big Magic, I highly recommend it.  It’s a satisfying reminder of the limitless opportunity for creativity in all of our lives

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.

A New View

19 Feb

It’s a quiet Sunday here in Asheville.  I am slowly settling into my new space gathering up the little things I need to feel more at home. Now with a place to live and regular work, life seems a bit… normal… well sort of. It’s funny I’ve been back from Thailand and my epic five-year escapade for almost a year now, and despite my current somewhat “normal” circumstances, I am still surfing through life since returning and the spirit of “what’s next…”

In many ways it is an earnest treat to be back in the US and also to be here in Asheville.  There is a quietness and easiness here that I appreciate and need.  On good days I can feel the settling in of my body to a deeper and deeper place of ease.  Ahh! There are many simple things here that I have been craving that really feed me in small ways on a regular basis – great affordable yoga classes that aren’t just exercise but truly inspiration for the mind, body and soul; ease of access to nature around every bend, sometimes unexpectedly breathtaking; and a general feeling of laid back community and culture that supports me feeling a little less on edge after five years of constant change and life in foreign territory.

Don’t get me wrong – life isn’t “settled” or perfect… I still wonder and consider…on practically a daily basis, what is evolving for my life at this time.  I hear an inner pull to have a base… but within that also comes the implication that a base is a steady place from which one can fly away… and return.  Sometimes I find I am just too “used to” exploring what’s next… I feel a little… confused about what role that now has in my world.  And other times, honestly, my body still forgets it’s in the United States… including glimpses of forgetting which side of the road to drive on…

And then there are just the regular life challenges of living someplace new and not yet knowing many people here.  My current contract job is mostly remote, which in many ways I love.  But often I find it is just me and my computer which can leave me feeling a bit… disconnected… in my new community.

Ah, but just the same, for now I am really glad to be here.  Today I am enjoying the relief of some simple time off to relax a bit.  A new place to live with a change of scenery and a new view. Also appreciating my weekly meeting yesterday with the Asheville SGI group which often inspires me , lightens my load and just frees me up in some way.

For now, on this overcast quiet day, I’ll leave you with a little inspiration from my travel past.  I’ve been revisiting my journey lately and have picked out a few favorite pics and memories.  You can check them out on the right panel of my home page under “Travel Memories.”

Thanks for reading and coming along for the ride!

 

Featured photo – the “new view” from my current “home” in Asheville, NC.

Expanded

22 Jan

Last weekend was moving day for me… again.  I departed my original landing pad and headed in a slightly new direction.  Just a little northwest really, to another part of town.  As I pack up my belongings I can’t help but notice the “one-carload” life that I arrived in Asheville with has already expanded beyond that.  As I somewhat hesitantly dip my toe just a little further into life back in the States, I am already a far cry away the neat and tidy two-suitcase life that was mine for several years.

I arrived in Asheville with a little work in exchange for a place to stay (through helpx.net), a need to find paying work, and a curiosity for the area.  Now almost four months later, I have a job originally offered as part-time that quickly burst into more. Consequently, I was no longer able to keep up with my original work/trade agreement and as a result had to find a new living circumstance.

I have to note I couldn’t have been more fortunate with my landing living arrangement.  The residents of the house where I lived have been kind, generous and gracious to me.  The young couple who lived here for much of the time have moved on to their next adventure in New Orleans.  But while they were here they were fun, kind and respectful.  As I too head on to my “next experience” I am grateful to be spending more time in the Asheville area.

While I am earnestly not sure yet if I can call Asheville “home”, how long I will stay, or what the landscape of this next phase of life will look like, I can say there are plenty of things that are good for me here.  Recently after our “big snow storm” that left us freezing and covered in snow for a few days, I was so grateful when the cold broke and it was nearly 60 degrees.  That morning I headed out of the house and made my way to the park.  It’s so great to be in a community of like-minded park goers.  When I arrived at about 9am on a weekday the parking lot was nearly full. There were circles of school groups being led in environmental education by teachers. A photographer pointed out to me the new duckling swimming in the water with a white beak.  And of course I can’t forget the rushing river water, mountains and blue sky surrounding me that always makes me feel just a little more at ease.

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The new year has come and gone and as I drift into 2017 I try to keep in mind some of the wisdom I received for this new year.  My Reiki community hosted a world-wide webinar that I “sunk into” on New Years day.  Phyllis Lei Furumoto, the grand master of the Reiki Usui Shiki Ryoho tradition, spoke and what struck me most was her message of the importance of being authentic.  It reminded me that this is one of the gifts of the practice of Reiki – a gentle healing energy ushering you into the depth of your true self.  Sometimes slowly like a wave.  Sometimes quickly like being thrown into the deep end.  The depth and breadth of Phyllis’ own journey and her years of experience with Reiki brought to life the fullness, wisdom and growth available through the practice that happens… sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly, but accumulates over a lifetime. I am really grateful to be on that journey, sometimes gracefully, sometimes less so..melting into the space that is my own.

The other night I went to a local SGI meeting with two desires – the need to chant and gather with others and honestly the need to “get out”.  As is so often the case, I was so grateful that I went.  After an easy hour of chanting and conversation, when I departed that evening it was as if a load was taken off my shoulders and I just felt like I could breathe.  It felt like for the first time in a while I could relax for a bit and see in retrospect the quite large and expansive journey I have been on.  In the moment I heaved a sign of relief, laughed and took in the fullness of it.

It’s a rainy Sunday in Asheville and I am here in my new space, decor style let’s just call it… minimalist.  I am grateful for a new landing pad, the patch of forest there to greet me outside my doorway, and the gentle sweetness of the new community and landscape surrounding me. A little new beginning in the New Year with my expanded belongings as I continue my own journey of growth and expansion.

Merry & Bright

30 Dec

Well, I have just returned from a little holiday excursion back to the midwest to visit family. It was a good time and fun to be back in the midwest, connect with my mom, sister and her family. Even though I have only been away for a short time, it’s always interesting to go home and notice how my life has grown and changed since my last visit.

I haven’t written much lately because in truth… I have been busy.  I have myself a job here in Asheville that has been keeping me on my toes.  I was hired as a contractor to handle some marketing and graphic design needs for a small local health food chain that is doing both some growing and struggling right now.  And since I have been hired,  I have found myself pretty much doing the same.  I was initially hired for some part-time obligations that quickly blossomed into full-on, hands on work.  As we all continue to struggle and grow, I imagine things will balance out a bit so we will see how things develop!

Part of the beauty of this work is that I do much of it remotely and was able to pack up my computer and take my job on the road while I went home for a visit.  Not always easy or fun to work while you’re home for holidays, but much better than not going at all!

I’ve been gone for just over a week but it’s good to be back in the Asheville area. There is something about the air and the mountains here that just makes me feel at ease.  That said, returning after a week with family around to circumstances where I am often “on my own” also feels like its own adjustment.

And while the drive there and back was… long… I returned feeling full from the experience and having some time with family.

So for now, I am continuing to sail my boat here in Asheville paddling along with my new work responsibilities and continuing to find my way in a new community.

Once again I am grateful for my practice with the buddhist organization Soka Gakkai International.  This practice has been one of the cornerstones in my world these past traveling years that in addition to offering a strong spiritual foundation provides a way to meet and connect with new people in new territory.  This always makes things better.

As 2016 comes to a close, I am remembering what Maria Shaw, a New Orleans Astrologer who I appreciate and pay attention to, said about this past year.  She said from the very beginning that it will be a year of change and that has been true for me.  I’ve done my best to go with the flow and allow things to unfold.  It seems, it’s the best way to go.

As we roll out of 2016 and into 2017 I am grateful for many things.  I am grateful this past year for my mother who was a great support to me as I was transitioning back to being in the US.  I am grateful for my Reiki teacher and friend, Elizabeth Ohmer Pellegrin, who has assisted me with her wisdom and insight.  And I am grateful for the friends, old and new, who I have met and seen along the way.

And I am grateful to be in beautiful Asheville.  We will see how 2017 and the next chapter unfolds!

Wishing you courage, faith, confidence, trust and good spirit in the New Year!

 

Featured Photo:  A cool winter morning at the neighborhood lake just up the street from my mom’s home in Missouri.wintermorning

Settling In

3 Nov

I had my first taste of the mountain fog this morning.  I ran an early morning errand for my current host and found myself driving cautiously through the curvy, shadowy streets.  Slowly I am finding my way in, around and near Asheville, still blindly following the persistent and mostly reliable voice of my GPS navigator.

It’s hard to believe that I have been in Asheville for about a month now.  In truth it’s been a bit of an adjustment for me being here, navigating new space and relationships. Drifting again in uncertainty while life rearranges itself around me.

I am currently sharing a house with two lovely travellers, a youngish couple, themselves making their way via helpx.  They are here for the short-term caring for the home and dogs of the owners while they are away.  And me, well, while I am living here, I am doing an exchange with the homeowner’s daughter and family who live not far down the street.

If you don’t know, helpx.net is an international network that connects hosts willing to offer room and/or board in exchange for some needed work with travellers looking for a creative and affordable way to travel.  Helpx has been an important link for me on this mega-journey.  It offered a way to stay longer in Europe opening doors to working and living in France.  It afforded me a way to connect with and see a bit more of Germany when I was watching every dime that I spent. And it was a bridge when I needed to come back to the United States for just a few months to apply for and get my visa to teach English in South Korea.  And now, here I am in Asheville!

My helpx trade here is a pretty simple one.  If you read my blog, you know by now that I pay special attention to my diet, something that doesn’t work in all households.  So, for this trade I am doing a modest amount of work in exchange for my place to stay and handling my food and meal needs on my own.  It’s a start and a great way to land and get to know Asheville.

This past month has slid by as I have been preoccupied with finding my own rhythm in new circumstances, exploring Asheville a bit, making an effort to connect with and meet new people, and of course looking for work. Along the way I have managed to explore and see some pretty great things. Here are a few highlights…

 

A Sunday Ride Along the Blue Ridge Parkway

Blue Ridge Parkway

Wow, I truly love this.  The Blue Ridge Parkway is literally just up the road from where I am staying.  A few weeks ago I took a longer drive up the Parkway and was bombarded turn after turn with breathtaking scenery.  I couldn’t take the smile off my face.  As the Parkway noodles through town, it’s a road I can hop on to go almost any ol’ place…  Just yesterday I was heading to a meeting about ten miles from here and lucky me, four miles of my journey was spent on the Parkway.  A remarkable diversion in the ins and outs of everyday life.

 

Getting Out in Nature

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This is one of the things I have truly been longing for – to live someplace with easy access to nature.  What a wonderful treat!  This little trail here is just a few miles from where I stay and meanders along the Swannanoa river.  It’s beautiful, pristine and literally a breath of fresh air. (Trailhead is located at Charles D. Owen Park, 875 Warren Wilson Road in Swannanoa, NC. )

 

Meeting the Neighbors

meet the neighbors

My current residence is part breathtakingly rural part small town/suburb.  Meet some of my new neighbors!   Just on the outskirts of Asheville, it takes only ten minutes to get to town with access to healthy stores, eclectic restaurants and shopping.  While Asheville is the heart of much of the attraction and activity here, it is surrounded by an assortment of little towns and communities many thriving in their own way.  So far it seems an interesting combination of folks from new age transplant to conservative native.

 

The Serious Business of Finding a Job

View Grove Park Inn

It’s not everyplace that you can go for a job interview and end up here.  This is the view from the Grove Park Inn, one of the grandest hotels in Asheville with, as you can see, a spectacular view.  It was a real treat to go there, meet and connect with folks who had worked there for decades, and also get the window seat in an elegant meeting room with a million dollar view.

 

Out and About Town

Asheville Flea Market

Little by little I am finding my way around town and slowly connecting the dots of the flavor and color that is the Asheville area. Last Sunday I stopped by the monthly flea market at Salvage Station, pictured above, filled with original crafts and flea market treasures. Much to my surprise I even ran into a “familiar face,” an unexpected treat when living in new territory.

 

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Yoga!

And yes I simply can’t forget YOGA! Tonight I went to a class at a studio called Asheville Community Yoga. Don’t let it’s simple unassuming appearance deceive you – the vibe and energy of the place simply blew me away.  It felt like coming home to the mother ship.  After many years of travel often without a yoga studio that felt like home, or access to yoga at all (other than my own personal practice) it was a relief on so many levels to enter into this warm inviting yoga space.  I look forward to spending more time there.

 

It’s been surprisingly warm here in the mountains of Asheville, with fall brimming in the trees but misleading almost summer-like temperatures.  My new-to-me Honda CR-V and I are prepared for the coming winter as I am almost longing for the break that winter affords after my recent hot-hot year in Thailand.

Good-bye for now as my journey and “settling in” continue in the quiet, summer-like fall in the hills of Swannanoa.

Hello, Asheville!

14 Oct

Well, it seems the cat may be out of the bag….but for those of you who haven’t figured it out… I am in Asheville, North Carolina!  I made the fairly friendly 14-hour jaunt over a week ago and since have been easing my way into the mountainous world of Asheville.

Technically I am in Swannanoa… just a breezy ten-minute drive from downtown Asheville.  Coming to Asheville has been on my mind for some time now.  Since returning to the US, I have been open to and exploring ways, a reason to come here. Thanks to an invitation from a host on helpx.net, here I am!

As you may recall, helpx.net is an international network of hosts willing to offer room and/or board to a traveler in exchange for some needed help. My current exchange is with a small bundle of a family… I am living in the mother’s home and helping out the daughter, a busy mom who lives down the street, a modest number of hours in exchange for a place to live.  Here are a few photos from my new location.

Here I am… learning to navigate the hilly Asheville terrain and blown away by the nearly constant beauty.  I am also exploring work options and opportunities to supplement my current arrangement. It seems my new to me Honda CRV has found her tribe, surrounded by many-a 4-wheel drive brothers, sisters and distant cousins. And me, well I am still adjusting to the hilly landscape doing my best with my manual transmission up the occasionally daunting pitch of roads and driveways.

I am grateful to connect with a friend from New Orleans who now lives in the area.  It’s comforting to see a familiar face (although now fuzzy in a winter mountain-man sort of way) after more than ten years.  He has become a farmer since his departure from New Orleans and so far our meetings have included a trip to pick up a sheep and conversations of chickens, ducks and other farmy things.

In earnest, I like the possibilities of access to a more rural environment and a growing but still small mountain city with a progressive bend.  Like any changes, I am going through my growing pains… the nervousness and excitement of being someplace new, the possibility and anxiety as I sift through the ambiguity and uncertainty.

And so… while I am still adjusting, I am excited about my new chilly, hilly surroundings.  Exploring things one step at a time with still much to unfold!

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.