Thoughts on traveling

For my birthday at least 10 years ago, my parents gave me a book for my birthday called “Tales of a Female Nomad: Living at Large in the World”, written by Rita Golden Gelman.  I had already done quite a bit of traveling on my own, and I was inspired by Rita’s stories of her adventures in other lands, connecting with people around the world.  A few years later she put together a book called “Female Nomad and Friends: Tales of Breaking Free and Breaking Bread Around the World” and I was honored to have a story of mine with an accompanying recipe included in the book.  Just a few days ago, I received an email from a woman who had read my story was reaching out to see if I had any advice to give on traveling alone, and life and love in general.  When I sat down to write, the following is what came out:

Hawaii shoreline-0813

Learn how to trust your instincts.  Notice what you’re drawn to, moved to do, interested in.  Give up the notion that there’s anything you “should” see or do, and notice what feels good to your body, your heart, and spirit.  The universe will always be able to create an adventure or experience for you that will be more fabulous and perfectly designed for you—one that is even better that anything you can dream up yourself.  The way to get on the “train” bound towards this delicious, satisfying experience of life is by listening for and noticing what you feel excited about, drawn to, moved to do, see, explore…and also what you aren’t.  If you hear yourself using the word, “should” about any of your plans, it might be a good idea to check in with your body and your heart and see whether you’re pushing towards something that just isn’t right for you.

“You must give up the life you planned in order to have the life that is waiting for you.” – Joseph Campbell

Do your best to give up all expectation of what your adventure should look like.  Spend a little time each morning connecting with your inner wisdom, your sacred heart, and then imagine the kind of day you’d like to have.  Imagine how you’d like to feel, what kind of interactions you’d like to have, and then give thanks for the day, this life, and anything else that you are grateful for.  This will help your energy to start flowing in a positive way, and get you on a good-feeling high vibration where you will be able to receive more of what you are asking for.

If at any point in your day you find yourself feeling unhappy or frustrated, or you find that you are drawing unwanted experiences to you, take a moment to pause and become still–you can do this in your mind if you aren’t able to stop moving your body (for instance if you’re on a bicycle tour, or swimming the English Channel).  Begin to listen to your thoughts and see what their “flavor” is.  Are they coming from a place of fear? (what if I miss my train? What if my stuff gets stolen? What if I run out of money or I can’t find a place to stay?)  And also check in with your body.  Are you tired?  Are you hungry or thirsty?  Are you feeling alone or lonely?  Is there some other need you have been ignoring because there is so much to see and do?

Acknowledge that things aren’t alway going to to look the way you think they should, remember back to the way you imagined feeling for the day, and ask the universe for another way to see or look at whatever situation you are in.  For example, if you don’t know where you are and you’re feeling upset about being lost, could this be an opportunity to ask for help, and get to speak or connect with a local?  If the museum the you had hoped to visit is already closed, maybe there’s a different adventure nearby that is waiting for you that afternoon.

Be open to surprises!  Take off your blinders and let your sight and awareness expand and notice what catches your attention.  Slow down.  If you ever find yourself feeling scared or unsure, and you aren’t in immediate danger from which you need to remove yourself, bring your attention to the present moment.  Notice what sensations you are feeling in your body.  Notice what is in your surroundings that you can be grateful for.  Ask for support and guidance from the universe and then take a little time, and make a little space for an answer to come.  Feel the sun or the wind (or the rain) on your face, wiggle your toes, and notice that in this moment, “I am ok”.  If you are in a physically uncomfortable situation (as opposed to just having fearful or uncomfortable thoughts), then of course take whatever action is available to change that.  Keep asking for support and trusting that you will get it.

cloud reflections in Florida-3017

We are part of a benevolent universe and I believe that everything that happens in our lives is happening FOR us; we are not victims of our circumstances, we are co-creators with the universe.  Whatever we are thinking about and putting our attention on, whether consciously or unconsciously, is affecting our vibration and therefor contributing to the creation of our experience.

If you ever have trouble releasing fear thoughts or other painful patterns or experiences, here are some of my favorite tools that I use to find freedom from fear or other kinds of pain.  These are techniques that I use for myself and with clients in my health and life coaching practice.  They are simple and straightforward, yet extremely effective and versatile.  I find them to be invaluable. I would recommend having at least one of these practices in your traveler’s “toolbox” to use to help with any negative feelings, fears or pain that might come up while traveling alone.  [Note: if you have experienced or are experiencing trauma or anxiety, please consider finding a practitioner to support you in doing this work especially in the beginning as it can bring up intense emotions]:

Now that we’ve covered what to do when you’re not having fun, here’s a reminder to enjoy yourself!  Let yourself live the good life.  Discover “il bel far niente”–the beauty of doing nothing.  Step outside your comfort zone when it feels good, and at the same time, respect your boundaries.  Don’t push yourself to do things that don’t feel right for you.  Make your adventure your own and try new things, but only the ones that draw you in.  Give yourself permission to go at whatever speed feels right to you.  And don’t be surprised if you don’t end up where you expected… I dare to say you may end up some place even more magnificent.
drifting on mass bay-0887
Drifting on Massachusetts Bay

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”  — H. Jackson Brown, Jr.’s mother, from his book, “P.S. I Love You”

(this quote has also been attributed to Mark Twain but it doesn’t appear anywhere in his writings, or anywhere else before 1990)

Where the magic happens.

Where the magic happens
What does this image bring up for you? Does it resonate? Do you believe this is true? What kind of magic and miracles are happening in your life as a result of stepping out of your comfort zone?
 
For me, lately stepping out of my comfort zone has been all about acknowledging that I need help, and that it often feels challenging for me to ask for it. So it has been about asking for help, whether from the universe or from someone specific, and then letting go of the outcome and truly trusting that I will be taken care of.
 
Just this morning I realized that there is an area of my life, having to do with my home and income, where I’m feeling stuck and a loss of power, and it’s because I’m scared, so I’m trying to control and manipulate and manage the situation. And instead of being transparent, authentic and open (TAO, from Martha Beck‘s tools) about it, I am being sneaky and avoiding and ignoring it. Because I’m SCARED. Not because there’s something wrong with me.
 
Sneakiness and avoidance are two fabulous tools I developed as a child when I was doing the best I could. Now that I have the more powerful tools of communication and curiosity and compassion and investigation and self-love, I probably don’t need those old buggers anymore. But they’re still around, and it’s a habit of mine to use them, and sometimes I don’t even realize I’m using them because sneaking and avoiding is like creeping around in the dark with a blanket over my head. No light, and not a lot of insight.
 
Cape Pogue hillside
This morning I sat on the hillside in the sunshine overlooking cape pogue and I asked myself, what are the (stressful) thoughts I’m having about this situation? It’s amazing to watch the way my mind now begins to do The Work of Byron Katie even before I finish writing a thought down…already I can see that the thoughts isn’t necessarily true (even though I’ve been relating to it like it is), and I can feel the way I get lighter when I see the possibility of letting it go.  I realize I can absolutely see how the opposite of the thought is just as true. There is so much freedom in this. I’m instantly released from some of the fear, and I can see that what is happening is exactly what is supposed to be happening. How do I know? Because that’s what’s happening. What a relief.
 
This blog post was inspired by the image at the tope (from Lisa Natoli’s 40 day A Course in Miracles program), illustrating that the magic happens outside of our comfort zone. The key, for me, about this idea is that it doesn’t mean I should go around doing everything that scares me or makes me uncomfortable. It’s about identifying the things that, once faced, will give me access to more freedom, power, joy, connection, full self-expression, etc. There are some things that feel scary because that is my body or spirit’s way of letting me know that they aren’t right for me, or it isn’t the right time. So I go slowly, with awareness, and I ask myself, “of these things that feel scary or uncomfortable to do, which would feel worse to do the opposite or to take no action?”  Or, “what is my body drawn to do, even though my mind is resistant?”
I think it was Eleanor Roosevelt who said, “do one thing every day that scares you”, and I would like to add, “…the result of which will allow more freedom, power, joy and self-expression in your life.”  If you’re not sure whether it will or not, ask your body.  Imagine the result of taking the action and see if it feels light and delicious, or heavy and yucky.  The path towards the experience of more freedom, power, joy and self-expression includes doing things that help to cultivate feeling that way; things that feel good to our bodies, even if they terrify our mind.  Before you leap into the terrifying unknown next time, take a look below you; do you see a pool of cool, clear deliciousness (or something else that feels inviting) or do you see a yucky swamp full of muck?  And if you can’t quite tell which is down there…would it feel good to take a bit more time to investigate?