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:

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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.

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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.

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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)

When the timing is right…and my ducks are in a row.

I have watched myself, throughout life, move in and out of action towards what seems to be my purpose here on this planet. It has probably looked from a distance like I am winding a crazy labyrinth through life, but for me it has always been about following a feeling of aliveness, and finding a life path that precipitates that feeling. The times when I experience myself going astray are times when I am unsure of the stability, or have a clear lack, of one of my basic needs. The times that I see myself thriving and moving forward with clear passion and purpose are instances when it occurs to me that I have my basic ducks in a row.

During a recent two-week road trip to Canada I saw the difference it makes to have my basic needs taken care of.  I observed the futility of trying to focus on any other thing when I had not secured – and felt unsure of how to procure – food, fuel or shelter.

I stayed for a few days with a friend of my dad’s who works as a county councillor and he was sharing with me his thoughts on the governance of a community.  We explored the possibility that never before now, in our culture, have we ignored the need for security in all three of what are considered to be humans’ basic needs at the same time.  Instead, we are putting our focus on “progress” and expansion to the detriment of our lives and communities.  I am seeing the possible effect of this misstep in my own experience as I live on the virtual edge of homelessness and fear of exposure to the elements.  There is essentially no extra energy or attention for self-expression, expansion or creation.

In the last few years, my urge to have a home of my own has been getting stronger. I didn’t realize until recently that I probably won’t be able to get on with my life, so to speak, until I get that sorted out.  Author Sonia Choquette talks about the idea that we can really only take on and have miraculous results with our current heart’s desires. She speaks of having had an urge to write a book but not being able to get going with it. Upon further reflection she realized that, at that moment, what she desired most was rest, tidiness in her home, and a chance to spend quality time with her young children.

There is a time for every purpose, and I am seeing that the going can be maddeningly slow when I am taking on a purpose of mine that is meant for a later date, or when I am looking for inspiration in my work without having secured a roof (literal or metaphorical) over my head.  Lately I have been coming up with all sorts of ideas for my work in the future, but I haven’t been able to get myself moving with any one of them. Just as Choquette shared in her story, my failure  in having these ideas take flight doesn’t seem to be for fear of success, though that may play a small role in my hesitation. Instead it seems to be more a case of timing, and lining up my ducks (and getting roofs over their heads). Currently I am hearing the call, loud and clear, that it is time for this cancerian homebody to find a rock of my own, and when I do, when my basic needs are taken care of…watch out world, because here I come!

What’s location got to do with it?

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Happiness, it seems, has little to do with one’s circumstances. This is the view from my window. I am feeling fat and bloated and my heel with plantar fasciitis hurts as much as it ever has. I have three zits on my face for the first time since I gave up sugar many months ago.  It’s raining and I am in a foreign country by myself. I am not sure where I will sleep tonight. I don’t have a home of my own to return to, the man of my dreams has not yet located me, and it remains to be seen whether I will have work when I return to my massage practice. And yet, I am as happy as I have ever been. I have shelter, warmth and food, enough money to keep me going for the next couple weeks, and I feel completely free. That’s what I have wanted for much of my life, and I have finally, for a moment, found it. Today, in this moment, I have the experience of freedom and that is what I wish for any other human being. It is unremarkable in some ways, and incomparable in others. The feeling that I am the boss of me and the choices I make are my own.  I am happy and the past or future ain’t got nothing to do with it!