Tag Archives: Travel

Fly into the Light, Butterfly

Like a worm in a cocoon we are unaware of the transformation taking place until the moment we emerge a butterfly.

As the season that represents the hopes and dreams of the world is upon us once again, I find myself  filled with a hope and joy in my life I haven’t felt since 2003. 12 years in the making. I nearly gave up many times. It has been a long journey; at times very painful. Nonetheless, I have finally arrived. Today, I realized it all at once.

I haven’t been on a solo travel adventure  in some time.  As I left my house this morning my luggage lightly packed to leave room for possibilities, I stood on my front porch and taking a deep breath I thought – you’re really happy aren’t you?

I am at peace.  I finally care about something again.  In my teaching, I have purpose.  They help me be a better person and I help them too. I have great friends. I haven’t found that one special guy yet, but I’m enjoying dating 4 different men of interest in the meanwhile 🙂  I make a good salary finally and found a way to make extra money and paid off all my student loans.  I am debt free.  In 3 months I took my 7th graders to great success in an engineering competition where they were 5 of only 12 students in two counties to be awarded “outstanding engineers” and have lunch with the Chief Scientist of NASA. My life is on the rise again after fighting in the trenches so long. 12 long years.

I’m estranged from my mother who left me on Mother’s day, yet to return again. I have made peace with her choice and learned there are some things you cannot control.  One of those things is how people choose to behave and interact with the world.  Sometimes the greatest gift you can give someone is to let them go. Many times she asked me to leave her life. I wasn’t listening.  Now I hear loud and clear.  At about the same time my ex-boyfriend had left and my pet of 16 years died.  The timing of those two relationships ending was the peak of the tragedy over these 12 years. I spent much of the summer recovering from two big blows. I was really alone with myself once again.

After I came out of it all, I began to map out how I wanted the future to look. I became very clear on what I would and would not accept into my life. I thought a lot about what I wanted to focus on.  I made a plan. I stayed focused.  And you know what? I’ve been knocking it out of the park.  My goals are from my soul so working towards them feels in harmony with who I am.  When I FEEL that connection, I know I’m on the right path.

I also made the choice to have a serious talk with my doctor to manage a debilitating health concern when I finally couldn’t continue to have any quality of life without beginning medication. It is something that no one knows about and I’ve kept private for a very long time.

“Coming out”, if you will, freed my soul and allowed me to accept the whole me. Walking into the sunlight helped me love myself better.  In the end seeking treatment instead of suffering all these years was a great act of self-love.  Everyday I am happy I made the choice and my only wish is that I had made it sooner. That conversation with my doctor saved my life.

So, now I head to the red rocks and sunshine of health-conscious Sedona to introduce myself to the world of butterflies.  A new beginning; surrounded by some of the best of natures’ creation, I will spread my newborn wings and fly towards that which brings joy, peace, and health.  I look forward to witnessing the vastness of the Grand Canyon and drinking in the elixer of possibility seeing both my smallness and my greatness at once.

As  I go into the new year, I have but one resolution – to keep flying towards the light.

—- With love this holiday season from aneternaltraveler ❤

Am I too Late?

I have been a wanderer, a traveler, an explorer, an escapist most of my life. Nothing of mine collected dust. I always seemed to have a Plan B, an escape route. If it got too complicated or messy or boring I’d take off one way or the other.

Though it probably sounds harsh, if I’m honest, I was still feeling this through both of my marriages. I wasn’t ready to settle down, to lay roots into the earth. Wandering was always in competition with this idea of what I should be doing at my age. So, I’d find myself with the trappings of a settled down lifestyle while inside I was fighting it, distancing myself and fantasizing my way out of it. Talk about the definition of one foot in and one foot out.

Looking back it is easy to see why I was so miserable for so much of my life. I was by no means living in harmony with my soul’s urge. I felt one way and tried to fit in another. Terribly painful way to exist. There are years of my life that I don’t even remember because of this dissonance. 

I didn’t form meaningful relationships with people because I didn’t see myself sticking around anyway. If I’m honest I didn’t really take my marriages as seriously as I could have either. To be frank, I didn’t have the first clue of what a marriage really was anyway.

So much of my life was spent like an out of body experience where some other force felt like it guided me along. I gave up control of that “traditional life stuff” in exchange for holding on to my fantasies of the life I wished for. Somehow I never thought I was allowed to have the life I actually wanted so I settled in a different way. I clung to my fantasies to make the reality I thought I was obligated to live, bearable.

After my second husband left, I spent several years watching my life tear apart at the seams.  After 33 years of living this double life, I couldn’t hold it together anymore. It was one if the most painful and lonely times of my life. I had to get a grip, make a new plan Stan, drop off the key Lee, and set myself free. How the hell do I do that?

I spent a year living overseas in Ecuador. I traveled just about the whole continent, I learned a new language, I got a job, I rescued working girls off the streets and offered them an education, I danced salsa almost every night, I learned that Latin lovers are not all good despite the reputation, I climbed volcanos, zip lined through the jungle, ate guinea pig, fell in love, lost love, lost weight, gained friends, and came home eventually to an empty house in the USA faced with the reality I could no longer escape. It was time to start over.

There was still so much distance between me and the stuff of my life. My house, my car, my things…all just stuff…meaningless. I had no real friends, no one I could count on. I was so used to keeping that distance and I could do most everything on my own anyway, so why bother?

I stayed this way for awhile. Had lots of disposable lovers.  For awhile sex was the only place I felt anything at all. When guys started to get personal or clingy, I’d drop them.  They never slept over. I didn’t want to wake up and see them. I struggled to keep the roof of a house I wasn’t sure I wanted over my head. I was committed to nothing.

Fast forward to now (5 yrs. later) and I find myself wanting to lay roots. Wanting to commit. Wanting love. Loving my house. Wanting a life partner. Understanding what that means. Wanting close friendships. Feeling so deeply that sometimes it scares me. Terrified that I’m waaaaay out of my depths most of the time with my understanding of this lifestyle. Freaked out that I can’t hack it. Afraid I’ll screw it up.  Thinking how behind I am. How much remedial training I need. How lonely I can feel now that I care to have people close to me. Resisting the urge to flee when I’m scared. I keep at it. I stick around. I want to find out if I could stay at a job long enough to collect a pension. I want to know I’ll be ok 6 months from now. I want stability and safety for a change.  I want to trust myself that I can do all this. I wonder if at nearly 40 I’ve arrived too late to the party.

I still want to explore this wonderful world around me and learn from it. I just want to have a place that I am happy to call home now too.

This is one of the most frightening adventures I’ve ever embarked upon. I am in pursuit of my own brand of happiness. The stakes are so high because the outcome matters so much. It’s finally personal.

With love from aneternaltraveler 😉

Road Trip Happy 4th of July !!

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There is just something All-American about a roadtrip. What better time to head out on the open road than the Fourth of July weekend!

Roadtrips have a way of loosening up the knots inside. You turn up the tunes, open the windows,  let the wind blow through your hair and become aware that today is filled with endless possibilities.

I like when you get a spontaneous invitation AND you can actually go. So, I am headed South for a few days. I think it will be good for me. Gonna see some people I haven’t seen in awhile and meet a lot of new ones.

Since I’ll be crashing with fellow musicians, I’m gonna bring my djembe and my voice and my piano hands and see what happens.  It’ll be fun to have a jam session. It has been tooo long.

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So for now, that’s me saying see ya and Happy Open Road 4th of July !!

With love from aneternaltraveler 😉

Oh..I Did Live Once

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Today I changed things up and went into the city to enjoy a folk festival whose focus was on the country of Peru.  Having lived in the neighboring country of Ecuador and traveling many times to Peru,  I feel a real affinity for the history,  culture, the region.

I had a date planned also, but I figured who knows how that will go, so I may as well make the festival the primary focus. Soooo glad I did 🙂 Who knew a professor of music could be soooo boring?

Aaaaaanyway….as I walked around exploring everything from traditional regional foods to Shaman’s performing traditional healing rituals I felt like I was “home” again. I realized how much I missed living among people in a vibrant community. Learning about the ways of the past and how they are interwoven into the present. I missed learning the ancient ways of being connected to the earth and the interdependence we have with one another.

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When I returned to the US from living in Ecuador back in 2011, it was a very hard transition. I felt very lonely and cut off. This country can be very alienating to the human experience and has an obsession with “getting over it” as if there is a time limit on processing impressions you make in this world.

I was in love many times while living there. I remember lying in bed next to a man who became my best friend and lover and having these wonderful conversations and laughing as I tried to find the Spanish translation for “orgasm”.

We would lie there comfortably naked with each other as the ceiling fan barely kept the humidity at bay.  There was no rush. The culture of mañana. At first this was very tough for my type A American personality, but I came to realize that when you slow down you make room for moments like this.

When I lived in his country he cared for me in such loving ways through a divorce and a difficult breakup with an evem more difficult Peruvian man. He made dinner and brought everything I needed to have my first dinner on my first night in my new totally barren apartment.

He helped me with many things. I did not know how much he loved me then. I was too entangled in another bad relationship to see. He would never force himself on me, but he was always there to listen and hold me through the rough patches. When I was alone on my birthday, he surprised me with a custom made cake. Somehow my Spanish and his memory were good enough to recall that I loved chocolate with raspberry filling.

And even after all this time and a country between us he still remains my dearest friend whose door is always open to me in Quito. Ahh….adventure, slowing down, really living and loving and being loved through this and that.

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This story demonstrates what happens when we really make room for people to be where they are. Pablo really loved me for the whole person that I am. I loved him for who he is and all the struggles that came from merging his Indian / indigenous culture with modern Ecuadorian culture. His refusal to cut his long tradtional indian hair, though it would be seen as more acceptable, would cut him off from his culture. Many indigenous men in Ecuador try to disguise themselves as non-indigenous people because they are often paid better. 

I loved what he stood for. I loved what he fought for. I loved that he always met me wherever I was at. In tears, screaming, pissed off and walking away (he would give me distance but always “catch up”, smile, hold me with one arm and say, estás lista, linda? And i was ready). I never had to force myself into another state of being to make him or anyone else happy. I felt I could be authentically me.

It’s taken me years to realize the biggest difference for me between here and there – authenticity. I was allowed TO FEEL however I felt and people accepted it and didn’t rush me through anything.

Many times this is what made me feel there were more hours in the day in Ecuador than in the US. Even though everything was significantly more manually labor intensive, there was a sense of being at peace and content with whatever stage of life you were at.

I guess you could say that it is when I lived in Ecuador that I knew what it was to be free. I’ve never felt that in the US.

Freedom for me is freedom to be who I am and be surrounded be people who accept however that comes out from one moment to the next.

You only know what feedom is once you have lost it. In its absence, you will try to substitute other things for it, but you know inside you’re aching for it like the embrace of your best lover.

It is no wonder I crave going back so much. It was my 1 year out of 38 years of life that I knew how to be alive.

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As I walked around today for hours, I had these and so many more memories flood my heart and soul. The smells and colors & sounds of a region that felt like home bombared my senses. I remembered when I was alive. The guy I was meeting didn’t stand a chance against that competition 🙂

I forgot how much I used to enjoy studying about medicinal plants. Since I was a child I was researching alternative and indigenous medicines. I used to study symbols and their cultural significance. I used to dance and sing. It is as if I went back to my own roots today and I fell in love again.

Perhaps, it was a wake up call that I must find ways of living again. 1 in 38 years is not enough life. I must go where I can have the freedom to be.

So much inspiration today.

With love from aneternaltraveler 😉

Gratitude Challenge Day 25 of 30

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Challenge Day 25 of 30 – Gratitude for Movement

My grandmother used to say that we were gypsies because we loved to travel so much in our family. Or maybe we are like sharks we need to move to stay alive. Nonetheless, I travel anytime I get the chance. I love to explore the world around me, learn new things, and meet new people.

But it goes much further than this.

I really enjoy being physically active; enjoying such activities as dancing, walking, hiking, biking, etc. etc. It is hard to imagine my life without movement playing a big part.

I am grateful that I can move through this world and I pray that I will always be able-bodied enough to move no matter the age. To me,  movement is life.

With gratitude from aneternaltraveler 🙂

Gratitude Challenge Day 7 of 30

wpid-screenshot_2014-08-16-19-49-03-1.pngDay 7 of 30 – Gratitude for Work

This one is a little bit tough for me because I’ve never felt like I’ve had a career that I loved. On the other hand, I am grateful that I’ve always found some kind of work to help pay the bills and support myself.  

In my current position, I am grateful that I can help children with special needs reach their potential. I enjoy giving my kids hope, finding strategies to manage behaviors and  accomplish academic goals. Everyone needs to feel useful. I don’t care what struggle you come with into this world.

I am also grateful that the school is nearby, making for a short commute.  Having summers off to explore the world allows another part of me to flourish.

As far back as I can remember, I wanted two basic things out of life “when I grew up”.  I wanted to help people reach their potential and to see the world.  Ideally, I could combine those two concepts together.  I still hold out hope that someday I will.

I thought a lot about how to leverage my education and experience into a career in education which seems like it could be a great fit for the life I want to live.  I went to an information seminar which talked about an accelerated teacher certification program for people with a degree and experience in science and math. I thought to myself, that could be it.  I have a B.S. in Biology and I would appreciate teaching older students (vs. elementary where I am now) because I could go more in depth and do more complex experiments with them.

Before you knew it, I was signed up to take the Middle School Science Praxis II exam. Passing this is one of the requirements to apply for the program. It basically tests you in all areas of the sciences (Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Earth Science, Technology) and determines if you’re competent 🙂  I was pretty nervous during the test and walking out, was sure I failed.  While in Spain, I learned that I passed it by 25 points! 

So, I have another basic Praxis test to take which tests core competencies (Reading, Writing, Math) that I need to pass.  You’ll probably laugh after hearing how well I did on the Science test, despite my concern that I failed, but I am afraid that I will bomb the easy stuff and pass the hard stuff.  It wouldn’t be the first time something like this happened.  For example, in college, I got C’s in General Chemistry and A’s and B’s in Organic Chemistry !? So, maybe say some prayers, please 🙂

I digress.  Got a little sidetracked there. Tying it all together.

I am changing careers or at least modifying how science is paying the bills. It is kind of nerve wracking sometimes. Exciting, yes, but a little scary.  I am 37 and find that I am ready to have what I really want in my life. Within the next three years, I will work to put everything I want in place so that when 40 rolls around, there will be no life crisis. I am ready for more stability and a career that allows me to build for my future and also helps other people reach their potential.  I am also ready to have the freedom that allows for my adventurous side to flourish (summers off) so that I may always meet new people and cultures and see the world.

So, I am not quite where I want to be, but I am grateful that I have a job that is in the field that I want to advance myself. I am grateful that I have work that offers me the chance to help children discover their potential.  I am thankful that it provides me with health insurance, a pension, and that I am already building towards that future that I want. 

How about you? Why are you grateful for work?

With gratitude from aneternaltraveler 😉

 

Gratitude Challenge (Post Camino)

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After having so many powerful experiences walking the Camino de Santiago, I wanted to set myself up for continued success now that I have returned.

One of the core lessons I FINALLY learned during this 800 km journey was HOW to stay present.  This is a well known key concept to inner peace and we’ve all read it or heard it from a hundred different sources. 

Despite my best attempts, I never really understood how it works, practically. I mean, who doesn’t want to feel at peace inside? Where do I sign up? Right?

So, how did I find it and how can you get some of that too? I’m glad you asked 😉

Faith.

Yup. Faith.

No. You don’t have to believe in God or be religious.

There are some things that at some point we all have to get real about if we hope to know inner peace.

I had to learn to have faith again. Without faith there is no peace. Ever. No shortcut.

Note that I don’t say “happiness”. Peace is different from happiness. Happiness is a fleeting emotion.  Inner peace is everlasting.

So here’s the trick.

To stay in the present you have to let go of the past because it is a burden and there’s not a damn thing you can do to change how it impacts you except letting it go. Do what you’ve got to do, but DO THIS. I had to walk 350 miles and lay down a rock from my childhood home at the Cruz de Ferro to symbolize laying down my past and my burdens. That’s what it took for me. What will it take for you?

Secondly, come to terms with the fact that you have no control over the future. Worrying isn’t DOING something to affect the outcome. You are not helping anyone. Your worry keeps no one safe. In fact, it is probably affecting your health negatively. STOP IT!

Take all that energy you’re wasting on worry and do something useful right now. It is the ONLY place your efforts and energy can make an impact anyway.

Besides faith that the future will take care of itself if you stay present, the best way to keep yourself grounded in the now is GRATITUDE. Go ahead and start rolling out a list of things or people you are grateful for. Here’s how I know this works…

I remember when I was walking and I had more blisters than feet. The sun is baking down on me in the Meseta. I have severe heat rash on my legs and scratching only makes the itching worse. My knee is still not completely healed from injury in the Pyranees and feels like a rubber band snapping as I walk. All I can feel is pain. All I could focus on was pain. Finally, I fell to the ground and laid flat on my back and cried.

I couldn’t take it anymore. I screamed out loud- God help me, please! What do you want from me? I was not religious. I needed help and no one on earth was coming to my aid. I needed to find something inside to keep me going.

Other pilgrims passed by and commented that they didn’t think I was going to make it.  It was one of my lowest hardest moments on my camino. I had to decide if I was going to press on or give up. One thing was for certain, I couldn’t stay there lying on the side of the road.

So, I decided to get up to see what felt right in my body so I could see what I could do to get myself to the next town. I thought to myself, well the right foot feels better than the left. I can lean more on that. I can take off a layer of socks on the swollen foot. My shoulders and back feel strong to carry the pack. It is not raining.  And so on. You get the idea.

I just kept walking and reminding myself what I was grateful for. Not only did I arrive at the next town, but I kept this up everyday and finally walked 500-miles eventually pain free.

And that’s what triggered my true understanding of gratitude. Basically it is like saying, yeah I know there are things that suck really bad right now, but what does work? How can I make it suck less.

Thinking like that. Staying in the moment helped me walk across an entire country with everything I needed on my back in a 6 kg pack for 35 days.

Your attitude is a choice. Faith is a choice. Letting go is a choice. Taking one more step — all choices.

So I want to keep it going now that I’m back home. I saw this 30 day gratitude challenge and I thought, ok let’s do it. Starting tomorrow – Day 1.

Would you like to join me? I posted the “challenge calendar” in this post. I will write a post for each day’s gratitude topic and you can add yours to the comments if you’d like. The more the merrier.

I’ll start a little early with a warmup…I am grateful that you make the time to read my posts. Thank you.

Inner peace – a choice and not free of effort. You’re going to use your energy somewhere everyday. It makes sense to put it to good use.

With love from aneternaltraveler 😉

Why Bother Doing Difficult Things?

One of the questions I got when I returned from walking the Camino de Santiago was – “Why did you think it was a good idea to walk 800 km across a country?” Basically, what’s the point?

French Pyrenees - No guarantees what's ahead.
French Pyrenees – No guarantees what’s ahead.

I had a lot of reasons for walking the Camino, but I realized that for someone who asks this question, none of those reasons would justify a 500-mile walk.

I wanted to be able to reach people with an answer, regardless of where they are at in their understanding, when they ask me “Why?” There is some curiosity there to even bother asking at all.

I took some time to really think about how I could explain the “reward” of taking this journey.

In fact, why bother doing difficult things at all, really?

To be totally honest, the rewards of the Camino are not predictable, but the effort and pain and fatigue are guaranteed. And frankly, those rewards may not be in proportion to what you invest.

Roncevalles, ES
Roncevalles, ES

Some people can look at the pictures of the landscape and the historical buildings and think, “Wow! That looks cool!”. “I want to do that”. They say things like, “How was your vacation?” There is so much beauty, but they also don’t see or feel the wpid-20140625_161727.jpgphyscial, mental, and spiritual pain and exhaustion it takes to get to that rewarding vista.

You don’t get something amazing by doing no work. It is the willingness to do hard work itself that transforms you into a better person.

As I thought about answering the question, “Why bother?” it occured to me that you can substitute “marriage” or “parenting” or “my career” etc. for the word Camino in the above sentence and it reads just as honestly.

“The Camino” is a living breathing metaphor for the path we take in our lives towards anything we consider worthwhile.

The reward ? An absolute certainty that as long as I keep putting one foot in front of the other, I will get there. And that I won’t be the only one on the road. And there is great comfort in that.

Keep walking. Don't give up. You will arrive.
Keep walking. Don’t give up. You will arrive.

If you want to be a successful person in life and achieve your dreams and goals, then you have to persevere.

Never give up

Always move forward

Rise up to challenges and overcome them

One step at a time

…until you arrive.

 

— With love from aneternaltraveler 😉

800 km of Insights – Return from the Camino de Santiago

There are no two ways about it.  Walking 800 km across an entire nation will change your perspective on things.  I have returned from my Camino and I look forward to the manner in which this experience will continue to unfold throughout my life.  Thus far, I have had a few important insights that I would like to share with you.  As a fellow traveler, I hope you find them useful.

  1. We are always alone (and that’s ok 🙂 )
    No matter how much or how long we may walk side-by-side with someone, each step we  take  is our own. It is our journey. Solitary even when shared. We always have a choice in  where to  put our next step.
  2. Friends are recognized not made
    Too often we demand of others what they do not have to give. We fit with whom we fit and  not always forever and in every condition. Kindness is optional. When it is shown towards  us, it is  a gift. When it is consistent, this is friendship. There is nothing to force. There is  nothing to create. It is given and received freely. You recognize a true friend by their  actions in the moments that really count for you.

  3. Set time aside daily for reflection
    Stay connected to your true-self, soul, core-being.  Too often we find pieces of ourselves pulled away to go in one direction or another.  We eventually notice that we’ve become fragile, empty, incomplete.

    Unknown to ourselves, we’ve given up the “something more” we always were for “some things” that make us less.We doubt our worth, our intelligence, our usefulness, our purpose, our ability, our reason for existence.We have given up so many pieces of our soul that we’ve even lost our way to it. We must nurture the person whom we are everyday if we expect to sustain any kind of peace or contentment.Loving oneself is not “my way or the highway”. It is not selfish. It’s no different than any other type of love – it is kind.

    Kindness to oneself brings about kindness to others around you. In this we are united. We are one. You are a part of me and I am a part of you.  Unconditional love cannot exist with discontent towards oneself. If we love our selves with conditions, we will love others with conditions. We can only love others as well as we know how to love ourselves.This affects every part of your life. It is essential to your well-being. It is not optional if you expect a healthy life at peace inside and with the world around you. So MAKE the time to maintain the connection to your core self, to find your way back, to fall in love with your self again or maybe for the first time.  I promise, you’ll be glad you did.

  4. Finding Joy in Routine
     At some point no matter how exciting new people and places feel, eventually the initial thrill is gone. We often take them for granted and they slip into the routine of our lives. Then we seek a new high. It is madness. It is important to maintain an attitude of gratitude for all that you are blessed with.  It helps us to always remember how much beauty surrounds us.We can only attract joy with joy. Being ungrateful and failing to pay attention to the people and goodness in your life, only brings frustration, blindness sadness, anger, hatred, discontent. The expression “misery loves company” comes to mind. Ever notice that you never see joyful people at that party? Remember how fortunate you are with everything that is novel and routine in your life.
  5. Write down what you want, Store it, Check it
     When you get clear on what you really want, write it down and put it in a safe place. As you invite people into your life or take stock of those who are already there, refer back to make sure they are people who will support what you really want out of life.  Also, important is to remove those from your circle who keep you away from achieving your life purpose. These people, they hold on because they have nothing else to cling to inside of them. They need you to “feel good”. Eventually, they become very heavy to carry. You do not help them by letting them stay with you. In letting them go, you each are lighter and free to fly.

That’s all for now…

travel well. be well. live well. – with love from aneternaltraveler 😉

You Can’t Teach a Person Who They Are

You can’t teach a person who they are, you can only help them find the answer that already exists within.

As I walked, I began realizing that the camino is an external representation of an internal landscape. As a result, we each have a unique experience, no two alike.

The Camino de Santiago simply offers us the opportunity to show us who we are. If there is life changing transformation in reconnecting with one’s authentic self, then in its simple offering, the camino truly provides a personal roadmap.