What I Learned from Travel

As a child, I moved all the time. 6 months here, two years there. With my mom for awhile, and then my grandparents. I’ve lived in trailer parks and the basement of a friend’s house. I also lived in very nice suburbs and out in the middle of nowhere. I went to 8 different school from Kindergarten through graduating High School. So travel and moving was instilled in me at a young age.

By moving all the time I learned how to make friends quickly and also how to say goodbye and let go of those friends. I learned that having possessions only slowed us down. It was easier to move if you didn’t have a lot to pack. I became accustomed to giving my things away. I also didn’t have pets. You can’t have a pet if you’re living in a travel trailer in Valdez, Alaska. It’s just too small and cold.

As I grew older and got married I knew that I wanted to have kids and have a house somewhere nice where we could raise those kids. And we did that. I stayed in one place for 15 years. And even though I was stationary geographically I was always changing things around the house. Changing the furniture, changing the paint colors, changing the landscape. I had been programmed to be comfortable with change.

Changing things around the house was my way of feeling that I was having some kind of small adventure even though in my heart I wanted to provide stability for my kids because I didn’t have that in my childhood. And to this day – my children are still in that small town, in the house we raised them in. Is that a good thing? Sometimes I don’t know.

Over the course of the last five years I have been traveling – really traveling. Our first trip was a Yoga Retreat in Tulum, Mexico. It was heavenly – beautiful blue water and white sandy beaches. Fresh, healthy food, yoga every morning and long walks on the beach every day.

Then Costa Rica. Luna Lodge – a yoga retreat but this time in the jungles of the Osa Peninsula. Where Howler Monkeys wake you up every morning, the sand of the beach is black and turtles as big as dinner plates emerge from the mud when it rains!

A yoga teaching stint in Belize followed. Then Italy, Thailand, another trip to Belize, A sailing trip to the Dalmatian Islands of Croatia, Gibraltar, Spain, The Bahamas and BVI’s, the north coast of Africa and around and across the U.S a few times. It’s been a busy five years!

And what I have learned through travel is that WE ARE ALL ONE. We all want the same things. We all want to be happy, to have the freedom to live our lives in peace, to raise our families and prosper. In every place I have traveled – everyone wants to help. Locals will help you find what you are looking for. They will try to find someone who speaks English to help you and they will help you make change!!!!!

I also learned that I am a part of something much bigger than just the United States. I am a citizen of the world. I am part of the WHOLE and I am responsible for what I do. I am responsible for how I treat the environment. I am responsible for how much plastic I use and throw into the trash. I am responsible for the karmic energy I put out into the world: how I treat people, whether I create community or competition – whether I choose Love or Fear. I am responsible.

And finally traveling taught me that I am more capable that I thought. I always tell the story of traveling to Italy alone (with a tour group) but alone. And one day our leader left us in Florence with a map. We were on our own to tour the city, see what we chose and make our way through the day. And although I was a bit nervous. I did It! I even managed to get my hair cut at a salone where no one spoke English and I also got a tattoo! All without speaking Italian! It was a big moment for me. I felt grown up and capable and proud of myself.

And even though I now live in Georgia and I’m setting down roots here, I still want to make time for travel. And I want to take YOU with me. Where would you like to go? How about we go on a Yoga Retreat to Costa Rica and see what travel will teach YOU?

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Time Traveling in Texas

I drove across Texas today. I was on a small two lane freeway in the hill country noticing the beautiful Live Oaks and the creamy white Limestone buildings. Big huge American and Texas flags fly over businesses and homes. My windows were open to the warm sultry air and ….BAM….suddenly I was 19 years old again living in Austin Texas…and the slide show of memories began:

Stretching pizza dough at work, hanging out by the pool, being young and happy, driving down long country roads, hanging out on 6th street just for the free happy hour buffet, watching bats fly out from under the Congress Avenue Bridge, taking sign language classes at the Texas School for the Deaf, going to the Oasis to watch the sun set, working at the library at the University of Texas, going to Barton Springs when it got REALLY hot, that one time it snowed and we stood outside staring up in amazement, meeting a guy who really made me laugh.

So many really good memories. It’s funny though I know not all of it was good. There was bad relationship stuff in there and lots and lots of stupid choices. But those things seem to just fade in the light of all the good things that happened here. It’s kind of nice when you get to look back and you can give yourself grace.

I wasn’t here all that long but it was totally worth it. All of the memories made me smile and I was with that man who really made me laugh for a long time. We made two gorgeous babies who are now grown and making memories and stupid choices of their own…..and BAM…..I’m back in the present.

And the present is good too.

 

 

Happy Tools

I’m happy most of the time. In fact, I’m so cheerful that occasionally it irritates people! I have normal emotional ups and downs but after thinking about it, I realized that I’m happy about 85% of the time. I have been really, really unhappy before though. In fact, I spent a year in clinical depression. Depression so painful that I didn’t want to breathe anymore. It was awful. So I work really hard NOT to go back there.

My favorite tool to keep me on the happy side of life is to count my blessings. I try to find at least five: I have love in my life, I have a place to live, I’m healthy, I’m doing something I really like and My kids still say, “I love you mom!” When I’m having a really rough day my list looks more like this: I’m breathing……I have gas in my car…….UMmmmmm….I have coffee…. squirrels are cute… I like the blue sky…. But at least I can still find five things!

My next best tool is to move (sometimes drag) my mind into the present moment. If I am busy worrying about something then I am NOT present. I’m really in the future making up stories about what “might” happen and then making myself sick over it. If I’m thinking about something in the past I’m not present in this moment either. When I finally bring myself to this moment I can see that everything is fine. I’m ok. Life is good and I don’t have anything to complain about.

Another tool that I use is exercise. I am a yoga instructor so I practice some kind of yoga daily. Yoga helps me get in touch with my body and my mind. It helps me “burn away the crazy” and also produces ‘Happy” endorphins in my brain! I also like to hike, ride my bike, swim or paddleboard. Any kind of exercise is helpful!

An often used tool is to talk to others about what is bothering me. It can be a professional counselor or a really good friend. But it needs to be someone I can be brutally honest with. Someone who will just listen and not judge. This person/or group of people can take some time and trial and error to find! Unburdening myself in this way takes a ton of weight off of my soul and raises my happiness level by leaps and bounds.

Hugs or hand holding is a great way to boost my happiness level. Humans are made to be in connection and communion with others. Being able to hug someone – tight, or walk around holding hands is an essential part of how we are made. If you’re not with a partner right now, go get a massage. Appropriate touch through massage can be a very worthwhile thing in your life. It is especially helpful for senior citizens who have lost their partner in life.

Going outside is probably one of the most underutilized ways to boost your happiness level! Our bodies need the vitamin D that the sun gives our skin. At least 20 minutes a day outside is recommended. I lived in Seattle for most of my life and there is not enough sunshine there but being outdoors at least gave me fresh air, green moss under my feet, huge pine trees to smell and ocean views. The sound of the waves can be a great meditation tool!

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So, if you’re feeling a little out of sorts please try one (or all) of these Happy Tools! Life is good. It’s difficult sometimes but it’s worth it. Every day.

From My Heart to Yours!

How to Drive in SoCal

Did you know that there are new driving rules?  You won’t find these rules written down in your Driver’s Hand Book or online. You have to learn these rules by driving around in Southern California. Here they are in no particular order.

*These are not real rules. Just my frustrated venting. 🙂

  1. Drive as fast as you possibly can! Pretend this 6 lane highway is a video game. You can swerve in and out of cars, you can go 80 or more and there are no consequences for your reckless behavior! While waiting at a stop light please rev your engine and then peel out and race to the next light one block up and then slam on your brakes just before the intersection!
  2. When turning a corner you may turn into ANY lane you like! Normally if you are in the far right lane and you turn right you would turn into the far right lane in the direction you are going…but NOT here! Here you can change lanes at any time during your navigation from your original street to the next one. Have cars on either side of you? Pay them no attention….just move on over whenever you feel like it!
  3. Semi Trucks can go through lights of ANY color. Green Yellow, Red…who cares? Just go. You’re so damn big no one is going to stop you or get in your way no matter how long they might have to wait. (Especially if they drive something really small like a Mini Cooper!)
  4. Turn Signal? What’s that? We don’t use blinkers here in SoCal. Blinkers are for the weak and undecided. They don’t need to know where you want to go. It’s really none of their business anyway – Just GO. No room for you between cars? Don’t worry…just squeeze yourself right in there. They’ll make room.
  5. The following rule is two inches. Grannies leave several car lengths between their car and the car in front of them. REAL SoCal drivers leave only inches between their bumper and the license plate in front of them. You should be able to see what color eyes the driver in front of you has! Maybe if you get right up on their butt they will go faster?

I’m sure there are more rules that I haven’t learned yet. I’m doing my best not to be angry when I drive but it’s a challenge! Hope you got a little chuckle out of these rules. Only three more months and I’ll be learning the Georgia State Driving Rules! Have a great day y’all!

 

I Love America.

Occasionally you have one of those moments. A moment that catches your breath and makes you stop in place. A moment that cuts through everything that is going on in your world. A moment that stops time.

The first thing I saw as I walked up into the main concourse of Grand Central Station in New York City was our American flag. It literally stopped me in my tracks. My heart caught in my chest and all of a sudden, I felt a wash of pride for our country.

I was rather surprised because I haven’t been feeling all that proud lately. I’ve been feeling rough around the edges and bruised.  I’ve started avoiding the internet and news channels. My intention is not to stick my head in the sand but to maintain my sanity.

It’s scary that we have allowed our differences to divide us so deeply. We have allowed fear and anger to separate us into warring factions. Our frustrations are being channeled into name calling and I believe we have lost sight of how great our nation truly is.

I believe that we have much more in common than we realize. And I believe we all want the same things. We want to feel safe. We want freedom to pray (or not pray) as we see fit. We want the chance to create a life of opportunity for ourselves and our children. We don’t want anyone to tell us who we can love.  And we all want to be heard.

I see us as a great big family!  And our beautiful American family was on display this weekend in New York City!  A Mennonite family in home-made dresses going to see the Statue of Liberty. An Italian man surrounded by his playing grandchildren. A born-and-bred N’Yawka holding a door for me. A man on the subway playing his guitar and singing about politics. Men in long, heavy dreads sloshing through the snow. A Jewish family riding home from a protest.

As a family it’s our responsibility to take care of each other. Sure, some of us are loud and irritating. Some of us are shy. Some of us always want to wrestle and fight….and some of us are peacemakers. We all have a place in our family. No is left out. You belong, I belong and we all have to do our part in this family so we can feel proud of what we accomplish.

This country was founded by a group of determined, intelligent bad asses who weren’t going to take no for an answer. They knew we were great before we knew it! They knew our ideals were worth fighting for. They knew that “WE the People” had strength and a common purpose. Our flag represents all of that hard work, our heritage and our history.

We may not always agree how to get there – but we will figure it out together. We have survived rough patches in the past. We have made mistakes – we all do. We have apologized. We have fought and given mercy. We are strong and mighty and have the power to kick ass.

So, today I’m proud to be an American. I still feel a bit shaky but I love us. I love who we are and who we can be. I love our beautiful land. I love our many colors but most of all I love our hearts. Because we all want what is best for us – we just sometimes disagree on what that is.

As I rode the subway out-of-town I couldn’t help but start to sing quietly that old Woody Guthrie song.

“This land is your land This land is my land
From California to the New York island;
From the red wood forest to the Gulf Stream waters
This land was made for you and Me.

As I was walking that ribbon of highway,
I saw above me that endless skyway:
I saw below me that golden valley:
This land was made for you and me.

I’ve roamed and rambled and I followed my footsteps
To the sparkling sands of her diamond deserts;
And all around me a voice was sounding:
This land was made for you and me.

When the sun came shining, and I was strolling,
And the wheat fields waving and the dust clouds rolling,
As the fog was lifting a voice was chanting:
This land was made for you and me.

As I went walking I saw a sign there
And on the sign it said “No Trespassing.”
But on the other side it didn’t say nothing,
That side was made for you and me.

In the shadow of the steeple I saw my people,
By the relief office I seen my people;
As they stood there hungry, I stood there asking
Is this land made for you and me?

Nobody living can ever stop me,
As I go walking that freedom highway;
Nobody living can ever make me turn back
This land was made for you and me.”

Happy Valentines Day America!

My Birth – DAY on the Sea.

Okay, I know, I know!!! My birthday was last month! No, I’m not trying to drag out my birthday into another month but I do have something really important I want to talk to you about. It’s Balloons.

Most of us purchase balloons for our children’s birthday or maybe even to “let go” at our wedding shower. I see them in the grocery stores, the flower shops and even at restaurants sometimes. They are everywhere – Unfortunately.

After our last sail from Catalina Island to Ventura, California I will NEVER purchase another balloon. We saw at least 15 balloons floating randomly on the surface of the ocean and were able to save only six. I will say, it kind of felt like The Universe was saying “Happy Birthday DAWN!” because I have never seen so many balloons in the water.

But balloons don’t belong in the water. Fish try to eat them, birds get the strings wrapped around their necks and choke to death. Turtles get stuck in them. This is not a happy event for them!!!!

I know balloons look pretty and I know it’s a “thing” we human do to celebrate….but I KNOW we can find something else. I know we’re smarter than this! In fact,  If you are reading this,  I’m going to ask you to be bigger than balloons. I’m going to ask you to find another way – buy a cookie or a big cardboard sign or ANYTHING.

These oceans are OURS and we have to do what we can to try to keep them clean, to keep the fish healthy and to stop polluting our fricking home!

Because this:

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Is NOT worth this:

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P.S. We found a Mylar balloon in Joshua Tree as well 😦 Below is some more info for you. Please do your part to help. Namaste.

http://balloonsblow.org/impacts-on-wildlife-and-environment/

Sunrise in the Desert – Joshua Tree, CA

I woke up to the sound of my boyfriend saying, “Oh my God!” As he sat up quickly and I labored awake I wondered what the problem was. Had some animal gotten into our packs? Was a person entering our camp site? Then I realized he was looking at the sunrise. As I sat up to join him I saw that the sun had not yet peeked over the rim of the earth but it was casting a brilliant orange glow on the clouds that hung just over the horizon. The rest of the sky was a crystal clear blue! Good Morning Joshua Tree!!!!

We had been up late the night before watching the stars. It’s one of the main reasons we came here. When you are out in the Mohave Desert there is very little light to interfere with the amazing display that is put on every night by the Milky Way and all of her compatriots. We spent several hours lying on our backs oohing and ahhhing in amazement, naming the constellations we knew and making up names for any we didn’t. We even saw a few shooting stars!

I have always wanted to hike out to camp, carrying all that I needed on my back. Truth be told, it made me a little nervous to camp in the wild but I knew with my boyfriend I’d be in good hands. Little did I know that my first trip would be to the Twin Tanks area of Joshua Tree National Park.  We each carried a sleeping bag, pad, water, a few clothes, our tent and just enough food for an overnight trip. As we headed out from our truck I started to think, “What have I gotten myself into now? It’s HOT and I have to hike? I can do that right?” Don’t I look excited?  LOL

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The hiking was gentle and my guide was patient as we made our way out. Our camp site was a shallow depression on the east side of a large cluster of rocks. We quickly set up our tent and began to explore our home for the night. We climbed around the granite boulders, made our way through the sandy areas and up over some of the stones to make a circumnavigation of the area near our tent.

To the southwest we notice a huge white stone capping a nearby ridge and wandered over to check it out. It turned out to be a huge seam of Milky Quartz rising up from the earth! It looked like a man-made monument from afar but it’s placement is totally natural! Several large pieces had fallen down from the pinnacle looking like huge white ice cubes that would never melt. We left our own cairn of rocks to celebrate the natural beauty of this place!

We saw very few animals over the weekend and I’m sure that’s due to the lack of any water in the area.  I was mostly worried about snakes or scorpions climbing into our tent at night but luckily that didn’t happen! We did see one brilliant blue bird and a  hawk screaming as he flew overhead looking for lunch. A few rabbits scurried away as we explored and a small grey wren hopped around our camp site looking for food .

The real stars of the landscape are the resident cactus and their cousins! There was no need to remind me to steer clear of their sharp spines and needles! But when you get the chance to look closely at these beauties you can’t help but be mesmerized by their color and shape and form! These lovelies have thorns to protect themselves from being eaten! There is so little water here that they protect their juicy flesh by growing long spikes to make themselves unpalatable!

After we spent a few moments enjoying the sunrise and holding hands, we began to strike our camp site. Barry made coffee and I took a few minutes to stretch, breathe, feel the wind against my skin and listen to the silence that is this place. It was a quick trip but I left feeling grateful for my life. I am so blessed that I have the opportunity to visit these places, explore new parts of the country and enjoy the beauty that this world offers.

Life is such a gift. I hope that you can take a moment today to be grateful for your time here.  Go see the places you want to see. Put your toes in the sand or climb a hill and see the view. Drive out into the desert if that’s your thing. Beauty is all around if you’ll just take a moment to see it! – Namaste.

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Utthita Hasta Padangustasana – Extended Hand to Big Toe Pose