Tag Archives: adventure

Where In The World Are You Going?

Just a few weeks ago I sat in the airport listening intently to understand even one word of the Spanish announcement, I felt a rise of excitement and anxiety as we ventured into places unfamiliar, extraño, if you will.

Mostly the answer was no. No, I did not understand any of the words despite years of avid Spanish study.

China Town in Mexico City. International, baby!
China Town in Mexico City. International, baby!

It was disappointing, but not surprising. I hadn’t practiced the language for years except to say, “Me encanta la lengua pero no lo hablo mucho. Por eso no hablo bien.”

Which of course sounds pretty good because I can pop that sentence out like a boss… because it’s mostly the only Spanish I use anymore.

It means, “I love the language but I don’t speak it much. That’s why I don’t speak it well.” Yeah…

But life is never linear and what we believe we “are” is more location than definition. Wait, let me explain what I mean by that.

So often we look around ourselves, we evaluate our circumstances by what perceive we’ve achieved, how our day played out and maybe, if you’re like me, we judge who we are based on our most current results.

As if what appears today is a definition of who we are. You know, like, “I don’t speak Spanish well today, which means I don’t speak Spanish well.” Which is another way of saying, “I suck.” Unfortunate and inelegant.

Harsh, I know

The reality of the situation was that I had, indeed, studied Spanish for a lot of years in earnest. I’d traveled to Mexico and Guatemala with the specific goal of immersion study. I had done the work.

Also true was the fact that I hadn’t practiced it much in recent years. It was hard to speak it and even harder to understand the words spilling out of a static-y sound system in a busy Southern California airport.

As our trip to San Miguel unfolded, each day I practiced speaking and trying with all my might to understand what is a truly lovely language. Every day I discovered anew how much I enjoy it and, to my delight, I discovered the skill was never lost. It was there to be rediscovered all along.

Our circumstances are in no way a definition of who we are. Who we are is a manifestation of a graceful Universe. We are expressions of a limitless God.

Further, our circumstances are simply feedback and nothing more. They are either encouraging us further along the path we’re on or begging us to choose something different, something more worthy of us.

The more I tuned in, the more my brain cooperated, spitting out words I’d long since forgotten right on demand. It was fun. I was encouraged. But perhaps most importantly I was reminded not to judge myself so harshly. Where I am, is not a definition of who I am, it’s merely a location. And I am not a tree, I can move any time I choose.

Where will you go next?

family reunion

Hobbits Are For Real And Life Is Magical: My Surprising Travels To D.C.

I walked the hallowed halls of many historical buildings and through the landscapes of iconic, American monuments.

There were enormous statues, obelisks and parks dedicated to the history of our young nation. I explored museums and culture and something came alive in me that I did not yet know existed.

I had never been to Washington D.C. so how could I know it was the entrance to another existence? Moment by moment I felt intrinsically changed.

hobbit
Isn’t she fantastic!

One such moment came at my personal discovery of the species named homo floresiensis, better nicknamed, Hobbits. These little people who walked the earth some twelve-plus thousand years ago grabbed my attention just a few days ago and they won’t let go.

It is my habit upon discovering something delightful to my sensibility to continue down the rabbit hole of the world and find more things about that.

Upon returning home I discovered our tiny, remote relations are controversial, as any good hobbit should be. They are controversial and some people think they were an anomaly, while others believe they are connected in our “folk memory” to mythological creatures called Ebu Gogo.

Oh. My. Gosh.

I’m undone. I mean truly. Last Thursday as we taxied down the runway I had no idea at all that these were things. Hobbits and folk memory and Ebu Gogo (Which, by the way, means “grandmother who eats anything.” I mean, can you get enough of this stuff???).

My trip to the Capitol surprised me in its delights. Really. I didn’t know I would love it so much. So as we boarded our flight out of Dulles Airport a part of me mourned that it was over. All that discovery. All the sights and sounds and energy I’d never known before.

I’m not much for suffering and so while I simultaneously allowed myself a bit of sadness over the end of a delightful adventure, I wondered at what made me feel so alive, and, more importantly, how I might keep that feeling with me upon my return to home and family and all that is familiar to me.

It is then that I realized what made me come alive wasn’t only all that is wonderful about that particular destination, but it was the learning and discovery. It was seeing things in a new way and learning things about which I knew nothing before.

Correct me if I’m wrong, and I’m really not, but wherever we are, whether traveling or sitting at home on the couch that is intimately familiar to us, there is always something to discover. There are rabbit holes to explore every single moment of every single day. It’s just that kind of limitless world at our fingertips. Boredom, my friends, is the final frontier.

Granted, it’s not every day we discover hobbits actually roamed the earth and not every day we learn about folk memory or grandmothers who eat everything. But I like to think that there are discoveries just as important available to us every day if only we’re willing to look for them.

Isn’t life grand?

the-hook-02

One Time I Was Killed In The Woods

Many years ago I found myself in the middle of the forest on Mount Hood well past midnight. By myself, I had nothing but a wind up flashlight and an active imagination. I also had an ear infection, effectively plugging my left ear so that no sound could be accurately tracked to its origin.

The ear infection was a huge boon to my imagination and the four of us, me, the dim flashlight, my ear infection and my imagination had a hell of an adventure dodging all the criminally mentally ill escapees roaming about that night.

I had been asked to play the part of a pioneer woman for a youth group and with my escorts un-well, I’d opted to go it alone rather than abort my mission. I was perhaps only a quarter of a mile up the trail when I heard an unidentified thump just behind me.

I whirled around, certain I was about come face to face with the man with the hook of scary campfire fame. And there was nothing. Nothing but my wildly beating heart.

Possibly it is my memory romanticizing the moment, but it seems to me now, that just then the clouds parted and I looked up to the most beautiful, bright moon I had ever seen, crowned by the tall and imperial trees. Though I am no scriptorian by anyone’s standards, just then a comforting scripture popped in my fear enflamed mind, “Be still, and know that I am God.”

I have thought about that foolhardy night many times in the years that have past. I’ve thought about how silly and afraid I was. But most of all I’ve thought about being still. Being still and listening.

For much of my life I’ve tried to run to the next answer, do the next required thing and push away any feelings that weren’t “worthy” or “helpful”. Though I have thought of that night and that moment many times, I’ve rarely practiced what the scripture counseled.

How rarely we are still. How typical is it that we make our way with too little light and diminished senses. How often do we fill in the blanks of what we do not know with the most outlandish and improbable answers simply so we can say we know what the answers are?

Maybe the reason I’ve thought of that night so many times is that I need the message just as much now as I did then. It’s time to add it in to the practice.

Being still, how hard can it be? Right?

Like, share, comment, tweet and listen to the silence.

michellememepath

Far Better Things Ahead

It is said that if we are depressed we are living in the past and if we are anxious we are living in the future. Or maybe we’re depressed because we’re living in a future in which we have no faith. I don’t know. I don’t know who said it and further, I don’t know if there was any credibility to it.

But it sounds right…

Most of the time I am living in the present and it is here they say one finds peace. Or was it peaches? Depending on the season.

It is definitely not living in the past I’m experiencing, but I admit I have lots of anxiety about the future. This future I am imagining, it’s full of new things I’ve never done before and many of which I’ve never even dreamed before. As such, you can imagine it’s pretty scary sometimes, what with new baby dreams running around making a ruckus in my mind.

Because I don’t know what I’m doing I spend quite a lot of mental energy trying to figure it all out. Well, at least I try to figure out the next few steps. And from all these mental acrobats, I think I have a few, just a few things, I do know for sure.

What I know for sure is that our plates are only so big. Once we’ve filled up the metaphorical plates of our lives, if we want to add in something else, we’ve got to clear something off that plate. Historically I probably would have tried to eat it, but experience has shown us this will only result in a stomachache and regret.

If we want something new in our lives something old has to go. What I’m finding is that the person I want to become wouldn’t have room for some of the Old Michelle things. Things like time wasters, keeping up appearances and empty relationships.

If we want to live lives we’ve never lived, we have to make choices we’ve never made and think thoughts we’ve never yet entertained.

Recently there have been days that have worn me out so thoroughly, I long for the comforts of the past. And then I remember living there would be depressing. There are times I am so perplexed by how I am to do the things I plan to do that I become anxious and sometimes overwhelmed.

But when I live right here in this moment and I remember to do what I can with what I have and start exactly where I am, it is then I can imagine living a life that simply astonishes me.

And you have to ask yourself, Why not?

Like, share, comment, tweet and dare to be the best you imaginable.

michelle & mary on stage

comfortz

It’s Monday ~ A List Of Ten Comforts

After an intensive four days of meetings and travel, it comes as no surprise to me as I hurtle through the sky to my beloved Young Family Ranch & Zombie Apocalypse Sanctuary that I yearn for the comforts of our little oasis. With planes to catch and strangers to wrangle it’s the simpler things I seek this Monday and the week before us all.

Even if you’ve been smack dab in the middle of your normal routine, treating yourself to self-care and the goodness that fills your cup is always a good idea. Here are ten of mine:

  1. While eating out is nice and having someone bring our food and clean up afterward is always a treat, going to your own refrigerator and taking out that favorite snack, or better yet, making a home cooked meal is balm for the soul. I lean toward homemade chicken soup. Or scrambled eggs. You choose.
  2. Sometimes I dress for the day based on how much like jammies my outfit feels. Don’t get me wrong, I never wear sweats in public, but a long skirt and a cute jacket are more comfortable than sweats any day.
  3. Every one of us is a creator, an artist. Whether your art is painting, writing or parenting doing something that lights the fires of creativity is good for the soul. It’s good for your family when you’re in that zone and it’s good for the world. Give the world a gift and tap into your creativity.
  4. I mentioned hemp milk lattes didn’t I? Because they are nutty and rich and fluffy. If you want a fluffy drink I recommend this one.
  5. More than anything else, the way our week turns out has to do with how we show up in it. Show up cranky, disappointed and tense and let me know how that works out for you. Show up with your shoulders back and a smile that says to the world, “Bring it!” and I’ll show you a week that’s got super star written all over it.
  6. While I’ve worked the whole weekend and I am a bit weary, there’s no way I’m going to let Monday go by without making at least one step in the direction of what makes me come alive. Whether it’s a book I read or a call I make I will do something… and the Universe will reach up to meet me…
  7. When animals are tired or sick, they naturally take time, hunker down and get the TLC they need. Humans? We’re not that smart. We pretend, we power through and ultimately make a sketch situation worse by denying ourselves basic needs. Me? If I’m tired, I’m going to rest. Seems simple enough.
  8. Perhaps the best way to make ourselves feel good is to feel good. Just do it. Look at the world with childlike wonder and if it takes you all day to find something to be grateful for, spend your entire day looking for it. I guarantee you it will take but a moment to start a list of gratitude, feeling good and childlike wonder.
  9. For me, the best way to start the day out is by saving Facebook for later, email for mid-morning and exercise and meditation for first thing. Try it. You’ll like it.
  10. When my daughter was an intern at Disney World we packed our bags and brought our two youngest boys out to see her and enjoy the Magic Kingdom. Having Zoë there to show us the tricks to make it perfect made all the difference. She coached us through the whole process, pointing out interesting things people don’t see and better ways to use the park. All day and up until the very end she coached us. It was late at night when we got on the tram she gave me my final instructions. “Mom, people are going to rush for a seat, you’ve got to be assertive.” As I went to board the tram she whispered in her best coach’s voice, “Go! Make it your bench.” Yeah. Let’s make this week our bench.

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monday's your bitch

oh the places you'll go

One Time I Was Eaten By Wild Dogs… And You Can Too!

feral dogs
Fought ’em off with my bare hands… Yeah… That’s how it happened…

Once I was stalked by a pack of feral dogs. True story. I had traveled to Guatemala with my modicum of Spanish language, voyaged through Guatemala City and lived for two weeks with a family I’d never met before, paying them a measly $125 per week for food and lodging.

It was on my way to school from their house on the outskirts of town when the dogs spied me as an easy mark.

On that same trip I’d gone on an excursion for the weekend, staying in a little hotel on Lago Atitlan that I realized I’d told no one in the world where I was going.

As the lights flickered and the doors, secured with what I thought of as a toilet stall lock, shook and rattled in the wind, I realized that a thoughtful traveler might carry a flashlight and would inform loved ones where their bodies might be found.

Lesson learned.

The end of the story is that I did, as it turns out, survive that trip as well as many others wherein I found myself in equally sketchy circumstances. I tell you not because I am silly ~ though clearly I am ~ but because there are very few mistakes we make in life that will ultimately be fatal.

I submit to you that a trip without feral dogs or sketchy, banging doors isn’t fatal and is, in fact, a learning experience, a risk and ultimately an adventure.

It was Dr. Seuss who said in his classic tale, Oh The Places You’ll Go, “You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go.”

I have never once regretted the risks I’ve taken. Rather, it’s been the times I chickened out, the events I was too nervous to attend, the chances I didn’t take that have haunted me.

You know. You know what you’re capable of. And if you don’t know you at least suspect what you have hidden inside you.

Take a few chances, they don’t have to be big. Test the water, and find out what you’ve got hidden deep inside that’s just dying to get out.

And if you need a little help, give me a shout. I’ve got your back and experience with wild dogs. We’ve totally got this.

Like, share, comment, tweet and fly your freak flag or at least wear your colorful beanie.

alice in wonderland

When I Grow Up I Want To Be Roger Bannister Or The Mad Hatter

While I don’t think Sir Roger Bannister’s name is automatically associated with awesomeness, I submit to you that it should be. Not everyone is a runner and certainly only a small percentage of us are British, but Sir Roger Bannister is so much more than the sum of his parts.

What presently inspires me about the man is that he shattered an illusion. The first man to run the four minute mile, in the 50 years since, many athletes have broken the time. But only because Roger did it first. Someone had to.

Because we see barriers where there are none, we are in essence creating them. We entertain so many limiting ideas, thoughts and words that accompany us through our every day interactions and our far too pedestrian thought patterns.

carrol-quote1Reality is a construct. Truth is a perspective. Don’t believe me? Ask Roger.

In Sir Bannister’s day, the four minute mile was a human impossibility. Everyone believed that our species was limited by our physicality, and that was the truth.

Only Rog, I don’t think he’d mind if I call him Rog, he thought differently. And so he did differently. And so we do differently. And the human species has since cut time off his best. But let us be clear, someone had to change the truth. It took only 46 days for his record to be broken. So much for the truth.

It is our obligation to be the very best that we can be. Perhaps it is not just important, but imperative that we at least try to see things bigger, better and possible, by looking to those brave souls who have blasted limiting thinking and broken previous concepts.

We are creatures of infinite worth. We are brave souls with limitless possibilities and with just one go-round for this life, there’s no reason to pad, pamper or ponder. There is every reason to throw caution to the wind, believe the unbelievable and be exactly who you are. No, be exactly who you can be. No apologies and no worries about that pesky truth.

The only truth to worry about is being true to who you are and to the possibilities before you. Someone has to.

We owe it to one another to break the barriers. Just like Roger Bannister. And the Mad Hatter too.

Like, share, comment, tweet and find your limit. And then surpass it.

How Blessed We Are To Have Lost

It is a distinct honor to be alive. Miraculous even. And I have lived these past 47 years in some remarkably blessed circumstances. That I cannot deny.

And so it is that when I say I have known loss, I am not complaining. Far from it. I am simply looking over the years of my life as they have unfolded and I am taking the bitter right along with the sweet.

The losses I have known were of a variety of kinds. Certainly disillusionment when we went through the whole jail ordeal. let-it-go-temporary-tattoo-t4awDisillusionment with the government and with the idea that good always wins over evil. It was a nice fairytale while it lasted. In fact it was one of my favorite bedtime stories.

I’ve lost big chunks of family in one fell swoop. That’s gotta smart, ya know? And I’ve lost belief systems in entirety. I’ve lost friends and I’ve lost family.

We’re all losers. That’s a given.

What we often fail to do is note what happens after the loss. We miss the big signs that are there for the taking.

I have lost and I’ve been in full-bodied pain, but even more interesting than that has been what sneaks in to fill the void. What creeps into our souls and sustains us, makes us whole, makes us more fully human.

It is not then, surprising that after years of healing and the practice of letting go, when I look at my life I see the greatest lessons were the losses. I see now that when I lost the most, I gained the insight into what true happiness looks like and where real peace can be found.

Maybe it’s that when we lose what we thought were unquestionable truths, we then have the freedom to truly embrace the transient nature of everything and in doing so we don’t have to grasp those “truths” so tightly. We can look for magic and wonder where once all we had was security.

Security is a poor substitute for magic. I know this. I thought I had one of them and when that turned out to be a mirage I gave in to the other.

Here is to the gift of loss, to the naked truth of transience and fallibility. Here’s to giving in to the whims of The Universe and perhaps finally, someday, embracing the fullness that was there all the time. We just had to be stripped naked to receive them.

Silly Universe.

Like, share, comment and tweet the universal nature of loss. It’s like skeletons, we’ve all got ‘em.

bill murray awesome

I Bet You Did THIS Today

As I write this I am thinking about you. I’m thinking about the friends I know who read these musings on a regular basis, I’m thinking about the “friends” I have never met, yet still find time to wander by my corner of cyber-reality.

bill murray awesomePerhaps I have never seen your face or heard your voice. And even so I want to commend you. While I might not be familiar with your specifics, I know you try. You try to be kind, do the right thing, give and serve and love. To one degree or another, you try.

For every time you’ve said, “Yes!” to life, every time you’ve stepped up to the plate, I want to give you a virtual high five. Whether or not you thought you were successful, whether or not you won the prize, got the promotion or succeeded on that diet, here’s to you.

If you have, indeed, won the prize, soaked in the applause or finally met that one, elusive goal, then I say, “Way to go, pal! Really! That’s totally awesome.”

And if, like most of us on most days, you did what you could, took those painful baby steps and even so can’t tell if you’re closer to that goal or not, give yourself a hard-earned pat on the back. You deserve it.

It isn’t whether or not we reach the top of that mountain that really matters. It doesn’t matter on any particular day that we set out to accomplish what we intended to do. What really matters is that every day we give it another go.

Maybe because when we finally hit that goal there is always someone to give us the “Attaboy” we’ve been longing for, we need one even more when we’re still on the path.

It’s not all Rocky Themes and adrenaline on the road to success. Sometimes we need a cheering section even more for the slow parts.

Today I am thinking of you, I am humming the Rocky Theme and I am impressed as hell that you chose to get out of bed. Again. Go you!

Like, share, comment, tweet and compliment the people you meet for being awesome.

How To Succeed At Your Best Failures

If you were to ask anyone of my children what the definition of an adventure is, they would all respond virtually identically.

“An adventure is something you’ve never tried before. You might like it, love it or hate it. The important thing is that you try.”

Do not tell them, but this particular definition masked my anxiety as my little band of midgets accompanied me out into the world. I didn’t know what I was doing, but I was trying and by damn, they were going to come with me.

commitment-is-that-turning-point-in-your-life-when-you-seize-the-moment-and-convert-it-into-an-opportunity-to-alter-your-destiny-denis-waitley
Denis said it best.

They would also tell you, each with their unique voice and perspective, that some of our adventures they liked, some they loved and some they absolutely loathed. I would have to agree with them. There were the sucky ones too. There is always “suck” in the adventures from time to time.

One time I took all five of my children, aged 15 to 1 on a hike that accidentally turned into a nine-mile ordeal. I have a difficult time thinking about my then four-year-old son’s wobbling legs before we finally picked him up. Oopsy…

Here’s to adventure!

Beyond the joy of discovering things you never knew you loved, or hated, are the stories you accumulate. Telling a story of a flawless one mile hike with one’s children isn’t nearly as interesting as an almost abusively long hike and my children stepping up to help one another back to our camping spot. At the very least, a botched adventure usually gives you a great story and a few good lessons to go with it.

Adventures are on my mind as this morning I begin another for myself.

I’ve loved life coaching my private clients and today I begin my first group coaching event.

I am way more excited than I am nervous. But I am nervous. That’s how I know it’s an adventure.

We travelers on the road of life seek many things. We seek connection, knowledge, comfort and joy. Even more, we wish those things for the people that we love, and for good reason. But today, because my heart pounds a little bit faster, because I know I could most certainly fail, but also that I might fly, I wish for you adventure.

May your choices be wise and wild, may your dreams be clear and crazy and may you seek adventures more than comforts.

Like, share, comment, tweet and carpe vitam!