Tag Archives: travel

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?

sunrise yoga

Thank You/F*ck You

This morning I got up, took a shower and meditated to the sounds of the ocean. Lest I give the false impression of paradise, know that mating seagulls made such a ruckus that the meditation turned into an exercise in keeping my focus and not feeling rage at the randy, squawking, feral, avian scavengers romping above my head. But I digress…

After such a hypnotic practice I finished dressing, put on a touch of make up and donned my jaunty black cape, the practical one I wear when I’m doing chores and can’t be bothered with the flowing, fancy ones.

It is the cape about which we talk today. I continue to wear it and continue to learn from the practice.

Not long after I put on my first cape, I sat in the cool Austin evening talking with a friend of mine. Daniel is a musician and has traveled the world singing the songs he’s written and entertaining what is probably hundreds of thousands of people. Beyond that, the man is brilliant.

yeah thats how i doI explained to him that the cape is making me think and grow. It’s a challenge. Often. I admit openly that I am sometimes self-conscious in it. Sometimes I want to apologize and explain that I am in all actuallity a sane person. Then I remember if I have to tell you I’m sane the likelihood that this is true diminishes dramatically.

The evening sauntered on in that comfortable way we relish good friends and conversation. And Daniel imparted a bit of the wisdom he’s acquired over millions of miles and thousands of performances.

“A performer has to come to the stage with equal amounts ‘thank you’ and ‘f*ck you.’ We aren’t anything without the audience, but beyond that you have to know you’re bringing inherent value. That’s what makes a good performance.”

I’ve thought a lot about that conversation and though it’s often top of mind, I watch myself continue to become obsequious, pleasing, submissive even.

No one finds this attractive. Especially me.

With this notation in the performer’s handbook, I am now capable of stopping myself in the act of subjection. I pull my shoulders back and I remember that gratitude is first on the list, always gratitude, but of equal importance is knowing I’m the one running the show. When I take charge, when I know my value, the “show” gets infinitely better for everyone, including the audience and including myself.

Perhaps the Performer’s Strategy isn’t for everyone. Maybe you find the words a little harsh. I get that and respect that. I’m just grateful you came to read the post.

And I’m wearing my cape. And I am embracing that delicious fifty/fifty split. You do you and I’ma do me…

Thank you, thank you very much. Michelle has left the building…

The view from the house.

You Don’t Have To Be Deep To Be Happy

When I was but a young one pretending to be an adult, I took a trip to the beach. I padded in time for myself though I was with a large group of women on a retreat. I took my time before anyone arrived to go down to the beach and to be alone.

I remember vividly the view though I can’t recall which coastal town it was. The sun barely shown through the persistent Northwest clouds and the breeze tickled instead of nagged as my toes tunneled into the salty sand.

And then I wasn’t sure what to do next. I’d watched too many movies and read too many books with deep thinking characters with great plans or flaws to flush out on a sandy shore or a lonely night.

I dawdled as long as I could, trying to eat up time so I wouldn’t feel silly. And I felt silly. And I felt silly all by myself since no one else knew I had no great plans or readily apparent flaws available.

I am many years older than I was back then. The beach I visit is almost always Lincoln City. The view spectacular and largely unchanged. I have what I like to think are “great” plans and my flaws have been revealed to me over and over again over the decades.

But the real difference lies not in the wrinkles congregating around my eyes or the people ready to testify concerning my flaws. It lies in the fact that I know exactly what to do with a bit of time for pondering with buried toes and nothing demanding but seagulls and waves.

When one has time to think and latitude in which to ponder, it’s a terrible waste to ponder imperfections and percolate plans.

There is a time to simply meditate. When the space is cleared in which to breath the fresh ocean air and a stretch arrives in which you can simply exist without apology or explanation, it is best to feel your toes in the sand, the breeze on your cheek and humbly be grateful to be alive.

There’s no need to complicate things. It’s as simple as a gentle breeze at the beach and just as pleasant.

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.

Like, share, comment, tweet and make the world your amusement park.

monday's your bitch

choose-happy

Branded A Terrorist At The Portland Airport… Again

Travel is a fairly consistent part of our life here at the Young Family Ranch & Zombie Apocalypse Sanctuary. Perhaps it is that we have to travel simply to get organic groceries.

This week we’re taking it further than the normal “40 Minutes From Everywhere” and we’ve crossed the miles to Austin, Texas to attend The Wizard Academy. More on that little detail later.

Though I consider myself somewhat of a seasoned traveler, I am not above the rookie mistake. Worse than Guatemala without a flashlight, I crossed airport etiquette on Tuesday, when I unknowingly left my “Juice” pocketknife in my jaunty mango colored Coach purse.

**TERRORIST ALERT**

IMG_3535Lucky for the airport guard and myself, I’d packed quite a few other things in my bigger bag and then tucked, said jaunty purse into that as well. A veritable treasure hunt ensued as we looked through the bags and she pulled out the containers and gadgetry that keep me happy, well-groomed and amused on my explorations.

“I won’t say the T word,” I promised her, meaning terrorist, of course.

“Oh, I thought you were going to say the B word,” she countered.

“Of course I won’t be a bitch,” I said, “You’d be way meaner to me if I did.”

She grinned not at all in the way we’ve begun to think of airport security, and assured me that this is absolutely true.

After we’d found the offending item (this is not the first time I’ve mailed it home from the airport I’m sorry to say), I asked for medium pressure for what I like to think of as a conciliatory airport massage ~ also known as a pat down ~ and soon enough we were on our way.

I met back up with Mr Dreamboat as he finished the mailing process.

“She was nice,” I said and he agreed.

It is a consistent part of my world that people are friendly and kind. Not every time, not in all situations, but almost without exception regardless of my silly mistakes or the varied interactions we have with other human beings, I find there’s never a cause to roll out the B word, and cheerful attitude serves me every time.

I submit to you my airport massage wouldn’t have been nearly as much fun if I were a T or a B.

Like, share, comment, tweet, and safe travels, my friends.

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.

A Girl’s Guide To Profanity & Easy Living

Yesterday afternoon, despite precision planning and casting off the urge to reset my alarm clock for another generous 30 minutes, I nearly missed my flight to Las Vegas.

I am not an infrequent traveler and so this near miss was vexing to me.

My flight was scheduled to leave the haven that is the Portland Airport. I am accustomed to the drive to and from it and so I scheduled a generous amount of time to get there.

As it turns out, I am not in charge of the world and I wasn’t even on my toes as the rerouting of my day took me places I hadn’t planned to go and doing things I hadn’t planned to do.

I was thereby mentally diverted from obligatory tasks that eventually gave me not a slip of room for error as I drove away from the Young Family Ranch & Zombie Apocalypse Sanctuary.

On a perfect day, on a day with simple rain in it, or say, a few clouds here and there or even a completely overcast sky, no margin for error is fine. But the imps of chance were in full form and wind storms and whimsy were abroad.

rain-drivingFirst, the tiny burg of Battle Ground was a veritable New York City traffic nightmare. Go figure. And not more than five miles down the highway, only a stones throw from the freeway that would, indeed, set me free, a traffic light was out, jamming up traffic to make rush our in L.A. blush.

When I finally made my escape onto the freeway, going against the major traffic of the evening commute, debris littered the road and drivers were nothing short of wonky and irritating. Wait, that last part might have been me.

Finally pulling into the parking garage, I realized Mr Dreamboat’s giant truck parks not a thing like my little, racy car. Turn on a dime? A quarter? A big fat fifty cent piece? No, but not for lack of trying.

The entire, frustrating and possibly profanity strewn drive, I continued to try to regulate my breathing, stop swearing at other drivers and I imagined sliding into my destined seat, neat as you please. No sweat. No problem.

I did in fact make the flight. In fact, as I raced up to the gate the agent took ticket number B29. I was there just in time to hand them my ticket, B30.

All’s well that ends well. Even if I hadn’t made my flight I was certain I could get on one just an hour or so later. And if not, there’s always a bed waiting for me at home.

In the end we’re all going to get where we’re going. It’s simply a matter of how much stress we allow ourselves and how much fun we choose to have along the way. My evening could have been a lot more pleasant with a better attitude, less expletives and an easier attitude. Live and learn, right?

Like, share, comment, tweet and play some slots for me next time you’re in Vegas because I’m not going to while I’m here!

Memoirs Of A Traveler ~ The Chicken Bus Of Life

From high altitudes I write to you today. On my way home from California, I sit near the front of the plane, not much different than a chicken bus if you think about it. Only without the chickens of course.

There are somewhere around 150 passengers on this particular chicken-less airbus. Besides the fact that we are all headed to the same place, without exception each of us has much in common with our entire mobile population.

chicken busThe curious thing, or one of them rather, about human beings is that we tend to separate ourselves. Perhaps we believe by claiming alliance with one organization or another we are safely defined. “I know who I am because I am a ______.” “I know who I am because I do this particular thing, have this particular interest or this specific heritage.”

It’s futile of course. We are all human beings on the philosophical Chicken Bus of life and we are all headed to exactly the same destination. Unlike today’s flight, we don’t get to choose, there is no choice.

Besides the inevitable end of your E-Ticket journey, what strikes me most powerfully is that we all have our scars. We’ve all been around the block a time or two even if that trip was simply childhood. As magical as we all claim it to be, it’s a tough gig and getting through it inescapably provides one scar or another.

No one rides for free.

It’s all quite exquisite if you think about it. Our differences keep things interesting and our similarities keep us related, keep us humble and make us family.

I am quite at ease today as I travel, if not with friends, at least with my human family.

Maybe it’s a bit of a stretch to imagine one’s boss, nemesis or stranger on the street as family. Sure. That’s fair. But I challenge you to give it a try. Sure, it’s the nature of the human beast to feel alone and lonely from time to time, but with a bit of a shift in perspective there is an elegant and simple truth to the idea.

And it’s elegant and it makes me feel comfortable way up here in the sky. Well, as comfortable as anyone feels on a chicken bus.

Like, share, comment, tweet and get to know your neighbors!

What You Don’t Know ~ Michelle Church

The adventure of dating oneself is a journey of twists and turns. It is simultaneously edifying to take the time to know the inner workings of one’s own heart, and it is exhilarating to go out into the world and discover other lives and others’ thoughts without the lens of being with your friends or family.

The solo date is an art and a sacrament.

Over the last week I’ve had more time to date myself than normal and every time I have new zealandhad the luxury of talking with people I will likely never see again. One such encounter was with Carrie, a French café owner who told me, “I thought I knew what green was until I discovered in New Zealand what I had never seen before.”

Another encounter was with Warren, a 92-year-old WWII veteran, who prayed for me and for my family at my favorite supermarket. Still another was Chris, who tutored me on fixing the sticky drawers in my cabinet and regaled me with stories about the 900 odd teenage mothers who passed through her home and into lives they couldn’t have had without the aid that was given to them.

Each one of these interactions, as well as others along the way, has humbled me in a way I never could have imagined without them. I had the fortune to listen to them, be heard by them and to commune in a way that gives meaning to life and depth to living.

We travelers on the lonely path of life are funny creatures. We aver things that can only be guessed at and we make judgments along the way about worthiness and wisdom, our own and that of everybody else. We judge with barely a glance into other people’s lives and psyches. We imagine solutions to problems we’ve barely tried to understand.

I do not know how to solve the problem of believing we know what we cannot possibly know, other than to acknowledge we cannot know. The best we can do is, to imagine love is the solution to all of life’s most complex questions and then to go out and spread that love as liberally and as quickly as is humanly possible.

Warren prayed for me to find joy and to know Jesus. Chris showed me how to do that. And Carrie? She taught me that I think I know the beauty of life, but I can’t know it, not until I can somehow be everywhere and see and do everything.

Until then, I’ll stick with what I learned from Chris and Carrie. And I’ll wonder what I might learn from you if only we had a bit of time together.

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