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Travel and Inspirational Blogs

Life on Standby

 

I am one of those extremely fortunate people who have friends that work in the aviation industry, and in their graciousness they have chosen to bestow their flight benefits upon me. With these benefits I get to fly standby, which means if there is an open seat on a flight I get to hop on that flight for extremely cheap, or even free. Sounds pretty amazing right? It is, but like with all things in life, not all is glitz and glam; there are ups and there are downs. As I was waiting at yet another airport, it occurred to me that there are some lessons I have learned flying standby that can be applied to life in general.

Here are a few things I have learned flying standby:

  • Sometimes you are lucky enough to experience life has a baller. Enjoy.every.second. Yeah, that first class ticket to Paris that cost me $300 instead of $9000 was amazing. I sipped champagne, used real cutlery and was so bewitched with my seat that turned into a bed that I didn’t sleep a wink over the Atlantic. One flight had me rethinking my entire life, and by the end of the flight I was ready to marry an old millionaire and carry a tiny dog around in my designer bag. Just kidding; kind of. Sometimes in life, you get lucky and it is easy to ruin the moment by thinking “geez, I wish I could travel like this ALL the time”- well, you can’t, so enjoy it for what it is and don’t let preoccupation with the future ruin the here and the now.
  • To have the humility and patience to deal with life when you are not treated like a VIP baller. Because you are not a paying passenger there are certain airline employees that can feel like they can improve their day by treating you like crap. Be humble. Is it worth fighting the gate agent when she is condescending and downright rude? Nah. You have no idea what people have to go through in their day. Most of the time rudeness has nothing to do with you. If we passed along graciousness and a smile who knows the chain reaction it would have.
  • You are not always going to get a seat. This applies to flights, and musical chairs. What it teaches us is that we do not always get what we want, when we want it. This is a lesson the universe has let me learn repeatedly. Instead of sitting down in the middle of the moving walkway at the Denver airport and kicking your feet in a tantrum, just breathe. You’ll make it (somewhere) eventually, which leads me too….
  • Be flexible. Everyone has plans, for their day, for their life. We hold onto our plans and our schedules with a death grip, any deviation is a cause for panic. If every plan you’ve ever made has come to fruition, we need to talk. I am jealous over here, I mean even Martha Stewart didn’t see jail coming. Flying stand by has really taught me to be flexible. One time I had an epic girls trip planned to Buenos Aires. We had researched, we had visas, we had been practicing our Spanish (by practicing I mean I could order wine in Spanish). We made it to Houston, and long story short, the flights became booked at the very last minute and there was no way we were going to make it. It was 11pm, we were exhausted, stranded, and definitely not making it to Argentina anytime soon. I looked up at the flight status board and turned to my friend and said, “Hey, how do the flights to Belize look?” As it was, no one was flying to Belize that weekend, and by 6am the next morning we all were on a flight to Belize. Was it Argentina? No. I didn’t drink wonderful wine from Mendoza, but I was able to swim with sharks on the second largest barrier reef in the world, and my Spanish? Well, I had “Uno mas cervas por favor” down. You just never know when planning for something the universe is really preparing you for something even better.
  • The view from above. When slogging through life’s crap, I have to tell myself that my perspective in that moment may not be the entire picture. I was recently taking off from the airport in my hometown, and as we started climbing in altitude we flew over a lake that I spent many summers at. In that lake, there is a rock formation that you can swim to. The rock was a popular destination to cliff dive from or hike around and find secluded tanning place. Often times the rock seemed to be a much further swim than it looked from the shore. Halfway through the swim you could get tired and cold, and making it to that rock seemed to be so much of an effort. Sometimes in the moment, it seemed hopeless – what was it worth to make it to that stupid rock anyway? Well as I flew over the lake, I realized not only how small the distance from the shore to the rock was, but how small the entire lake was. It is all about your perspective, and time usually changes our perspective. Do not get bogged down by weariness in the moment. And that rock? Yeah, some of the best memories I have of those endless teenage summers are of are swimming to that rock and finding a hidden place and tanning topless with my girlfriends- giggling in the scandal of it all. I’ll never forget that.

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Categories
Travel and Inspirational Blogs

On Loneliness

My trip to the Southern Hemisphere has turned from two months to almost six. I am now half way through it and the last couple of weeks I have been starting to feel restless and antsy and I couldn’t figure out why. I felt guilty for feeling like I was totally adrift, in life and in New Zealand. I started to feel lonely; a castaway of her own making. I hated to admit that to myself. The holidays are coming up and I am about as far away from my friends and family as I could get. The idea of being alone so frightening that I begin to question my entire journey altogether.

To be okay with being alone, to be okay with accepting strangers hospitality has been a struggle for me. Then I am reminded of the Goby fish. The Goby slowly climbs waterfalls, against the raging torrents of water, to climb uphill, literally, against the flow, against immeasurable odds to find still water ponds in which to spawn. Struggle is something I have fought so hard against my entire life. Indeed I think our culture is cursed with wanting to choose “the easy way out” – have we forgotten the journey that nature has made for us in dealing and working through struggle? Much how you make muscle mass by tearing down the muscles and rebuilding them via protein I am finding that only through the break down, of physical, emotional, and mental tissue can I be rebuilt. The lesson seems so easy, but in reality it is hard. It has taken me almost 30 years to allow myself to be utterly torn down to be rebuilt again, rebuilt into a creature of my own authentic creation. There are many means in which people allow themselves to be torn down and rebuilt, mine is via travel.

A week ago I decided to park my car and my soul in Christchurch. I had no plans, no place to stay and I didn’t know a soul. I decided to push my boundaries even further and try couchsurfing. I am someone who likes (to put it mildly) to be in control. I despise depending on people. I am much more comfortable with being the one to give, not so much with receiving. With couchsurfing you are reliant 100% on a strangers compassion and hospitality. They give you a space in their house to sleep, cook you dinner and if you are lucky show you around their town. I was feeling lonely, and damn it I was determined to do something about it. So, to push myself out of my comfort zone and try to meet some new people I decided to sign up for a couchsurfing account.

I am happy to report that it has been a great success. I have been humbled by the sheer generosity of people. I have allowed myself to be blessed. Even if people couldn’t host me in their homes, they’ve met up with me to show me around Christchurch. This type of discovery is more rewarding than reading any guidebook. In a short amount of time, I’ve made friends, have a place to stay as long as I want, and Thanksgiving plans with fellow Americans abroad.

It is easy to get mired in the negativity of this world. The sadness and horror often cast a shadow on the light; the light of true human decency and compassion. I have discovered that we are only as lonely as we allow ourselves to be. My goal with this trip was to discover my limitations, could I handle being alone in my own skin? Could I open my heart enough not only to bless other people, but also to allow them to bless me in return? That answer is yes to both questions. I can find happiness in being alone and I am brave enough to know when I need companionship and to seek it out. I am richly rewarded in experiencing both solitude and solidarity.

“You must do the thing you think you cannot do” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

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