#inspirational #lifetransition #peace Travel and Inspirational Blogs

The Recipe

When I cook, I use recipes as guidelines. I read two to three recipes on the same concept and then wing it. Kind of like my life, I seek out advice and wisdom and then usually say “YOLO” as I wing it my way. However, some recipes should not be “winged.” At eight years old I tried my first (and last) foray into baking; by the time my lemon bars were finished, you could practically bounce them off the counters.  I learned that in baking that each measurement needed to be precise.

There are lots of different recipes for happiness. A lot of them use vague, spiritual terms like when Leo Tolstoy said: “If you want to be happy, be.” You know what I am talking about, the memes, or books that were made from recycled oatmeal, promising you inner peace. To me, it just seems so much easier said then done. “If you want to be happy, be” what the hell does that really mean? In daily practice, when the bills are piling, your frustrated with your partner, or that crisis moment when you realized you ran out of popcorn? How can I be happy by just wanting it?

Don’t get me wrong, there is truth to be found in all of it. I realized that I needed to learn MY truth. My recipe for happiness is uniquely mine. In my spiritual journey I am learning so much from a variety of places; the works of an ancient Islamic mystic, the Pope, to people in my every day life who inspire me. Inspiration is boundless if you let it be. What I am finding by reading all of the recipes out there is that I need to wing it and formulate a happiness-recipe for myself. To date this is what I’ve got:

Listen to music. The power of Florence is never to be underestimated. “Dog Days are Over” literally saved my life during my first divorce.  When I am holding my breath and myself so tightly, I need only to listen to “Breathe” by Telepopmusik and I calm down; or alternatively Ludacris if I need to do some regulating.

Read something uplifting or challenging.  I find my brain works better if I use it to read something that uplifts it or challenges me. I have a daily meditation book that takes me 30 seconds to read and gives me something to think about for hours. Getting lost in the superficiality of Facebook doesn’t really make me feel happier at the end of the day.

See the sun, in person- not from your window. I work from home, and by choice live my life most of the time as a hermit. If I am not careful, I can turn into a cave-dwelling Gremlin. When I go out and have the sun shine on my face, my mood and perspective seem to brighten. Imagine that.

Being gentle with myself. This is a hard one for me. What we think, we are. I am learning it is okay not to have completed my to-do list in one day. Sometimes washing my hair is all I can handle, and you know what? During the dark days, it is okay if delivery Indian food, cat videos and Beyonce are the only things that keep me together.

Appreciate beauty in an unexpected place.The other day I decided to really look around my surroundings, not with a million thoughts racing, but just a quiet curiosity. I found an icicle encrusted tree branch in my front yard that actually took my damn breath away with it’s beauty.

Laugh.   There is always something to laugh about if I really look. Even in the direst of times.

So, throw caution to the wind. I challenge you to make your own personalized recipe. Live it, eat, enjoy it –  after all darling, isn’t this just one short, wild ride?


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