Adventure in Santiago

I was thinking about our theme of “adventure” for this month. I believe everyday is an adventure – we never know what it’s going to bring – especially when living with a child and dogs.

However, some of my adventures came through my work. For a while, I worked on a global learning team and traveled in Europe and South America. It was always an adventure. I didn’t speak the languages, I have many food allergies so ordering at restaurants was always interesting, and navigating my way through airports sometimes proved challenging (especially in Norway!).

I think my trip to Santiago, Chile was my biggest adventure.

It started with not having a company car to meet me at the airport. There was supposed to be someone waiting for me. I admit, it was always kind of cool to arrive somewhere and see my name on a card. It didn’t happen in Santiago.

A man approached me and asked where I was going. I showed him the address of my hotel. He said he’d take me there. The car didn’t have any taxi labels or indications on the outside. I was somewhat relieved when I got inside and saw the mileage metre. Still, I wasn’t sure. I pulled out my phone and sent a text home saying I’d text when I got to the hotel. If my family didn’t hear from me, something happened.

I got safely to my hotel. On the entire 13 hour flight, I wanted nothing more than to get to the hotel and have a swim. The hotel had a rooftop pool. After sitting on a plane, I needed to move my body. I was in Santiago in May. Our spring in Canada, their early winter. It was 25C when I arrived. I went up to the roof and the doors were locked. I went down to the front desk and was told the pool was closed for the season because it was “too cold”.

After the training we were there to deliver, the project manager wanted to take me out for dinner. He told me I *had* to try a particular drink. He’s travelled the world and they make the best ones here (I wish I could remember the name!). The drinks were good. He kept ordering. I decided if he could drink them, so could I. He was a small man and I figured our ability to handle alcohol would be similar.

I was wrong.

We finally finished our meal. It was about 10:00p.m. As we were saying good-bye, I asked him which way it was to my hotel. He “thought” it was “that way”.

One thing you need to know – I’m directionally challenged at the best of times. Put me in a foreign country where I don’t speak the language, and it’s only amplified. Even moreso when with someone who is as directionally challenged as I am!

I started to walk and soon realized I was not in a familiar neighbourhood. I kept walking. I noticed a group of men starting to follow me. I pulled out my phone and tried to call home. If nothing else, it made it look as though I was in contact with someone.

I ended up in an abandoned parking lot. Fortunately, I had the foresight to keep the name and address of my hotel in my pocket. I showed it to the attendant. He looked at it. He looked at me. He tried to speak to me in Spanish. I simply stared back and shrugged. He did his best mime impersonation to tell me the way I needed to go to get back. Fortunately, it worked.

I stayed on a couple of extra days while there. I knew it was a place I wasn’t likely to return to and wanted to explore.

I bought a pass for the “hop on/hop off” bus. To me, it was a great way to see the city. I could “hop off” wherever I wanted, look around, and know there was another bus coming 15 minutes later.

One of the places I wanted to visit was the “mercado”. It was an open air area in the centre of the city. I visited some of the churches (beautiful architecture), and simply people-watched. I saw a couple of demonstrations and knew enough to avoid them. Only later, upon returning home, did I learn that visiting the mercado as a lone female traveler was probably not the smartest idea.

Leaving the country was a challenge. Apparently, I was supposed to have a yellow form from the paperwork I did upon entering Chile. I didn’t have it. The paperwork I completed didn’t have a copy for me to keep. The security officers didn’t want to let me leave. I pled ignorance. I didn’t know I needed a form, I didn’t have a form. I had my Canadian passport and my boarding pass. Somehow, I was able to convince them I was, indeed, going home.

I’m thankful for the week I got to spend in Chile. I was right – there’s nothing there to draw me back. I’m also thankful for my guardian angels who watched over me. Of all my travels, it’s the one place where things could have gone horribly wrong, and didn’t.

Wind In My Sails…

On the way to Vimy Ridge just outside Waterton Park May 2021

One thing that is a guarantee about living in Southern Alberta is that there will be wind involved when planning any outside activity. You would think after living here for over 50 plus years, I would be used to it by now. Ugh! Living at the ashram taught me that weather should be secondary to keeping yourself in motion outside. I walked trails in snow, mud, rain and didn’t let it get me down. So what’s a little wind in my sails then? Well, to be honest, it’s more than a little it can get up 70km/hr easily before you know it. The gang has decided we should focus on “adventure” this month and I am up for many as the month progresses. I bought an inflatable kayak and have been delighted in testing it’s ability to stay a float on some pretty easy local lakes. It was on a calm day I have to admit and I will probably stick to calm days while kayaking. My husband and I decided once to take our canoe out on St Mary’s reservoir. It was calm when we started out and not a cloud in the sky. We paddled around the lake and were really enjoying the day when we noticed in the distance some ominous black clouds building. We knew we wouldn’t make it back to our original starting spot so decided to go a shore by the East bank. This part of the lake has big boulders and not much else. I clammbered up the rocks and huddled by the canoe while my husband went to get the truck.

When it rains it pours. The universe loves to make the most when it catches me out in nature without anywhere to go but to stay put and grit it out. Boy did it down pour. The wind whipped around me and the rain felt like nasty pellets stinging my bare arms. I held onto the canoe which at some points wanted to fly away. It seemed like hours before hubby came with the truck but it was only probably minutes. So you would think that maybe I had had enough of that type of boating? Nope, I decided to go even more adventurous and trade my sturdy, hard bodied canoe in for an inflatable kayak. I hope to try it out soon on some rivers and lakes in the local mountain area. I need to go shopping first for a good life jacket and longer kayak paddle.

Wind or no wind, I am determined to get out there this summer and enjoy this amazing playground I have been blessed to live in. I hope to see you on the river or lake or on a mountain trail. Either way, if nothing else, this crazy time has proven how lucky we are to be alive. Why not get the heart pumping!

Coming Home

Kootenay Lake at sunset

Love surrounds us, peace surrounds us ,anyday, all the time…

I am back home now in Alberta. It was emotional to say “goodbye” to the “humans of the Yasodhara Ashram”. The last couple of days there, I kept getting the question asked “how do you feel?”. I wasn’t sure. The old me would have responded quickly with “I am fine” or “I am good” now?

I am that and I am more.

One of the traditions on your last day is to get up and say a few words at satsang. I don’t recall all I said though I do remember this part. I came as a guest to the ashram. In my interview I stated that I was looking for community. I had no real idea of how much I had missed belonging to a group of some sort. The drum circle hadn’t meant for over a year nor had I attended any meditations. Even work hadn’t had an in-person event for quite some time. Humans are meant to be together. We thrive when we feel like we belong, we matter. I left the ashram with a sense of leaving home. As the karma yogis helped me to pack my stuff into my sisters vehicle, I was overwhelmed with gratitude, love and support. 

I take with me the timeless teachings, the tools and the knowledge that I can sustain my practice anywhere and at any time. The wisdom is meant to be used every day, all the time it surrounds us in light.

Would I go back? Yes, no hesitation there. I know I have a life here at home and a husband and family who need me. I also know that, in order to help others, you have to put the oxygen mask on yourself first. 2 months seems like a drop in the bucket for time. It goes by too quickly. You barely start to learn who you have been before you understand who you are.

I intend to stay in contact with those that still live there and continue my karma yoga virtually at home. As someone said to me while I was there “you can check out anytime but you can never leave…lol”

If you are exploring the possibility of this type of experience. Do it! I know we all are hesitant to go anywhere or do anything during this pandemic world we live in now. I also know that we are all craving community and human interactions.

Check out Yasodhara programs at yasodhara.org or email me or comment here if you want to ask me questions about my stay or what I took away from the experience.

Time Machine

Time is a subjective thing. If you are like me, you measure it in milestones and experiences that happen, are happening or will happen in your life. My time at the ashram is coming to conclusion next Friday. As I reflect, I try to stay present without looking to far into the future.

The ashram has a constant ebb and flow of people coming in, existing here and leaving all at once. I can see myself in each situation and marvel at the opportunity to travel with others in time both backward and forward as we navigate our collective and individual journeys.

Traveling Backward

One of the offerings you take part of is to become part of the food delivery service for the “newbies”. It’s an opportunity to welcome them and reassure that they made the right decision to come here. Being isolated with limited contact to those living here can be a source of anxiety and a test of resilience. You emerge from isolation to an active community. It can be quite the adjustment to be bombarded with multiple types of personalities, work ethics and behaviors. You quickly learn how you relate to others and how they relate to you. I recall those early days when the previous group of yogis was delivering food to me. I have a better appreciation for their interactions and willingness to pause in their busy days to reassure me that it’s worth the wait. Living in a dorm with 7 other females has its trials and yet has its wonderful moments too. I have learned that there are a variety of types of mechanisms in which to turn on a shower. Some are well hidden and the secret has to be passed on from one who knows to one who needs to know. Preferably before you are naked in the tub trying to figure it out. Thank you ladies of Buddha Loka for showing me the way. I am grateful to be able to observe the progression of those coming out and compare it to my own experiences as I progress.

Watching the present…

I am in my body and spirit as closely engaged as I can possibly get. Aware of my surroundings, my place and actions and the nuances and moods of others around me. I have never experienced anything like this before. Even living with my family that consisted of 9 of us in a 4 bedroom home, didn’t seem this intimate. I can sense the moods around me here. When some are stressed, content, agitated or distant thinking about other things. I find myself questioning why it’s easier to tune in so deeply here compared to my “other”life? I guess I will find out when I go back to that world.

The sense of accomplishment is mind boggling here. What can be done with limited resources, manpower and funds is amazing. A chicken coop for 50 chickens is being constructed where once stood a big pile of dirt, debrie, rocks and bramble bushes. Trust me, digging out boulders and cutting back thorns isn’t that much fun but seeing the ground being leveled is rewarding. The logs for the outside run were cut, shaved and shaped from trees on the property. The building is made out of wood from other projects. The paint, which is pest resistant, is made from a mixture of limestone and water. It looks like a whitewash. The coop is almost done and the chickens are coming this weekend. I am excited that I will be here to celebrate not only Easter but their arrival after contributing to their new home. I have used my video skills numerous times to create videos of traditional dances, interviews of Humans of the Ashram and documenting the many experiences. It’s been a pleasure to serve here.

The Future

The future is wide open. I like that. I have the basics and I am eager to put the knowledge and practices into play in my life back home. I have been invited to join the local group that will start connecting again in the fall. One lady has mentioned that she has been asking the divine for someone with musical skills. I laughed and replied that she must have some pretty powerful connections as here I am and I am very willing to share anything musical I can. I haven’t quite figured out how to predict what the future will bring and yet, I am more than content to not know what’s around the corner. I have interviewed Karma Yogis as they are leaving the ashram and added their learnings to my index for later processing. I am excited to get my hands dirty in my own gardens and enjoy the coming spring and summer with renewed energy and light. My husband is waiting for my return, I am not sure how that reunion will play out. I am hopeful we can find common ground and mutual understanding of how to “be” together and how to “be” apart. I would encourage anyone who has ever thought to experience the ashram life to “do it!” The accelerated learning about yourself, about what’s important and what you can let go of is one of the most selfless things you can do for you.

Thank you to all of those who have traveled with me through this incredible journey of the past, present and into the future. Thank you to the wonderful beings who reside at Yasodhara Ashram.

Light

Cold Splash of Vulnerability

I started the today in the Beach Prayer room. It’s called that because it’s basically on the beach and over looks the lake. I have been a bit nervous about this evenings Satsang as my guide has asked me accompany her on my piano for singing and chanting. I got in one practice and hope I interpret the songs correctly. I started my meditation with the Om Tara I have been working with while sitting in the prayer room. As I sat and chanted I began to think about my 5 senses. Then as I chanted more and wondered why I was thinking of them literally instead of how I use them when going on a shaman journey. They are tools that can help filter out what barriers are coming up for me.

We see many things in our dreams or when journeying or mediating that don’t exist anywhere else. I have smelt sage burning or the perfume of a flower where none should exist. Sound is a conduit to heal I am learning. I have been thinking that I have spent too much time playing music while here. I now know it’s part of meditation.

I didn’t get to play tonight. Part of me is relieved part is bummed. It was determined that I was too new to the ashram and should be able to attend a few more sessions before diving in.

My guide didn’t know this protocol and when she came to tell me she seemed a bit nervous now. She would be playing and leading the session herself. She was told that satsang isn’t about performance it’s about a creating sacred space. She looked vulnerable and I saw that she was learning just like me. We are all on our personal journey. I have seen so much about human interactions here. How to live where all your senses are eager for stimulation.

I started the day in the Beach prayer room and I ended it there also. Sitting in the dark with another karma yogi just after we had took a dip in the ice cold Kootenay lake. All my senses came alive and it felt vulnerable but invigorating at the same time.

I am learning more than I ever thought possible about myself and about how I interact with others. I am learning I can live without a lot of space. Since I only have spotty internet connections I am writing this blog post on my phone. Another first for me to put my thoughts on such a tiny screen.

The mantras are filling me with strength and insight. I am excited to explore them further. OM OM OM

Patience

Last day of quarantine

It doesn’t take long to become conditioned to a routine. At 6pm every night, I check a website to find out what I will be doing tomorrow. I knew that today was probably going to be my last day of isolation so I had a mixed of anxiety and excitement to see what the website would tell me was planned for me, my last day of quaratine. I checked at 6:05pm, nothing, 8:00pm still nothing hmmm. My night was restless knowing that I was the last to arrive in my cycle of Karma Yogis so I would be the last one out of quarantine. I didn’t sleep well. The wind howled all night, it rained and the hill side gushed with water towards the lake all through the dark hours. I woke up at 4:00am and tried to go back to sleep. I drifted in and out and then finally got up at 5:30am. I decided to recite my new mantra and then meditate for a while. I felt better after and eased into a morning yoga flow. I like the idea of setting an intention for the day. I decided that “Patience” was going to be needed. So patience it was. I got a call at 9:30am wondering why I hadn’t shown up for karma yoga…lol. I had been waiting with patience for further instructions. Now I put my jacket on and hiked up the hill to help with more wood cutting and stacking.

Transitions make us ansy, even for someone like me who likes change, changing bunkhouses, assigned duties, new group of people takes a few minutes to adjust. Luckily, the ashram gives you a day to move, understand the new pace and rest before you begin, again. The girl staying in the side house of the cabin moved yesterday. You can tell when someone has done this before. They gave her a day to move and she took the whole day. I asked her whether there was a time she needed to be done by through the closed door. She said she just needed to sleep in her new place, other than that there wasn’t a specific hour. Now there was patience. Squeezing every moment of peace and solitude that comes from having your own space and not giving up a second of it.

I shake my head at myself. I mopped the floors yesterday and cleaned up the kitchen. Today I sorted my laundry and organized what I was going to wear tomorrow. I am so used to deadlines whether at work or when traveling that the organizing starts a day or two before my vacation is over. Why do we robbed ourselves of those final hours of bliss before we need to immerse back into the chaos?

Patience. Tomorrow I will slowly make my way over to my new lodgings. Maybe take a few things and go check it out after breakfast. I have one of the only tubs that is available at the ashram. The other bathrooms are showers only. So I plan to take a bubblebath before doing the final cleaning. I have a few pages left of my book to read and some contemplations to record in my diary. Maybe even sit and soak in this wonderful little cabin of paradise for one more day. I hope I remember this if travel ever becomes a resonable option again as we all could use a little patience.

Mistakes Will Be Made

Day 5 at Yasodhara and time seems to be flying by even though in reality it’s moving the slowest it has ever done for me.

Started the day in meditation, then a good yoga stretch and some homemade yogurt with granola, nuts and fruit. I have never ate so healthy and clean. My body isn’t sure what to do with all that fibre. You can draw your own conclusions as to the outcome there…lol.

As I was eating breakfast I got a message “meet at the Mandala building at 9:00 am for some more Karma Yoga”. It’s a bit colder today so there was an option to stay in if I wanted to. Ah nope, bundle up and let’s go! We got to see a new face today, well half a face, under a mask. Mike has been at the Ashram for 3 weeks and just newly out of quarantine. He has been tasked with showing the newbies what paths to sand and where to fill it back up in the wooden boxes along the paths.

We go on a bit more of a tour first and Mike showed us some of the things we could potentially be doing as we progress. Manual labour is available at every corner when you are in a compound this size. We trudge up a hill and walk towards some stuff covered up with tarps. It turns out to be a wood splitter. Mike is confident that my companion who is 5 foot nothing and about 100 pounds and myself can operate the wood splitter. We don’t test that theory but I do have a private chuckle. At home, I am not allowed to operate the power tools probably for good reasons. Here? We shall see…oh boy this could be fun or this could be a disaster.

We continue on our tour until we get to the back of the property close to the gardens and orchard. Here is where they keep the dirt pile. There is an inside joke to how all instructions are given here. I remember it from before and I have travelled a lot since 2013. The method is to be vague about how to do things or what to exactly be doing. You may get a bit of information, for instance, put sand on the ice. Mike, being a week 3 veteran, volunteers that instructions are ambiguous. He hauled wheelbarrows of sand all around and put it on as many as trail as he could find. At the end he was exhausted and thought he would for sure get all sorts of recognition for his thoroughness. Oh dear, I suspected as he was telling us this that wasn’t the case. Here’s the thing, you can put sand on all of the trails or you can observe where the main arteries are and make sure those ones are covered first. Then if you have time and still lots of energy to burn do more. We chuckled over him sharing this vital piece of his learning with us.

In the afternoon we had a Zoom meeting to be introduced to Satsang and some things to expect in the coming weeks. It was good to see the small but mighty group and to meet more of the yogis and swamis who are in residence. What was unexpected was that one of the swamis recognized my address where I live. She said that her family had rented that very home in the 1960’s. That is crazy. Such a small world. One of the questions they had us ponder was “What makes for a good learning environment?” I have pondered this question many times in my professional career as a learning developer. So I had the corporate answer. I tried very hard to push that response down to the bottom of the pail and then allow something different to surface. I wrote down: trust, open heart, perceptive mind, mutual communication with teacher and student. I also thought about the connection between the exchange that occurs. You observe, listen, understand intent, ask questions, get feedback, then perhaps offer suggestions or introduce new ideas or ways of doing the task that take the learning to the next level.

The girls I have arrived with (I do say girls as they are both early twenties if not younger) have such amazing insight and self awareness. This generation will be the saviors of this world I am convinced. They join the conversation with such wisdom, kindness and care. They hold back just a bit and yet when they do speak up it’s profound. One spoke of “the space to make mistakes” and the other the value of asking questions and experimenting with changes to the method being shown. There is hope for this universe through these wise souls.

Another conversation lead to talk about mantras and meditation ideas. There was some discussion about “non-violence” towards negative thoughts. The practice is known as Ahimsa. The gist is that when you are aware of toxic thoughts revert to active thoughts or movement of compassion. There is more to it than that but I am sure if you are interested you will explore it further.

Final thoughts of the day? I am very ok with making mistakes, I have made many and will probably make many more. What I have started to put into practice is to change my approach after they occur. Today I was very focused on learning the songs in the songbook to have a pretty good idea of the melodies before I come out of quarantine. As I sat inside and played my piano I kept looking out at the lake and the sun moving across the sky trying to entice me to come and enjoy it. My rationale was that I had spent the morning outside shoveling sand so I was good for today. When was there ever a quota to spending time in nature. I am sure I made the mistake of missing a key insights if I would have got out on the trails. I am confident though, since I have made space for mistakes and the universe loves to give me ample “do overs” that I will spot the learning as I venture out tomorrow.

Namaste

The ice along the creek and Kootenay Lake have been breathtaking. It looks like a fairy garden made out of glass.

Dishes and Berries Equal Food On The Plate

Day 4 at the Ashram Karma Yoga

Day 4 at the Ashram and on the agenda was, for me, a reintroduction to Karma Yoga. My first practice of this type of yoga can be enjoyed in another blog post called “The Karmic Carrot”.

The agenda for each day pops up on a website at 6 pm the previous evening for a reason. It doesn’t give you too much information and whole lot of time to decide if you are going to like doing the task or not. Don’t think too much about it, is the advice given by the yogi. Good advice.

Before we suited up in our winter wear to battle the balmy -9 degrees outside, which is necessary for most activities while we are still in quarantine (I came from Lethbridge which is -32 right now) we were instructed to watch a video by Swami Radhananda. The Swami talks about many things in the video but focuses mostly on Karma Yoga and why the Ashram began to incorporate it as part of their practice over 45 years ago. She muses that people pay to come here and do service in this way. The practice is built on the principles of light, social action, compassion, evolution, health, surrender and love. It’s believed that if “something needs to be done, you should do it!” I especially love the example she gives of no job is too small or insignificant to complete. You pick the berries and wash the plates which leads to something to eat and a vessel to enjoy it. It’s pretty simple right? Another interesting point she makes is around work and what we value. Most of us go to work from 9 to 5 then go home and do our personal work for the rest of our awake hours. Here at the Ashram, you see more of a connection between the work that gets done during the day and the immediate consumption or usefulness of that task.

A trendy label these days is something called “an essential worker”. Everyone at the Ashram is essential to it’s sustainment. We could learn a thing or two about how the world functions and what is actually essential to do and what is not.

Ok, back to the Karma Yoga. After I watched the video I was to come up with an intention to ponder while I practiced being in service. There was a ton of great nuggets to ponder and yet the one that stuck out for me was this “limitations cause us to rethink and change”. The Swami was referring to the necessity to constantly adapt. Not very many people are permanent residence at the Ashram, therefore as beings are switched out, the ecosystem has had to learn to rethink, adapt and change over and over again. Some folks have been invited to stay for a longer term and a few are here to stay. Can you imagine a life where everything changes all time? Practicing non-attachment would be easier I would like to think. The same theme as yesterday came back up today in the video “you learn to trust”. No wonder, in a place where you rely on that next helpful resource to pop up out of nowhere you have to “let go” and “trust”.

There is a desire for action and it’s moving the place toward a strong commitment to a connected community.

The Karma Yoga ended up being putting sand on ice covered trails. Good use of time. I am forever falling on ice and I am amazed that I don’t have a cracked skull or brain damage from hitting my head. Ouch! Normally I would have went off on my own and meticulously covered all the trails I could find with a nice coating of sand. I rethought my actions today and changed up my practice. Another newbie was on a trail and I joined her a few feet apart. We chatted and poured sand. We learned what we had in common and what made us unique. I realized another intentions as we walked. I miss people, other human beings that I can stare into their faces in real life instead of a webcam. It was overwhelming to realize the depth of loneliness that this pandemic and working from home had caused in my existence.

Karma Yoga has migrated me towards a community who are embedded in a shift towards Ideals, Intentions, Goals and Focus and it’s feel wonderful.

“I want to be who I want to be…I want to help”

Namaste Swami Radhananda, may you rest in peace, divine light and love

The Spirit Moves Me

It’s February, and as my Facebook memories are reminding me, I’m supposed to be in Hawai’i right now, or at least counting down the days until I’m there. For the past 12 years, I have spent 2-3 weeks on either Maui or the Big Island every winter. It’s not just the warm weather and beaches that draw me there; it’s an indescribable ‘something’ that makes me feel connected to myself and the surroundings.

Hawaiians talk about, and demonstrate, “Aloha Spirit”. “Aloha”, while often associated with being the word for “Hello”, actually refers to “the presence of breath”. It is the “coordination of mind and heart within each person.” (Chapter 5, Hawai’i Revised Statutes) It is a way of life on the islands, where goodwill and kindness are extended to others.

I felt it on my first trip. As soon as the aircraft door opened and I could smell the air, I felt at home. It doesn’t matter which island I’m on, it’s the same. There is something about being there that makes me feel completely connected – physically, mentally, emotionally.

At first, I thought it was being near water. I can sit near the ocean for hours – watching and listening to the waves crash on shore. I get a similar feeling sitting near the lake at home, so I knew it was more than that. Is it the humidity in the air? The scent of the plumeria flowers wafting on the breezes? Being surrounded by so much natural beauty?

I remember the feeling I had when hiking into “The Bamboo Forest” (Pipiwai Trail) on Maui on the way to Waimoku Falls. As far, and tall, as the eye could see – it was bamboo. Greenery everywhere. A slight breeze added subtle percussion sounds as the bamboo swayed. A gentle rain started to fall. All I wanted to do was sit on the forest floor and experience it.

Whenever I am on the islands, the urge to be creative is overpowering. I want to write, draw, paint (and I’m not a visual artist!). Something about the Aloha spirit connects me in a primal way to myself. I feel things more deeply. I feel a profound sense of peace. I feel whole in a way that’s completely different from how I feel anywhere else.

Connections are interesting things. It’s not just the connections between people, but also things, feelings, places, experiences – everything it means to be human. Some connections can be explained, others cannot – yet they exist for a reason. How a girl who grew up in a land-locked Canadian province found such a profound connection to her being on the tiny islands in the Pacific, I’ll never know. But, I’m grateful.

Since that first trip (and there have been seventeen, to date, in total), I feel I leave a small piece of my soul behind when I leave the islands. Maybe I’m called to return in order to connect all the parts of my being.

“We Follow The Road We Are Accustomed To”

Above is a quote from The Pilgrimage by Paulo Coelho. The book is about his journey on the SanTiago trail in Spain. My sister and I started planning a trip to Spain a few years ago that involved trekking on some of the trails. We got distracted (ok confession, I got distracted) as we talked about the adventure with other relatives. Soon the group had grown to 11 people and as we tried to accommodate individual tastes and wishes the trail got left behind. I have had lots of time now to reflect on the trip that actually happened and to wonder at the trip that would have been if I had stuck to the original plan. The trip was epic as I ended up in North Africa (Morocco) riding a camel in the desert. I don’t regret it and yet I do wonder what I missed.

The rest of the excerpt from the book reads…”We know which is the best road to follow, but we follow only the road that we have become accustomed to.”

I am a firm believer in “Redos”. They happened to me all the time. Do you ever get the feeling of “deja vous”? A real life scenario starts to unfold and then something triggers in your mind…wait a minute…haven’t I done this before…now what was I supposed to remember about this again? Dang…I know it’s really important that I (fill in the blanks). The event unwinds as it does and then later when the dust settles you find yourself going WTF? I knew the road. I knew what I wanted to change in my approach, actions, thoughts towards it and yet, here I am still reacting and acting the same way AGAIN! Sigh. I had the opportunity to follow the right path I chose not too. As I reflect on those opportunities and now chart what the alternate path would have perhaps looked like I am trying my best to be self aware. Please, if there is any chance that my higher power is listening, let me choose the best road to follow instead of the one I am accustomed to.

On Monday, I start on the road to the Ashram in BC. I have been on this journey before in 2013 and got side tracked. Wow, that long ago! 2 months to rewire this brain, thought patterns, habits, behaviors and anything else that no longer serves me to be well. I am extremely lucky to have the awareness that you can live “You do You”. It feels like I am going to throw up, I am anxious and unsettled. That’s a good feeling I think…lol. It tells me that by being uncomfortable I can finally get out of this self induced rhetoric. Short term pain for a longer more stable gain.