Travels to Myself

November 1, 2012

Whenever I board a plane, train or automobile to a new place, I am guided by my internal GPS. Every interaction I have or person I meet opens my eyes in new ways. I am informed by the novelty of the situation, but also by the ever-unfolding plan of the Universe that places me right in the middle of whatever I need to experience. It is particularly astounding to me how many cool people fly on airplanes.


Waiting at the Dulles International airport with Husband, I noticed a cute young couple in the corner, sharing food and body warmth as we waited to board our five-hour flight to San Diego. Husband and I had to change seats at the gate to ensure we sat together so our once randomly assigned seats were once again rearranged for that purpose. In other words, I wasn’t supposed to sit where I did, but I am so glad it worked out that way. I met the most fascinating doctor-in-training who laughed with me across the continent. When we got up to stretch our legs, I noticed the cute couple was right behind me in the next row. That’s when the girl engaged me in some small talk. It turns out she and her husband were returning from their honeymoon cruise just in time to miss Hurricane Sandy. Then, to my delight, she asked me if I might go to lunch with her.

“I just love your light,” she beamed. I beamed back and we made a date. A few days later we spent a lovely few hours together, chatting over lunch then walking on the beach. We revealed that neither one of us was supposed to be in the rows we were sitting (she was supposed to be on a different flight altogether). I shared with her the mystical-magical that we all possess. She already knew that. What impressed me most was when she said we already have everything we need. At 24 years old, she knows who she is. I was encouraged that the next generation’s consciousness will be higher than ours.

Travel brings us closer to who we are, guiding us to people of all ages and backgrounds. It shows us that no matter where we are on the planet, we expand a piece of who we are when we are engaged with each other, just like the Universe itself.

Dance in the light, my friends, wherever you are. Know that everything will work out just as it should. And that you are not alone.  Ever.

Bon Voyage!

July 18, 2012

“The voyage itself is not important, but rather the one with which you travel that counts.”

Travel is one of the best ways to see how slow you can go. Waiting in line to board planes, buses and trains is a great opportunity to test your patience; you might also be confronted with a new culture, even if it’s in the same country.

I am reminded of the microcosm that is Bavaria every time I travel outside its boundaries. From where I live, you can go as little as two hours and be in an entirely different world (and country).

As you travel this summer (or winter for folks way down South), notice how the pace of life changes, depending on where you are. For someone in New York, their slow might be your fast (or vice versa, although I doubt it!). It is possible to live at your custom speed no matter where you live. While the world is unfurling its chaos, remember to drive just a little slower. You’ll get to where you are going faster if you go slow.

Trust me on this.

I heard God tonight. No, it was not the booming-voice-from-above kind of sound. It came from a flute and three string instruments played by a quartet that breathes the divine power of Mozart. Believe me when I say: music can heal. I left the Salzburg Imageconcert hall, in all its golden, guilded beauty, with soaring spirits. Salve for the soul, indeed.

How could you not smile to the beat of The Magic Flute? I found myself grinning stupidly throughout the entire two hour program. We gave them a standing ovation; they gave us an encore.

It was magic. In a flute and a few strings too.

Thanks, Wolfy. I owe you one!

Now I know why Italy is the birthplace of all things slow. Its magical sun, the food that sprouts from the earth, the smiles on people’s faces…with all that goodness, how could you not want to decelerate to enjoy it all?

Four years ago in this very place, I outlined the steps to Slow. In under a week I had read seven books and started to absorb the powerful message that Slow can bring to all of our lives.

I am here now again. And it feels wonderful to reconnect to the source of so much.

May you enjoy the beauty of Slow today, no matter where you are!

 

In 2010 281,303,769 visitors swept through the 394 National Parks this nation (and its surrounding areas such as Puerto Rico) has to offer. Every state in the United States has one, with the exception of Delaware. An annual pass costs $80 and it’s well worth the price.

In just three days we have visited three different national parks (we did this all very slowly, honest. They are very close to one another!). And I must tell you we beam at the rangers in those booths when we flash our annual pass that Husband graciously paid for. He was wise. A seven-day pass to just one park costs $25-30. So as we breeze past the pre-paid booths, we smile, knowing yet another fabulous educational program awaits us.

Bryce Canyon National Park

The simplicity of it is astounding. The signage is always informative with lots of pictures, maps and guides. The rangers are friendly (one of them at the Grand Canyon admitted he passed his phone interview by smartly answering the question: “What are you going to say to tourists when the Canyon is filled with fog and they can see nothing?” “It is Nature’s cycle,” he replied. I smiled. Yes, it’s Nature’s cycle.)

So when the rain pelted our heads on the way to the car after devouring an amazing meal at the Bryce Canyon Lodge, we knew the sky would clear soon. On the way back to our hotel, we were rewarded with two mole deer staring at us as we trolled past in our rental car.

To all you rangers and National Park Service folks, we say thank you. You are beautiful in every way. The cost of admission may be eighty bucks, but the value of experiences like these are priceless.

We’re three weeks into my five week sabbatical, and I have to say my email volume has shrunk considerably. On both my work and book-related accounts, I activated an auto-reply that explains I’m checking in intermittently, but that I’m pretty much off the grid until September 2.

Nice.

Typically, my email inbox swells to the size of a voluminous tidal wave on a daily  hourly basis. But somehow folks have recognized they’re not going to get an answer from me unless it’s really big news or an immediate request that simply can’t

Because some things just can't be missed. 17th Anniversary in Virginia!

wait. As you know from another post, I am on an iPhone diet. Thusfar I’ve lost about one thousand emails that simply aren’t rolling in. Apart from the occasional random pitch, I’ve been left alone by just about everyone.

It was the best decision I could make so I could free up as much time as I needed to attend to my life “on the ground”. I reconnected with almost every single living family member, visited five of my closest and oldest friends (who are so not old – really gang, you look fabulous!) and even managed to go shopping a few times for back-to-school items for the kids.

As we enter what I’ve coined PHRASE III of our August sabbatical, we will experience new adventures out West (from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon to, yes, two overnights in a Chuck Wagon – stop snickering. Believe me. It will be blogworthy!). I promise to pop by occasionally because slow does not mean stop; it merely means a mindful pace that allows you to soak it all in.

Under pressure! That’s what many of us feel right before taking a vacation. Locking down the house, arranging for pet care, stopping all mail delivery, etc. It’s almost as if you need a vacation from your vacation planning before it’s even gotten started.

I don’t know about you, but renting a car at the airport after an international flight has to be a seamless experience, otherwise I am even more stressed. So when we got to Dulles International Airport two weeks ago, we were astounded at how fast the check-in service at Dollar Rent-a-Car went. Until we discovered they didn’t have any more economy cars available for another fifteen minutes. No big deal, I thought. I live in a time abundant state. We’ll have some snacks and wait. When the newly washed car was driven up, we were thrilled.

But what I didn’t know was the rental car agency had rushed through the detailing process such that the air tire pressure was uneven. A light indicator for the air tire pressure illuminated in my car about a week later. We even went to a tire center to have it checked. All but one had fifty pounds in it, but they couldn’t add the tire because the supervisor hadn’t turned the machine on yet (it was almost 10 am – you have to love slow country living!). We found an air machine at the local convenience store. Following the tire guy’s instructions, I added enough in the one tire to match the air pressure in the others.

That is, until my dad suggested I look at how much air pressure is SUPPOSED to be in the tires. It turns out the “lowest tire pressure” was actual the accurate one. So I went back to the rental agency and asked them to please check it. I wasn’t about to spend anymore money on it. Indeed, the tires had been overinflated by the agency itself. I suggested he let the detailers know to which he snippily replied, “I would if they spoke English!”

Hmmm…I was starting to feel less enamoured of Dollar by the minute.

So my slow travel tip to you is to ask that they check the air pressure for you before you leave, or travel with a gauge yourself. You can find the proper air pressure on the inside of the driver’s door. Apparently at Dollar, the buck stops with you.

 

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