Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Faith in Humanity - Restored!

On this trip I found something I didn't even know I needed or was looking for....a renewal of my faith in human beings. I have a feeling that even just that first line has made my dad already start to cringe (love ya, Pa!). His last words of wisdom before I set out on this journey in October were "Have fun, honey...and DON'T TRUST ANYONE - even for a minute." Wise words (from one of the best people on this planet) to guide his youngest as she set out half way around the world....

At some point (often very quickly), however, taking this advice while traveling becomes impractical. Take landing in a new foreign city like Kathmandu, for example. You leave the airport, get in a taxi and ask them to take you somewhere. You have NO idea where you are, where you're going or if you've even been understood because you don't speak the cab driver's language. The guy could drive in circles for hours and you wouldn't be able to tell because there are no street signs (you couldn't read them if they did exist), no distinct landmarks, no traffic rules and you can't really communicate with him anyway. Granted, you are paying this guy to bring you somewhere so he has some motivation to help you, but you are also putting a level of trust in the fact that he will bring you where you ask despite the fact that he knows you have no clue....

Further on down the road in traveling, the opportunity to put your trust in others comes and goes and to varying extremes. I've found that how I choose to respond to these opportunities and what I use to guide these decisions can make or break my trip. If you've read any entries before this one you know that I rely on my gut, my instinct, the palpable feeling that arises in my belly - to guide such decisions. For me, trusting others all depends on trusting myself.

As I get ready to get on a plane back to the states in just about 36 hours (yikes!), it hit me that one of the greatest things i've learned is that there ARE good people in this world! I knew that, of course, because I have a lot of them in my life - my friends and my family are exceptional - but at times I get down on humanity as a whole and start to doubt if people are generally, by their nature, good. (It's tough to stay enamored with the human race when you look around the world and see such mindless and rampant violence, oppression and harm that we inflict on people and our planet.) What I have been astonished by these last few months is the kindness of strangers who had no motivation for their kindness except just this: to be kind.

The examples from the past few months are endless, but here's a recent one. A few days ago I traveled to a town on the coast of eastern Bali and stayed at a bungalow that had been recommended by a friend of a friend of a friend of a friend I met in Bali (friend 4 times removed :-)) ...The afternoon I arrived I was sitting on the patio of the place watching the sun set over the ocean and eating a mango (idyllic, i know!) when a Balinese couple with a baby came up and asked if I was Chris...Ends up that my friend 4 times removed (who I had met the day before, mind you) had called these friends (= my friend 5 times removed) and asked that they drop in on me and see how I was. I was floored... but it doesn't stop there. The next day (which happened to be Christmas - not much of an event in this Hindu country) they came to get me and the husband and his 9 year old son took me trekking through gorgeous rice fields, pristine forest and a few small villages. We hiked for a few hours from where we got dropped off and ended up back in their village - one of the last truly traditional villages in Bali - where my new friends work as basket weavers and artists. They fed me an amazing homemade lunch despite clearly not having that much themselves and insisted that I take fruit and food with me when i left. They were generous with their time, their resources and their love. Although our communication via words was somewhat limited, I could truly feel that this was not an inconvenience or an act of obligation...it seemed they just couldn't imagine acting any other way and were happy to share with a complete stranger. Although it's just coincidence that this happened on Christmas, it sure seems like a real manifestation of the Christmas spirit.

This day is certainly one of the highlights of an incredible trip and is just one example of the abundance which I've encountered over the past few months. People, most who have less than I do (less in terms of material things only - most of them are wealthy beyond belief in love, faith, family and spirit), have been extremely generous with their time, their talents, kind words, a helping hand, smiles, love, hugs and so much more...Even just writing about this has made me so overwhelmed with gratitude and has reinstilled in me a belief in the generosity and overall goodness of the human spirit...just another lesson that traveling and being open has taught me...

One last thing - for my dad and all you other naysayers - I want to reassure you, I'm not naive and I realize there are still bad people in this world - lots of them. My new-found belief in human beings isn't blinding and it doesn't mean I'm going to run into the middle of New York City at 3 am with a wad of cash and expect that something bad won't happen. What it does mean is that at times (I know when it's right if I really listen) I have to open up and take a leap of faith if I'm going to receive the incredible gifts the universe has waiting for me...otherwise I risk missing out on beautiful interactions and experiences that make traveling and everyday life truly fantastic.

love, light and faith

Friday, December 18, 2009

Movement through Stillness.....

and Stillness through Movement. This is what I've been experiencing the past 17 days. I didn't mean to spend this long on this one island in Thailand. I thought I'd stop in for a couple days, do some yoga and then head north for trekking and exploring....but after a couple days my intuition was screaming for me to stay here and because it is not wise to ignore the force that is “my gut”, it happened. Actually nothing “just happens” - I consciously chose to make it happen.

I didn’t realize the impact that this decision would have. It ends up that in this stillness, in this seeming cessation of forward movement, I have moved forward on my path by leaps and bounds…when I least expected it. Apparently, it was more important that I explore some more internal terrain than the jungles and mountains of northern Thailand.

I spent this time going through a yoga intensive - lectures, practice, meditations, more practice, more lectures and it has been incredible. I have never heard yoga explained in this manner and it's been really interesting, eye-opening and challenging mentally and emotionally. I did my best to approach this experience with a beginner's mind - surrendering all I thought I knew so I could be open to this new way of thinking and practicing and being...What I've learned about myself would not have been possible without this surrender, but it also required a good deal of effort, extra work and courage to open up – all of this required some serious strength…Strength through surrender and surrender through strength…

But, I digress - Getting back to movement and stillness. A good deal of my past few weeks have been spent in stillness – stillness holding a pose for what sometimes seems like an eternity, sitting in meditation at a waterfall, sitting in meditation on the beach, sitting in meditation in the classroom (you get it - lots of stillness). The internal movement that this kind of stillness encourages is overwhelming and truly awe-some. I don’t mean the kind of stillness we find when we sit in front of a TV all day or even when we read a book, but the kind of stillness you find when you sit with yourself – facing your internal being, watching your heart and mind and just letting it all come and go on its own. It’s intense, it’s scary and it’s beauty beyond words….movement through stillness. But, in yoga and in life there are also those sublime moments when your monkey mind stops going, when you are in the moment completely, when you are here, right now….during a yoga flow, on a long run, in the midst of a sweet kiss, walking through the ocean. You lose yourself in the movement and as a result you find yourself. It’s not the same as getting caught up in the moment, but it is being completely mindful IN the moment without even noticing…stillness through movement.

Don’t get me wrong. Not every moment of the last few weeks has been this intense. I’ve had my share of frolicking on the beach and in the ocean, collecting shells, getting Oceanside massages, exploring waterfalls, taking long hilly bike rides, cruising around on the back of a motor bike enjoying the wind on my face, dancing in the dumping rain, laughing, crying and eating lots of good food. I’ve seen some of the most amazing sunsets and sunrises of my life and have enjoyed my roommates – a few geckos, a HUGE lizard and the occasional frog or bird who gets in through an open window.

An integral part of the last few weeks have been the people I’ve met here – each seeking something different, but each kind, open, honest and loving. One in particular has touched my heart and mind and spirit in a way I haven't experienced that often in this life (much gratitude,MN). But, it seems it’s time for me to take what I’ve learned here and move forward, literally and figuratively, with both strength and surrender for whatever lies ahead... so with that, I’m Bali-bound….

love, light and a happy solstice

Monday, November 30, 2009

Gratitude

I find myself overwhelmed with gratitude for the smallest things: a cold river to swim in, real coffee, a sweet juicy mango, my yoga practice, my health, family, friends, people who love me, a seat next to a good friend on an 11 hour bus ride....The past 2 months since my journey began I find myself stopping at least one time each day in awe - in awe of the fact that each day I get to make a dream or 2 or 3 come true.....it's really amazing and i'm pretty sure i'm one of the luckiest people on this planet.

To illustrate this point, check it: right now i sit next to a beautiful river - limestone cliffs of white, pink and orange reach up for the sky. i am engulfed in the lushest, greenest mass of jungle that you can imagine with trees that are 1 million years old (wish they could talk). monkeys swing from the branches above, macaques swarm the cliffs and all sorts of insects sing their songs. it's hot and humid and i sweat just sitting here, but with my feet in the crisp water and a breeze that comes just often enough - i manage to stay cool enough.

For the last 2 months I was lucky enough to have 2 amazing and important folks to me spend some time adventuring with me. Jody and i hung in the everest region of the himalaya for 3ish weeks and Q and i tramped around annapurna, angkor wat & a bit of bangkok for 5ish weeks (thanks to both of you - it was truly an honor to have time with 2 stellar people).

As of today, however, i am on my own and i find myself in khao sok national park in southern thailand. despite arriving just a few hours ago from bangkok via an overnight 17 hour bus adventure (w/little to no sleep as is expected), i'm stoked and happy to be back in nature. plans to explore lost waterfalls, a huge lakes with secret caves and amazing cliffs and to try my hand at thai cooking (the owner of the bungalow i am staying at said she'll teach me) are all in the works....

at some point maybe i'll catch up on writing about angkor wat and bangkok experiences (what a weird, interesting place), but at the moment riverside jungle yoga calls more loudly than this computer...

love and light and gratitude for having each of you in my life...

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

WAT's up with me and where have I been?


Hi friends! Haven't had or made the opportunity to sit in front of a computer for a few weeks (LOVE that), but have been writing the good old fashioned way - with a pen and paper (gasp) - so here are a few excerpts to serve as updates to what's happenin' in this crazy head, heart and life o' mine. At the moment I'm in Cambodia exploring the breathtaking temples of Angkor Wat  .....truly amazing.

Nov 20, 2009 - By the banks of the Bagmati

Yesterday I left Nepal and headed for Thailand. I am so sad to say goodbye to Nepal – a  beautiful country with truly amazing people. But, as Buddha was fond of saying, “This too shall pass.” As with everything – the good, the bad, what we like, what we don’t like, what we want, what we don’t want – the only constant is that everything changes  - so I'm doing my best to let go of the wonder that is Nepal and to embrace where I am right now - much the way a river flows through a canyon - no regrets, no clinging, just flowin'….

The idea that everything is in a constant state of flux was driven home with the strength of a pile driver a few days ago when I visited Pashupatinath – the holiest and oldest pilgrimage site for Hindus in Nepal. This complex is a series of temples and holy places built to honor Shiva that is situated on the banks of the Bagmati River in the middle of Kathmandu. The Bagmati flows into the Ganges and (according to ‘Diamond,’ a Nepali friend - and a real character -  I met at the temple) is considered by some to be an even more holy river than the Ganges because of what happens on its banks.

The scene on the banks of the Bagmati is like nothing I’ve ever witnessed. Upon my arrival there were 3 fires – each at a different stage in its life - burning brightly on platforms next to the water. A few people were tending to the fires while onlookers – both locals and tourists - watched with varied levels of interest. Meanwhile, women hawked necklaces and bracelets, tour groups passed through receiving information in various languages and monkeys scurried by stopping to eat the occasional scrap of food. On the opposite bank, but not more than a couple hundred yards downstream, a soccer game was in full swing. Occasional cheers and yells from the players were clearly audible from the fire platforms.

This scene was particularly unique because each fire was a cremation in progress and those tending the fires were family members dutifully letting go of their loved ones while also ensuring the soul a safe passage into the next life.  From just 10 feet away I watched 3 sons shave their heads to honor their father as his body returned to ash before their eyes. I witnessed a group of 15 women, dressed in traditional flowing garb (bright pinks, reds, oranges, purples and yellows), lovingly envelop and support a weeping woman as she watched the ritual begin. Her young husband’s body was laid on a platform perpendicular to the river, water lapping at his feet, while the white and orange cloth shrouding his being was removed so that sacred water could be poured into his mouth.

I did not plan to witness these intimate moments. I merely found myself exploring this special place when this was happening. And, in this culture, these are not intimate moments.  They happen in the open because death is Accepted and Expected as part of life. I felt odd about watching this happen – not because it disturbed me, but because I felt as if I was intruding on something sacred, special, sad, serious, personal. These feelings are definitely a result of my Western upbringing and I was told (by Diamond again) not to worry – that there was no disrespect in watching this…..It still felt odd for sure, but was amazing and touching, as well. I was moved to tears at a few points – especially watching that young woman weep. I could feel her sadness well into my soul.

The intensity of this experience has left me once again contemplating death, life, mortality (this has been a common theme the past year or 2) and leaves me wondering what different people we’d be and how differently we would LIVE if this is how death was handled everywhere – not feared, not kept secret, but embraced by the living. It is an inevitable part of being human so I wonder why we try to cheat it, ignore it, fear it at every turn? I know most people will just chalk up fear of death as part of human nature, but I can imagine a world where we didn’t shy away from talking about death – where we didn’t fear dying or what happens afterward- where we instead put that energy toward living kindly, sweetly, mindfully.

It seems the Nepali folks have this last part down….There is still sadness with death, but it seems that there is not the same fear we have in the Western world. The ability to peacefully accept death as an inevitability must stem largely from something that struck me over and over again:  spirituality is inextricably linked to every part of everyday life for many people here. There is not just a work week and then Church on Sunday or Sabbath on Saturday…It seems that for the majority of Nepali people, there is no separation between the tasks of everyday and spiritual life and this is very apparent in each action…Prayer wheels are spun on the walk to work. Malas are prayed upon as shopkeepers wait for customers. “Namaste” (meaning the divine light in me honors the divine light in you) is said countless times a day as a greeting, in parting, to show gratitude, etc. Smiles and kind words are given freely between strangers. The people, the mountains, the rivers, the rocks, the children and even the cows and yaks hum with spiritual energy…. one can not help but be moved by it.  

Love, light and life.....


*********
Nov 21, 2009 - Reflectin' on Trekkin'
Today, I find myself sitting on the 21st floor of an apartment building looking out on the smog-encased expanse that is the capital of Thailand. Even though yesterday I boarded a Bangkok-bound plane of my own volition, I still feel as if I’ve been abruptly and suddenly thrust into the buzz of this haven of hedonism. It’s even more surreal because this city is a far cry from where I was just yesterday (Kathmandu) and is the polar opposite of where and how I have spent the last 7 weeks (on a bit of an internal and external pilgrimage trekking in the Himalaya of Nepal).

Skyscrapers, paved expressways, a proliferation of 7-Elevens and Starbucks, the existence of traffic rules and an overall vibe of efficiency make it so Bangkok could easily pass for any Western city. (If I was dropped from the sky and landed here I’d swear I was in San Francisco, parts of NYC and even parts of Jersey – minus the fact that street signs written in both Thai and English, of course). Kathmandu, on the other hand, is chaotic, dirty, buzzing, void of any apparent organization, and horns are the only useful traffic signal (meaning “get out of the way or I’m going to run you over”)….Kat continually screams the reminder “You’re not in Kansas anymore, Dorothy” and this constant prodding can make it a challenging place to spend time…. While I don’t like cities much and I often skip them entirely on my travels, I at least prefer the honesty of Kathmandu to the western comfort of Bangkok....Don’t get me wrong, I was ready to leave Kat  (and so were my lungs) and am psyched to be heading to Cambodia tomorrow – specifically, Angkor Wat  - for some more spiritual stimulation and hopefully some cleaner air.

Folks who know me even a little bit know that I’d rather be in the mountains, desert, forest, (insert name of any other natural ecosystem here) than a city….So, leaving the Himalaya was tough for me….a good practice in non-attachment, yet still tough. The last 7 weeks in Nepal were magic – MAGIC on so many levels. I haven’t written much about the details of either of my treks because they aren’t really all that important and because I’m not sure how much they’d mean to folks, but here’s a brief re-cap for those of you who are interested…

1st Trek:  Everest region where I spent 19 blissful days walking through jungle, rhododendron, oak and pine forests. As we climbed higher lush greens quickly gave way to rock and ice, eventually thrusting us into the shadows of the highest peaks in the world..... Although the destinations were not all that important, we did go to Everest Base Camp, Kala Patthar (a point at ~5550 m), crossed a glacier to make it over Cho La (pass at ~5420 m) and then traversed through the Gokyo area littered with crystal turquoise lakes and even more spectacular views. Weather was fantastic most of the time…The mountain gods smiled upon me and allowed me to witness Sagamartha (Everest), Lhotse, Nuptse, Makalu, Manaslu, Cho Oyu, Ama Dablam, Pumori in all of their grandeur, unfettered by clouds, surrounded in a veil of blue sky, gracefully reaching for the heavens.

2nd trek:  Annapurna Circuit for 20 days or so (due to the 'Himalayan time warp' I lost track of date and time - yay!. The diversity of the environment, the landscapes and the people was astounding. Each village we walked through had a different feel, culture and heritage and each day we passed through a different life zone or 2 or 3. Once again the mountain gods looked kindly upon me here allowing me unfettered views of Dhalaguiri, Annapurna II and IV, and on and on….Looking back on this trek I feel as if I ate my through the circuit rather than walked through it – apple orchards, roof top pumpkin patches, endless corn and buckwheat fields, and pastures full of yaks made for fresh delicacies that could not be passed up – fresh apple juice, pie, crumble, streudel, and jam, pumpkin soup and curry, delectable corn and buckwheat bread, yummy yak cheese...you get the point....

Most folks do this walk in a counter clockwise direction because this makes it a more gradual walk uphill and it allows for better acclimatization opportunities….We, of course, chose to circumambulate these massifs in the clockwise direction because 1. we wanted to follow the traditional path of the pilgrimage for Nepali people 2. we thought we might like an even greater physical challenge (as if hiking at 18000 feet with full packs wouldn’t be enough); 3. we wanted to go against the grain so we would not be traveling with the same hordes of people everyday and 4. we’re crazy. The responses we got from locals before heading out and even en route were funny and varied….A few people tried to talk us out of going this direction because it would be too difficult since it requires climbing from 3700 to 5400 and back down to 4500 m in one day. Even the guard at the first check post of our hike suggested we go the other way – This is especially significant because at that point we had already taken a 7 hour bus ride, a 2 ½ hour taxi ride on a super bumpy road and walked 45 minutes to get to this end of the trail….Deciding to change directions would have required an equivalent amount of time on foot and in vehicles, yet he was still trying to talk us out of it….

After about day 4 of the hike people stopped trying to talk us out of it and instead would say things like, “Ahh very strong” or “Very good – you do it that way.” We found out that it is considered good luck to complete the pilgrimage in the clockwise direction (and only about 10 people per month do it this way) so folks were pulling for us and were somewhat impressed (especially once we got over Throng La – the pass at 5416 m). Ends up that we were lucky: a few days after we came over the pass and began our descent a storm rolled in, dumping a few feet of snow on the pass forcing them to close it and causing many people to turn around. We had a beautiful day of hiking in the snow, but were low enough that the white flakes vanished upon kissing the earth.

On both of these adventures each day was a journey in and of itself….too much to explain in words at this point. In short, I was often overwhelmed with feelings of bliss, contentment, peace, awe, wonder and gratitude as I explored the landscape, myself, the friends I was with and the ones I made on the trail…Carrying everything I need on my back, walking all day, reading and writing and practicing yoga in my free time; being away from computers, phones; being able to interact with people without distraction; drinking tea and being consistently inspired…..  The simplicity of it all (my biggest decision everyday was what I should have for lunch) and the feeling of “enough-ness” that we often overlook in the day to day was amazing and reminds me  why I seek out experiences abroad and in nature….Will continue working on this when and if (kidding, mom) I return to “real life.”


love, light and simplicity.....

***********

Nov 17, 2009 - Upon Leaving the Himalaya 

Magical monasteries, practicing yoga amidst the mountains, centuries old stones carved with the mantra over and over again– Om Mani Padme Hung!; water powered prayer wheels; bands of red, green, blue, white, yellow strewn from impossibly high perches; memorials built for people taken too early; raucous card games around warm fires; pre-dawn assaults on passes guided by the moon (and headlamp); waking to the sound of a sacred conch shell horn; drifting to dreaming lulled by a cascading waterfall; midnight skies of a billion stars; freezing cold hands; finding rare moments of sustained warmth without movement; bakeries at 16,000 feet; monks playing soccer; chataranga push ups side by side with a 4 year old right after my first glimpse of Everest; watching monks carry a body up a hill and then burn it; unforgettable interactions with people on my path; blessings from a lama; fresh squeezed apple juice; walking in the snow; a blessed coconut from a monk; watching sunrise from bed and enjoying the wonder of seeing the light change on enormous peaks;  small children smiling; shedding sacred sweat (a lot of it); soaking in soothing hot springs; witnessing death, celebrating life; hopes to return...soon. 

love, light and magic.....



Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Nepali Flat....or not so flat

Nepali Flat ......This is the endearing term that the beautiful folks in this amazing country use to describe some of the terrain I have walked over the past few weeks....This sweet, sweet term is their kind way of saying the following: "Actually, there isn't really much flat in the Himalaya so rather than disappointing you, we'll call it 'Nepali Flat' which really means a ton of uphill, followed by a little down hill, interspersed with some rolling hills and then more uphill and more rolling hills."

The thing about 'Nepali Flat' is that on some days after all of this uphill and downhill you actually end up at the same elevation as you started at (hence the reason they can call it "flat")...One some days you find yourself on higher ground and you have actually gained a little elevation....Either way, you've always shed some sacred sweat, gained a little distance, been humbled and have at least learned something new.

I've actually come to love Nepali Flat - both the term and the terrain - for a number of reasons. I love walking the terrain because it sure beats walking downhill (i'm not a big fan of the downhill). And, I love the term because of how many metaphors we can draw from it.... Many of us have emotional, physical, mental and spiritual journeys - spanning a day, week, month or year that can be described as 'Nepali Flat'......These journeys challenge us and for many of us this is exactly why we seek them - because we grow in quantum leaps when we are pushed/push ourselves.

I particularly like the idea of 'Nepali flat' because it so accurately represents many of our relationships and much of the inner terrain I am exploring and that many of us walk through each day....On some days these explorations are strenuous, require a lot of up and down and we may end up at what appears to be a similar height despite our struggles...But some days (and these are the days we remember), we cruise through the Nepali flat, enjoying each step of the journey even though it may be difficult or painful. At the end of the day, we find that not only have we've gained a little elevation, but we've also gained a ton of perspective - perspective we could not have gained had the path been truly 'flat."

So - as I get ready for the next part of this adventure to start tomorrow - another trek - this time in the Annapurna Range - I am excited to explore more 'Nepali Flat', as well as a ton of 'gradual' up and even some serious steeps....

Love and light and courage for the varied terrain.....

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Happy Birthday, Ma!

I'm a few days late because I was deep in the mountains and just got out today, but i figure better late than never....so this post is dedicated to my Mom: the woman who always said, "Chris, you can do anything if you put your mind to it" and who backed up these words with her actions and her unwavering faith and belief in me....

This amazing lady (with a little help from my dad and sisters and brothers, too) made me who I am,  instilled in me the very sense of independence and bravery that has led me to be where I am right now (both literally and figuratively) and for this she is one of my heroes. My ma is a one-of-a-kind woman: she's tough, she's courageous, she's sweet and brilliant, beautiful and she is grace under pressure....plus, she can feed a crowd like no one else i know.

I know that the path I've chosen has caused my mom more worry than is probably fair, yet through it all she has always shown me love.She's reveled in my successes, laughed with me when spirits were high, she's picked me up from my failures, she's kicked me in the pants when i've needed it and she's been a shoulder to cry on during heartbreaks....

So, MA - here's a Himalayan Happy Birthday and here's to many more years of celebrating - Hope this trip around the sun is your best yet....Maybe next year we can celebrate in the same time zone!

Love and light and happiness to my Ma and to y'all...Namaste.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Air May Be Thin....But the Energy is Sure Thick

From Gorak Shep - at 5, 180 meters. Yesterday reached 5554 meters at Kala Pattar w/ incredible views of Sagamartha (Everest - Head of the Earth) and her sisters and brothers - Luptse, Nupse, etc. Today went to Everest Base Camp....

The Himalaya astound me! I am humbled with each step and each meter gained.

Rising with immense power as they reach to the heavens.
Weathering each storm with unwavering grace and beauty.
They shine with unending and unmatched light and hope.
Effortlessly exuding strength and beauty.
Bringing mindful awareness to each moment.
Humbly demanding respect while giving love and compassion so easily and freely.
Illuminating the answers that already lie within each of us.

It is impossible to be anywhere but here Now.

Love and light and Himalayan humility.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Made It !!!

Namaste from the Himalaya. Safely made it across the ocean via a whopper of a 17 1/2 hour flight from LA to Bangkok sandwiched in between 2 shorter flights! Everything went smoothly and the big flight was empty so I could spread out and slept a good part of the time.

Unfortunately, my backpack did not travel so smoothly and somehow it missed one of its flights! Perhaps the draw of a night in Bangkok was just too much for it? Luckily, it will be arriving tomorrow and I was prepared for this so have enough stuff with me for a few days.....No worries there. Met up with easily with, Jody,  my wonderful traveling companion for the first part of this adventure at the Kat airport and are settled into our hostel - excited to begin our trek to Everest Base Camp on Wednesday....

The highlight of the day was flying into Kathmandu and seeing.........the magnificent, amazing, towering, powerful, compassionate, kind and awe-inspiring (enough words for ya?) Himalaya.....Everest towering above the clouds was a sight that brought tears of joy. The tears that can only come from realizing a dream and following your bliss.......try it, you'll see what i mean.

Love, light and a slower than molasses internet connection :-) 

 

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Leavin' and Leafin'

In a few hours I will board the first of three westbound planes so that I can end up in the Far East (sounds backward, doesn't it?). I am ready and excited, but also a bit sad about what I leave behind. I have only lived in Flagstaff since December and yet I feel more at home here than I have many other places....the power of the people, the Peaks, the Canyon, the trees and the wind in this part of the world is palpable and I am SO grateful to have been led here. I will be happy to have a place like this to return to....


                                View from Lockett Meadow - 10/2/09


I hiked to the Inner Basin yesterday in search of fall's bounty and I found it in the form of rich golden, amber and burnt orange leaves quaking in the wind on the arms of magical aspen beings.This time in the mountains energized me and pressed my internal reset button (as time in nature always does), re-centering and preparing me for all that is to come.



I'm psyched for this pilgrimage and I have no doubt it is the right thing to be doing at this point and time. While hiking yesterday, however, I realized that a lot can happen in 3 months...I am curious what will happen for those I love during that time - my family and friends - knowing I will miss chances to laugh, cry and just be with them. We say that fall is a time of change, but really the only constant is change ...things are always morphing, growing, dying, becoming, beginning, and ending and it goes on whether we are there or not.

And so, as I embark on this journey, I will do my best to be in the moment, to be fully present where I am - whether hiking in the Himalaya or splashing in the waves off of Bali.....of course, my thoughts and love and a piece of my heart will be always be with my family and friends even if i am thousands of miles away.....

Love and light and Himalayan hugs!



Exasperated Q amidst all our gear in my living room

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Why "Ripples Make Waves"?



Namaste and welcome! I grew up with my Mom (an amazing woman, by the way) telling me ‘The Starfish Story’. It goes something like this:

One day a man was walking along a beach. The sun was shining and it was a beautiful day. Off in the distance he could see a woman going back and forth between the surf's edge and and the beach. Back and forth this woman went. As the man approached he could see that there were hundreds of starfish stranded on the sand as the result of the natural action of the tide.

The man was struck by the the apparent futility of the task. There were far too many starfish. Many of them were sure to perish. As he approached, the woman continued the task of picking up starfish one by one and throwing them into the surf.

The man said, "You must be crazy. There are thousands of miles of beach covered with starfish. You can't possibly make a difference." The woman looked at the man. He then stooped down and pick up one more starfish and threw it back into the ocean. He turned back to the man and said, "It sure made a difference to that one!"

This tale has stuck with me my entire life and has driven much of what I do and how I approach my time on this earth.


A similar idea –‘ripples make waves’ – guides my daily life and is the reason for the name of my blog. If you’ve ever spent time next to a lake and watched the first raindrops of a summer storm fall gently to the earth or if you’ve ever sat by a pool and seen a child gleefully cannonball into the water, you’ve seen this priniciple in action... What begins as a gentle raindrop or a small child, quickly creates an impact throughout the entire body of water. I live my daily life with this in mind….every action, every thought, every word, every bit of energy that I send out is a raindrop - extending beyond just me - creating a ripple. Only I am in control of that first drop of rain and the vibration it will carry. I choose if it will be positive or not.


Everyday is a journey for each of us with boundless opportunities to create positive, loving, sweet ripples that will ideally gain momentum and become incredible waves of compassion and kindness. This can happen in a simple interaction at the grocery store, how we decide to respond to traffic, a smile we give to a stranger and on and on. Realizing this sure adds to the importance of each seemingly small action throughout the day, doesn't it? 


In 2 days (yikes!) I am about to embark on a more defined journey. I'll be traveling for the next 3 months to amazing and sacred lands in Nepal, Thailand, Bali and wherever else the wind happens to guide me. I know that much of this journey will occur within me as I explore my internal landscape and traverse new terrain - terrain that I have never before explored, but that has always been inside.


As I do this I intend to be especially mindful of the ripples that I create and will make sure they are positive and true. I am by no means looking to save the world by taking this trip and I have no grandiose beliefs about the impact of my time on this earth. I am, however, conscious that what I do and think and the energy I cultivate within me does matter, does make a difference – even if to just one person, starfish or place. Thanks for joining me on this journey.