To travel is worth any cost or sacrifice.~Elizabeth Gilbert
Six years ago, I took one of the boldest actions of my life. I traveled solo halfway across the world to Ubud, Indonesia (Bali). In June 2008, I was 27 years old and had never left United States soil despite a constant longing to.
A combination of fear and comfort held me hostage in familiarity — until I read Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. This bestselling novel chronicled the author’s adventures through Italy, India, and Indonesia as she sought to “find herself” after a divorce.
The book’s vivid descriptions of Indonesia’s rich culture and lush countryside converged with my imagined vision of ornate wood-carvings, colorful temples and sprawling rice paddies.
The beautiful tapestry of life I envisioned left no question about where my first trip abroad would be once I mustered up enough courage to go. And whenever I went, I decided I would go alone — just like Elizabeth Gilbert.
Let age, not envy, draw wrinkles on thy cheeks.~Thomas Browne
This morning I spoke to my sister on Skype for almost two hours. She lives in Istanbul, so we don’t chat as often as when we lived in the same house, but we’re pretty close despite the ocean between us.
I remember in the not-so-distant past that getting off the phone with her was bittersweet. She’s lived in Mexico, Argentina, Spain, Italy, South Korea and even international waters. The bitterness didn’t come from being so far apart from my lovely sister, but the fact that I was extremely jealous of her.
I remember vividly sitting in my home in Minnesota expressing my excitement for her when she told me she was planning on moving to Asia.
“You’re so lucky,” and “This is such a great opportunity for you,” came out of my mouth, but what I was thinking is I can’t believe I’ve lived in one state my whole life. I should be traveling and exploring too.
It was embarrassing to be jealous of my younger sister, so naturally I denied it to myself and anyone else who had the guts to say it. But in my head, the envy found a place and rooted itself there, determined to make permanent residence.
Our way to practice is one step at a time, one breath at a time.~Shunryu Suzuki
The first time I meditated was about six years ago.
I was drawn to meditation by the same aspiration as many people — the desire to feel calmer and happier. I was a medical student at the time, and my life was just too stressful and hectic.
It seemed there was always more to do, more to worry about and no time to reflect. I felt disconnected and dissatisfied.
And then, I got dumped by a man I was madly in love with. I felt like a total failure. I was shaken and incredulous — how could I have wanted something so badly and still have it taken away from me?
I was not used to failure. I was used to setting a goal, laying out the steps and diligently taking them — one at a time — until I got what I wanted. I was under the illusion that with enough effort, I could achieve any goal and sidestep all feelings of pain and discomfort along the way.
Youth is the gift of nature, but age is a work of art.~Stanislaw Jerzy Lec
Fifty is about to slap me in the face. It’s not planning to tap me lightly on the shoulder. Nope, its plan is an epic full on attack of body and mind, beginning with a huge powerful gut busting blow next January, on THAT day.
How do I know? Because I’ve seen the recon team and it isn’t pretty.
But everyone says, “Ah, age is just a number. It’s all about your attitude.”
When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.~Buddhist Proverb
I wasn’t in the best of spirits when I walked into my local yoga studio for class on that blustery Monday evening. A slew of perceived problems, large and small, were spinning through my mind. I felt frustrated, helpless, and most of all, lost.
I wanted direction and guidance; I longed for the smallest bit of certainty that the decisions I’d had to make earlier would be the right ones. And when I considered relaxing and surrendering, I was unable to do either.
I was trying to run away from myself and my troubled mind, but I wasn’t getting anywhere.
Ironically enough, I’d published a post earlier that day about the fact that we all struggle with runaway minds and hearts. I’d written about the ways in which we are tempted to disconnect — to rebel against the love that surrounds us always.
The post emphasized compassion, forgiveness and celebration — all the things I wasn’t offering myself as I began my yoga practice.
Don’t postpone joy until you have learned all of your lessons. Joy is your lesson.~Alan Cohen
Twirling in her pink tutu, slightly tattered and always a little dirty, my niece opens her arms wide, calling for all of us to get up and dance with her. She wants to hold hands while we jump, spin and leap around the room.
She shouts along to the music, reminding each of us that we should be joining in. “Papa sing! It’s your turn Papa!” Panting and out of breath, we try our hardest to match her undying energy.
After the music — she asks for Justin Bieber by name now — starts to fade, she drops our hands and holds out her arms again. “Ok everyone, it’s time for a group hug!”
We haven’t purposely partaken in a group hug for years now, but we oblige because her smile is contagious and her enthusiasm is impossible to tame.
I now see how owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we will ever do.~Brene Brown
Do you ever fear that voicing your needs and desires —saying what you want — makes you selfish and will cause people to dislike you?
I used to be terrified of taking a stand for myself — saying “no” or “I don’t want to” or “I disagree.” I was so desperate to fit in and please others that I’d completely forgo my own wishes and innermost needs.
This denial of my truest self probably led to the anorexia I developed at the age of 10 — a disorder that I wouldn’t be able to shake off for 14 years.
Even when I got married, I did so despite my inner voice urging me to wait. Again, I listened to someone else’s wants at the expense of my own. So I said ‘I do,’ feeling slightly sick and knowing that I was walking down the wrong path.