From all change…growth

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yoga studio - East Village, San Diego - thegiftoftravel.wordpress.com

We’ve now been in San Diego for 18 months. In all that time, I’ve been a member of a downtown yoga studio in the East Village. It’s changed names and ownership, but the community has remained constant, strong and vibrant. On Friday, my yoga studio is closing its doors. It’s a bit sad.

This former gymnast started out as a young yogi caterpillar over six years ago. There have been studios and teachers in New York, California and beyond who have made an impact, helped me reach new yoga heights, and change my mindset; but, this studio welcomed me into a new city a few days after our arrival. Only a seven minute walk from our apartment, this little studio greeted me with open arms. It brought me my first new friends in San Diego, helped me delve further than ever before into poses, cheered me on to ditch those asthma meds while helping to give my lungs some much needed love, taught me about flotation tanks, introduced me to acupuncture and yoga wheels and showed me the many benefits of meditation. It’s because of this studio and it’s impact that on my latest travel adventure I traveled with a yoga block, foam roller and yoga mat.

Sarah’s last class this Tuesday focused on hip openers, handstands and breathing practices. It was about saying goodbye to the space while honoring our studio and remembering the good with thanks – as opposed to gripping on for dear life with sadness. She shared thoughts of non-attachment, finding joy in the experience, acceptance, the love of community and new beginnings for us all. Who knows if the studio will ever again be Hale Holistic, The House of Yogi or anything else, but for the time I have been there, it has been my home studio. She kept returning to the question of how we truly feel on our mats in those ritual poses we constantly perform. There was this theme, this idea, that no matter where we do these asanas, they feel like we’re returning home. Perhaps that’s one of the reasons I’m hooked.

yoga studio - East Village, San Diego - thegiftoftravel.wordpress.com

As we turned ninety degrees between each sun salutation offering gratitude and respect to all four walls and the space between, this little community in the East Village of San Diego, my community, happily shared thanks, love and oms with each other and the building that brought us all together.

We’ve heard that the seasons continue to turn, a door closes and another opens, from ends grow beginnings and many other well-meaning phrases. Here, truly, for me, there have been months of positive change, growth and perspective. Years ago I might have found myself wincing at the very thought of change and fully focused on the end of this studio. I’d spend more time thinking of the ‘last class’, the ‘last visit’, the ‘last savasana’ in the space, feeling sad about it’s closing, frustrated by the inability to control it, and a loss at the possible end of my community. But on Tuesday, instead of seeing an end, for sixty minutes, (together with my yogi community) we all focused on thanks for what was, joy in what we shared and accomplished, acceptance, letting go, mindfulness and thoughts of looking forward anew. Although all of us in that room have limbs instead of wings, that afternoon, we left that special space as butterflies.

Perspective shifted, growth defined.

Namaste.

With love,

A grateful yogi

Growth, travel and pizza

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I have a friend who is known in her circle of friends as the ‘Pizza Expert’. She leads tours of ‘the best pizza’ in Brooklyn, runs races where the prize is a slice, sports a pizza costume on Halloween and has now developed a ‘pizza crawl’ around New York City. I have a feeling she’d ditch me as a friend if I admitted to not absolutely loving traditional pizza – well, now it’s out there. I know, I know – how can I be from New York and not love pizza? For that, I don’t have an answer, but I can tell you I married a guy who feels the same. And yet, over our own homemade ‘pizza’ dinner the other night, somehow we wound up comparing pizza to travel. Some things rarely make sense.

Cheesy Flatbread from Food Network's® The Neeleys - thegiftoftravel.wordpress.com Read the rest of this entry

Where are you heading?

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Where are you headed? - Wyoming, USA - thegiftoftravel.wordpress.com

I’m a huge fan of The West Wing. With quick-witted banter, social implications of governing and a nod to smart people, Josiah Bartlett and his team kept me interested season after season. I often felt his mantra, ‘what’s next’, was similar to my life. When one holiday/vacation finished, I asked, ‘what’s next’? When one school event was planned with another on the back burner, I asked, ‘what’s next?’ And more often than not, in my analytical brain, I would ask myself the very same question, ‘what’s next’? For me, it was more, where am I heading, what’s to come, where do I want to go or be or even what is it I wish to accomplish. Although the question was a constant, the fluid thought process yielded a constantly changing answer. Where was I heading? Read the rest of this entry

Yes I can. Yes I will.

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Glacier National Park - thegiftoftravel.wordpress.com

Have you seen the new Under Armour® ads with the ‘I Will’ campaign? Have you heard of the ‘Say Yes More‘ events run by David Cornthwaite in England? Both approaches ignite positivity and encourage ‘doing’ through motivation and inspiration at every turn. These ideas can take even our own worlds by storm – that is, if we let them. Read the rest of this entry

No matter the age…live life!

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Trail sign at Big Bear Lake - thegiftoftravel.wordpress.com

“(Warren Doyle) This 60-plus hiker has walked the Appalachian Trail 17 times since 1972. Nine of these have been thru-hikes. ‘Your pack weight will be directly proportional to the sum of your fears,’ the minimalist hiker [has] been known to say. Doyle founded the Appalachian Trail Institute to provide AT crash courses to prospective thru-hikers. ” (Backpacker.com)

The other day I read an article from Backpacker.com®. Titled ‘8 Badass Older Hikers’, the words leapt off the screen as they depicted stories of lives lived to the fullest and interesting people enjoying an ever active life. Exuding positivity and purpose, the enthusiasm showcased certainly perpetuates the focus of living life ‘their way’. Some even seem bigger than life. Read the rest of this entry

Adventure planning

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the open road - thegiftoftravel.wordpress.com

We’re full steam ahead in the planning stages for our next adventure. No name for the trip or anything yet, but accommodations are booked, national parks have been chosen and the route has officially taken shape. We’re open to suggestions and hoping you’ll come along with us for the ride. Read the rest of this entry

Pastimes and Fans

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A few weekends ago, we spent a lot of hours in the car. San Diego to Phoenix, Arizona for Spring Training baseball and then onto Las Vegas, Nevada for the International Rugby Sevens competition. It was a three states in a day type of weekend complete with dust storms, trips to Subway and accents the world over. There was time to play and time to think. There were hours of throng-filled crowds and others of shared silence between a couple in a car. No matter the moment, there was far more than sport.

Spring Training Baseball 2016 - thegiftoftravel.wordpress.com

Yes, there were hours of baseball and rugby, but the soft skills or colour commentary that played out amongst the spectators spoke far more than the chants for their home teams. It all told a story of something much bigger, much greater than a country’s pastime or a people’s favourite sport. Here, in these stadiums, life was being lived. Louder than chants or jeers, there was a spirit that filled the air. People, from all walks of life had driven, bussed, or flown to a spot to spend an afternoon or a few days to purposefully bring out their happy. There was so much unspoken wisdom in those stadium seats and bleachers, so many untold stories that played out on fields and screens – it was a pleasure to be a part of it all. Read the rest of this entry

Firsts and trails in a cross country visit

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San Diego's USS Midway - thegiftoftravel.wordpress.com

The USS Midway at San Diego’s Embarcadero

My dad came to visit for a long weekend at the end of February. It was the longest flight he’s taken in over a decade and he managed beautifully. If you didn’t already know, my dad is a pancreatic cancer survivor. Hopefully, his story of surviving and thriving will become a greater reality for more in the future instead of an anomaly. Read the rest of this entry

Interview: Travel with Bender

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I met the Benders online. Through connections about Australia, traveling, blogging and world wide adventures, we connected through social media. I’ve followed their adventures and we’ve chatted about favourite spots across the globe. As an educators who spent years in traditional public school, I am constantly thrilled to see children exploring the world, learning by doing and families figuring out education that works for them. This family is sharing their joy of adventure and exploration with the next generation. Erin and Josh traverse the globe with their little ones in tow. Whether you follow their journey or their lead – their story is compelling. Check them out at Travel with Bender.

April2014 Bender Read the rest of this entry

Finding ease

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There’s an award that many primary and secondary schools provide students who have 100 percent attendance for their entire school career. It’s a great feeling to win an award, but what does this one show our students for the future? Like so many others, for the first decade of my teaching career, I did my best to never miss a day. I went to work no matter what, traveled on those extra icy and snowy days, paid the extra fees to be back from holidays on time (no matter the jet lag), and like so many others suffered through allergies and sickness while at work. Blame it on the good ethics instilled by my parents, the desire to make a good impression, or enthusiasm and dedication I felt towards my profession – but, like millions of others who felt the same, I showed up.

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