Category Archives: Friendship

February findings

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My first year teaching was nearly twenty years ago. That first February break, I went on a trip to Jamaica. I remember returning from that journey rested, rejuvenated and ready to get back to work. Perhaps it was the much needed February infusion of vitamin D into my sun deprived skin. Perhaps it was a week away with a girlfriend complete with waterfalls, giggles and afternoons on the sand. Perhaps it was the anticipation of travel that although coupled with sunburn and a funky reaction to some new fangled sunscreen those positive endorphins flowed and happy hormones increased. Whichever way you looked at it, that February trip was certainly something.

“You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough” – Mae West

That was 1998 and for the fifteen years that I taught, every February I looked forward to a tropical adventure. Each one was different than the next but there were constants I knew at the time and lessons I wouldn’t know till years later. It was only the other day that I chatted with a friend I met on one of those February escapes. As we tried to recount the decade long travel friendship and some of the myriad of adventures we’ve had together, something else popped up in conversation. It was more than the locations of the cruise ship and the names of those we traveled with on a Club Med excursion. It was more than ‘remember the time when’ and ‘which spot had the best guacamole’. And it was more than ‘do you believe it’s been this long’ and ‘which place did we go to in which year’.

In this fifteen plus year friendship, there were passport stamps and new discoveries, weekend adventures and vegetarian recipes, dating disasters and marriage insights, education discussions and new apartments, short excursions and a more travel driven lifestyle – but I realized in that time, those journeys, and the stories that there was more. The conversation ended with my friend’s words, ‘I smell a blog post coming’…how on earth did she know?

“Life is change. Growth is optional. Choose wisely.” – Karen Kaiser Clark

In those middle decades of life, we learned more than waterskiing and how to make salsa in Mexico. We experienced more than the details of remembering to reapply sunscreen and that there’s something special about the seaside air in Martinique. And we found more than life partners, careers and homes. The remember whens had tales of random crushes, negative and positive people, energy sucking relationships, family angst, yoga trials, travel escapades, career questions and life sagas. Through it all, the undercurrent of growth and shifts of perspective were ever present.

Although we didn’t know it then, all of our experiences led us to where we are today. Today, we both view the world through more positive, mindful, hopeful and relaxed eyes. We’ve learned that often the anticipation of ‘ripping off the bandaid’ is far worse than the action itself. We’ve learned that it’s not selfish to treat ourselves the same way we’d treat others. We’ve learned that wellness needs to be on our minds everyday – not only for a week in February. We’ve learned that choosing positive, finding lessons, reflecting and changing the way we act didn’t happen overnight. Time and experience are both necessary for change. Learning to feel comfortable in your own skin, proud of your choices and that you matter takes work…but when you get there, if only for a minute, the payoff is magnificent.

“It’s not about what it is. It’s about what it can become.” – Dr. Seuss, The Lorax

We both consider ourselves lucky to have had those February experiences and many fun adventures in between. In the miles traveled, bottles of sunscreen used, avocados eaten and phone conversations shared – something has shifted. Call it growing up, finding balance, shifting focus, feeling mindful, or whatever you want…the point is, it’s happened. Through reminiscing of life’s adventures, we realized more. We saw:

  • we all have the potential for change
  • we all have what we need to grow
  • choices matter, and they’re all choices
  • we can’t change other people
  • every relationship comes with its own struggles
  • learning to respond more than react is a worthwhile challenge
  • shifts in attitude and perspective are game changers
  • positive eclipses negative every damn time
  • perhaps things truly do happen for a reason
  • we had to be where we were to get to where we are

If you’re lucky enough to have those friendships that have lasted more than five minutes, the shared past and experiences provide more than great memories and giggle-filled stories. Journey through those memories and you get to take a look at where you were then and where you are now. Traverse those stories of the time you drove to another state for lunch, face-planted on your first water skiing attempt, or thought exploring Manhattan on a minus twenty degree (Fahrenheit) day was a good idea (or whatever your memories hold) and you’ll find much more beneath the surface. Take a walk down memory lane and look deeper to discover the unfolding of your own personal journey. Notice, observe, roll your eyes, guffaw, cry…whether you know the reason or not, it all happened. Remember it. Learn from it. Grow from it. Who knew that much change and reflection could happen over countless bowls of guacamole?

Hugs and a serotonin shift

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The world has been shrinking due to the fabulous power of things like travel and the Internet. It seems only yesterday when snail mail was the focus and cell phones were things you saved for emergencies. Today snail mail is held for IRS notifications and the once in a blue moon actual birthday card and most of life’s communications are made from the tiny computers in the palm of our hands. If you’ve ever been to Disneyworld® and watched the Carousel of Progress go from the life of Laura Ingalls Wilder to that of George Jetson, it’s easy to understand how nutty it is that I can tap a button while at the beach in San Diego, California and can video conference with my godson while he’s on the rugby field in Hong Kong. While technology broadens our global relationships, there’s still a feeling of separate in a world of connection. Read the rest of this entry

New year, new opportunities

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We’ve turned the page on the calendar, made it to 2017, managed amidst the food frenzy of December and have gotten to the next rotation of the earth around the sun. How do you feel? Amidst the barrage of sale emails, cleanse products, impending inauguration, weight loss programs, gym freebies and resolution insanity – we’re here. With one foot in front of the other – we’ve made it to January…now what? Read the rest of this entry

January to December to January

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2016 is ending. Through what seemed like a constant supply of gut punches and salt-filled tears, the world said goodbye to more cultural icons than we can count, sat stunned in the wake of political insanity and stood gobsmacked as the world seemingly continued to fall apart around us all. Being a global citizen isn’t always easy. Finding your smile isn’t always easy. The year ticks away from season to season and somehow turning the pages or clicking ‘next’ on our calendars is meant to change things. But there was good, there always is, it only often gets overshadowed by the surrounding and much louder ick. Syrian children are fighting for their lives. Refugees are trudging through awful to wonder if they’ll gain entry somewhere with the promise of a welcoming community and better life. There is a homeless epidemic. I got a yoga wheel for the holidays and promptly busted a rib. I found a new yoga teacher I liked, her class is getting cancelled. I voted for the first time in California and wound up in the fetal position on the couch the next morning. Ugh. The universe feels like it’s spinning out of control…but, is that really the whole story? ABSOLUTELY NOT! Read the rest of this entry

Journey, change…forward

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Do you know if you’re on a path? Have you felt stuck, in search of a new goal, or have you realized that there’s something else you can do or learn in this world? I’m not sure how much stock I ever put in all of this stuff. For years, it wasn’t for me. I didn’t need a path, journey or any of those what I once thought were ‘life coach moments’, I was living, enjoying, being – that was enough. I can’t tell you if there was a specific ‘aha’ moment or that I read this thing on @Pinterest or saw it on @Oprah® that seemed to click, but somehow, this mindset has entered my existence and it seems it’s here to stay.

“No matter how hard the past…you can always begin again” – Buddha Read the rest of this entry

If those yearbooks could talk…

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I wonder what they'd say...thegiftoftravel.wordpress.com

Remember them? Remember the agony of choosing the appropriate quote to go under your senior photo in that high school yearbook? I recall hours of searching movie lines, lyrics and quotes to find one that I thought worked best. And then there was that question that would accompany your photo…’where do you see yourself in ten years’? Seriously? How on earth could I know that answer at seventeen years old and would there be any possibility it would be true in a decade? I certainly couldn’t foresee a teaching career and full on career change, a love of travel, life on two coasts, freelancing or a spouse from the other side of the world. Read the rest of this entry

The changing face of friendship

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I was ten when I first went to sleep-away camp. Each day after lunch and dinner there was a songfest. Upbeat and filled with energy songs came after lunch while those with more calm and heartfelt messages came around a fire in the evening. Our stories had lessons and our songs, meaning. It didn’t matter if there were ten of us or two hundred – each night, before breaking from our activity, we ended with a friendship circle. With arms crossed in front of us, holding the hands of the people adjacent to us in the circle – what started with a squeeze from one hand went through us all and ended with a smile. Connections, relationships, kindness, kinship and friendship were of utmost importance then and it’s the same today. The only thing that shifted was all the years in between.

the gift of travel - thegiftoftravel.wordpress.com

At our first beach together…friends meeting up at camp to remember… (photos from our youth remain in our memories and scrapbooks)

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Looking forward

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Rottnest Island, Western Australia - the gift of travel

Do you ever find yourself in a rut? A few days go by and you’re in a funk and can’t get out? Sick, have to stay in bed for a few days and can’t find the motivation to move forward when you’re feeling better? Have an inkling that something might be wrong but can’t put your finger on it? In a moment of clarity you kick yourself and say, ‘get out of that funk – stop being depressed and find the happy’; but sometimes it’s not as easy as it sounds. I have no medical degree, and I’m not speaking (of course) about serious depression or diseases you can’t control…I mean that bit of sad that creeps in every once and awhile an attempts to dim your sparkle. Read the rest of this entry

Missed connections, found connections

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with emily

This past weekend, I reconnected with a former student. Now in her thirties, my former Student Government officer is a successful athletic trainer for a professional sports team and travels with another of global fame. While she was in San Diego with the latter, we had a chance to catch up and take in a game. Two days after our 1-hour chat, I received a message that her flights were unable to take off (due to the ‘snowmaggeddon on the east coast’) and needed a place to stay for a few nights. Without hesitation, she was here. Is this a message from the universe or just a simple missed connection? Read the rest of this entry

New year…new outlook

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Anza - Borrego Desert State Park - San Diego - thegiftoftravel.wordpress.com

It’s weird.

These two months of the year often bring about reflections and resolutions. Everywhere you look people are trying to add exercise into their routine, get out of debt, eat healthy, clean up their acts and find new direction for the year ahead. Is this part of your New Year’s regimen? Read the rest of this entry