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The joy of ‘slowing down’

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Embrace a slower pace

You know those radio advertisements where at the end someone talks a million miles a minute to get in all the horrible side effects or that important stuff in ‘the fine print’? My students used to tell me that I should do that on the side since they couldn’t believe how quickly I spoke. Although I was completely game for the opportunity, I always told them I thought speaking fast kept them engaged since if they daydreamed for a minute they’d miss half the lesson. Although neither travel nor a westward move has removed my ability to string words together at warp speed, I no longer feel the need to do it on a regular basis. It’s weird to even think those words, and then even nuttier to write them to live forever in the digital world. I never thought this New Yorker would find joy in slowing down…but I have.

Maybe it’s from the over half a decade of yoga, maybe it’s from a career change and shift in what makes up my daily routine, maybe it’s caused by looking at life through eyes that have seen more of the world, maybe it’s living on the west coast or maybe it’s the aging process – I don’t know, but this slower pace thing seems like more than a stop along the journey, it seems like it’s a guiding focus of the whole damn thing. This is weird.

Seven years ago the husband and I visited Vietnam. We spent part of our first morning in Hanoi joining locals in a daily Tai Chi experience on the shores of the well known Hoan Kiem Lake. Although we lacked a shared language, we were filled with shared communication, delight and action. And aside from the hug from the local woman at the end of the session, what I remember most are her constant hand gestures telling me to slow down. The actions of Tai Chi are designed to attain far more than physical fitness alone. The lessons may have been lost on me then, but today, I embrace them.

For whatever reason, I thought slowing down meant something else than it does to me today. The shift in perspective from less to more, negative to positive, bad to good and eradicating the errors of black and white thinking is a mind shift that shakes you to the core. Today, I don’t like to rush – whereas years ago, my little legs would blast through the hallways of the high school as if on roller skates. Today I try to be more mindfully present and pay closer attention rather than getting quickly to next. Today I’ve learned that ‘doing nothing’ is often far greater than ‘doing something’. Today, I can bring on that lightning speed conversant style happily (and still find great joy when it takes place or I find myself watching the likes of The West Wing, The Newsroom, Gilmore Girls or Will and Grace) but it isn’t the norm. Today I actively add meditation and yoga into a daily practice whereas years ago I couldn’t sit still enough to give it a chance without giggling. The New Yorker in me continues to think ‘WTF’, while the west coast wanderer says take the time, walk the beach, watch the waves and make time for yoga.

The weirdest things are that I get just as much done but see it all a little clearer, still take it all in as quickly but pause (slightly – I’m working on it) before speaking, still listen as actively but try to keep the constant sense of urgency out of my responses and try my best to take the time to think and respond instead of living in the time I spent mostly reacting. Seriously, it’s weird. But the awesome, has far surpassed the strange.

A tribe of like-minded folks has begun to grow. My appreciation for shared focus has become sharper and my search for personal growth has become a daily endeavor. Shifting coasts, shifting careers, shifting perspectives and shifting mindsets have taught me more in a short time than I ever could have seen coming. The universe definitely does have your back in more ways than I ever imagined. Slowing down comes with more positives than I thought. Don’t worry, like riding a bike… I’m certain that those other patterns will appear the minute I set foot in Manhattan, wander back into a school or wind up in a conversation quoting the West Wing – but this time I’m hoping I can turn them off as easily as I can turn them on.

Namaste.

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

Beach cricket, sunshine and change

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I used to hate change! I had counselors at sleep away camp who felt the need to explain the benefits of changing cabins and counselors each camp session. I didn’t want camp to end, university to finish or any holiday I’ve ever been on to come to a close. Change was not my friend. Fast forward a few decades…..change is not only embraced, it’s craved. Life is weird.

the stanceCredit yoga, aging, travel, an unlimited supply of vitamin D…..credit whatever you like…..there’s been a switch and this weekend was a perfect example. With a crazy amount of rain (for southern California standards), beach erosion, school holidays, a long weekend, an unearthed shipwreck and rising temperatures, our usual beach spot became packed. No complaints….only a change of plans. We switched spots. Having no idea how we would feel in a new beach spot after so long, we took a risk (no, no not a huge one – I mean really, it’s a beach, right?) and shifted course to the other side of the island. Greater sand depth, far more people, a further walk and who knows what…and we were in a new spot. Needless to say, the end result was a perfect day. Read the rest of this entry

Being thankful

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Where are you spending this Thanksgiving? Is it just a Thursday where you are? Are you sharing a meal with strangers, friends, family or flying solo? Are you taking part in traditions of years past or making your own new ones? What does this third Thursday in November look like for you?

This is our first year on the west coast. The American contingent of the family is celebrating all spread out across the country. There’s a sister with her husband’s family in Connecticut, a brother with his wife’s in Maryland and the parents with friends in New York. Mat and I have been lucky to spend Thanksgiving a few different ways since we met. We’ve been surrounded by family and tradition, been overseas creating new memories, celebrating while traveling and part of a memorable feast for 2000 in the aftermath of a hurricane. Each one has left an imprint on our hearts. Read the rest of this entry

And so it goes…

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Safari in East Africa - thegiftoftravel.wordpress.com

On safari in Tanzania, Africa

It’s happening again. Yup, the itch is back, but it’s different this time. Southern California living hasn’t deadened the urge, it’s shifted it, revamped it, rejiggered it yet it’s still very much alive. In speaking with those who are mildly enthused by travel, many reply ‘haven’t you gotten it out of your system, yet’? Seriously? Realistically, it only gets worse! The more lands on which I’ve set foot, the more cultural interactions I’ve had, the more spectacular I’ve been honoured to witness…the list keeps growing as the experiences available are unending. No, it’s not out of my system…it’s what makes my system tick! I want to see the world! Read the rest of this entry

Travel and adventure in downtown San Diego

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This weekend was the San Diego Travel and Adventure Show. Attending as press, I was allowed in Saturday morning for a one-hour session filled with a meet and greet, photo sessions, activities and an early look at the travel options available.

at the San Diego Travel and Adventure Show

I could actually walk to a travel show from my apartment-so that was already an exciting start to a lovely Valentine’s Day. Press time here had about fifteen people ready and willing to jump straight into a weekend of travel. We were greeted by the Founder and CEO of Travel and Adventures shows, Jon Golicz. After riding in on a Segway, he hopped off and shared the theory behind these shows that dare travelers to gather and learn about their travel dreams. He told his listeners that in all of their studies, they’ve found that many of today’s travelers ‘like to plan as much as take their trip”. Hopefully, by visiting this travel and adventure show, they’ll not only be able to create that next holiday, but without a doubt, remember it! Read the rest of this entry

Thank you, Summer!

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I Love Summer!

I Love Summer!

For this beach girl, summer is my all time favourite season. I spent one entire year following the sun and given the choice it would be summer, always. On this day, the unofficial ending of the summer season, countless flock to the sand to experience one last hurrah. While those of us who live here know that the season continues well past Labor Day; this weekend we say goodbye to the lifeguards, those bright orange lifeguard stands and my favourite two months of the year. Seasons change and life goes on, but for me, summer is a constant and the joy it brings lasts me through three other seasons. If I can’t find it in New York, most of the time you’ll find me searching for the sunshine on other shores. Thank you, Summer. Thank you for the continual smile on my face and the happy wiggles for my toes. Read the rest of this entry

Interview: Wagoners Abroad

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Travelers always seem to find other travelers one way or another. Sometimes you meet your best friend in the hostel lobby searching for wifi. Other times they find that they’re two travel happy folks living in close proximity to one another and would love to take off on new adventures. The Wagoners met abroad but actually lived close by to one another. They ditched their home towns on the west coast and made a move to North Carolina early in their marriage. Now with two kids in tow, they’ve set off on a new adventure abroad. Immersing their children in the cultures of Spain and now Southeast Asia, they’ve all learned to enjoy being outside of their comfort zone and see the world first-hand. Here they share their story and what they think are the ‘gifts of travel’.

Wagoners Abroad  See, Austria

Austria

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Hong Kong’s Top Ten

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Ten years ago my best friend moved to Hong Kong for work. In almost no time at all she found an apartment and made Hong Kong her home. As soon as she moved, I started researching my ticket. My first taste of Asia was filled with visits to tourist-frequented sights. In the many subsequent visits, I have found favorite restaurants, alternative things to do and see (including a ferry ride & side trip to Macau) and spent time with new friends. Since her first steps in Asia, she has met and married her husband, moved a few times and added two beautiful children to her family. Her city, Hong Kong, is a bustling metropolis that exudes life at every turn. Each time I return there’s something new to see and experience. If you were to ask me what sights to hit on your visit-here’s the top ten that I’d offer. Read the rest of this entry

Happy Valentine’s Day!!!

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Add extra sparkle to the world today.

Add extra sparkle to the world today.

“If you have only one smile in you, give it to the people you love”

– Maya Angelou

“‘We’ll be friends forever, won’t we, Pooh?’ Asked Piglet. ‘Even longer’, answered Pooh.”

-Winnie the Pooh, A.A. Milne

“Travel is like love mostly because it’s a heightened state of awareness, in which we are mindful, receptive, undimmed by familiarity and ready to be transformed. That is why the best trips, like the best love affairs, never really end.”

-Pico Iyer

“Will you give me yourself? Will you come travel with me? Shall we stick by each other as long as we live?”

-Walt Whitman

Peace, love and flip-flops!

Peace, love and flip-flops!

SPREAD KINDNESS. SHARE LAUGHTER. ADD SPARKLE.

“EXPLORE. DREAM. DISCOVER.” -Mark Twain

HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!