I Thought the World Would Stop Turning When I Left Home to Go Travel

#truelove #allowing #dating

GPS for the Soul – The Huffington Post
I Thought the World Would Stop Turning When I Left Home to Go Travel
As I bushwhacked my bicycle over shards of glass alongside train tracks over a Tasmanian bridge, I cursed my cousin, best friend and former roommate’s dog.

My cousin is graduating from law school next month, and I was rolling tires over broken bottles. Nobody warns travelers that the world doesn’t stop spinning when they leave home.

My sister is moving in with her boyfriend and has received three promotions. My mother tells me it’s not a race. This is what all mothers say when you are losing a race.

My former roommate’s dog now cuddles with the dude who’s subletting my room and sleeping in my bed. He promised to leave on my bed bug mattress cover, but I suspect his evening activities are tainting the first real piece of furniture I ever purchased.

Who needs the dog that I spent years bonding with? I resolved as I wobbled my bike through gritted teeth. My bicycle skills peaked when I had training wheels, and my coordination and confidence have been on a downward spiral ever since.

I was biking through Hobart in Tasmania, Australia to feed orphaned kangaroos and see endangered Tasmanian devils at a wildlife sanctuary. My friend warned: “There is no physical way to bike from here to the wildlife sanctuary,” but I was car-less and really wanted to pet some kangaroos.

tassie devil

Tasmanian devils: Because not all animals can look like puppies.

I laughed at my friend’s warning as a smoothly paved bike path wound alongside the Derwent River. The British first established a settlement on this river in 1803, although Aboriginal people inhabited the land for thousands of years prior. Cottages now sat embedded in green and yellow-flecked mountains, as grayish blue clouds bruised the sky.

Then the path stopped. There were no signs. A road simply crossed in front of it, and the path was gone. The road curved towards a bridge with train tracks and no bike path. I asked a chips (“fries” in America) stand owner, who reassured me the train only passed by infrequently.

I dismounted the bike and shoved it along the tracks, hoisting it up over sharp stones and smashed bottles. Should a train rip through, I mapped out a plan to hurl myself into the river rather than into bridge traffic.

bridge

The bridge spit out onto a highway, and I bumped over gravel hugging the shoulder as a horn blared past. I squinted, pretending I didn’t care that nobody wanted me on the highway, and for that matter, I didn’t care if my former roommate’s dog didn’t want me, either. I determined the dog in my local shared house would be my new best dog. Even if he hides when I enter the room. I took him on a nice long jog recently. He was dragging a bit and went on strike refusing to budge in the middle of the street, but I thought we both had a nice time.

I made the decision to travel, and I feel very fortunate that I can follow this dream. But in my pursuit, I have at least temporarily ceded other elements of life that I also value.

I offer my parents’ address as my permanent residence for wedding invitations while conducting a cost-analysis of each friendship:

Do 55 late night talks over pizza + 300 morning runs together = $800 plane ticket + 48 hours recounting good old days – 47.5 hours when she’s with other guests + 20 seconds of tearful joy watching her march into marital bliss?

My friends have babies and I click the “Like” button on Facebook instead of meeting the infants to awkwardly grip them like a football.

Other friends are graduating from medical school and law school. They are real, live adults, the doctors and lawyers we said that we’d become when we grew up. They’re framing diplomas while I’m cramming plane tickets into my pocket for a yet-to-be-made scrapbook.

At least I have my parents. They still email. The subject lines begin with a person or dog’s name. Each is a reminder to wish the person/dog a happy birthday, or informing me that the person/dog is dead.

sand

Dunalley Bay en route to Port Arthur’s former convict settlement.

My best friend is in photos with other people. Almost as if she has other friends? She is having fun even though I am missing?? She even looks… happy.

Who needs an old best friend when I can have a new best friend?! I decided it would be my coffee shop barista, so I spent $3.50 daily on her recommended “flat white” to build our relationship. I dropped a 50 cent coin in the tip jar every day because they are big and loud-sounding coins. I was finally ready to invite her out on a friend date, and I asked, “What are you up to this weekend?” She replied, “My best friend and I are going shopping.” I decided then that the barista couldn’t be my best friend, not, of course, because she already had a best friend, but simply because I hate shopping.

I left to travel selfishly assuming I would grow, while those I was leaving would sit on a back burner, simmering until I returned.

Except that I’m a terrible cook, and when I simmer something, it burns or boils into mushy oblivion. In this case, my friends have baked into more fully formed humans even though I was trying to keep them on ice.

coles bay

Coles Bay at sunset.

Bad things have also happened while I’ve been gone. A friend was hospitalized. Another one had a tough breakup. A third was fired. I sent emails: “Sending you a big e-hug!” but e-hugs rank third worst in hug types, right after sweaty hugs and cigarette hugs. In solidarity, I streamed U.S. movies and ate $10 imported Ben & Jerry’s alone. The worst part of all, much worse of course than the hardship my friends were experiencing, is that they got better without me. I kind of hated them for that. Then I hated myself for hating my sick/dumped/fired friends.

It turns out that the people I meet along my travels also have lives. There is beautiful value in getting to know strangers, but they are not props to enable my journey, and I am not a permanent fixture in their lives.

I successfully disentangled myself from my complex world back home. Freedom! Yes, I managed to extract myself from one world and failed to inextricably wedge my way into another.

A traveler is like my friend who fell head over heels in love, burrowed into blissful hibernation with her boyfriend for a year, skipping girls’ nights for date nights and passing up brunches for date days. She recently broke up, and we will both in time crawl back to our deserted friends and drown our discomfort in martinis and Hollandaise sauce.

I can’t turn out the lights on the cast of characters in my life and expect to flick the switch back on to find everyone frozen Toy Story-style in the positions I left them. They will be married, single, pregnant, promoted, fired, happier, sadder, and I won’t have played much part in that. But I will have grown too. I’m not frozen either, and I hope that I can weave my way back into their lives, each of us changed but still finding the world is nicer when the other is around.

I biked up the exit ramp alongside a few cars and arrived at the sanctuary, smearing dirt as I wiped a blistered hand over my sweaty forehead. And then I met this little guy:

kangaroos

It’d be swell if we could all have law degrees without studying and find love without awkward dates and pet kangaroos without biking down highways over glass shards. But achieving a goal requires choosing a path, which may mean you’re (at least temporarily) turning your back on another.

wombat

Hello, Mr. Wombat!

As a baby kangaroo nibbled on my finger, I came to realize: If you’re doing something that makes you happy, savor it. Don’t mourn what you’re missing. Everyone is missing out on something.

I met a man living in Hobart who had traveled most of his life. I asked him where he wanted to travel to next. He replied, “I’m pretty happy here at the moment, why go anywhere else right now?” It’d be lovely if when we are happy, we allow ourselves to be happy, and just sit with that for a while.

sunrise

kunanyi/Mt. Wellington sunrise over Hobart.

PAST TRAVELS:

GREAT BARRIER REEF: Feeding My Voracious Passport With a Jellyfish-Munching Turtle

ARGENTINA: Climbing Patagonia’s Glaciers With My Dearest Strangers And One Lone Instant Coffee Packet

BUENOS AIRES: It’s 3 a.m. and I Have Surrendered to a Stumbling, Magical Tango in Buenos Aires

The Dark Side Of Traveling You Don’t Write About In Postcards

CHILE: Here’s Why I Travel Despite Sometimes Ending Up Lost In A Sex Shop

EASTER ISLAND: The Holy Sh*t Island

NYC: Dear New York, We Need To Take A Break

JAPAN: Life Is What Happens When You’re Killing Time…Even With A Dead Camera, 120 Yen And A Lot Of Sleet

INDIA: How to Cross the Street in a Delhi Market While Eating Jalebis and Searching for a Scarf

INDIA: When My Mother Heard I Was Traveling Along To India…

How to Figure Out What You Want Out of Life
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Most of us have a fuzzy idea of what we want now, today, and maybe even this month. However, we struggle to answer the bigger question: What do I really want out of life?

When I ask my clients this question, I usually get a few types of answers:
• Silence or “I don’t know”
• A fuzzy version of what they want
• A dialed down version of their true aspirations.

Why the Lack of Clarity? Three Big Reasons:
Since we are used to playing small and following “the rules,” this question can be overwhelming.
We don’t think we’re worth it. We fear that if the stakes get higher, we might disappoint ourselves or others.
It shifts the question from an external problem to an internal solution. Instead of “what do I want to do about my annoying job?” or “how do I find the right guy?” we are invited to look at our imagined possibilities. It shifts our focus, forcing us to stop our complaining in its tracks.

Why? Because the solution to the problem is now on us. Our happiness becomes our responsibility.

So How Do You Discover What You Want Without All the Overwhelm?
By expanding your vision by 25 percent. Let’s take an example. Let’s say I’m working with a client named Jess who wants to find a better work-life balance. The conversation might go something like this:

Amita: If you could have your ideal work-life balance, what would it look like?

Jess: I’d get home from work at a reasonable time, I’d have time for my friends, to exercise, and maybe read or pursue a hobby.

Amita: I hear you identifying three key things: Time for work, time for friends, and time for you. But what if you were to go bigger? What if you were to forget all the “rules” about time and balance and create whatever you wanted? What if we were to turn it up even by 25 percent? What would 25 percent better look like?

Jess: Hmm, I’d want all the above. Plus, I’d want to not feel guilty about missing anything. I’d also want to work at home more.

Amita: So in addition to those three things, you’d want an internal change, the sense that you’d be doing enough in all areas of your life. And you’d work at home to some degree. Now what if we were to turn the dial up again by 25 percent and get even more expansive? What would that “too good to be true” life look like?

Jess: I’d have a job where I wouldn’t have to be in an office at all. I’d also have more time in nature and time to travel. I’d get to do the things that make me feel centered- like yoga a few times each week and maybe even have a few more home-cooked meals. I’d feel like my career and my personal life were equally important. Ideally, I’d have the time and energy for both.

Now, we’re getting to the core of it! The life that she truly wants is starting to emerge. We are developing a real vision that can guide her choices. We might turn the dial up a few more times, as each time something new, vast, and creative is revealed.

For many of us, the truth of what we want is obscured from our vision as we deem it to be impractical, selfish, impossible, or unacceptable. It takes time to peel back the layers and get to the core of what we really want.
The time to start is now.

Your Assignment:
Pick one area of your life and ask yourself, “What do I really want?”

What do you see?

Keep turning up the dial by 25 percent until you see the too-good-to-be-real truth.

Thoughts about its impossibility may rush in. That’s okay, just note them and put them aside. It isn’t time to worry about how you’ll make your dreams a reality. The first step is to discover what you truly want and simply sit with it.

Live with it and feel it.

When you know what you want, things will start to happen and the “how” will unfold. Don’t worry about the action steps just yet. Just be open, patient, and allow yourself the gift of possibilities.

This Will Inspire You To Transform Your Gloomy Day Into Something Bright
The stress and strain of constantly being connected can sometimes take your life — and your well-being — off course. GPS For The Soul can help you find your way back to balance.

GPS Guides are our way of showing you what has relieved others’ stress in the hopes that you will be able to identify solutions that work for you. We all have de-stressing “secret weapons” that we pull out in times of tension or anxiety, whether they be photos that relax us or make us smile, songs that bring us back to our heart, quotes or poems that create a feeling of harmony, or meditative exercises that help us find a sense of silence and calm. We encourage you to look at the GPS Guide below, visit our other GPS Guides here, and share with us your own personal tips for finding peace, balance and tranquility.

As The Temptations croon in their hit song “My Girl,” “I’ve got sunshine on a cloudy day.” When we look at something gloomy as an opportunity to find the bright side, we can instantly turn our attitudes around. On these gray, final days (hopefully!) of winter-like weather, keep in mind that your bright side is just around the corner. Need more proof? Check out the inspiration below that shows that even on the cloudiest of days, a little bit of beauty can always peek through.

For more GPS Guides, click here.

Everything You Need To Know About Meditation

By Jancee Dunn

“It’ll change your life!” my trendier friends say. For the past year, they have been urging me to meditate. “Not my thing,” I answer. I’m not good at Zen — I’m good at running late to an appointment as I fire off five texts. But after a particularly chaotic week in which I reeled from work crisis to kid crisis — feeling panicky, my mind whirring nonstop — I decided to try it out. It’s not like meditation has any weird side effects or causes injuries. It doesn’t require any gear (like my failed cycling venture) or an expensive trainer. So why not give it a go?

Although I couldn’t care less about being on-trend, meditation is having a moment. Katy Perry reportedly does a 20-minute session every morning (“the only time my mind gets absolute rest”). Hugh Jackman, who actually sits in stillness with his two children, has said that the ritual changed his life. Actress Jordana Brewster meditates on set. It’s become a go-to stress reducer for powerhouses Arianna Huffington and Oprah Winfrey, both of whom have offered classes to their employees.

Meditation used to be viewed as a self-involved exercise done by, as devotee Russell Brand put it, “weird, old hippies.” But that perception has vanished thanks to an avalanche of research on the ritual’s benefits: It can reduce stress, lower blood pressure, slow Alzheimer’s and curb tobacco cravings. One major review from Johns Hopkins University showed mindfulness meditation may be just as effective as antidepressants for treating anxiety symptoms.

I couldn’t imagine finding the time to make meditation a daily thing — but, oddly enough, that’s what happened.

OK, Deep Breath
Hindus have meditated for thousands of years. In fact, forms of the practice have been used in most of the world’s major religions. It wasn’t until Transcendental Meditation’s popularity surged in the West in the ’70s that scientists started paying attention to its array of health benefits. Known as TM, Transcendental Meditation involves closing your eyes and repeating a mantra to free the mind from conscious thought.

Another popular form of meditation, mindfulness, is also gaining steam among health experts. Doctors at prominent hospitals regularly recommend it for conditions like insomnia and irritable bowel syndrome. All you need to do is pay attention to your inner and outer experience in the present moment, without judgment. Like TM, it’s shown to decrease stress within eight weeks. I decided to try it. But first, I consulted a few experts for guidance.

Ideally, you get mindful in a quiet spot — although it can be done while walking, sitting at your desk at work or even standing in a long line at the grocery store. It’s more important to be away from engaging distractions, such as your computer, say experts, than it is for your space to be dead silent. “Close your eyes or not, however you feel most at ease,” advises Sharon Salzberg, co-founder of the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Mass. “Settle your attention on the feeling of the normal, natural breath, wherever it’s most clear to you — the nostrils, chest or abdomen. See if you can feel one breath fully. Then the next breath.” It’s that simple.

I sat on my couch with my legs folded, closed my eyes and breathed. In. Out. Soon I felt calmer in my body, but my mind was buzzing with not-very-chill thoughts about a friend who never stops talking about her boyfriend. Perfectly normal, says Salzberg: “It’s a common belief that to meditate successfully, you have to wipe all thoughts from your mind. That’s unlikely to happen, and it’s not the goal anyway.”

When you find your mind wandering, the experts say to notice the thoughts, then just let them go. Gently bring your attention back to the present and your breathing. I started with 10 minutes, setting an alarm on my phone (soft church bells, in keeping with the mood). I had to refocus on breathing six or seven times; I guess that’s why they call it a practice. At the end of my session, though, I felt like I had awoken from a refreshing nap. The point is not to go into a trancelike state or to be visited by wondrous, life-changing thoughts, but rather to enter a state of relaxed alertness.

“It’s ideal to make meditation a daily part of your routine, even if you begin with 5 or 10 minutes,” says Hugh Byrne, PhD, a senior teacher with the Insight Meditation Community of Washington, D.C. He recommends working up to at least 30 minutes. That proved impossible for me, though it was amazing how much time I freed up when I didn’t go online shoe shopping. Yes, I’m perpetually busy, but it’s not like I’m the secretary of state.

Serenity Now
By week three, I was able to get in the zone faster. I went on for 20 minutes, as does hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons, author of the new book Success Through Stillness: Meditation Made Simple. “Starting off my day without meditation would be like going to work without brushing my teeth,” he says.

While I’m not that committed, I have grown to love the refreshed and clear feeling that carries over throughout the day. I don’t feel as overwhelmed. As many studies show, meditation elicits a physiological reaction that actually dampens your stress response. Now when I’m in a nerve-racking situation, I can notice it with a bit of detachment, which helps me take action.

I like to do 10 minutes before or after an event that makes me twitchy, like a dentist appointment or a conversation with my accountant. Training myself to refocus my thoughts on the right now has improved my concentration, as well. It’s not that my stress has magically vanished; I still have little control over, for example, work dead-lines, the IRS or teeth cleanings. But I do have more of a handle on how I feel. Plus, if I ever run into Hugh Jackman at a party, we’ll have something to talk about.

This Is Your Body On Meditation
Blood pressure drops
And the effect isn’t just temporary: A long-term study from the Medical College of Wisconsin showed that people who meditated twice a day for 20 minutes lowered their blood pressure by 5mmHg.

Your brain releases happy chemicals
You get a boost of serotonin, dopamine and endorphins, all linked to a good mood.

Digestion runs more smoothly
Stress triggers that stomach-churning fight-or-flight instinct, shutting down digestion. Relaxed, the body reboots the parasympathetic nervous system, which gets digestion flowing.

Pain diminishes
The practice appears to change activity in key pain-processing regions of the brain—in one study, meditators experienced a 40 percent reduction in pain intensity.

Inflammation subsides
Meditation can reduce stress-induced inflammation, offering relief from inflammatory conditions such as arthritis and asthma.

More from Health.com:
Yoga Poses For Less Stress And Better Sleep
The Best Superfoods For More Energy
19 Signs Your Thyroid Isn’t Working Right

Everything You Need To Know About Meditation originally appeared on Health.com

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