Random People

On a recent trip to Death Valley, hiking in heat of over 100 degrees and having survived, I arrived at the visitors center and wanted to take a photo of the outside thermometer. Because Death Valley is one of the hottest places in the USA, several other people were trying to get pictures as well, so I decided to snap this photo of a random family.

When traveling, it’s common to capture people and strangers in our photographs.  I find it interesting to ponder about their lives.  Are they happy?  Are they having fun? Do they like each other?  Did someone force them to go on this trip?  I like having random people in my photos and often wonder how many pictures I have ended up in myself.  Do they wonder about me or my life?

Our lives are often entwined, although we may not even realize it.  In Death Valley for a brief moment, I was witness to a happy family on their journey through the desert, although I didn’t know where they came from or where they were going, our paths crossed briefly, and I was left with memories of my own trip and a photograph of theirs.

 

24 Hours in Asheville

Traveling solo, I recently spent 24 hours in Asheville, NC.  Not sure what to do alone, I contemplated several options, but then came across, “Asheville Wellness Tours”, and thought that would be an interesting way to spend an afternoon.

Asheville Wellness Tours provided several alternative experiences including the art of tea drinking, essential oil and herb making, meditation in a beautiful salt cave, sound therapy with gongs and Tibetan bowls, and honey tasting at a local specialized shop.

The tour began with a 45-minute session at Asheville Salt Cave, a golden womb-like cave filled with beautiful pure pink salt crystals.  We were lead into meditation as we rested on pillows and bolsters on the salt covered floor, listening to sounds of the waterfall, breathing in negatively charged ions, turning inward and away from the chaos of the external world around us.

Following the salt cave, we walked to Skinny Beats Sound Shop and was lead into a sound healing session with gongs and Tibetan bowls that took us on a vibrational journey that was beyond words to describe. I was given a “taster” of sound healing that I knew I would have to return to.

Next, we were given an introductory explanation of herbs and essential oils at herbiary, which offers natural remedies for every kind of alignment imaginable, including emotional and psychological disorders.

From the herbiary, we walked to Asheville Bee Charmer, for honey tasting, where I was given several different types of honey to try, including sage honey, a favorite of mine.

Lastly, we ended the tour at Dobra Tea, where we shared in Japanese style, “Clear Communication Tea.”  This tea was reported to promote clear communication with our inner self, exactly what I needed! The Wellness Guide explained that the tea ceremony involved inhaling the aroma, before tasting the tea, and encouraged us to share an authentic wellness intention that we wanted to incorporate into our daily lives.

The tea ceremony was a perfect ending to an adventurous day in self-exploration and holistic wellness.  My guide was an inspirational and enthusiastic yoga instructor who did a wonderful job guiding me through the city and sharing all that Asheville has to offer.

When the tour finished, we parted ways, and I decided to explore the streets of Asheville on my own.  Quite unexpectedly, I came across an interesting young man sitting on the street writing poetry.

Ben was plucking away on his vintage typewriter.  A sign, “NAME A WORD or TOPIC.  GET A POEM”, hung from his table. Being a creative writer myself, I couldn’t resist. I contemplated what word to select, and finally decided on the word “therapy.”

Ben sat in silence for a few moments, and then inserted a piece of paper into his old typewriter and began typing.  Once in awhile, he would stop to ponder, rubbing his head in contemplation. Ben was oblivious to the ongoing foot traffic of people that were walking past him as he pounded away on his typewriter, lost in a world of words.  After about 10 minutes, Ben completed my poem and asked if he could read, “Therapy” to me.

I was amazed at how insightful and creative the poem was, especially considering that it had been written on the spot. Ben’s poem touched upon the heaviness we can carry in life, referring to our emotional pains, and “to unpack the boxes long locked-up.” (poem below)

After reading my poem, Ben told me that he had been in San Francisco years ago, and had traded a book for a Lynn Gentry poem. Ben was busking for his upcoming wedding, which explained another sign he had, “Wedding Funds”.  I thanked Ben for his creative, insightful poem, and thought how clever he was, using his gifts and talents in a way that inspired other people.

Asheville has a lot to offer in terms of the unique, alternative, or creative. If you’re looking to explore Asheville, check out Asheville Wellness Tours, who offers several options including hiking the Blue Ridge Mountains, followed by Yoga, and if you have a love for words or poetry, don’t forget to look for Ben, who can be found in front of Woolworths, on Haywood Street.

Links:

Asheville Wellness Tours

https://www.ashevillewellnesstours.com

Ben is starting his own upcoming blog:

Strangers Poems Project

 

T H E R A P Y

Sit within a circle

& spin a thread of narrative–

 

we are here to help you

with the heavy lifting—

 

to unpack boxes long locked-up,

to turn & turn each artifact

 

over in our hands, to examine

without judgment each dog-earned page

 

within the books that weigh

so much. trust is a rope ladder

 

which we are still building,

you hold it from the top & choose

 

when it’s to be lowered. but human

help comes with limitations. take

 

the next train west & sit among

the redwoods. five hundred years

 

of listening unmarred by loose lips.

we wait & learn the craft of patience

by example.

Adventures in Community Service

Community Service?  What’s in it for me?

On a recent Yoga retreat trip in Costa Rica, I had the opportunity to do many fun-filled activities including, white water rafting, zip lining above the rainforest canopy, soaking in hot springs, hiking up a volcano and exploring an organic echo farm.  Costa Rica also offered me a different experience, a community service opportunity, that at first, I decided to decline.  My immediate thought was that I wanted to have fun and not work on vacation.  After several days of contemplation, I slowly changed my mind and that decision changed my views about life and the importance of giving back.

After several days of fun-filled adventures and relaxing yoga, my group was given the opportunity to paint a local’s house in exchange for a homemade Costa Rican meal, made and prepared by the owner of the home. Although I have painted the inside of my own home on several occasions, I had never painted the exterior of a house and immediately felt overwhelmed.  I’m not a professional house painter and the thought of painting an entire house presented as a huge job.  I wasn’t in Costa Rica to work, I was there for rest and relaxation, but part of me felt that if I didn’t go and participate that I would be missing out on an opportunity of a new kind, so I reluctantly agreed to go.

Our group of Yogis piled into a minivan and traveled for miles on rugged dirt covered roads to a nearby village, where we parked outside of our destination, a dilapidated blue house desperately in need of new paint.  We had traveled to Costa Rica at the end of the rainy season.  The skies were gray and it rained the entire week we were there, giving me a new understanding of the term, “Rainforest.”

We jumped out of the van and covered ourselves with plastic raincoats as we split into groups as the interpreter explained the process with the homeowner standing nearby attempting to guide and direct us to old worn out trays and buckets of paint.  I grabbed a tray of paint and chose the side of the house that had a large termite nest on it, although at the time, I had no idea as to what it was.  The paint was watery, thin and runny and ran down the sides of the house.  We painted all day in the moist humid rain.  The homeowner had tarps hung around the sides trying to shelter us from the rain.  When we got to the termite’s nest at the end of the house, we were instructed to paint around it, which I found very amusing.  Having little knowledge of termites or their nests, I assumed that having one stuck to the side of your house, was probably not a good thing!.

At the end of the day, when we had finished painting the house, the owners invited us inside for a wonderful, tasty meal of rice and beans, followed by freshly brewed Costa Rican coffee.  They were very grateful for our help and we, in turn, were very grateful for their hospitality and wonderful Costa Rican meal.  During the meal, we heard their personal story through the Interpreter.  The man whose house that we had painted, had been severely injured one day as he walked along the roadside and a large metal rod fell from a passing truck, causing him significant injuries.  Since then, he had been unable to work.  I was so grateful that I was able to help someone in need, a complete stranger, who had no health insurance and no means of providing for himself or his family anymore and had to rely on friends, family, neighbors and complete strangers.

With full bellies and heartfelt goodbye’s, we piled back into the minivan and took the long, rugged journey back to our Echo Farm.  I sat in quiet contemplation as I thought about how I had almost missed out on an opportunity to help someone in need, and if I had, I would have never had known how gratifying it was to give back in a way that I had never experienced before.  I gained insight into how by helping others gave me a greater purpose in my own life.  Although the paint job that we did on the house, was really poor, as none of us were professional painters, the owner was very happy with the end result and although he couldn’t speak English, his smile alone was worth more than a day of self-centered adventures or excursions but provided me with an opportunity to connect with others in a way I had never experienced before.

Soul Motion

A SACRED JOURNEY OF MUSIC, MOVEMENT AND SOUL

Sacred travelers can hear the call of faraway places and distant lands, and we love the experience that international travel brings.  Our senses come alive in the spice markets of Marrakesh, our lungs fill with crisp mountain air in places like Tibet or Zanskar, and our bodies are refreshed in the rainforests of Costa Rica.  As a person who intentionally seeks international travel and beautiful places, I am always planning my next trip.  Quite unexpectedly one day, I found myself not on an outer journey to a remote and exotic land, but instead, on an inner journey of body, mind, and spirit.  It was called, “Soul Motion” and Mark Ensweiler was my guide.

Mark has been in the healing arts for over 35 years and has an impressive background as a Board Certified Licensed Chiropractor, Certified Yoga Instructor, and Certified Soul Motion Teacher.  When asked about Soul Motion, Mark said, “I continue to find these wonderful “conscious dance/movement” practices to be an ongoing way to support healing, creativity, (movement & seated) meditation, and inspiration in my own life and it’s a great way to share meaningful time with others as well in a supportive group setting.  Each individual Soul Motion class is complete unto itself and yet there are a wide variety of “practices” that can be experienced in a class and this is the beauty of Soul Motion.”

An average session will last approximately 75 minutes, as Mark skillfully guides you through a variety of music, and at times will instruct you to connect to specific areas of your body.  Most of the journey is freeform, with no talking; an inner journey for you to solely take.  There are no limitations as you follow your breath and let your body move in ways that it needs, as it releases old stagnant energy, aches and pains and everyday stressors.  The diversity of music allows you to choose your own movement whether it is slow, standing still, or dancing wildly.  Each piece of music is carefully selected by Mark and includes a mix of international vibes, spiritual tunes and a crescendo of notes that takes you on an inner journey that is uniquely individual and yours alone to take.

Music has been well known to a be a potent healer for people in a variety of ways.  Music soothes the spirit in difficult times and lifts the spirit in times of celebration.  Movement is also recognized as an important element of healing, and when you combine music and movement, you have a powerful combination of personal expression.

If you are seeking a new experience, want to connect more deeply with yourself, or simply love music and movement, take a trip through Soul Motion.  There is no greater journey than one to know your authentic self…

Mark is offering an upcoming series, “Soul Motion Movement Meditation”; sessions begin this fall at Dance Dynamics in Plover.

For more information about Mark or Soul Motion, please contact him at:

msensweiler@gmail.com

For more information about Soul Motion, or its creator, Vinn Arjuna Martí contact:

http://soulmotion.com/

 

Therapeutic Landscapes

Did you know that different geographical locations or landscapes can be spiritually or physically healing? The mountains, forests, oceans, and deserts of the world offer you the opportunity to explore both your interior and exterior worlds.

The next time you travel, tune into the elements.  Each geographical location will have its own energy, its own ecosystem, and its own natural vibration.

These include:

Mountains

Mountains represent strength and stability.  By connecting to mountain energy, we can generate inner strength to withstand emotional and physical problems or barriers.  Mountains remind us to feel centered and grounded.

Mountains can be chipped away at; holes or tunnels can be carved deeply into its core, but they always remain solid.  Mountains are reminders to be strong in body and mind.

Sometimes our problems may appear like mountains, huge obstacles that we can’t get around or over, but with each step, we eventually climb the summit, overcoming personal struggles or difficulties.  Mountains remind us that we can get through the rough terrain, the tough times, and reach our goals.

Deserts

The Desert has been known to be an ancient and sacred place throughout history.  People have been known to go into the desert to find themselves, or to seek a connection with God, spirit or the universe.

The desert offers a stillness that we often struggle to find within.  In the desert, the landscape can seem quite harsh and barren, and where we find we have nowhere else to go, but within.

The desert is a place of emptiness and solitude.  It can represent our feelings of loneliness and isolation, but in the desert, if you listen, you will hear the whispers of the winds who continually blow, forever moving and changing the landscape. If you find yourself in a barren and desolate inner desert, go within, seek connection, and remember that the winds of change will guide you safely out again.

Forests

Forests are magical places that for centuries, people have written stories about mythical creatures that live deep within its foliage.  Forest symbolism represents our unconscious, and getting lost in the forest can represent our own inner search for direction and meaning.

Green plants and trees have been known to heal body, mind, and spirit while reducing daily stressors and tension.  Psychologically, green forests can offset angry and aggressive feelings.  Next time you feel irritable or upset, take a walk in the forest, chances are, by the end of your journey, your anger will subside.

Oceans

The ocean has been a source of healing for centuries.  Saltwater replenishes our spirit, while salt air cleanses our lungs.  The sound of waves can induce a meditative state, helping to leave worries and cares behind, while the color blue instills a sense of peace and tranquility.

The ocean is symbolic of life in many cultures. Psychologically, water is symbolic of emotions, often fluid and flowing, changing with the tides, sometimes volatile and sometimes calm and serene.

One of my favorite places is the Gulf of Mexico.  A natural thinker by nature, I find that the expanse of the ocean clears my mind and brings about a sense of clarity and focus.

The next time you plan a trip, think about geographical locations, and let your body, mind, and spirit guide you…

Deserted Island Dreaming?

 

Have you ever fantasized about going to a deserted island, leaving your worries and cares behind?  Have you ever experienced solitude in a place where the expanse of the ocean and sky, fills your soul in a way that nowhere else ever has?

I have dreamt of being on a deserted island my entire life, and have often visualized myself walking for miles on white sandy beaches, swimming in warm healing salt waters, while watching fluffy white clouds float by.  There, I wouldn’t have a thought or care in the world.

On August 12, 2017, I finally made my long-term dream come true.  Being a familiar traveler of southern Florida, I have visited many different and beautiful beaches but had never boated to a deserted island. On my last trip to Marco Island, I did some research and although there were several boating excursions to pick from, I chose Hemingway’s Water Shuttle, a relatively new company that had received positive reviews.

Hemingway’s Water Shuttle is located on Marco Island and is a small family run business that shuttles people from Rose Marina to a deserted island called Keewaydin. You have the choice to go to the island and stay for a couple of hours or for the entire day. If you stay for more than two hours, I would recommend that you bring a beach umbrella for shade. But if you don’t have one, not to worry, because Hemingway’s has all the gear and equipment that you need at a very reasonable price.

The boat trip is a fun, smooth sailing journey through tranquil turquoise waters, and you have the choice to either sit in the shaded covered part of the boat, or you can stand up front with the wind in your hair, like I did, pretending your onboard the Titanic with Leonardo DiCaprio, feeling a sense of freedom that you have never felt before.

Keewaydin Island is surrounded by beautiful crystal white beaches, and the water is so warm and soothing, that all your cares and worries literally float out of your head with each passing wave, being left onshore for the remainder of the day.  (When I left, I chose to leave my cares and worries there).

One side of Keewaydin Island is barren, with only a handful of people who also share the same dream of tropical nature and solitude; while the other side of the island has more of a party feel to it, with food and cocktail boats floating alongside the shore.  People picnic, socialize and dance to Latin music. You can start your morning off on a secluded desert beach, and then end the day dancing in the surf!

Steve and Val Hemingway are exceptional guides, both having warm friendly personalities and a passion for creating wonderful experiences for people who come onboard.  They made it a point to get to know all of their passengers, finding similarities between people and asking where everyone has traveled from.

I asked both Steve and Val, what were some of their favorite stories from their boating trips.  They shared several experiences, some of which really touched my heart, they include:

“Children’s excitement and joy when finding seashell treasures in the sand; An elderly man in a wheelchair saying he never thought he would feel the sand beneath his feet ever again, and a woman who hadn’t watched the sunset in years.”

The boat trip consisted of dolphin watching, slowing down to take pictures, and Riley the dolphin dog, who runs from one side of the boat to the other spotting dolphins. Riley, a cockapoodle, always knows when the dolphins are nearby.  He travels on most of the trips with Steve and Val to Keewaydin Island.  Having a canine boating companion was another fun and unexpected part of the journey.

Now back onshore and back home, I continue to dream about Keewaydin Island, and can still feel myself floating on the warm salty waters of the Gulf of Mexico, wishing that some moments would last forever.  My worries and cares are still there, they continue to float in the gentle waves but probably have traveled far out to sea by now, carried away forever…  I never needed them in the first place.

With many thanks and appreciation for a wonderful time with Hemingway’s, I was able to make one of my own dreams come true.

For more information:

https://www.hemingwaywatershuttle.com

 

American Airlines Greatest Asset

Every once in a while you meet an exceptional person who inspires you or makes an impact on you for the rest of your life. That is exactly what happened to me on August 10, 2017, onboard American Airlines, flight 2634 from Chicago to Fort Myers,

I misunderstood the Captain’s announcement that it was someone’s birthday and thought he was talking about one of the flight attendants. I later got out of my seat and met the flight attendant that I thought was her birthday. I said, “Is it your birthday today?” She said in a jovial way, “No, my birthday was in July and I turned 76.” I thought she was joking and said, “How old did you say you were?” She said again, “I’m 76 and hope to be doing this job until I’m 80!”

Mary had a magnetic personality and I was immediately intrigued to find out more about her.

Mary was happy to share that she has been working for American Airlines for 35 years and only became a flight attendant at the age of 54. She said that at the age of 76, she is the 3rd oldest flight attendant working for American Airlines.

Mary expressed that her life is blessed, and said that she loves to meet people, which is obvious by her natural warmth and friendly demeanor. Mary said “Age is only a number.”, and went on to say that she enjoys skydiving, parasailing, and golf. On Mary’s time off, she volunteers with a local hospice center and Alzheimer’s organization in Fort Worth Texas.

Mary’s life story inspired me greatly. She is truly living an authentic life of serving others. She has a wonderful attitude about life and sees each day as an adventure. Mary said that each morning she wakes up and hopes that she can inspire someone. Well on August 10, 2017, Mary truly inspired me in more ways than she will ever know. I have no doubt she will reach her goal of working with American Airlines until the age of 80, and that she will go on to inspire many others.

I also want to give American Airlines a huge thumbs up for hiring Mary at the age of 54. She is truly one of their greatest assets.

I hope someday that our life paths will cross again somewhere in this world, and that Mary will say to me, “I turned 80 and hope to work until I’m 85!”

  • Keep flying high Mary, wishing you all the best!

Marco Island – A Place Where Sea Meets Spirit

Version 2

Do you dream of unspoiled tropical beaches and miles of endless sand and sea?  Hidden amongst modern condominiums and high-rise hotels on Marco Island, Florida, lies a hidden treasure called Tigertail Beach.  Secluded from urban America and detached from life stressors, this beautiful secluded beach is where heaven meets sea.

When you arrive, you can either walk along the vast white sandy beach, or you can cross the lagoon, avoiding condo’s and hotels, wading waist deep through warm salty waters, finding yourself amongst southern Florida’s unique wildlife including; tropical fish, ospreys, egrets, and dolphins.  After you cross the lagoon you walk through a sandy trail that leads you out to the oceanfront, where you can walk and explore three miles of beautiful wild, unspoiled natural beach where you will find yourself one with nature.

I travel to Marco Island every year and spend days walking the beach on Tigertail.  It is a place that rejuvenates my body, mind, and soul.  I walk for hours as I only pass a few other explores along the way.  I swim in the salty warm ocean waters and sit on the sun-blessed crystal sands becoming immersed in the land and sea as I totally forget my worries and cares.

I know most people go to Florida for the big theme parks or for the many popular beaches it offers, but Tigertail Beach is for those who seek to find nature in its rawest and most natural form, and for those who are also seeking a connection within through the power of nature.

Since my first visit, Tigertail has become a part of my soul, a place I return to year after year as part of my personal spiritual pilgrimage, a place where I reconnect, be still, and heal.

Tiger tail is truly a sacred place for the spiritual seeker.