“All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.” ~ Martin Buber
On our Journey, our Life Path, there are Destinations we see, aspire to, and reach. Destination is what keeps us going, with the desire, hope, and success of reaching them. BUT…we cannot always know every Destination life has planned for us. Some Destinations are secret…because they either hold a tremendous reward, or a profound lesson. Those Destinations are a combination of our efforts on our Path and the forces of the Higher Powers, Destiny if you will, that guide us on our Path. If we knew every detail or every end point, than would we see a need to even make the effort? Life’s little tricks! In addition, our Paths and Destinations change all the time, depending on our Choices and Decisions.
Experiencing Life is our Purpose, the Destination is the cherry on top.
I think one of the loveliest things about getting older is our ability to understand ourselves. Where most of us have been struggling for years with who we are, in our middle and later years it often seems to come together, magically.
Of course, it’s not really mystical at all, but rather years of trial and error, and an eventual dawning of truth.
Like in the Serenity Prayer, “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference”, an awareness of the things that are simply part of our package can be one of the greatest gifts.
Since the age of 50, I’ve been stumbling upon these truisms about myself and the latest is earth-shattering for me. I’ve realized I’m extremely limited in my ability to process information and details. While I can often instantly see how information should be organized, stored and shared, I can’t easily use it myself.
I used to tell my shuttle passengers, who wanted to relay the entire directions to their home at one time, to only give me three steps at a time. They’d look at me sideways, but I truly couldn’t retain more than that. Thank goodness for GPS.
There have been signs all along; like my dislike of multiple choices. I’ve had friends who, when trying to accommodate me, have offered me many choices. Then after I’ve chosen one, go on to list more. I’d get very angry, internally, at being forced to reassess. I didn’t realize until just recently that this was because choosing involves detail scrutiny and I hate that. Take me to a restaurant, hand me a menu and I usually choose within a minute. DO NOT point out other things I might like!
This limitation of mine also dictates the way I write. I’m much more of a storyteller than an actual writer. To be precise, I’m more like that old shriveled up geezer, who sits by the fire, entertaining with stories he’s strung out of pure fantasy. You notice, in Hansel and Gretel, we never know why the witch likes to bake children in an oven. What is her motivation?
But this is only one of my many limitations. I’ve embraced them as I’ve discovered them, not tried to change them, unless they are truly changeable and it’s wise to do so.
Instead, I try to see the flip side. Often, what we view as a limitation also empowers us in some way. For instance, I tend to jump in with both feet without much hesitation because the details overwhelm me so I just do the thing. This has helped me a lot during my travels.
Also, my self-knowledge of this trait has pushed me to seek help from others when I need it. My daughter is invaluable when deciding which camera or laptop to buy. She helps me process the options. And because I absolutely cannot edit myself, I have asked a good friend to help me out with that and she’s been wonderful.
So, limitations are simply characteristics that define what we’re not so good at. That’s okay. It’s okay not to be good at everything. Accepting that truth makes life a lot easier.
I profile several friends and family members in Hugs. Here is an excerpt featuring my friend, Dawn, who was the first to teach me to relax a bit about planning and booking my stays. I always think of her when I’m deciding on my next step. I met her in Siem Reap, Cambodia, and happily spent time with her, and a few other friends, poolside, playing dice and drinking… Ah, the good old days.
One of my passions in life is traveling, not just traveling, but traveling as a single woman. I guess I should start at the beginning and how I became inspired.
I’m a small-town girl from Northern Ohio that moved to Washington, D.C. area with friends. The day I landed a job in D.C. was the first step towards altering my life and thoughts forever. I work for company that employs people from all over the world. Now I could have just worked there and stayed in the frame of mind I had when I left the small town, I’ve seen it happen, but as I talked to people, I realized how naïve I was.
I had done some traveling but only as a tourist never a traveler. There is a big difference. My early goal was to spend one week during the summer at a different Caribbean island starting with Antigua, Aruba and Dominica Republic but always with my boyfriend or friend and always staying at resorts.
Don’t get me wrong, I always had a great time with the person I was with and I won’t cut myself too short since I did enjoy the different cuisines and would learn some history by speaking to the locals. Then I met someone that completely inspired me and changed the way I traveled, her name is Catherine. When I found out that she was quitting her job to travel for a year by herself, I thought to myself “Why can’t I travel by myself?” It had never occurred to me. Not only that, but to stop staying at the overpriced resorts.
There is a secret world and it revolves around staying at Hostels. Some of the perks are meeting other travelers. With that, you get a great advice and new friendships and as an added bonus, it is really inexpensive. This allows you to do get more out of your time by using that extra saved funds for other experiences.
I did take a trip with a friend to Spain and we stayed in really neat places that were called Pensions that had a lot of character. Some with marble floors and staircases. We started in Madrid. After staying for three days we hopped on a train to Valencia for a day. Then we flew to Majorca for five days, then to Barcelona for about a week, then back to Madrid for the last few days. That was it, I was hooked on traveling.
I wanted to give this traveling alone thing a try but knew it would be best to travel to somewhere that people spoke English, so I traveled to the Bahama’s and even though I stayed at a resort; albeit a small one. I ended up meeting so many people and had such a great time. The next trip was a cruise to Grand Cayman, Jamaica and Cozumel still very touristy but again, I had a great time meeting people. I knew it was time to take it to the next level.
I’m fortunate enough to have more vacation time then the average American and a Boss that encouraged traveling. My longtime dream was to travel to Australia. Another inspiration developed from someone I worked with years ago and had lived there for a year. I remembered the stories she told me. So, it was time to plan my dream trip.
Before I knew it, I was on a plane to Australia and Fiji for a little over a month. Started in Sydney, took a bus ride south to the 12 apostilles and took a helicopter ride. Then to Canberra, Melbourne, Adelaide, Coober Pedy to mine for opals and stayed in an underground Hostel, Alice Springs to see Ayers Rock, then to Cairns to scuba dive around the Great Barrier Reef and back to Sydney.
In addition to the other things I did, I had also gone white water rafting, jumped out of a plane, rode a horse on a beach over sand dunes, stayed under the stars in the middle of the desert in a sleeping bag. After leaving Australia, I went to Fiji for three days before heading back home.
I was on such a travel high after returning from that trip, I wished that I could swing the cost of traveling for a while on my own without employment. While that dream has yet to transpire, I have since traveled to Germany, London, England, Panama (to see the Panama Canal), Kuwait, UAE (Dubai and Abu Dhabi), Oman, Belize (to see the Blue hole), Bermuda, Barbados and Canada.
Most recently and where I met Kathy, I went to SE Asia. Started in Bangkok, then to Vietnam (Hanoi, Hoian, Halong Bay, Ho Chi Minh City), Siem Reap, Cambodia, then returned to Bangkok. At the time of this writing, my next trip will be either South America or Africa. After I travel to those two places, I will have hit all continents except Antarctica, then the plan is to fill in the blanks. If I had six months to travel and the funds, that would be the plan of action.
As I’m traveling, I’m considering the area for a possible retirement destination. I would run into Expats just like Kathy at times. It is cheaper to stay in some other areas of the world other than the U.S. and many countries welcome us and our Social Security and some offer tax breaks. But I also do it for education. The places that are made out to be fearful due to mainstream media turn out to be just all hype in my experience. Before I travel, I take the time to research the customs and traditions to try my best to not disrespect the people or their culture.
The only regret that I have about traveling, is that I didn’t learn what I now know much earlier. It can be done relatively inexpensively and is in a much more rewarding fashion. Over the time, I’ve cared less and less about materialist stuff and more about saving for my travels, meeting new people and the education I gain. I travel with a backpack with no real solid plans only an idea of what I want to see. I found that just walking and allowing yourself to get lost, you run into things you would have normally missed. Several occasions, I just went to the airport to hop on the next plane once I thought of my next destination. Best of all once you get over your own vanity, you find that no one cares how you look or that you wore the same pants days in a row. It feels absolutely freeing.
Since I began my travels, back in August 2015, I have run into a wide variety of living things I might not have had the pleasure of meeting if I hadn’t left home.
While I had been introduced to bark scorpions in Arizona, by waking up with one just six inches from my face, I hadn’t ever seen the huge black variety until I found one in my shower in Costa Rica and two in my kitchen in Guatemala. Hands down, scorpions are the scariest creatures I’ve run into – up close and personal at least.
I have had resident geckos several times – first the ones in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, who lived on the walls of the downstairs restaurant. In Siem Reap – again Cambodia – I had a very noisy one I named Gary, who got very pissed off when I turned the lights on at night. Now I have Ernesto and Benito (thanks, Beth, for the names), two friendly rather flat geckos that chase each other around my shower mostly.
Last week, my landlord and her handyman had to beat ten bats to death. They were establishing a colony in the upstairs outdoor living space and had to be eliminated. To her credit, Rosie tried to get animal control come out and relocate them, but no go. I had been sleeping with my window open (no screen) at night and was a bit freaked out, but I recovered my composure and am now back to open air sleeping. I researched the sound brown bats make and am on alert for that chittering sound should they try again to make our “arriba” their home.
I have been through two stages of spider fright – paralysis and acceptance. Paralysis occurred when I spotted this horrific thing with suction cups for feet on a wall in Bali. It was outside, so not much I need to do about it, except to return to breathing eventually.
For some reason, I was fine with a biggish (about the size of a quarter) spider in Guatemala because it crawled on me but didn’t bite me. I screamed and shook my leg and it went flying. Later, I frequently spotted it but couldn’t bring myself to kill it and it was way too fast to trap. I have forgotten the name I gave him – it might have been Frank – but one day I found him lifeless and removed him to the outdoors.
I enjoy iguanas and they are everywhere in Costa Rica and I’ve even recently spotted one here in Manzanillo. They’re basically friendly and everyone knows they eat bugs, so … okay.
Finally, my absolute favorite critters – howler monkeys. I can’t remember if I’ve already told this story on the blog, but a re-telling won’t hurt. Vanessa (my daughter) and I were in Playa Grande, Costa Rica, and I was trying to build a client base on Upwork so I was writing outside by the pool at 4:30 a.m. when I heard the most ferocious growl. I froze and it came again. I knew it wasn’t very close but it was extremely loud and my first thought was that it was a jaguar. I decided it probably wasn’t going to eat me and went on writing after a short exploration at the gates to our hotel. The next morning the owner laughingly told me it was a howler monkey and it was only about a foot tall. What?! I came to love their sounds and would wake most mornings in Potrero, where I stayed for a month. I tried hard to get a picture couldn’t manage a decent one, so I’m adding the one above plus here’s my own attempt.
In Potrero, Costa Rica, I also frequently ran into lovely gentle creatures, cattle. I was always a bit thrilled to walk alongside them.
I’ve rather enjoyed my encounters – even the scary ones – because they add a little flavor to life. I will however pass on sharks, gators and such.
“Change the way you look at things and the things you look at change.”
― Wayne W. Dyer
How do you live your everyday life? Do you see it as a boring grind? Are you looking to spice up your life? Do you feel stuck? (This list of questions makes me feel a bit like Lucy during her 1952 Vita-meata-vegamin commercial episode. But you get the idea.)
Well, before you start make big changes, there’s one you have to make first. If you’re reading this book, you probably have some sense you’re not really happy with your life as it is. What if there was absolutely nothing you could do about it? Let’s imagine for a moment you’re in a prison, a real one. You have absolutely no control over any part of your life, except one – your attitude.
I once bought a set of self-help cassette tapes, The Psychology of Winning, by Denis Waitley. In them, he gave several real life situations from former prisoners of war during the Vietnam War, and how they coped with their imprisonment. It was amazing what people could do with a bad situation. There were those who played cardboard piano keyboards, escaping into the exercises and sounds within their own minds – practicing day after day. Others created guitars out of sticks and string and taught each other to play. Some recalled and set to memory the Bible. This one section of these tapes, which were my first foray into self-affirmation, gave me a completely new perspective on attitude.
Now, certainly, there is much more to creating a better life than simply attitude. Some of us face very daunting situations or are handicapped by circumstances, but I believe, without fail, they can be overcome. Believe me when I say I know it can be hard. I’ve had issues of my own. I was raped at eight years old and later (partly as a result of that rape) I was a mentally and physically abused spouse. So, I am no Pollyanna. But I’ve decided to not let those horrible things define me. It may have had an impact on who I’ve become but it isn’t who I am.
However, this I know to be true; we tend to get stuck in a downward spiral of negativity on occasion – all of us – and it becomes difficult to make any change to a life in which we feel stuck. But no matter what, there is one thing we can do. Change our attitudes.
“A great attitude becomes a great mood, which becomes a great day, which becomes a great year, which becomes a great life.” – Zig Ziglar
Don’t worry, this isn’t going to be an advice book with merely great quotes (but there will be a few more – because I believe an inspiring quote can take you a long way.) I’m going to assign you life-altering tasks and present checklists, all the things you need to make a difference in your life but honestly, if you haven’t got a good attitude, none of it will matter.
Search your mind right now – this very minute – spend ten minutes and write down every negative thought you can remember having in the last 8 hours. Anything from how crappy your coffee is to what a big dope you think your boss is. Come on, let’s be for real. Whether it’s actually YOUR life or someone else’s which irritates you, write it down. Perhaps you’re a little pissed Kim Kardashian has so much and has done so little. Maybe you secretly wish your neighbor would just move. Whatever.
Make the list – when you get to 20, and you will, stop. Read it over. Now put a line through everything on the list that doesn’t matter at all (not in your life anyway) and was just a matter of you letting off steam. Now let’s tackle what’s left.
Is it your job?
How about the kids?
Beside each REAL issue – put one, very simple, no-pain-involved action item. For instance:
Your job – Call in sick tomorrow. Have lunch with a friend who you can download to. Buy yourself flowers for your desk. Cut out a Dilbert cartoon to stick to your cubicle wall. Pick one small thing which will relieve the tension a bit.
Your neighbor – Find some way to place something at your property line which, in your mind, symbolizes the dividing line between you and them – perhaps an actual plant or maybe a garden gnome (my personal favorite) or maybe just a good-sized rock you’ve collected in your travels. If the trouble is that they’re noisy, respond in kind and play your favorite music at record-breaking levels. You will feel better.
You probably get the idea now. So for each thought which truly matters – find some small act of defiance.
Now, I know you haven’t solved all of your problems but already your attitude has improved. Admit it! Tomorrow, when you take your bouquet of flowers to the office, be a little mysterious about where they came from and now you’re actually having fun. See what I mean?
This probably seemed irrelevant to adventure but it’s absolutely not. You have to open up, feel hopeful and joyous to be able to embrace adventure. Perhaps there’s a grumpy adventurer out there, but I’ve never met one. So, now you’ve had a small example of how to tackle your attitude and clear a path to your new life. Let’s get busy.
This excerpt is relatively long – but I didn’t want to leave you hanging too much.
ADVENTURE – AN OVERVIEW
“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.”
― Eleanor Roosevelt
I’ve always wanted to do something important. Do something which could change people’s lives. Make a difference. I finally found it and it involves writing, the great joy of my life. This is it!
That’s right, you’re holding it. I absolutely know this book will help someone, maybe lots of people, to step into a new life. Whoa! Don’t get scared off. A new life may just be altering small things to help you live your life with joy instead of the complacency we’ve all felt from time to time.
This is my goal with “Hugs” (what I’ve come to call my book throughout this process). At the end of our journey, I hope to hear from you and that you’ll pass on some extraordinary news. You’ve decided to spend two weeks this summer in the Galapagos Islands. Or there’s an exhibition of your artwork, which you’ve been hoarding in your basement for years, at the local library. Maybe you’ve decided to go back to school to finish the degree in archaeology you started a gazillion years ago. Perhaps simply adding a weekly Exploration Date to your calendar has given you the boost you needed to start thinking about a future adventure. Whatever it is, I hope you’ll share. My email address is in the back of the book. Please use it!
As I begin putting thoughts down, I’m traveling throughout Southeast Asia, and have been for months, on the funds provided by my social security check. Pretty adventurous, you say? But I’ve always found a way to live an adventure most days, and you can too. That’s why I’ll be sharing a bit of my life with you – to show you it can be done.
Before you go any further, I want you to buy a notebook. Unless you absolutely can’t do anything else – for real reasons, like money or immobility – I want you to go to your local bookstore or discount retailer and buy a small but attractive notebook. Why can’t you just grab a school notebook from your kid’s room? Here’s why: because it’s disposable to you. Come on, anyone can toss away a notebook which costs them less than a dollar. This is important! Go spend 4 or 5 dollars or whatever you want on a notebook which will call to you and make you want to hold on to it. I promise you won’t regret it.
Go now. We’ll reconvene here when you have that precious item – your adventure notebook.
LIVING EVERY DAY
“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!” ― Hunter S. Thompson
Now that you’ve had a bit of inspiration from Mr. Thompson, let’s get busy. Do you have your new journal? Is it attractive? Good, let’s get started.
Passion! Some of the people I most admire aren’t famous for some gigantic adventure they undertook, but simply the living of life in the fullest way possible.
I’ve always admired Katharine Hepburn, the feisty red-headed actress who forced the studios to treat her the same as they did their male stars and defied convention by living openly with Spencer Tracy, a married Catholic who could not divorce at the time, but had long been separated from his wife when he fell in love with Hepburn. She made ladies’ trousers acceptable, even fashionable. She lived with passion, on her own terms.
However, you don’t have to be a rebel to rock your world. You simply have to care deeply about something, open yourself to experiences (hopefully around that passion or maybe a newfound one) and then grab them and hang on for dear life.
Getting stuck in a life which isn’t working is probably a state most people experience, however there’s no real way to tell. How are you going to take a poll on that one? Just look around you. Who do you know who is either completely disengaged or hanging on by a thread?
I find most people are yearning for something more. They are stuck in a daily grind and to get through they need some relief, some reward. If moving beyond your grind is your goal, this book will help.
You are one of the lucky ones. The very fact you are holding this book in your hands means you have recognized a lack in your life and are ready to do something about it. You probably haven’t decided yet what it is you want to do or how are you are going to get there. That’s what “Hugs” is all about.
We’re going to look at very, very simple things you can do to increase the fabulous in your life. There are going to be very specific tasks and questions you need to think about and answer for yourself. However, from day one of the battle plan (and it is exactly that) you’ll see small results.
We’ll build on them and slowly you’ll gear up to a big adventure, if that’s what you’re looking for or you may just liven things up, which is absolutely fine. The objective is to make you feel better about whatever you’re doing or having to put up with if you’re stuck or to give you the push you need to jump off the cliff and tackle that great Big Dream you’ve always had.
“Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning.” – Gloria Steinem
The Big Dream will differ hugely from person to person. I’m not talking about whether you want to bungee jump or travel down the Amazon in a canoe instead. Nope. I also mean will you decide to finally go back to school (a tremendous adventure) or write a screenplay or build and live in a treehouse. Whatever it is you’re trying to get up the nerve
to do or whatever barriers you need to overcome, I’m here to help you get started.
BEGIN SMALL, BUT BEGIN
I once had a friend who was a young widow yearning to begin a new life with someone – to have a relationship again. However, she did absolutely nothing towards beginning anew. She mostly continued to mourn her husband and wallow in her changed status as a widow. It’s hard to say if she was really ready for a new man, but her expressed desire prompted me to say one day, “You know men aren’t going to come to your door and knock. You must get out there where they are.”
She did eventually meet someone online, who didn’t turn out to be what she had expected, so she again retreated into her secluded walled-off space. We eventually lost track of each other and I often wonder what happened. Did she finally find a new love?
Changing any part of your daily existence can be scary, challenging and take a bit of “putting yourself out there.” But at whatever stage of life you find yourself, whatever it is you’re looking for, it is pretty obvious you are going to have to do something and take a risk to get it or to change it.
First we’re going to talk about opening the door to change and then the rest of the book will show you how to walk through it. I’m going to give you very workable, easy steps to both. As the title says, these are going to be simple ways to put some adventure in your life and then we’ll see if you’re ready or even interested in the bigger stuff. It’s up to you. No pressure. Baby steps.