Simple Things Can Be Fun

July 3, 2019

We take so many things for granted. Sometimes even the simplest things in life can be really fun. This is an article about how we can miss the simple things in our quest for the Holy Grail – that is, for the big things we think are more important.

traveling to Ghent, Belgium

On my recent trip to Brussels, Belgium I had the opportunity to ride the train to Ghent. For the locals, taking a train is no big deal. For me, each step of the journey was a jigsaw puzzle requiring a complex analysis to figure out and once completed, a sense of accomplished was attained. Anyone looking at me must have been amazed at how much joy I was getting out of successfully procuring my 18 Euro roundtrip ticket to Ghent and then actually finding the right train track, correct car, and then a seat. Each piece of the puzzle coming together to accomplish the first task – get on the train! I sat there so pleased with myself! Others must have wondered why I was smiling to myself. I was so happy to just be able to figure that much out.

Honestly, it’s really not that complicated; it’s just when it’s a different country and you have no idea where a place is, the concept of first or second class seat in a special car and many trains travelling on a single track the whole thing becomes more complex. Where I live in Washington, DC there are rarely more than one train travelling on the track at a time. And if there is, I find it difficult to tell which train is arriving. Now multiply this by very many trains going to ever so many places all on each track and going in either direction, one must decide, and quite quickly I might add to jump on the train. Trains are on time and everything moves very quickly. One cannot stare at the trains and wonder too long. People are jumping on with or without luggage, and it’s important to get on and find a seat; unless it’s a reserved spot. Whew! So, again, I was quite pleased with myself.

I had briefly checked out spots to investigate once in Ghent. I was in Brussels for the Tango Festival and had completed the 5 days of the program having danced my legs off. I was sufficiently tired and could hardly get up the morning of my trip to Ghent, yet, I was determined to ride the train! Ghent was a good destination, being less than an hour and easy to maneuver, or so I was told. However, when one is on foot, getting around can be a project.

Then there was the issue of which station to disembark. One of the websites indicated one station while fellow travelers informed me that no, in fact it was better to get off at a different station. So I complied with the advice. After disembarking at the station, the next piece of the puzzle was to get to the downtown or centreville. There were many trams running on tracks to take people here and there. I had no idea which was the one I should take and. I became a bit panicky until one of the attendants indicated that I could buy an all-day tram pass inside the station. I was really having trouble buying the tram ticket from the machine outside. There might be a button to push to get English, but I had no idea of how to get there. Even for a bit more money it was worth it to me to get the all-day pass so that I’d know that I could get on the tram to get back to the station. It was only 7 Euros, so not a lot of money.

Once back inside the station I waiting in the line to buy the all-day tram pass and with a bit of explaining was successful in procuring it. Yeah, step two completed! Then I went outside once again and looked for Tram No. 1 that would take me into town. Now I had to make sure I was going in the right direction. The Tram was packed with people on this unusually warm Tuesday afternoon in June as I watched the landscape change from the station through winding streets to the centreville. Just that little trip was a bit of a sightseeing experience. It all was a wonder to me.

Upon arrival in the actual center of Ghent, I disembarked and realized that the main sights I had in mind to see where nearby. I headed towards the canal and walked along as many tourists were doing. I really felt like I was in Disneyland except this was a real place. The United States is only a couple hundred years old but this area of Europe dates back many centuries; this charming town had cathedrals, churches, and other types of buildings dating back to the 15th century. It was definitely a walk back in time. I loved it all! What a joyous day, totally alone with no one to talk to but happy within myself.

Once I understood how the streets followed the canal I felt safe that I wouldn’t get lost and began to wander around looking at this place or that for several hours. Of particular note was the Castle, called Gravenstein of which I took the audio tour. Whoever wrote the script was a real comedian and listening to the voice describing stories of the goings on in the castle during its history made me laugh. I must have been a sight myself walking around laughing to myself. One fun story credited this Castle as having the first fireplace.

When I got tired, I found my way back along the canal, like Goldilocks with her breadcrumbs, took the Tram No. 1 in the opposite direction to return to the station. Within minutes the train came to Brussels. The train system in Belgium is amazingly efficient and very fast! I never waited more than a few minutes for a metro or train even on Sunday.

I arrived back at my hotel about 9pm very tired and ate a salad that I’d put away in the room frig happy that I didn’t have to find some place to eat. Sometimes it’s just nice to go into the kitchen and get something to eat and not have to go out. As this was a hotel, the next best thing was to keep food in the frig for one of my meals.

All in all, I’d had a very good day filled with simple activities, yet quite satisfying. I appreciated not getting lost, all the people along the way that had said a word or two of guidance, and especially those that could speak English! Sometimes the best things are very simple! As always, comments are welcome.


Angels on my Shoulder

December 10, 2018

During my recent trip to Portugal I had several experiences where I felt that synchronicity was at play to the extent that it must be my angels at work helping me. The story I’m going to relate in this article is that of my day trip to the historic town of Sintra, where just when I needed help, it was available to me.

After several attempts to take a group tour on this particular Saturday during my vacation failed, I decided to go it alone. Armed with travel brochures, internet information on the key sights, and information of what not to miss, I left my hotel about 8:30 am with a very positive outlook. I had already mastered the metro system to the point of knowing where the nearest stop was and where to get off, but I didn’t know how to find the connecting train station for the out of town trip to Sintra. Buying the ticket was easy at the ticket booth which was manned with a live person, asking in English is a forte of mine as I don’t speak Portuguese.

angelThe next step was to get off the metro and find the train station. I started to inquire of my fellow metro passengers who either didn’t understand me or didn’t know. This was strange to me since it was with in a short walk of the metro stop. Everything is different when one is in another country and not familiar. On the third try I happened upon a family with an elderly gentleman who seemed to be the local resident and the others, the visitors. In asking this group about the location of the train station, I discovered they were from Poland. I chimed in that my heritage is Polish as my Mother’s father came from Poland in the early 1900s, a town called Silencia. To my surprise, I was told that they came from this same place. I was asking for help from people of my heritage land! As we got off the metro, the elderly gentleman, most likely their father, speaking no English but made to understand my goal from his relatives, pointed the way to the train station. Yes! Mission accomplished!

Having my ticket in hand I quickly found my train on the track already arrived. I barely made it into a seat before the train left so my timing was quite good. As I settled in the seat I had found after searching for one up and down several cars, I noticed French spoken near me.

 In my usual brilliant way, I asked the young woman closest to me “are you from France?” She replied, “yes, we are from Lyon”, referring to the 3 couples in her group. This brief introduction began a conversation about our day in Sintra and planned itineraries. After hearing about the place I wanted to see they changed  their plan and decided to join me. I was thrilled. We all got off the train together and for the next 6 hours became a new unit, wherein I was treated like one of them… something like being an adopted Mom. The young woman had left her 8 month old baby at home for this weekend away with her Mom so perhaps she was in a very nurturing mode.

It turned into a wonderful day for me, where at first I thought I’d be alone I was accompanied by a nice group of friendly people all day while touring interesting sights. We even stopped and had tea together. It was a very warm feeling to chat and interact with these young people for the day. About 3pm we parted company as our desires changed… with me wanting to view the inside of the Pena Palace and their only wanting to see the outside gardens.. We said goodbye with invitations from the young woman to visit Lyon.

About an hour later I walked down the hill, took the bus back to the train station, then the train to the metro and as I was coming up the stairs from the metro station I looked up in amazement… could my eyes be deceiving me? There was the same group of French people looking just as amazed! I knew then that I had been experiencing a divinely inspired day complete with angels on my shoulder to look out for me. How else could I have met the same group back in Lisbon?

Although I had a two week vacation on my own and did some organized tours during that time, some of my best moments were when I just trusted that I’d be ok on my own and went out into the great unknown. It was when I was in the hands of my guides, that I was truly guided.

Comments are always welcome.


Changing the Unfamiliar into an Adventure

October 14, 2014

Doing something familiar seems easy. When we try something for the first time, particularly when aspects are totally new to us, it may seem more difficult. Keeping an open mind allows our creative and intuitive right brain to help us adapt to the situation. If all goes well, we can change what was first strange into an interesting experience. Or, it may even become an adventure! A few weeks ago the new subway line opened in my neighborhood. This simple event has been much a waited for the past several years to provide more efficient access to the Washington DC metropolitan area. So when it finally opened, I decided to try it out. Not having travelled by subway for quite awhile, I wasn’t familiar with the program of how to go about getting a ticket, finding the correct platform and determining the appropriate fare. So taking the subway on this day was to be an adventure! subwayFirst I drove into the main facility and easily found the parking garage; however, determining the actual level on which to Park took some intuitive figuring. Who knew just parking could be so complicated! Once parked, I got out of my car to see another woman doing exactly the same thing – arriving at the same time and appeared to be just as lost as I was. I called out to her asking if she was familiar with how to find the platform or buy a ticket. She replied that it was her first time there and she didn’t know either. A fellow adventurer had just arrived! So I walked up to her and said, “together we can figure this out”. She seemed pleased to have someone with whom to navigate this unfamiliar territory. After making introductions, we walked off together as if we we’re old friends chatting away as we motioned to each other as to how to first take the elevator up to the correct level, walk across the pedestrian bridge, and then over to the main metro area to buy tickets. The system had changed since my last Metro experience and so she was helpful to me in how to use the more sophisticated and to me, ominus farecard machines. After helping me to procure a ticket, my new friend and I headed for the correct platform. I soon felt like a pro since as we were at the end of the line, this station merely had 2 platforms to “go” or “come back” from Downtown! I smiled to myself as I became more comfortable with the whole experience.  Once the train arrived, we boarded sitting next to each other and began the 45 minute ride into the city. I enjoyed her company as we shared life stories while the train hummed along, the chatting serving to make the travel time go much faster than if I’d gone alone. Her stop came up first and we said good bye, both having had a new adventure while doing something quite ordinary. But isn’t life like that? We can either avoid doing things that are unfamiliar or we can embrace life looking for what we can experience that’s new or different; or learn or perhaps meet some one that can add to our lives. In short, we can turn the unfamiliar into an adventure!


Forgiveness is a blessing in disguise

May 12, 2014

No one on this earth is perfect. If we were perfect, we wouldn’t be here since our purpose is to learn our lessons to improve ourselves. Once we achieve perfection, our work is done. Our lessons are learned and the only reason for us to stay in this earthly realm is to continue to help others. Thus very few of us are perfected souls and still here! One of our earthly lessons is to learn to love completely and in so doing, we also learn to forgive those that aren’t so nice to us. This is a very old lesson; one that comes down through the ages. We keep working at it because it’s not an easy lesson; yet, once we learn it or perhaps have moments when we accomplish it, we realize the blessings that we get in return.

Let’s take a look at the lesson of forgiveness and how it can be a blessing in disguise. Perhaps someone has hurt us in a way that at the time seems most painful to us; a natural reaction is to turn away from that person in anger; to not want to see the individual who has caused us so much pain again; and/or to not wish to speak with the person that has hurt us in the future. In other words, we want to cut off all access to/from anyone or anything that hurts us. This is a self-protective mechanism. In a way, it is a natural way for us to protect ourselves from being hurt again. That said, when we cut ourselves off, we close down to others who may offer us something. Fear and love cannot be operating at the same time. When we have shut down due to fear of being hurt, we are not allowing love to come in either. Thus, although we are trying to protect ourselves, we are also doing ourselves a great dis-service. Perhaps this seems counter-intuitive but this is how our lessons work. To understand more, we must peel a layer of our ego away.

Rather than cutting ourselves off from those that hurt us we must find a way to forgive them for in so doing we release the negative energy that flows between us two and creates a more positive flow. The negative energy is the fear, and the positive energy is the love. Letting go of the fear of being hurt long enough to forgive is allowing love to move in and take over. Forgiveness is part of the reason we came to this earthly realm. If it were easy, it wouldn’t take so long.

ImageSo, the next time someone hurts you in some way: says something mean, doesn’t understand you, makes you wait too long, hurts your feelings, or a myriad of many other things that make you upset, think about the negative energy that you can create between you or take a moment to let go and say… “I have an opportunity to forgive and remain in the positive flow and stay in the love energy”. Doing so is being God-like and this is the reason we came to earth. And when you forgive, the blessing you have is to open to become a channel of love in return.

May you always remain in the light.

 

 


It’s Either Fear or Love

September 21, 2012

If you’ve been following my writings perhaps you remember me saying that “fear and love” cannot be active at the same time. But this is a topic that deserves repeating. Let’s start off with a definition:

What does it mean, “It’s either fear or love?”

Fear is active from our second energy center which is also where our drivers of sex, power, and money originate. It is also where anxiety as well as illness begins. Love, on the other hand, comes from the heart, the fourth energy center. Only when the heart is open can we be in a loving, caring, nurturing state. When fear is operating, the heart is closed and so not open to the positive energy that is possible.

 Why are we in fear?

When we are afraid that we’re not good enough, we shut out possibility. Being afraid only causes the energy of fear to multiply and come back in the way of chaos to harm us. How can this be the case?

Let’s say that you decide to start a business but are afraid you won’t be successful. The next thing you know events start happening that take up your time, while preventing you from moving forward with your vision. Thus, your fear has a self-fulfilling prophetic impact on your life.

Now let’s change the attitude to one of belief in yourself. By sending out positive thoughts such as I can do this or I deserve this because I’m a good person; I know my field and I am capable (all essentially coming from a love perspective, you set up the energy of positive events to come back to you. The next thing you know, opportunities are presented that allow you to fulfill your vision and you are successful.

Another example is with relationships: We may not be going out thinking, “Why bother, I won’t meet anyone anyway?” This is fear taking over when really the attitude is one of I’m not good enough.  The playing out is much like the above scenario. We don’t go out, there’s no opportunity to meet any new people, and thus the self-fulfilling prophesy takes over. If we change the attitude to, “I’ll go out and just have fun; while I’m out perhaps I’ll meet someone”, this positive outlook is inviting and will most likely attract new opportunities. And so it goes.

Why not try recognizing the fear for what it is, the shadow self, attempting to hold us back from moving forward with new opportunity. Let go of the fear and open space for love to enter your life.


The Importance of Helping Hands (Reaching the Top Of Machu Pichu)

July 15, 2011

Peru was an amazing trip for lots of reasons. First, I had wanted to go for years but was concerned about the altitude, the local conditions (how poor the country is with the resultant possibility of crime), and pre-conceptions about my physical limitations. The website played down the amount of walking and the fact that the one mile treks were up, up, up! Granted I had been doing walks around the lake near where I live, but 45-minute casual strolls don’t compare to climbing knee-high steps at Machu Pichu for an hour to reach the top summit in time for a sunrise ceremony! So in addition to strenuous hiking on the edge of a mountain, we were doing it before day-break in dim light. On June 20, the day before the June Solstice, I made it to the top fairly well. It was a spectacular sunrise.

Climbing Machu Pichu, Peru
Machu Pichu at sunrise

But once we had done some ceremony to welcome the sun, gone back down part way to use the bathroom facilities and then gone back up again, my legs were really starting to hurt. By the afternoon, my thighs were almost paralyzed with pain making each step more and more difficult. Then, to my pleasant surprise, I began to see hands in front of my face as my much younger fellow travelers began to turn around to lend a helping hand. With each step, as I struggled to move upward, I suddenly started to feel that I was aided by divine helpers, some present and some not visible. Spirits now uplifted, my steps were lightened as I felt that I not only had physical help but angelic help as well. A smile spread on my face. Positive self talk replaced the menacing thoughts of, “What if I can’t make it, how will I ever get back down alone?” Now my mind was filled with, “Yes, I can do this, with a little help from my friends.”


Whatever concerns us shows up!

June 13, 2011

Do you like scary movies? What constitutes scary? Remember Indiana Jones, Temple of Doom when the female lead sees snakes all over the ground? It was her greatest fear materializing. Or perhaps for you, it’s a fear of the dark. Or maybe it’s a fear of high places. If so, ever have a dream about falling? It’s natural to have “fears”, since fears are an extension of concerns. The real question is what we do about them. Do we hold them “in” to fester or do we get control over them. Otherwise, fears can take over and cause havoc in our lives.

An example:

Here’s a recent example of how one of my fears played out. My darling male cat, Hercules went through two traumatic months prior to succumbing to the complications of renal failure on April 5. The decision to end his life after 17 wonderful years was devastating for me. Life without Hercules was sterile since the little guy was my alarm clock for many daily activities. He told me when to get up (with a swat in the face), and he cried on my bed when he thought it was time to go to sleep. He even told me when it was time for a break, which normally involved giving him some affection as well as play time. I soon realized I was afraid of life without my little angel.

But why should I feel this way when there was so much more to live for! The rational mind tells us all the logical reasons why our fear is, well irrational! However, we don’t listen, not at first anyway. I fixated on my memories of my fur baby using my time to make photo albums, memory cards to send out to friends and a 3-photo framing for the wall. Once this time went by, I realized that I was concerned about his resting place. I buried his ashes next to a rock near his favorite play area just inside the park area adjacent to my townhome.

A few weeks later, a registered package came by way of FedEX. Around midnight I opened the package to learn that the local Park Association planned to restore the stream and one of the tributaries ran right by Herc’s burial spot. I immediately became alarmed. “Oh, no, what if they disturb Herc’s resting place!” I thought. This fear began to grow until I was very agitated.

What’s the lesson here?

I stood back and asked myself, “Is this issue a lesson that I shouldn’t hold on to a place that just has ashes when I know that Herc’s soul is everywhere?” or, “Is the lesson that I shouldn’t worry and just turn the whole issue over for a divine solution?  I came to understand that the latter was the case. Then, I got hold of myself saying, “No, I will send the project manager an email and surely the work can be done in such a way as to avoid trampling on his remains.” I wrote up my concerns, found a couple of pictures of Hercules, one of me performing his celebration of life ceremony, and sent it to the association project manager.

The result:

The very next day she called me to say she was coming out to see for herself which “rock” was involved. We met, she looked at “Herc’s rock”, and then indicated that she understood the sensitivity of the situation. In a very sincere gesture, she assured me that a notation would be made on the blueprints, so that when the stream restoration work is done, Herc’s rock would not be disturbed! Yeah! It all worked out just fine, for the highest good of all concerned. Perhaps the Association will eventually call that rock, Hercules’ Rock. Somehow the thought made me smile.


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