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.


Half full or half empty?

June 13, 2019

There is an old adage of how we look at life” do you see the glass as half empty or half full?” This is a common theme that plays out time and time again when looking at situations. How one sees things is always in the mind of the beholder.

Recently, I sent a photo to two friends while visiting family out in California of Palm trees with a mountain background taken during my early morning walk. The caption to my one friend was simply a good morning to her. I received a reply that the photo looked serene and peaceful. In other words, she had a positive response to an image that was pleasantly received. As my other friend lives in a northern climate still experiencing chilly weather, I captioned the photo that I was sending sunshine. His response involved questioning the temperature to which I told him over 100F… “an oven” was his response… he knows that I totally enjoy my morning walks in the sunshine because I don’t do it at home. Yes it’s a bit warm even at 7 am, but it’s so beautiful looking at the mountains and the Palm trees that it’s my favorite thing to do while out west. We don’t have Palm trees in Virginia.

So where are we in this story? My first friend is a positive person about most things so it’s not so surprising that she’d have a positive response to the photo I sent. She takes life well and I enjoy being with her. She holds down an important management consulting position and juggles being a Mom to two young adult boys. She’s a genuinely nice person.

My other friend tries to be a nice person too but he gets lost in the negativity of the world. As a result he sees the negative in little things that people do or say and in this case, he missed the beauty of the moment or the kindness of the act by over analyzing the situation. I still like him for he has some lovely qualities, but he struggles to get through life. Such a small thing like looking at a photo and deciding what you will see. But that’s the point.

It’s a decision how we will interpret what comes into our mind. So will you see the glass as half empty or half full next time? Try to catch yourself if you start to be negative. With practise we can move into being more positive people and in the process we will be happier too. Comments are always welcome.


Time to take a stand for oneself!

April 16, 2019

It’s a beautiful spring day. The trees are blooming and look refreshing and new. It’s warming a bit so that it’s not so cold as before. It would be nice to talk a walk out in the sunshine.

I choose to think positive thoughts; to read my book on the fascinating history of the Templars in Portugal; to help others by mentoring and to do other volunteer efforts which bring me joy. I started assisting my university alumni with offers of mentoring and immediately had a taker… the very next day. It was a pleasure to help this woman assess her current career situation and how to move forward according to her desired plan. These are all pro bono sessions but they provide me a venue for giving back and that brings me joy.

An old project management colleague contacted me to be interviewed for an article that he was writing and I was glad to assist. The piece was on the value and impact of various certifications and as I have several very unusual ones, he chose me to be included. It was fun to participate and wonderful to receive a digital copy of the finished product several weeks later. More joy came to me in helping him.

Those that chose to stay in a negative place will be left behind. I can only help so much for it drains me if there is nothing ever coming back, nor appreciation; just chaos left in the ashes of my attempts to be of service. Thus, to those that are negative energy I say that I must detach from you all. It’s just too oppressive.

For there to be a friendship, it must be a two way street. The same holds true for a relationship. Both parties must acknowledge their participation otherwise, there is nothing? It’s all just a fantasy.  I care about all the issues that other people have but no one wants to listen to me or care about what is going on in my life. Am I too independent? Too willing to take on the world? At some point, I have to say that it’s enough and I’m going to stop being the world’s baby sitter, or mother or care taker. I have to look out for myself and have proper boundaries.

So if your mood darkens and you refuse the light that I offer, so be it. I can do no more. I will not be your psychologist to figure out what’s going on with you. Only you can decide you want to figure all that out and then it’s part of your soul’s journey to take the road ahead.

So here is where we part company. I choose to take the high road, be positive and follow my path to be of service. My goal is to help souls one by one to be all they can be in order to raise the vibration of the planet. But each soul must move forward in his/her own way and in their own time.

It’s your decision now. What will it be? Will you stay behind in the darkness or come with me into the light? Comments are welcome.


Entanglement or Relationship?

March 28, 2019

Have you ever wondered about the nature of a relationship that’s not going so well? Perhaps there is arguing, conflict, constant negotiations or other types of negative interactions. Most relationships are with and between adults, but they can also be with children. There is another category of people who never matured into a fully functioning adult and remain very childlike, perhaps even referring to themselves as having arrested development whether in jest or not.  As I’ve been told by my psychology-oriented friend, this type of individual most likely wasn’t properly nurtured during the prime young years and as a result, missed out on a type of personal validation that’s required to develop a healthy sense of self; thus, the impact is that they never really grow up. In other words, an individual who didn’t have a mother or father really present in their life (perhaps physically but not emotionally for lots of reasons) can remain in an immature or childlike state.  The dynamic is more complicated than I’m presenting but is simplified for discussion. There are many people who do grow up to be quite well adjusted even without childhood nurturing, myself being one of them. I simply recognized where love was missing and did a lot of inner child work. However, I’m not the norm.  

Entanglement

Don’t get me wrong. My parents did love me, but they came from an era where kids were seen and not heard, my opinion wasn’t valued, I was greatly criticized, and never made to feel important unless I was achieving. Ah ha! And as a result, one learns to be an A type personality to overachieve in order to please one’s parents. But now, I’m getting into a slightly different dynamic. Here, the individual is taking on very adult qualities and perhaps way too much responsibility. Possibly, it’s the two ends of a spectrum of not getting one’s needs met as a child.

So as far as this discussion is concerned, we can refer to individuals who never really attain a proper sense of self, a man-child or woman-child. They appear in an adult body but when provoked they revert to temper tantrums and outbursts just like a child. If you are unlucky enough to interact with one of these immature people, you may find that you are in an entanglement full of chaos rather than a more normal type of relationship.

Since I believe that everyone comes into our life for a reason, what types of lessons can one learn from interactions from a man-child for example? As I’m a woman, I’ve had the experience of dealing with a man-child. In fact, I actually felt like I was caring for my child. As I noted above, taking on too much responsibility and not wanting to take on any are polar opposites and attract. Could it be that my life lesson was to learn not to be so very responsible for everyone else by the universe giving me someone who would simply take and take and it would never be enough? He was an empty well that could never be filled with enough love because he felt that he wasn’t good enough to be loved (never forming a positive sense of self-worth as a child). No matter what I tried to do to help this person in terms of working on a resume for him to get a new job; showing him how to earn money with odd jobs by actually going to the job site and waiting for him while he working on a friend’s electrical that I set up for him or any of the other caring acts I did. I felt like a soccer Mom waiting for her child to play the game. I sat for hours so that this guy could make some money so that he’d feel better about himself. I also went through the motions of caring for him in other ways by feeding him meals, giving him t-shirts, socks or other articles of clothing when he needed them and helping him buy presents for his family because navigating a huge store like Target was too overwhelming. I’ve never had kids but really felt like I had one during my “entanglement” with this guy. Eventually, he left town and I felt like I was losing my child.

Of course, I had to have a serious talk with myself about why I felt that way and where it was coming from. After considerable reflection I realized the lesson in it for me. It was about learning unconditional love and being the divine feminine. Being my polar opposite, he opposed me in many ways. To do what I did for him, even though it caused me great consternation many times, was an act of pure love, unlike any that I had known before. He taught me a lot in our months together and for that I’m grateful. I know that our soul contract is now complete and I’ve done all I can for him, now recognizing that it’s time to let go and allow him to survive on his own. Much like a parent allows her child to be a teenager then grow up; of course, this may be impossible for him at this point in his life.

It was an entanglement, not a relationship of equals. Now I can stand back and see it for what it is. I have the power of analysis and so am sharing it to help others understand their lessons if they find themselves in an entanglement. There are many types of entanglements, but if one looks deep the answer to why it’s happening will appear.

Comments or questions are welcome.


Call to Action

March 12, 2019

Have you ever been in bed and had ideas pop into your head? Perhaps it’s the list of what to do that day or a shopping list of activities that need to be done over time. Well, for me, I had an idea – that was almost totally conceptualized creep into my waking moments around the early part of this month and just wouldn’t let go. For days I had the same thoughts that I should create a non-profit community group aimed at making the world a better place using the energy of tango dancers. Ok, so why tango dancers? My two passions are helping to make the world a better place – or more esoterically put, raising the vibration of the planet; the other is dancing tango. The creative idea that hatched in my head used both these thoughts – tango dancing and bringing light to the world. No small task; or what many have told me when I started to talk about it, “good luck with that!”

In terms of creating a community action group, I was totally in unfamiliar territory. I seriously had no clue where to start, so I began where I always do when I don’t know – I decided to ask other people who might know. So just like any other creative project that I’ve tackled over the years, I decided to do information interviews with key influencers, who could eventually become stakeholders in this new venue. I selected friends, tango dance friends, friends of tango dance friends, people that tango dance friends knew, and so on. It wasn’t long before I had lots of people to interview and plenty of, “good luck with that” answers as well as a few good pointers along the way. I knew I would have my hands full with this activity, if it was even really viable.

After about a week of these interviews, I went to a tango dance wherein I realized that just the next week, this particular organizer was holding an anniversary dance. I quickly decided to hold a first fundraising asking permission to use their venue with the caveat that it wouldn’t impact their collected fees.  The organizer owned the space and was all about helping charity especially if it didn’t cost them anything.

The next day I set up a Facebook page for my new group which I named, Tango for Change.  Within hours one of my dance friends put a donate button on my personal page (not the new page), OH MY NOW WHAT?? So I had to figure out what to do. When you’re new at something, often times it doesn’t go smoothly the first time you go at it. Alright, I just went along with it and “SHARED” the fundraiser which had been created on my personal page to the Tango for Change page. This was a bit awkward but it was sufficient to have a few people donate. I had to work at it but by the end of the week, the initial modest goal of $200 was raised.

That night, the actual date of the fundraiser, I simply put out a decorated spaghetti keeper with a ribbon indicating the charity (a homeless shelter in the area) and with my encouragement around the room, another $83 was raised. Wow, it was hard work, but in less than 2 weeks the idea was hatched, created and implemented (with $283 going to my first charity). More on my new group as it progresses, but other than being exhausted from being emotionally trained, I’m pretty happy with the result. Now to keep the momentum going! (Of course, what you give out you get back multiplied!) So PLEASE like my new Tango for Change Facebook page to show support!!!


Every year above ground is good

January 24, 2019

When you remember someone that has passed, are there funny sayings or mannerisms that come to mind? In the case of my father, I always remember what he used to say when I asked him about his getting another year older and his practical response, “every day above ground is a good day”. So each year when I’d ask him, “Daddy, how does it feel to be 85, or 86, etc.?” “He’d reply, every year above ground is a good year”. Even though I knew what the response would be, I continued to ask him every year until there wasn’t a response. He passed the day after his 90th birthday and he wasn’t able to talk on his special day.

What is the alternative? If one is not above ground, then obviously, one is not alive. But to live, really live means to be more than just above ground and room temperature. This is the lesson for this article. Sometimes I feel like life is moving so fast that there isn’t time to do more than just keep up. When I thought about all the things I had to do today and realized that I was tired, I decided to just take a nap. Once I woke up I realized that none of the really important things that I had on my list were important at all. If none of them got done, it was really ok. In the overall scheme of the universe, none of it was important.

So what is important? When we are above ground, during our living years as the song goes, we should aim to make each day count, but for what? What’s really important? Some possible answers are to be a good person, to love, to help others, and to learn our lessons. Now you might ask how one knows what their lessons are? I’ve written many articles about life lessons so it’s not an easy answer here except to say that we have to pay attention to what happens in our lives and do our best to follow the path that’s best for us. Sometimes what’s best is not what we really wish to do. When I think about my father, he was always busy with hobbies and studying things. He valued education and taught us to do the same. He also valued hard work, probably a product of his depression-era younger years; although still a good foundation for him and a good legacy he gave to his children.

We each have to figure out how to use the time we have above ground and make sure that every day above ground is a good day.


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.


%d bloggers like this: