Where’s the wiggle room?

Not Everything will go as you expect in your Life. This is why you need to drop expectations, and go with the flow of life – Leon Brown

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My friend wrote recently about going with the flow, about being open to possibilities and not planning too thoroughly.

The idea of free falling and not having a plan sends chills up my spine, it has my head spinning and my palms sweating. That said, when I have been open to spontaneity (usually initiated by others) I’ve been delighted with the outcome.  Learning to go with the flow is a concept I’ve not yet fully embraced in practice even though I can see the beauty, wonder and joy that can arise as a result of letting go, just a little.

My friend’s story of arriving in a foreign town with no means of transportation to the next destination, feeling abandoned a and nearly giving up hope of continuing on his planned journey reminded me of a similar experience I had while travelling.

Last year I travelled to Italy. I planned my itinerary, booked my accommodation before leaving and had a rough idea of what I wanted to see while there. There was room within the plan for opportunities that might present themselves while satisfying my need for structure and order.

For one leg of the journey I’d booked a room in a motel in Riomaggiore on the Cinque Terra. When I arrived the room hadn’t been cleaned but the proprietor allowed me to put my pack in the room to free me up for roaming. After a long, hot day hiking between villages I returned to my room to find a dirty towel in the bathroom, used sheets and pillows on the bed. When I questioned the desk clerk whether my room had been cleaned he became incensed, claiming “of course” the room had been cleaned. He quickly escalated to yelling at me. Despite acknowledging the hair on the pillows, crumpled sheets and a wet towel this man maintained the room had been cleaned. Mindful of remaining calm, despite the hostility, I asked for clean sheets so I could change the bed myself and was promptly shown the door and told to “go”.

I was almost beside myself. Where would I go? What would I do? I was alone, in a village far from home where few people spoke my language. It was late, I was tired and bewildered at the exchange that had just taken place. As I wandered down the street, heart pounding in my chest and almost in tears, I wasn’t sure how to proceed given that I’d planned my accommodation from Australia in the comfort of my living room using an online booking agent. To make matters worse most accommodation “houses” didn’t look like motels in Australia. So I wasn’t even sure where to look for somewhere to stay.

Eventually, I came upon a doorway, entered, asked the elderly gentleman, who spoke no English, if he had a room. By some chance we communicated a price, muddled through the reservation process and he took me on a long, steep and windy path to get to my room.

The room was tiny yet it was magnificent. The sheets were clean, the bathroom was clean and, best of all, I had a view of the ocean.

image I’m all for planning, I’m not naturally spontaneous but had fate not intervened and dashed my plans, had I held on rigidly to my plans and stayed miserable and uncomfortable in a dirty room I would have missed out on a rich experience and my memories of Riomaggiore would not be fond ones. If I had held onto my plans, if things had gone accordingly I would not have had the lovely interaction with this man, who offered to carry my 20 kilo pack up the steep and windy path. Had my plan played out as expected I would not have met this kind and gentle man who sensed I was upset and offered me coffee and finally escorted me to a quaint little whitewashed room with a window that framed the most gorgeous view of the Italian coast. As fate would have it, I sat and drank in the changing light of that view all night. I have a wonderful memory, a few fuzzy photographs and a pretty cool story to share of that joyful night.

Are you leaving enough room in life for spontaneity, for fate to intervene and surprise you?

Have you allowed for wiggle room?

When plans go awry are you open to the joy and opportunities that may wiggle into that tightly planned schedule you’ve designed?

I wish you luck and the joy that comes from flow,
Shannyn

8 weeks, 6 countries, 40 000 kilometres…. I’m home

 

I love to travel

I love to travel

After 8 weeks in 6 countries with 5 languages, sleeping in 22 beds, having travelled 1221.5 kilometres by rail, 34164.82 kilometres by plane, approximately 3952 kilometres by road  and untold miles of  footsteps; I have returned home!

I love to travel. Exploring new countries, interacting with the locals in each area and learning about the history and culture of each place fascinates me, heightens  my senses, satisfies my curiosity, intellect and sense of adventure.
Travel lingers in the heart and mind for years to come. Memories and recollections take me back to the time and place when the routine of life sets in again. Travel broadens perspectives, clarifies misunderstandings, deepens an appreciation for all people, cultures and religions. Travel is uplifting and it helps me to see the world through new eyes.
After two wonderful months in Europe I have now arrived home, held my son in my arms, stood bare foot on my little patch of Australia, slept in my own bed and emptied my backpack. I am looking forward to reconnecting with family and friends; the people who make this place home to me.
Friends and family make this place home.

Friends and family make this place home.

“Travel and change of place impart new vigor to the mind.” –

Seneca

 

8 weeks, 6 countries, 40 000 kilometres…. I’m home

 

I love to travel

I love to travel

After 8 weeks in 6 countries with 5 languages, sleeping in 22 beds, having travelled 1221.5 kilometres by rail, 34164.82 kilometres by plane, approximately 3952 kilometres by road  and untold miles of  footsteps; I have returned home!

I love to travel. Exploring new countries, interacting with the locals in each area and learning about the history and culture of each place fascinates me, heightens  my senses, satisfies my curiosity, intellect and sense of adventure.
Travel lingers in the heart and mind for years to come. Memories and recollections take me back to the time and place when the routine of life sets in again. Travel broadens perspectives, clarifies misunderstandings, deepens an appreciation for all people, cultures and religions. Travel is uplifting and it helps me to see the world through new eyes.
After two wonderful months in Europe I have now arrived home, held my son in my arms, stood bare foot on my little patch of Australia, slept in my own bed and emptied my backpack. I am looking forward to reconnecting with family and friends; the people who make this place home to me.
Friends and family make this place home.

Friends and family make this place home.

“Travel and change of place impart new vigor to the mind.” –

Seneca

 

Nature’s pharmacy: What potent ingredients do you require for good health?

I am currently travelling through Europe and have had the opportunity to hike in a number of different landscapes: while all have their own unique qualities I am drawn to certain landscapes more than others.

In the Dolomites I was awed by the stark harshness of the bare jagged rock but felt quite misplaced. I had this feeling once before after catching the cable car to the top of the Argille Du Midi in Chamonix, France, a 3842 metre peak. I enjoyed the splendour of the mountain terrain coated in white snow and ice but after a while I began to crave the earth beneath my feet; I had a driving need to place my bare feet deep into moist, aromatic soil.

The rugged landscape of The Dolomites

The rugged landscape of The Dolomites

The Scottish moors are mysterious and magical. The roaring silence deep within the moors is at once unsettling and peaceful. The landscape, birds, animals and flora play to my senses

I am most at home, however, in the forest. Be it the lush humid Australian rainforest or cool dark European forests surrounded by Oak, Rowan, Ash, Juniper, Elm and Pine trees. I love the raw, dank smell of the soil, the richness of colour and the closeness of the majestic trees. The sounds of these wooded places draws me. The melody of native birds to the hushed silence one experiences deep within these places are soothing. The interplay of species within the forest and bushland are works of art to my eye. I revel in the twisting of vine around trunk, the round woody burls protruding from trees, the buttress like flanges that extend from the base of trees that can cradle a weary walker and the colourful fungi and mushrooms that remind me of childhood stories of fairies and their homes. All this and more draw me back to the forest time and again. There have been times in my life I have needed to return to the Australian Blue Mountains to rejuvenate by lingering in that vast National Park. The mountains call to me.

The ocean too is a place of healing, refreshment and rejuvenation for me. I have only to step onto one of our sandy Australian beaches to feel my troubles roll away on the tide. The strength of the ocean waves crashing on the beach or gently rolling over each other as they reach the shore is music to my ears. The very vastness of the ocean, viewed from a small section of beach, puts my thoughts into perspective. Twice, I have soothed a grieving heart by the sea. Having lost cherished grandparents I was instinctively drawn to the beach when my grief overwhelmed me. After several days of walking, bathing, sitting, praying and being nurtured by the energy of the ocean I could return home, still nursing a grieving heart but one that was less raw, one that allowed me to function again in the world.

Pottsville Beach, Australia

Pottsville Beach, Australia

Nature is a powerful healer. I know this to be true yet I am constantly amazed and pleasantly surprised when I experience a deep solace, heightened senses and raised spirits after a hike, a walk on the beach or time in the garden. Do you draw strength from the earth? Where do you go to recover, rejuvenate and heal?

Walking the pages of the world

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.”

Saint Augustine.  

They say once you’ve travelled you get bitten by the bug. I love to travel, with all its wonders and its difficulties. Every  couple of years now I head off on a new adventure away from my homeland and in doing so I have found a greater appreciation for the world,  its people and their cultures . I have also developed a deep love and respect for my own country as a result of leaving to explore the world.

Like St Augustine and many others, travel for me puts so very much into perspective and reminds me that there is so much more than my own existence.  I love too, that at any time I can simply close my eyes and revisit the places I have been and relive the sights, the sounds and the experiences I had while there. It is as Conroy claims;

 “Once you have travelled, the voyage never ends, but is played out over and over again in the quietest chambers. The mind can never break off from the journey.”

For all the joys travel brings there are also some small hurdles along the way that force one to really acknowledge the important things in life. Travel forces you to minimise, to adjust to change and difference and to make the most of every day despite the weather, language barriers and lack of home comforts. I’m not sure I totally agree with Cesare Pavese, the Italian poet and novelist, that travel is a ‘brutality’, although at times it can bang you up a bit.  It does however, force you to “trust strangers and to lose sight of all that familiar comfort of home and friends. You are constantly off balance. Nothing is yours except the essential things – air, sleep, dreams, the sea, the sky – all things tending towards the eternal or what we imagine of it.”

I love that when I travel my whole life is contained in a backpack.  The knowledge that I can do with less is a wonder to me and I am grateful for the simple things; a soft patch of grass to sit and eat the figs bought at a market, the stranger who offered help with directions, the cool breeze that dries a wet shirt after a long hike.

The impact of travel is not subtle. These opportunities for exploration and discovery are about more than discovering places. They are also about discovering and unearthing more of myself. For me it makes great dents in my ego, it tests me, feeds, fulfils and reshapes me. Each time I go away I come back changed. I think Theroux got it right when he said;  “You go away for a long time and return a different person – you never come all the way back”

The wonders of the Uffizi Gallery

I wandered the halls of the Uffizi Gallery in Florence today and was blown away by the building itself and the wonderful collection it held. I have a long and varied bucket list of must see art works. Having ticked off the Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo, Pieta, David, the Sistine Chapel as well as numerous Van Gough’s, Da Vinci’s, Picasso’s, Matisse’s to name but a few. Today my one “must see” painting was Botticelli’s Venus.

I was not disappointed. The detail and the colour are exquisite. Photographs simply do not do it justice. The painting is enchanting. I was also captivated by two of Rembrandt’s self portraits along with so many other works. However, one work of Botticelli’s that stood out for me today was The Calumny of Apelles. Perhaps it was the metaphor and allegory that captivated me. I was enthralled.

The painting depicts King Midas with ass ears, into which are whispering the figures of Ignorance and Suspicion. In front of Midas, stands the hooded, dark figure of Hatred, followed by Calumny dragging her nearly naked victim by the hair. Calumny is attended to by the figures of Deceit and Fraud who are adjusting her jewelry. Behind this group is the figure of Penitence, who looks away and towards the naked figure of Truth, who is pointing upwards towards heaven.

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Great art fills me to overflowing. I revelled in the hours I spent wandering this wonderful gallery and have been on a high all day as a result.