Coffee and Travel

Oh the things we take for granted at home…like the low cost of a cup of coffee! We all know that airports jack up the prices for food and conveniences but the equivalent of $7 CDN for a coffee??? Please…however, I paid it so I guess I’ve just fuelled the economy in Switzerland and gave into a habit that seriously needs to be curbed before I get to India!

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In London I had one of the best coffees I’ve ever tasted at a little French bistro called “Cafe Rouge”. A great Americano with real cream (not the low-fat version I buy at home) accompanied by mini samplers of tarte tatin, a tiny chocolate lava cake, and a lemon torte. I happily dropped 15 GBP for that brief moment of pleasure…and then the moment was gone.

This was after walking through the luxury departments in Harrod’s – room after room of decadent goods with big price tags. As I gazed through the glass at a piece of jewelry with a cost of over 15,000 GBP, I wondered who would pay that much, how they would justify the cost, and in wearing it would it make them feel more important?

So I just finished off my $7 cup of coffee, every last drop…and I’m feeling jittery. Okay that’s it…no more. Time to let go of the habit and contemplate the value of much more important things.

Reunion

After nearly 20 years of distance, I reunited with a dear friend halfway across the world. What better place to re-connect than in London, England! Not only have we reminisced about good old times, but we are now sharing new experiences together which have deepened our friendship.

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I love the poem about “friends for a reason, friends for a season” and it speaks to the ever-changing nature of our relationships. Some people come into our lives for only a brief moment while others remain part of our lives for years. I think that the momentary acquaintances can be just as important as the long-time friends, for they were meant to come into your life at just that time perhaps to lend a hand, teach you something, or make your day. It sure makes you think about the ripple effect and how one smile or act of kindness can impact someone else’s life. Is it possible to treat all people we meet as friends? In the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali said it well – “cultivate friendliness towards the happy, compassion for the unhappy, delight in the virtuous, and equanimity in the face of adversity”. You don’t have to go all the way to London…simply take care of the people in your own backyard.

But I have to say…being in London with a good friend is pretty sweet…

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Retreat and Renew

This past weekend I had the honour of hosting fifteen lovely women for an annual yoga and meditation retreat in Prince Edward County. Such a beautiful location…very conducive to restoring and renewing one’s energy. Our theme for the retreat was CONNECTION – to oneself, to others, and to nature. Over the course of the weekend, I witnessed the unfolding of an energetic exchange amongst the women that grew deeper day by day. Faces that were initially apprehensive and uncertain, became relaxed and at ease. Bodies that held tension from stress began to move with grace and flow. Over-active minds experienced moments of peace and serenity; I could see it in their smiles and hear it in their hearty laughs. There was a transformation in these women happening before my eyes and I watched in awe as they blossomed.

 

circle of friends

 

So many special connections were made, but what I found to be the most interesting was when I asked the women to give away one of the pebbles they had collected in an earlier afternoon activity. At the time they found these pebbles, they had no idea who they would be giving them to; they were just to find a stone that was unique in some way and “spoke” to them. Later, in our yoga circle, I had them turn to the person on their left and present them with the pebble. The words that came from the heart of each woman were so precious, so genuine, and so in-the-moment, that I simply sat back and listened with astonishment. Each individual pebble seemed to be the perfect gift, as if the recipient was receiving exactly what she needed. A simple gift from nature created the biggest connection of all…and it was beautiful to watch.

 

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Our goodbyes at the end of the retreat were a combination of laughter, hugs, tears, and well wishes. I believe everyone, including myself, took home a piece of each other, and at the same time, left a piece of themselves behind. A piece that was no longer needed or a layer of “stuff” that needed to be shed…Such is the power of a retreat – to release, renew, rejuvenate, and restore.

Sometimes one needs to venture beyond their own backyard, away from the ordinary routine and the noise of the city; to connect with nature and the elements in order to re-set. I believe we NEED this more than ever…and I am blessed to have been able to experience it once again with such a remarkable group of women.

 

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Fly away with me

As a new iPad user, I was playing around with my new toy one day loading apps, reading magazines, listening to my music, and checking my email. After working on a computer during the day, I am often reluctant to spend more time in front of a screen…but for some reason my iPad seems different. And with my Google Earth app, I have discovered an incredible mode of travel…literally while sitting in my own backyard!

That day, I travelled to the Himalayas, exploring Mount Everest and K2 then floated down the Ganges as it twists and turns through India. Then I flew to the Sahara desert and travelled miles and miles through sand dunes that look like tan waves. I also discovered that some of the tallest sand dunes in the world are in Namibia, Africa – my app allowed me to fly above and around them! Check out this amazing view from http://www.spaceref.com:

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I then flew to a tiny group of islands in the south Pacific called TONGA – literally specks in the ocean until I zoomed in to find towns and settlements and life.

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(from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tonga)

Don’t we all sometimes think our “own world” – that which is our immediate, daily perception of reality – is the centre of the universe? We think/feel/behave as if what goes on in our own backyard is THE most important, THE most relevant, THE most significant. Yet our backyards are even tinier specks of the whole BIG picture. From my Google Earth perspective, I realized there is another person among the tiny islands of Tonga, who lives, loves, laughs, cries, and survives…just like me. We are not so different at all. I never imagined how this app could make me feel so CONNECTED, and give me a deeper appreciation of our existence. And it reminds me to not take the everyday “stuff/crap/sh*#” so seriously as if it is the ONLY thing going on in the world. I guess my backyard is not just my fenced-in lot after all…

So I am happy to fly away, around the world, visiting remote areas that I might never go to EVER (i.e. the Mariana trench – way to go to James Cameron for really going there!). During my travels, I will say hello to my fellow beings and wish them peace. Come with me!!

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