Springing forward

Are we there yet?Here we are with crazy weather for the first official day of spring. Stormy drifting snow with icy road conditions made for a tense and treacherous drive to the airport. Never before have I been so grateful and excited to leave behind a Canadian winter. So here we are: my dream has finally arrived, after months of a long harsh cold haul that had me itching to escape to warmer climes. We’re finally on our way to Spain! Don’t get me wrong. A well earned tour through various yoga studios in the Toronto area with our yogaFLIGHT flair has me grateful to have had the time that we did connecting with an ever expanding community. Yet I am thrilled to be springing forward on this marvellous equinox evening to the warmth of Europe.

It’s been a long time it seems that I’ve played tourist abroad. Spain will be an incredible adventure that hasn’t any set direction or expectation, apart from milder sunnier weather :).

Lufthansa rocks!Landing in Frankfurt after a wonderful Lufthansa flight has me on top of the world, although I feel physically drained and exhausted from little sleep over the past week. Several all nighters this past week took their toll as we crossed the Atlantic; I crashed deeply and soundly for much of the flight. I’d highly recommend the exceptional friendliness and attentive courteousness of the Lufthansa staff. The german culture with the meticulous emphasis on detail has me happy to recommend and fly with this airline anytime!

Meeting with our friend Mic at the airport has me grateful for world travelling friends who go out of their way in being hospitable. I’m constantly reminded by the generosity and lovely spirit of my friends in this lifetime. How lucky am I to be living the dream life that I am?! This trek into the European unknown has me excited about sharing it with my husband and best friend.

What excites you about travel and springing forward into life? What has you most grateful about journeying into the unknown?

Excess Baggage

Now that my husband and I have made firm plans on a trip to Spain (we leave in under a week!), I am debating what to travel with on our 9 week trek to Europe. I’m trying to travel as light as possible, which is quite challenging when trying to factor in such electronics as a laptop, tablet & phone (not to include all the plethora of accessories + chargers). On top of that, I’m uncertain on which camera to take — do I go with my Nikon SLR with the standard 28-50mm lens or choose instead my efficiently portable Nikon point & shoot camera. Forget about the 70-300 zoom lens for the SLR. I’ve got too much as it is. And trying to narrow down to the basic ‘necessities’ is proving to be difficult when it comes to hauling around expensive toys across the big pond. I’m even considering bringing the GoPro. But now, am I going overboard? I have video capabilities on both my cameras and phone. Too many gadgets weighs me down in my travels. I have too much experience living that truth …. I want this trip to be hugely different from my travel days of 15+ years ago when I lugged around a HUGE 75 litre Lowe Alpine backpack plus a day bag. At the time, I wasn’t just on week or month-long trips. I was trekking for YEARS. And carrying all that excess baggage really was a literal pain in the butt. It limited my options, at times, of spontaneity and freedom. I even took my skydiving rig with me on an overload tour of Africa. But it was functional and well-used during that trip. So it made perfect sense. And this was well before the days of expensive electronic gadgets and stuff. Nowadays, I’m of the mind that the less I have, the better.

I remember sharing a bunkhouse with an amazing nomadic world-travelling goddess in India, 7 years ago. She travelled scrupulously lean with little to her name except for her explicit desire for her music library by her side. Megan hauled around a ridiculous amount of CDs for her cd-playing Walkman. But she couldn’t live without her music. An iPod was not an obvious option for her at the time (she had never actually heard of an iPod 7 years back, even though this amazing Apple life-changing invention had been released in 2001). That memory of Megan’s music devotion reinforces the concept that many people tend to travel with excess baggage that they deem important and are unwilling to relinquish. Myself included! I’m having a hard time considering 2 months away without my laptop. Dang.

MAC electronics

I’ve toyed with the idea of only travelling with a tablet. But after spending a few days out and about trying to navigate my working habits, I quickly saw the limits of said device. Editing photos and websites are tedious at best, even with several different blogging and photography apps. For me, nothing can beat a traditional computing experience where hardy software and an accessible hard drive provide for all my digital needs. Having a keyboard is key. I’ve yet to see a usb keyboard that would serve the functionality and ease of my laptop for the iPad. I’m open to recommendations and suggestions! So back to my plan A. Laptop goes with me to Europe. In reality, no one really needs a tablet to accomplish all their digital needs. But once had, tablets are certainly hard to give up! The reading experience is pleasurable compared to trying to surf on a phone. The screen size of my iPhone 4S is not meant for reading large amounts of material online or in book form. Hence the iPad. I’m a MAC girl at heart, and having the whole payload of Apple’s toys at hand is hugely gratifying and appealing. Worth toting around the European Continent??? Something yet to be determined. I’ll keep you in the loop!

To what lengths have you travelled the world with your toys and life possessions on your back? How much is too much when it comes to baggage? And what have you given up in the process?

Fear, the Biggest Hurdle

They say that deciding to make a major change in ones life, following through and taking that initial first step, is the biggest hurdle to accomplishing goals and approaching transformation head on (whomever ‘they’ are). At this juncture in my journey, I can honestly say that indeed yes, ‘they’ are correct! A statement that I heard today resonated profoundly to the depth of my being regarding change: “Live fearless. Find joy. Live large.”

Leaving on a Jet PlaneI’m in the throes of excitement sparkled with fear as slaDE and I plan a last minute trip to Europe for 9+ weeks. I’ve always been a very spontaneous and somewhat fearless international traveller. If I felt an urge or craved an adventurous getaway, I would jump at any chances or opportunities that oozed my way regardless of their shape, size or form. My passion and enthusiasm for stepping beyond my own comfort zone into a different country and an unfamiliar culture in the past has been my strength and motivating force to perpetuate adventure in my life. And I am so feeling this with the notion of taking yogaFLIGHT to Europe. Specifically to Barcelona. Initially however, I was faced with a whole different and puzzling challenge of extending to my husband the premise that such a trip could be hugely viable, sprinkled with the potential for yogaFLIGHT greatness. I really wasn’t expecting his walls of uncertainty. Fear was getting in the way. For the first time in a longtime, we were at a crossroads in the way that we approached our life’s journey together.

Historically, I’ve tended to leap before looking, without forethought of the potential consequences when it came to travel (BS ~ before slaDE). On the flip-side, slaDE tends to logically think out and rethink every step of the odyssey. Me, I just go. And live with whatever unfolds along the way (I may be generalizing somewhat hugely, but you get the picture).

When I travelled in my twenties and thirties, I didn’t have the internet or the massive educational resources (library books, travel blogs and DVDs, etc) that we have today at our fingertips ~ instant consumption. Back in the day, I was an intrepid nomadic global wanderer. Now that, as a society, we have opportunities to go crazy in online planning, I’m finding myself overwhelmed by the possibilities and the plethora of vast information overload available online. Such a different medium and age in these travel plans. This however seems to be a positive influence for slaDE and his process, helping him work through any anxieties and fears that might have existed. After watching an instrumental inspiring video on living life fully (What would you do if Money Was No Object ~ Alan Watts), slaDE has now boarded the sKYtrain line of thinking, and currently, we are in the process of booking flights! Hurrahhhhhhhhh!

I’m noting that once an initial decision is made to actually go forth and explore, the rest is awesomely ‘easy’ and hugely fun!  For me, lists play a HUGE part in maintaining my sanity and organization. Thoughts, ideas and must-dos come tumbling out at the most random of times. And having a notepad at hand is vital to keeping me sane and on-track! One challenge that I am discovering, however, revolves around the planning details of currency exchange and money. I’m still trying to figure out best and common practises, and what would be the ideal choices for uS. My days of backpacking in the 90s revolved around the usage of Travellers Cheques (TCs) and cash as a way to live, with little difficulty in travelling from country to country currency wise. However, I’m repeatedly hearing that TCs are not as globally painless or accepted as they once were, during my heyday of overseas trekking. But I’ll leave that for another blog posting :).

As of now, I am so ready  and excited at the decision to catapult into this next shifting and phase. For the longest time, my head and heart have been out of the starting gate with an engine vibrating at the ready, yearning for international travel. It has been WAY too long!!! Yahoo!!!! Europe, here we come.

Here’s the transcript of Allan Watt’s video if by chance you are interested and searching for answers to that very same question of “What would you do if money was no object”!

What do you desire? What makes you itch?  What sort of a situation would you like?

Let’s suppose, I do this often in vocational guidance of students, they come to me and say, well, “we’re getting out of college and we have the faintest idea what we want to do”. So I always ask the question, “what would you like to do if money were no object? How would you really enjoy spending your life?”

Well, it’s so amazing as a result of our kind of educational system, crowds of students say well, we’d like to be painters, we’d like to be poets, we’d like to be writers, but as everybody knows you can’t earn any money that way. Or another person says well, I’d like to live an out-of-doors life and ride horses. I said you want to teach in a riding school? Let’s go through with it. What do you want to do?

When we finally got down to something, which the individual says he really wants to do, I will say to him, you do that and forget the money, because, if you say that getting the money is the most important thing, you will spend your life completely wasting your time. You’ll be doing things you don’t like doing in order to go on living, that is to go on doing things you don’t like doing, which is stupid. Better to have a short life that is full of what you like doing than a long life spent in a miserable way.

And after all, if you do really like what you’re doing, it doesn’t matter what it is, you can eventually turn it – you could eventually become a master of it. It’s the only way to become a master of something, to be really with it. And then you’ll be able to get a good fee for whatever it is. So don’t worry too much.

That’s everybody is – somebody is interested in everything, anything you can be interested in, you will find others will. But it’s absolutely stupid to spend your time doing things you don’t like, in order to go on spending things you don’t like, doing things you don’t like and to teach our children to follow in the same track.

See what we are doing, is we’re bringing up children and educating to live the same sort of lives we are living. In order that they may justify themselves and find satisfaction in life by bringing up their children to bring up their children to do the same thing, so it’s all retch, and no vomit it never gets there.

And so, therefore, it’s so important to consider this question: What do I desire?

What are your biggest hurdles in initiating change? Do you have someone cheerleading you on the sidelines when faced with the obstacles of doubt and indecision?

I Married Up!

This would be our final morning yoga class of Alumapalooza 2013. With 23 people in attendance (many of whom are returnees from their first-time yoga experience here in our yoga tent this week and from previous years), we felt very privileged to build and share in the community that has grown at this field location each Spring in Jackson Center Ohio, end of May. For three years running, we’ve volunteered our yoga services to the greater Airstream collective, cultivating a sense of yoga solidarity and exploration that didn’t quite exist before in Jackson Center. We have always enjoyed the prospect of returning to the Mothership of Airstream’s birth and revisiting with our Airstream family (once a year gatherings it seems). It’s amazing how an aluminum home can draw such reverence, interest and pride.

I was thrilled to be offering a yogaFLIGHT class for kids with slaDE, once again. But in actuality, it’s more of a giant play session. My husband has such a wondrous knack with teaching children, skilfully weaving an engaging and spellbinding varying story that has us adults enamoured with his style of yoga play. This year, we taught something near and dear to our hearts … the 12 young participants learned how to skydive, from exiting an airplane, teaching them how to ‘steer’ their canopies, to landing with a finesse and flourish. And of course, slaDE took them all for an ‘airplane’ ride afterwards. A few of the children stayed around afterwards to try out some of the more involved yogaFLIGHT moves that we play around with … ‘4 Step’ and ‘Shoulder Stand’. The boys did marvellously! I had to laugh when the one young boy, who was being spotted by our friend Kelly (while I roamed to take photos), exclaimed rather independently: ‘I’ve got this’ ~ translation = “Don’t spot or support me. I want to try this on my own”. 🙂

Antsy Maclean finished off a magnificent day with a rip-roaring spellbinding evening of 3 hours of raw wicked talent, interlaced with many an Airstreaming song. Antsy is definitely a favourite with this rVing crowd :), especially when he sings songs like: ‘I Married Up’.

It being the final farewell evening to spend with friends here at Alumapalooza, we chatted and cuddled, sang and laughed until our weary bodies begged for rest. Oh how I will miss our friends! Until next time, fare thee well ….

Amuck at Alumapalooza

Another spectacular morning yoga class with 25 people making the effort to attend our 7:30am class. I wasn’t sure how people would respond to the earlier time slot (last year we started at 8am each day). But it seems to be working out just fine, with those who really want their yoga morning fix, making the effort to join us under the big top, breathing and stretching on the luxurious tall grass. How wonderful indeed.

However, all is not champagne and roses on this windy, schizophrenically rainy day. The weather was failing to ‘cooperate’ as requested :). Backup Derby in the rain … not the best idea, especially with the threat of an impending torrential downpour with 50mph winds. Today, the winds started out much milder than yesterday’s stormy schizophrenic weather (although the skies threatened with their similar tempestuous character). It was actually perfect kite flying weather!

This year, slaDE and I decided to register for the Backup Derby. This truly is a tough event where a driver can show off their backing skills.  Teams of one or two can sign up to participate (note: married teams are coached to be prepared for marital-disharmony potential). You can find the 2012 rules here. The other 3 years I had been completely intimidated at the thought of pairing up with my husband in a trial run of rVing communication skills that would test the most skilled of rV marriages / friendships! Somehow 3 couples (including ourselves) managed to weave our way backwards through the seemingly simple track before the skies opened up in a heavy rainfall that had us scampering to the Airstream factory’s safety and dry interior.  The Derby looked deviously easy with the supplied single-axle trailer, until you saw that the supplied truck had ‘blacked out’ rear + side windows and mirrors, and that the traffic cones were strategically placed considerably close together. Aha! This would indeed be interesting. slaDE and I were 2nd up to bat. And managed to finish in 2min 3 seconds with two penalties (we hit the cones twice ~ slaDE was driving and I was outside with a walkie talkie), giving us a final tally of 2:23 minutes. By the time the first rain hit, our score was indeed the best of the three. However, there were 6 other couples to compete in the finishing round tomorrow. Wonder if we’ll win ourselves another set of ZipDee Alumapalooza special edition chairs for this year (we won the Rivet Master contest last year, with 2 chairs as our special prize!)?

The rest of the day was awash until ‘Happy Hour’ and then things started to really liven up! I announced that we would be offering a yogaFLIGHT workshop as a Roving Happy Hour pitstop, but we needed all participants to be sober. That caused quite the funny heckling ruckus, until I stated that we would be having a wIne & cheese afterwards. We in turn received a huge hurrah! 🙂

Three couples showed up to participate in the hugely successful and playful class. Turned out that afterwards, we had a really amazing happy hour under the big top tent, dry and tucked away from the fickle weather. Food and wine kept showing up after our supply ran short. It was a wonder to witness!

Josh Rogan finished off the night with a wonderful 2 hour set of rocking great tunes. What a fabulous day :).

Day 2, Alumapalooza 4

Another gorgeous day at Alumapalooza! So wonderful in that I slept soundly and solidly through the night, waking just minutes before we were to be teaching our yoga class in the tent beside us. YIKES! Nothing like rolling out of bed and stumbling to work :). Luckily enough, I’m a morning person and I can hit the ground running as soon as I wake up. Usually, LOL. The 23 attendees were gleeful at my tension-taming, easy-does-it morning class of stretching and breathing. And I threw in a bit of Pranayama and Meditation before stretching it out with yang-like asana postures. Lucky for me, slaDE was a wonderful assistant and allowed me the pleasure of teaching the class, for the most part anyway. We’ll try to switch roles later in the week.

Today’s highlights beyond the yoga tent ….

  • A vigorous countryside bike ride – very WINDY with the added bonus of a front-seat visual of the lovely Ohio countryside, topped with a big side of kick-butt exercise
  • A revisit to the Airstream factory tour. Nothing like being called to the Mothership :).
  • The ‘Aluminum Gong Show’ was a fundraiser where anybody could offer up their talents, and during their act, people who wanted the act off the stage could speed up the process with donations of large sums of money, after the gong was . Oddly, enough, if one liked the act, people were encouraged to give money as well! slaDE and I offered up a yogaFLIGHT routine to wow the crowd, Cirque Du Soleil style :). No gong was initiated for us. BONUS!
    • Over $800 was raised for the Red Cross to help with tornado relief in the midwest (in light of the recent Oklahoma disaster). Talk about generous Airstreamers! What an amazing community. Brett and Rich pledged to match dollar for dollar of the donations, leaving the grand total at $1,636!
  • Sitting around Colin Hyde’s trailer with fellow Airstreamers, shooting the breeze and podcasting via Colin’s cell phone (Colin Hyde is the Panel Pro) with VAP host Tim Shephard. The VAP usually discusses the weeks vintage topics , but tonight, everyone hanging out at Colin’s trailer spoke mostly about their Alumapalooza week thus far and how each individual found themselves at this venture in their Airstream life. You can find ‘Episode 186: Live from Alumapalooza 4!‘ VAP here.

Yoga and Alumapalooza 4

Alumapalooza 4: Our 4th year of returning home to the Mothership! Airabella’s birthplace, 22 years ago. Oh how we love to return home. I liken a trip to the Airstream factory as a trip to the ultimate candy store. 🙂

Our first official day as this years Alumapalooza Yoga Instructors started out beautifully with our 7:30am yoga class … 20 people in total! The weather was pure perfection, and with a freshly raked mown lawn under the big top tent, the earthen carpet for those to practice on was soft, clean and so very compelling in its true connection to Mother Earth, in every sense of the word. I love it when  people who are new to yoga, make the effort to come to our morning classes, never having attended any sort of class before. From the outset, we were very clear that these classes were purely a practice of breathing and stretching where we learn to listen to our bodies. Becoming attuned to one’s senses and connecting with in the inner world can be a very new experience for many. Any of the extra benefits of yoga (such as flexibility and strength) are just that … additional perks rather than goals. No excuses necessary or allowed! We had 7 new attendees, 4 of them new to Alumapalooza. YAY!

I learned a lot today from the multitude of discussions being offered in the main tent …. many great tips on rV Organization by a new friend Ramona Creel, the tech tips behind axle replacement on the Airstream by our friend Colin Hyde (we are possibly due to replace all 3 of our tandem axles). I had a tremendous amount of fun learning how to fly a trick Revelation kite (‘The Rev’), with Joe and my hubby. Roving Happy Hour was a wonderful success! We’ve been hanging with a similar group for the past 3 nights, and I’m thoroughly enjoyingWe were very blessed to have lent to us the wide variety of personalities, talents and knowledge base of these various new & old friends. It’s been such an amazing day of weather, warm sunshine, a cool breeze and endless blue skies. We topped off our day with sunset kite dances. Spectacular! Life is pretty incredible and amazing.

Hippie Dippy

Another cool yogaFLIGHT experience in the middle of our day, driving through Indiana en route to Jackson Center Ohio for Alumapalooza 4. After an amazing unexpected skydiving pitstop in Fort Wayne Indiana, slaDE and I decided to stop for a quick toilet break and food stop. In western Ohio on Route 20 (Woodville), we stumbled upon the coolest diner I’ve ever had the pleasure of discovering and eating at. The Speed Trap Diner had the neatest hippiest dippiest signage and decorations EVER! The ladies bathroom was über cool as well, with a Marilyn Monroe iconic theme. The pictures will speak for themselves!

I also love the fact that slaDE dared the local waitress to experience a yogaFLIGHT, even though she had never heard of acro yoga and was completely reluctant and skeptical. I can’t blame her really, after seeing and photographing us geeking the camera yogaFLIGHT style.

Everything is AWESOME about this pitstop. Oh how I love being a photographer / journalist / yogi nomad (a yomadic hippie ?? :))!

Things You Do Not See From Driving The Interstate – Indiana

Precious timesLeaving our amazing and dear friend Barbie June in Illinois (after a few days of hanging just west of Chicago with her), we made our way eastward towards Jackson Center Ohio, home of the Airstream birthplace. Of course, deciding to take the road less travelled offered up many cool opportunities to reflect, sightsee and enjoy the slower pace.

We chose to start a list of the unique things one does not see on the Interstae. I am hoping that this is a trend which we can establish on this blog for each and every state and province that we drive through. Sound like a plan?

Things you don’t see from driving the Interstate in Indiana

  • Amish ladies dressed in red dresses, riding palomino horses
  • blondes mares, manes glistening in the sun faithfully drawing black buggies
  • beady eyed buzzards collecting carrion from the roadside
  • playful ponies dancing with their foals
  • simple farm houses sustaining the moral soul of america
  • towering oaks shading the road
  • family cookouts on memorial day
  • small little white steeple churches
  • placid ponds with swans upon

Dropzone in Indiana

  • cool little airports (without fences and such)
    • Whoa! There’s a dropzone in Fort Wayne Indiana, right along Route 20 (Angola Airport West of US 69)! Skydive Fort Wayne. So we decided to stop and say hello. With perfect weather conditions (no wind), clear skies and a plane just having landed, we were persuaded to make an unplanned 4-way skydive. Well I’ll be …. Prettiest little random mid-west DZ I’ve ever jumped at! We introduced the previous DZ owner, Audrey, to some yogaFLIGHT. Made for a remarkable roadtrip distraction!
  • people gathered around a 100 foot tall bonfire

One Week

What would you do if you discovered that you only had a limited time left on this planet, that you only had a day … a week … a month left to live. What would be the first choices, your first gut, heart-wrenching reactions? Would you flee in search of adventure, truth and answers? Would you hibernate? Would you share your news with the world, or would you sit with the information, trying to decipher what it all meant, truly? What wish would you fulfill? Would you express your love to anybody in particular? What book would you write? I can’t imagine anything more ground-shakingly real than a death sentence imposed in bright bold headlines screaming that your reality is suddenly and wholeheartedly finite and defined.

The Library of the Abbey of Saint-Gallen. Photo by Candida Höfer.Such is the premise behind the movie ‘One Week’. A treasure I found in the bowels of the teeny St Clair library here in Toronto. As is my normal routine in settling within a city for any length of time, I find the closest local library and become a member. This is of vital importance to me. That connection with community and knowledge, the ability to establish a routine of sorts where I actually feel a sense of stability and solace, where I can expand my education in whatever realm I pursue to explore. A home to endless pleasure and ever-expanding schooling. Libraries do this for me. Be that in the form of illuminating movies, fascinating reads, stunning moments of connection with the pages of a book or quiet solitude. From my experience, Toronto has one of the best library systems in the country that I’ve discovered. A sheer wealth of resources available, be it at the tiniest of libraries or in the heart of the giant 4 story building dead-centre downtown Toronto. I often stumble across fabulous movies I’d never ever consider renting or watching, and with free access to hundreds of thousands of titles, I grasp whatever theme I fancy to explore and examine.

As with any journey, whether it be on the road to discovery (in an Airstream trailer!), through the pages of a book, the chronicling of a documentary, or in the questions stimulated by a really good movie, I realize that any pursuit of knowledge and the very personal answers that journey reveals can be a life-changing event that forever shifts perspective, ideals, goals and dreams.

The beauty of journaling, about what comes up in the midst of this excursion, lies in the revealing answers about what I might consider doing when life is presented on a platter, in vivid black and white, and I must choose between the comfortable confines of my current existence or the uncanny rhythms of a road less travelled.

I highly recommend this movie ‘One Week’ not just because it is a gorgeous sampling of Canadiana unveiled (part road trip movie, part love letter to Canada) but because it might just present a journey into the unknown, asking questions you dare not even consider in the solace of your daily life.

“One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.”
~ Ulysses