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?

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

Across the Rockies

utah red rock vistas yogaFLIGHT with Jill's kids Driving across country is always an amazing journey, with each crossing bearing a different picture of a country’s grandeur, whether that be through Canada, the US or beyond. I’m thinking that this will be my 6th traverse (or thereabouts) by vehicle across North America? I’ve lost track to date :).

The drive to here from Vegas was spectacular. We had hoped to visit Zion National Park  upon first leaving, but with the late timing in our departure from the city, it would have given us a few hours to set up a tent and check out the area. Best left for another time where we could spend a whole week exploring all the gorgeous red rock canyons and vista views. Glorious hiking is surely to be had throughout Utah!

The trek through Utah and Colorado was truly breathtaking! The Rocky Mountains have such character, especially with the passing of each season. Winter vs Spring … a whole new animal! We had a spectacular stay with my dear South African girlfriend Jill, who lives in beautiful Boulder Colorado. Her two children are a joy to be around, and whenever we stop by (it’s usually a quick overnight visit), there is sure to be much healthy eating, giggling, play and yogaFLIGHT! If I could live anywhere in the US, Boulder would be one of the top choices for a home. I love their clean healthy living outdoor lifestyle, nestled just at the foot of the Rocky Mountains. But alas, as Canadians, we are travelling the world just as visitors and are happy to make Canada our permanent home and country of choice.yogaFLIGHT PlayJilly Bean and I

I Dream of Cirque

The culmination of our tour in Las Vegas was the gift to each other for tickets to see the world-reknowned Cirque du Soleil show “O“, in permanent residence at the Bellagio Hotel since October 1998 (grossing over a billion dollars since it began!). I concur with the Los Angeles Times synopsis: “‘O’ is liquid magic …”. The mind-boggling contortionist display of pure fantastical imagination defies any sort of classification or categorization that I could give it. It’s even challenging to find words to describe the soul and beauty of the etherial quality behind the artists display of their incredible talents. The colourful, creative costumes and aerial aquatic displays … oh my! Flying silks whisked across the theatre and stage, creating a magical feel that seemed perfectly natural and unpretentious. I was completely gobsmacked and poised on the edge of my seat throughout the dazzling 2 hour performance. I felt utterly seduced and sucked in to this theatrical world of romanticism and fluidity. The display of sheer imagination felt so serenely real and other-worldly, all centered around a 1.5 million gallon pool / stage that fluxed from zero to 25 feet in depth. It was mind boggling to see the actual stage be a character, just as dynamic and fascinating as the other 11 acts. I’d be supremely privileged to attend another performance of this show …. in a heartbeat, if it weren’t so expensive! But to be honest, it was worth every penny to share in this with slaDE. A MUST see for anyone visiting Vegas!

Wikipedia provides a great outline of those enthralling acts:

O has eleven acts in total, which are performed both in, out, and above of the water.

  • Synchronized swimming: A group of synchronized swimmers perform in the pool.
  • Duo trapeze: Two aerialists perform on a single trapeze above the water.
  • Barge: A unique combination of banquine and adagio is performed on a floating raft on top of the water.
  • Bateau: A group of acrobats perform a combination of aerial cradle and parallel bars on a swinging boat-shaped apparatus high above the water.
  • Fire: A group of artists perform fire dancing.
  • Russian swing: Acrobats propel themselves high into the air with three sets of Russian swings and dive down into the water.
  • Cadre: A group of acrobats perform on a suspended frame high above the water in an artificial rain storm.
  • High dive: A group of four world-class divers leap from 60 feet above the stage into a 20-foot-deep (6.1 m) triangular section of the pool.
  • Washington trapeze: An artist performs on a fixed trapeze that swings in a long pendulum motion and is raised and lowered.
  • Contortion: Four young women with extreme balance and flexibility create graceful and lithe figures and movements.
  • Aerial hoops: A group of performers perform on hoops attached to the ceiling to perform various tricks both in and above the water.

Acts in rotation

  • Solo trapeze: An aerialist performs on a single trapeze high above the water.

Here’s the official O trailer: http://youtu.be/Vm11jzx7Ka0

 

slaDE and I have seen 3 other Cirque Du Soleil shows, all memorable and amazing experiences. But for me, I think that “O” will be the highlight of my Cirque Du Soleil viewing experiences, thus far! Do you have a favourite Vegas show? Have you ever seen any shows from Cirque Du Soleil? If so, what was your experience like? I’d love for you to share!

A Quick Retreat from Winter

Christmas morning, and barely a sprinkling of snow. I suppose you could call it a white Christmas per se (here in the snowbelt area of Teeswater anyway; not-so-much in other areas around SW Ontario), but I’m thinking that there are a quite a few Canadian children who are disappointed by the barren dry grassy plains in their front yards. However, I am ecstatic that the no snow or ice graced the road with its coy slick nature. I’m hoping for clear highways and humble temperatures as we venture across the North American continent! You see, slaDE and I were accepted {last minute ~ literally 1 week ago} as paying volunteers for a 12 week residential service learning program at the world-renown Mount Madonna Center.

They don’t call us snowbirds for nothing! I am thrilled at the prospect of escaping another cold snowy Canadian winter in exchange for some yoga and skydiving fun. However, this winter, the Airstream shall be left behind, and in our trusty Optra steed, we find ourselves fully loaded with skydiving gear and minimalist clothing + items, making our way, this most quiet of mornings on the highway. Today is the chosen day to pioneer a new journey for ourselves, with a new winter exploration beyond the Airstream comforts we have travelled for the past few winter solstices.

On this day, we pretty much stayed true to our schedule and made great headway towards the border well before the break of noon. Our crossing of the International Boundary was a bit arduous and longwinded. Being a prior ‘avocado seed smuggler’ (their words, not mine), we were pulled over for inspection. But all in intention and belongings were displayed upfront, and honesty rang true and through. An hour after arrival, we were allowed entry in to the beautiful US of A. Seems like my prior status with the USDA in forgetting about an avocado on board our Airstream will haunt us in future crossings. Dang my premature senility in remembering all things food! 🙂

My Dad made me this awesome mini-desk for my laptop …. and it was put to good use on our first day. I now carry a piece of my Dad and his love with me wherever I travel. And that makes my heart shine.

A good long first day found us arriving in Illinois late evening, spending a few quality days with our friend Barbie June. Knowing the solace and company of a long-time dear friend (and second Mother to me) ever welcoming has me warmed by the comforts of friends during the Christmas holidays. What a spectacular season this has been for family gatherings and friend get-togethers!

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

The Journey to Vancouver

What a surreal day! I spent the morning in Toronto with our friend Anshu, trying to catch up on the sleep I didn’t get last night (as if that will happen — you can’t regain what is lost). I’m super excited about the next few days, and sleep wouldn’t come to me easily. So I tossed and turned, catching a few winks here and there. And before I knew it, slaDE was home from his half day at work and we were zipping off to the airport. As Judi, the copywriter for the advertising firm designing our fabulous photo shoot says: “There’s something exhilarating just about being on the move – but even better when the flight is on time and the hotel is cool :-)”. Indeed, our hotel, the Opus, is in the heart of Yaletown and is über fabulous and chic in a trendy and modern sort of way.

Better head to bed … 6am and a full day of partner yoga will make for a tired sKY if not fully rested!

Revisiting Montreal in July 2011

We are so incredibly blessed. After leaving slaDE~s Mom’s late in the evening, we made our way to Montreal to our home for the next 5-6 days. A beautiful authentic man whom we meet on our last visit to Montreal (at both the Acro Yoga Sunday jam and the Yogaslackers slackline workshop) has gifted us with a place to stay whilst here for the Acro Yoga Fusion Throwdown. He lives  a stones throw away from the La Salle Metro, just south of downtown. The space is fantastic, with a humungous kitchen and a beauteous yoga studio in house. The icing on the cake … we have a bed and room to call our own with a mighty important fan to keep us comfortable during this raging heat wave. The journey thus far is bringing us the most incredible souls and opportunities along our path. The adventure continues ….