As I am transitioning to being home, having spent nearly a year of separation (in miles but not in thoughts and love) from my “kick ass girlfriends,” I wanted to take some time to reflect on the words they gave me. During our last group gathering, before I ventured off a year ago, I was presented with a word from each of them. I considered the words a blessing, something to practice, something to cultivate, and like a wish from them that I deeply experience all that each word encompasses.
The words were – love, rest, inspire, synesthesia, and curiosity.
Love – it’s hard to even attempt to put into words my blessings with this. I have felt love, offered love, seen love. The kind of love that is simple and just is. The people, the smiles, the eyes, the interactions, the animals, nature, the fireflies, the elephants, the cats, the ocean, the mountains, the jungle, the tea fields, the rice fields, the holy river Ganga. Not just the kind of love sometimes associated with desire and pleasure, although there was plenty of that – food and really good chai come to mind. And the experience of love for myself, that which is me, and that which connects all beings everywhere.
Rest – oh what an amazing gift, real rest. I have been able to rest my nervous system, rest the physical body, rest the mind. I remember sleeping so much when we first left. What a feeling to wake up in the morning when your body signals it’s time to wake, no alarm, just waking with the sun, and feeling rested. Spending time noticing what helps me to relax and ways to strengthen the vegus nerve. Resting not just with sleep but slowing the pace down, meandering, eating better, mindful deep breathing, meditation, laughing, reading, moving the body more, more mindful moments. Letting the body experience more “rest and digest” verses “fight or flight.” Oh yes,…rest, relax, rest.
Inspire – a year out of your home country, not working, and far away from any previous routines instantly inspires me! ; ) Meeting people who own so very little material items and seeing the biggest smiles and feelings of joy is inspiring. I have had countless interactions with people who have inspired me and I can only hope that I may have offered some inspiration to others. We thought we were doing something unusual in my “yearwithoutheels” but come to find out there are lots of people traveling, living abroad, working, retired, exploring other counties outside of their country of citizenship. I am even more then ever inspired to think what CAN we do rather than what can’t we do. There are people all over the world helping others, animals, nature, you name it, helping selflessly. Helping others because it’s what they do. Being able to have small windows of opportunity to experience other cultures is inspiring.
Synesthesia – being encouraged to experience everything through all my senses. Sight, taste, smell, touch, hearing. Taking my experiences in on the level of all 5 senses, plus the unspoken 6th. Right away, our first country and the county we spent the most time in, India, sets you up for this. The sights are colorful and vibrant, the smells are strong at times, you can’t help but touching and being touched with crowds of people, the sounds (horns, traffic, people, chanting, silence) keep you in the present moment, and all of this at the same time with the taste of spices. It’s a whole body, mind, and spirit experience. Staying open to and practicing the integration, the process of combining, digesting, mixing together, and understanding. It was a gift to have the time and space to practice utilizing all the senses and then to integrate that experience for inner understanding. Writing these blog posts has been another way which helped me to process, choose what to share and what not to share. I enjoyed working with this concept, experiencing through all the senses and integrating my experiences.
Curiosity – what a year of curiosity! Languages, cultures, foods, people, transportation, architecture, coffee (never knew there were so many ways to make and serve coffee), landscapes, animals, infrastructure, and lack of infrastructure. Getting curious about what makes people happy, what makes me happy. Staying curious as to how to communicate when I don’t speak the local language, how to be sick and heal, how to spend 24/7 with your husband. In each place we were curious and wanted to learn about the politics, the healthcare, education systems, the currency, country history, etc. We were curious to learn where others travel to and why. We would often ask locals “What do you think we should see or do here?” So interesting to explore how food differs in each country and region. Markets and grocery stores in different countries had all kinds of fruits I never knew existed before. I loved seeing, hearing, experiencing things that opened up my perspective. From ancient ruins to modern metros there was always something to be in awe of.
I am so grateful for these “kick ass girlfriends” and for the love and support we all share with one another.