Total Pageviews

Friday, January 27, 2012

Coast to Coast to... Cleveland

Written in November of 2011...

I have attempted to write this several times, but haven’t had quite enough inspiration for a full blog. As I write this now, I am enjoying a beer at the Great Lakes Brewing Co. in the Cleveland airport (just want to give a quick shout out to the fine India Pale Ale I decided to try – delicious). I am waiting to fly home from my first solo venture as a trainer – and I must say, I am in quite the good mood. But my story doesn’t begin here…

So, I took this job – my sense of adventure and passion for aromatherapy all rolled into one package – who could ask for more, right? Back in October, I was waiting with anticipation to get my travel on again ;) – knowing that I had some exciting trips coming up. First, back to Seattle for the second time this year, then to Ft. Lauderdale, Sacramento, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and finally – Cleveland, Ohio. I jumped right in to all of the hustle and bustle of the travel planning and learning my new job. I had become one of the throngs of the business travelers – jet setting my way to this place and that. Blackberry checking, smart suitcase toting, rental car driving, making friends with hotel staff, bona fide jet setter. Fun stuff, right?

Seattle proved to be challenging – long hours and not much down time combined in a new job setting made for a trip that was less fun and more – well – work, I guess. Ah, not quite the adventure, but definitely learning more about aromatherapy. So I was happy and excited to continue. Despite the location, little down time kept me from seeing much of anything other than a series of hotel rooms. Nice – yes. Boring – certainly.

Ft. Lauderdale – for a moment, I thought I was back in Thailand – what with the tanned ladies and high, high, super high heels and balmy weather (yes, even in October). I got some time to do a thing or two – the business dinner was at an organic, vegan restaurant that made me seriously question if the food was truly vegan. My mouth was able to do a little dance and celebrate the pure goodness of healthy food. And yes, I did enjoy that chocolate cake for desert.

I had a moment in Florida, that I can never duplicate if I tried. My co-worker suggested that I take the rental car on our last day to check out the sunrise. I have seen the Atlantic before – not as much as the Pacific, but still – enough to know what the ocean looks like. I have never been so inclined to get up early to watch the sunrise (I consider myself more of a sunset kind of person), and other than the times I saw the sunrise in college (due to staying up all night) haven’t had the opportunity. So – I checked the local time for sunrise and made sure to set my alarm to get up in time.

The nearest beach was not the best beach to catch a sunrise (as I was told), so I made sure to find the right beach to check out. It took me about 15 minutes to get there, and as I drove, I could see the light growing over the horizon. I made it to the beach just in time to see the orange crescent top out over the water. I sat and let the wind blow on me and just reveled in the silence of the moment. It was beautiful. No – that is too much of an understatement… It was magnificent. I sent picture texts to three people I love very much and shared the moment with them as best I could. It was one of those times I wanted to just hang on to for as long as possible.

After a walk on the beach, I had to head back to the hotel to check out and get to the airport on time… and homeward bound I was. Fortunately, I had a new book (Mike Birbiglia’s Sleepwalk with Me – check it out, if you want some laughs) to keep me in stitches for the flight home. It even distracted me from the sneezing toddler who managed to get snot and goo all over the back of my head. Ahh, such is life.

Cleveland turned out to be the biggest surprise. I had never been to this city before, and was greeted with a lovely city on the edge of Lake Eerie. I had the opportunity to get to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. What a treat! There were moments when I was moved to tears, thinking about what was going on in the heads of Janis Joplin, Stevie Nicks and Madonna as I saw their original pages of lyrics. I was a mere couple of inches away from the glove that Michael Jackson made so famous, and the tight, tight pants that Mick Jagger wore like no other. I wanted to run out and grab my iPod to listen to the music in an entirely new way. It made my soul sing and dance, and cry a little that I had no one to share it with. I leave Cleveland with a renewed appreciation of music, a new success in my career, but a much deeper love of home.

Every return home, I find myself humbled and blessed by what I have waiting. I have learned that a smile gets me a long way on the road, but nothing beats the smile waiting for me at home. My love, my dogs, my friends and colleagues all make my life sweeter and I have this deep appreciation for comfort and connection that I can’t find anywhere but home.

Saturday, September 17, 2011


I am inspired to write. Something about travel from place to place, just sets my creative fire alight. I am filled with images; people typing on laptops on the floor in the airport, teenagers with their backs turned to their families – enduring vacation with parents they can’t stand, babies sleeping in their mothers arms until they get on the flight; everyone just waiting to get to where they are going. I love the energy of the airport.

I can’t wait for my next adventure. Seattle for two days… the Pacific Northwest welcoming me back for the second time in less than a year. What a thrill! My travel inspiration colors the words I write – my fingers are barely able to contain the energy pulsing through me with anticipation of an upcoming trip. From start to finish, traveling somewhere (yes, even my trip to North Dakota this past spring), provides me with an adrenaline incomparable to anything else in my current existence. I want to go – be on the move, brush shoulders with the world in my fervor to get somewhere different or unfamiliar.

How excited am I to just go…

Wellness, for me is about these things. Travel and writing and embracing my desire for motion and change; my balance is restored with the dream of flying somewhere. I prioritize my daily life better when I have a goal. I enjoy my conversations with the people in my life. I smile more and treasure the moments for what they are. My mind stops whirring and I focus on the details. How I pack my suitcase is more reflective of my heart than how I organize my dresser drawers ;) Something that irritates Heather, I am sure. I don’t just want to go though. I want to go and come back. Ahhh, heaven…

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Moving on...

Well, after seven years, I am leaving the school. I have loved my time teaching massage therapy and learning about health and healing. But for the last few years, I have found a longing to be more out in the world. Obviously a trip to Thailand helped to scratch that itch for me - yet I found myself left wanting upon my return. So, Heather and I decided to move to the Pacific Northwest - Oregon to be specific. We both want to keep growing, and have educational and career opportunities to pursue out there.

So - decisions were made, friends and family were told, and we have been working on the house to put it on the market again in the spring. She graduates in May, and the plan was to take off as soon as she secured a job as a nurse. However, sometimes the universe intervenes...

In addition to massage therapy, I have been teaching aromatherapy and herbalism classes. These are two out of three "passions" I have in the arena of health. I could talk about these subjects at length without tiring of the topic. Before I went to massage therapy school, I took classes and workshops and read books about aromatherapy - it led me to massage, in a way. So, finding a job (and one that pays well) teaching aromatherapy was never something I thought I would have.

But I stumbled across a job opening with a natural product company based here in Iowa. Basically, I get to travel all over the U.S., teaching consumers and store managers and any interested parties about aromatherapy. I have used and loved this company's products and essential oils for years and I have loved the company from afar (a very reputable company that is known to be good to and for the planet and to and for their employees), and now I get to work there. Traveling, teaching, smelling essential oils... could a dream become reality? I think so. I am heading to Seattle at the beginning of October, and then Florida at the end of October. To say I am excited is the understatement of the year.

I am sad to leave the school. It has become my home and my coworkers have become my family. But, I must grow and move and keep changing in order to truly be me. I feel blessed for the time I have had there, but I leave knowing that growth is happening for the school too, and it's a great feeling. Life is truly good.

So for now, the move to the Northwest is postponed. I am just keeping my heart and mind and eyes open for all of the potential and possibilities out there for me. And I am moving on...

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Heather and the Jump Squats

Today was health and wellness day for me.  Trying to recover from massive jet-lag is no easy feat... exercise, water and good nutrition have been the things I have been doing in the absence of consistent sleep.   I have been getting some workouts in this week - Heather invested in a Supreme 90 day workout while I was in Thailand - and we have been getting up early to work out like mad.  Sweating in the living room at 5 a.m. is not my idea of fun, but I was inspired by Heather's progress in a short period of time.  Needless to say, she looks good.  No - she looks amazing.

So this morning I woke up around 7 and got my butt moving.  I was flying solo, because Heather was in clinic.  She warned me that today's workout was going to be hard, and she was not messing around.  The Tabata Inferno - ugh.  5 minutes in and I was ready to throw up and/or quit.  Mountain climbers, bicycle crunches, squats, jump lunges, and on and on.  10 minutes in and I was ready to shoot Tom - the trainer.  I was watching people with 0% body fat do what I was attempting to do, but they were smiling and I was crying.  Their bodies remained in place during the torrent of activity, while mine was shaking like a bowl of jelly.

After the workout (I finished it in a fit of exhaustion and with sweat raining down - I did skip the last interval with an "F*** you Tom - I am skipping to the cool down"), I decided to take care of my skin.  Dry skin brushing and then a hot bath for my screaming muscles; homemade facial with scrub and mask; and then my homemade body wrap.  I wrapped myself in clay and cellophane and snuggled into a sheet and sleeping bag with my Thermophore on top for heat. By the end of all that, I was ready for a nap.  I was the consistency of a limp noodle.  My muscles were beyond pain - they were just worked completely out.

Heather got home after clinic and said (rather smugly), "Are you ready to throw-up?"  Ha.  I just laughed, because I finished my workout earlier.  "No way," I replied, "I already did it."  So off to the living room she went to get sweaty, and off I went to watch and gloat.  I sat and heckled her while she was working out - I wanted her to laugh, because she was so tired from her day.  I found a renewed energy while she was doing the moves, and I joined her for a few.  She is much better at them than I am (she is a natural athlete, and alas, I am nothing close to an athlete), and she looks much closer to the people on the screen than I do.  It is inspiring, and gives me something to shoot for.  She can jump-squat like a champion - and someday I will too.  :)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Everyday adventures at home...

Food is important.  At least that's what the slogan was at the Lincoln Cafe - where we ate dinner last night.  Those three words provided the inspiration for this blog.  I was worried that all of my creative energy was left behind in Thailand - but, alas, here I am writing again.  I had an adventure right here in good ole' Iowa.  Not that I wasn't expecting to  - like I mentioned before, I am seeing the world with new eyes - I see so much beauty now in the life that exists around me.  Despite my lingering jet-lag, I was ready to spend time with friends and loved ones.

Dinner was a small reception for a small wedding.  Amanda and Robert - my sister in law and brother in law, got re-married on their original anniversary.  I was the officiant (yes, I perform wedding ceremonies).  It was a special evening despite the drizzle and the tears of their youngest - Simon, who had a nasty fall while running around.  The setting was the same as their first time around - Palisades State Park (a local hiking favorite for Heather and me).  Love was in the air and we all celebrated with a toast in the parking lot.  It was an amazing thing to be part of.  Although I wasn't at their first wedding (and neither were their children), we could feel the reminiscent vibes from that first day they were joined together.

And off we went to feast at the Lincoln Cafe.  It is a local restaurant that has gained national recognition due to the wonderful flavor combinations, organic/local food, and eclectic atmosphere.  Every time I eat there, I rejoice in the number of flip flops my mouth can do in a short period of time.  It is outstanding cuisine each and every time, and last night was no exception.

I stuck with the Veggie Sandwich and homemade fries (even though I haven't been eating fried foods, sugar or white flour since Thailand).  Heather had the Avocado BLT.  Mmmmm... My mouth is watering right now.  The rest of the group went for more substance  - prawns (with their heads on - yuck) steak, salmon.  Each dish smelled better than the last.  I can't believe I am going to admit this, but I even tried the smallest of bites of steak.  I haven't tasted meat in over 4 years, but I wanted a bite.  And I didn't really like it.  I am a vegetarian for sure.  Heather laughed at my face and the fact that I can't hang with the steak anymore.

Dessert was like an herbal-y, fruity experience.  Lavender ice cream with almond-cherry bread pudding.  Chocolate waffle with basil ice cream and bananas.  Grilled lemon pound cake with local strawberries and creme fraise. Whoa.  Sugar ban - right out the door.  Oh well.  It was well worth it - as was the laughter, love and friendship.  It made me realize that fun stuff happens every day if you look for it and embrace it.  We headed home, full and happy and I slept easier than  I had in days.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Heading Home - The Post Script

I have a mere 30 minutes left now until I board. I decided to take the last of my travel money and spend it in the airport spa - certainly time and money well spent, and much better than sitting and crying in an airport. Just like before, I went through the Finnish Sauna, Herbal Sauna, Steam Room and Mineral Pool. I got to shower, wash my face, wash my hair - I even threw away my pants (they were too big and were just gross anyway). I then got a body scrub from Nadia - my favorite Finn so far. She gave me my massage here - nearly a month ago - and I was glad to see her again. The scrub worked wonders on my adventure scars ;), and then she rubbed mint oil into my skin that is so powerful, I can still taste the mint on my tongue. It was just what I needed.

I drank lots of water and grapefruit juice to rehydrate after the rum and flight. I feel clear headed and just like my new self.

I am not sad anymore. I realized that I was alone for the first time (really alone) in a month. I am somewhere completely foreign, where (other than Nadia) no one knows me. I am fine with that. I am actually enjoying it right now. I think I was feeling like there were things un-done or un-decided in Thailand. I realized during all of the soaking and sweating, that the answers I have been seeking are here with me right now. They only exist inside of myself - not in some far away place. I don't need to go anywhere to find them, I just need to be silent and listen. It took me traveling thousands of miles to end up here - alone - and I have exactly what I am looking for :) And that makes me very happy.

In the fogginess that was my sadness this morning, I forgot to say the following:

I am very blessed to have had this experience. Some people live their entire lives and never get to do something like what I just did. I couldn't have done that without support, faith and love from home. Thank you - loved ones - for keeping it all going while I am gone. Especially you, Heather. I have gratitude for all that I have done and seen - even the painful stuff. I cannot wait to begin my next adventure - but in saying that I know that my adventure is living my life with new realizations and a new perspective.

I started this blog back in January on a quest for balance and health. I feel like I have found it in so many ways on this journey. I can't live a life without laughter, treating myself kindly (aka spa treatments, good food, and exercise), being around people I like and love, taking breaks, dancing, exploring, being creative, and sometimes just sitting in silence in a place where no one knows me. I have lived without these things for far too long, and now it is time to take what I know and apply it to my everyday life. I am ready - really ready to come home.

P.S. That doesn't mean I don't want to travel off somewhere soon. Who wants to come with me? ;)

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Heading Home

Just waiting to go....

And so I sit here - alone in Helsinki.  The group has all split and gone their separate ways - Ellen days before us should be home now,  Malinda and Tara   are flying to London to connect to their flight home to Chicago (and nearly missed their flight due to a major delay taking off from Bangkok and fog on the ground here in Finland), and Cory and Ally are off to Manchester to connect to their flight home.  I am the last one here and it is so quiet (not just because I was sitting next to Cory on the flight from Bangkok - ha ha).  The airport is quiet - still.  I didn't know quite what to expect for a Sunday morning in Finland.

I am thinking over the last 30ish hours.  We left Cha Am (thank you Jesus - I don't think I will ever go there again), and had a very bumpy bus ride to Bangkok.  So bumpy that I hit my head on the roof of the van several times and nearly peed my pants because I had to go so badly and the ride was so bumpy.  Just as I was at the point of pulling out a plastic bag to go in, we stopped to get gas (it took nearly an hour - what's up with that?)  and I had a much needed break.  I think that may have been the point that I started to get really sad.  I didn't want to leave Thailand.  I have not done everything I wanted to do, and am just starting to get it all figured out.  As much as I love everyone back home, I want more time.

Getting to the airport was surprisingly easy - we caught the rail and made one change, which took us right to the airport.  So - we had some five hours to kill before we could even check in with the airline.  I wandered the airport - listening to music and watching people.  Such a diverse place - full of travelers from absolutely everywhere.  Ally and Malinda got the attention of Iranian travelers with their card games while we waited.  Cory got laughter from a Thai woman because his name means something dirty (that's what he told me - and his sources may have been sketchy on that one).  Everything seemed to happen in slow motion, yet time was just ticking away.

I cried in line getting my ticket.  I cried after we passed through security.  Cory suggested that we have some drinks - so we got some cheap Thai rum (duty free) and cokes and sat and drank.  And drank some more - two bottles - not the big ones, but two nonetheless.  We drank until my tears were tears of laughter, and had one of those conversations that will stay with me for a long time. We were a bit obnoxious on the plane - laughing while people were trying to sleep.  Cory pissed off the woman in front of us - the same woman who refused to switch seats so we could sit together - and was rewarded with the nastiest look ever.  Never one to stand down, he retaliated throughout the flight by getting up frequently and making sure to grab the back of her seat each time he did so (I would have been pissed off too, if I were her).  But, it was sheer entertainment for me.   I was trying to hang on to the laughter for as long as I could before it all came to an end.

We all barely had time to say our goodbyes before we split off.  I said a prayer for all of them and for myself that we arrive home safely and changed for the better.

And here it is right now - four and a half hours to go until I board.  Not a long time, but enough for some reflection.  Still tearful as I write this, I am in dire need of a nap and a shower.  I have been in the same clothes since leaving Cha Am (it seems like a lifetime ago).  I am sure I am a little jet lagged and hungover as well, but that is ok.  Yesterday - or some day that isn't right now - I heard that Brad Pitt said once that he likes to embrace the messiness of life.  That is what I am doing and have been doing this past month.  I have been through the ringer of emotions, been scared, lonely, stuck, withdrawn, sick, loud, and very messy.  But I have known such joy.  Such laughter.  Such life.  

That is what I hoped to get from all this, and I am not the least bit disappointed.