Be Bold. Yes You Can.

Dear Friends,

Many of you know that in August my only son went off to college. Ralph and I took the opportunity to spread our own wings and ventured off to Greece. Our only real plan was a week long sailing trip around the magical Greek islands. Besides that, we didn't have a clue where our adventure would lead, nor did we have plane tickets home. 

Our travels took us to places on the map that were beyond my wildest dreams and reminded me of a part of myself that had been dormant for too long, while I navigated motherhood, career building and playing by the rules.

It wasn't easy for me to bend those rules, being a first-born Virgo can be somewhat of a curse. Old habits die hard. 

I had to extract every coaching and yogic tool I knew to quiet the fears, stand firm on the second-guessing and stand proudly behind the radical departure from the natural order of things. I even missed a family reunion for the sake of staying true to my own heart's desire. Now that's brave.

We traveled abroad for over two months, wearing the same clothes over and over. I didn't wear make-up and went almost 3 months without a haircut or color. I had no choice but to deviate from my healthy and very boring diet. We planned as we went, sometimes taking the advice of people we met along the way (my favorite part) or standing at the ferry terminal and determining which port seemed appealing (and least expensive to get to) at that moment. I drank instant coffee and cheap wine and didn't buy anything that I didn't absolutely need. On some nights, I ate raisin bran for dinner. I wish I could say I detoxed digitally, but that's not true. Maybe next trip. 

We met fun and interesting people from all over the world and learned that our adventure, although puzzling to most of our American family and friends, was a completely natural and necessary part of the human experience in other cultures. In Australia, this is known as a "walkabout" and it's common practice at various stages of life when one gets that "antsy" feeling, sometimes known as a midlife crisis. We felt as though a weight had been lifted! So, we're not crazy! After 18 years of parenting, being ultra-responsible and diligently contributing to our retirement accounts, we were craving something new, exciting, inspiring and yes, just a little bit crazy. So, off we went.

Unlike the people we met on our travels, here in America, many people may feel that taking an unplanned, open ended trip at this stage of life is unheard of. Apparently, these are our 'wealth building years' and we should be working our asses off. Before our departure we heard expressions of concern, doubt and bold assumptions such as:

"You can't do that!" 
"You'll wind up homeless!" 
"You're a couple of 50 something hippies."
"What will you do about your mail?" 
"You must be independently wealthy." (this one is my favorite)

Turns out the above may or may not be true - but we don't care. We had the time of our lives, and Alissa got our mail!

We've only just begun. The next part of our journey is a continuation of the walkabout (as we now affectionately refer to this stage of our lives) to keep the momentum going and to determine what's next with a fresh perspective. This adventure has pumped new life into our relationship and into our LIFE. We can't stop now. The hit of inspiration we have been graced with is exactly what these two hippies needed to Keep on Truckin!  

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Never Ever Grow Up

The most interesting conversations often take place moments before a yoga class starts. Everyone is hanging out, enjoying lying over a bolster, tossing their legs up a wall, looping their feet in a strap - and they're so very happy they were able to duck out of their day long enough to get to yoga.

If you don't do yoga, that whole description may sound weird, but read on - this applies to you too.

As I strolled into a late Friday afternoon class, Beth and Tom, a couple I know casually, were already there, a full 15 minutes early. Last time I saw them, they had shared with me that they were lucky enough to have retired young and were spending six months in Crested Butte, skiing, snowshoeing and doing yoga.

"We feel like we've died and gone to heaven."

As usual, they were smiling, stretching and glowing after a day of some kind of snow based activity, I'm sure.

"When I grow up, I want to be the two of you," I said, recalling our previous conversation.
"The longer we're retired, the younger (or better) we feel," Tom replied through a big grin. (Something like that. I was into a deep forward fold by then so I can't be completely sure.)

We all had a chuckle when a man with a Scottish brogue named Evan, chimed in with:

"You never grow up until you figure out what you want to do with your life."

He said this with such clarity, such conviction (perhaps it was the accent). As though it was a fate worse than death to have figured out what you want to do with your life, therefore succumbing to that awful fate of growing up.

I realized that if that's the definition, then I don't ever want to grow up. I want to continue exploring new places and ways to live, learning, trying and succeeding at some things and "failing" at others. I want to keep trying to figure it out so I'm never, ever done.

What do you want to do so that you never have to grow up? Take tap dancing lessons? Become a radio talk show host? Immerse in a foreign culture? Move to a new city? Rummage garage sales and junk yards seeking hidden treasures and stoking your creative fire?

I want to be like Beth and Tom. And Evan. I want to live life's journey without the rules or prescribed path. Even if (especially if) other people look at me cross-eyed.
 

Winter

Sometimes when it’s still snowing in May, or I have to drive 5 hours to get to a major airport, or there are so many tourists I can’t get close to a restaurant, I complain, silently or aloud, about living in this small mountain town called Crested Butte.

Then there are the days when small town living lifts my spirits in a big way. Today was one of those days. Most everyone looks like this in the winter:

This happens to be me, my sister and our men, but seriously, most people look like this; puffy down coats (it’s always cold), sunglasses (it’s always sunny), hats (it’s always cold) and boots (it’s always snowy).

You get to know people by their hats.

I have countless examples of small town living that are endearing and quite hard to believe. Just today, the guy (with a beard – most of the guys have beards) at the auto shop who was putting my snow tires on said not to worry about paying if it wasn’t convenient. He’d have the car ready for me and I could come back and pay next time I was nearby.

From there, I walked to the bank (I haven’t gotten the studded snow tires on my bike yet), was greeted by name and asked (sincerely) how my weekend was.

On to teach my yoga class where me and a group of other sunglass/hat/puffy/boot wearing yogis who all knew each other stretched our hearts out.

Stopped at the post office where Lisa helped me renew my son’s passport.

There are no traffic lights and no traffic. The nearest Costco is near the airport, 5 hours away. I ride my bike to do most all of my daily errands. I don’t have a mailbox – that’s how I know Lisa at the PO.

To all my CB friends, this is old news, but perhaps a reminder of how good we have it here. To my friends and family afar, come visit us – this place is a trip!

Next year Ryan leaves for college, and Ralph and I have big plans to go out there into the world. Back out there. Sometimes I wonder if I’ll get eaten alive out there.

So for now, I’ll stop complaining (silently and aloud) and enjoy every precious moment of small town living. The good, the bad and the puffy.

Talk about fall frolicking!

This weekend was a luxurious blend of juicy yoga with one of my favorite visiting teachers, Gary Reitze, and over-the-top, nothing short of spectacular leaf gawking.

What I love most about Gary and his lovely wife, Donita’s teaching is their sheer bring it back to basics teaching style. There’s no fluff. Just honest-to-goodness-get-into-your-body-where-the-truth-is alignment that wakes up my entire being.

When the energy is flowing so freely, I feel spirited, unstoppable and most of all grateful for this miraculous practice that I’ve built my life around.

Later that afternoon, I had a conversation with my beloved Aunt and she asked, “Don’t you know everything you need to know about yoga after all these years of study?”

“NO! The more I learn, the more I realize how much more there is to know.”

The innocence of realizing that I really don’t know anything is wildly refreshing and invigorating. Who knew that subtly shifting my ribs away from the front knee in Warrior 2 would send a proper-alignment-induced-rush through my body that made me feel invincible?

I will never stop being guided and inspired by yoga and this particular weekend was the muse for my upcoming workshop, Beginner Takes All.

I want to continue approaching my yoga practice AND my life with a beginner’s mindset of exploration and curiosity, rather than pressure and perfectionism.

Like this gal who we ran into on our Sunday drive over Ohio Pass:

Seems to me she’s as curious as they come.