A Spiritual Experience with Rocks

Question: Would you rather live the rest of your life…

A. Beside the Ocean;  B. In the midst of a mountain range;  C. In the middle of a deep dense forest, D. Or in the middle of a desert?

Now obviously it would be wonderful if they all intertwine, and you can have everything, or at least a combination – but if we had to choose, it’s interesting to see how people would respond.  It’s one of my favorite questions to ask people, because it allows us to think about how we connect with nature.

I’m an ocean girl myself being from the Westcoast, but I also have a strong affinity with rocks.  Any kind of rock, any interesting geologic landscape.  I guess it couldn’t be avoided – my dad was a geography teacher, and as a young child, any time we would go on road trips our family would play “Name that Rock”.  We would have to identify the rock type as igneous, sedimentary or metamorphic.. super fun right?!

But those things stick with you. We arrived in Joshua Tree last week and my mind was blown again with the colour of the red rocks against the bright blue sky.  We hiked to Devil’s Bridge — well worth it for the view, and the gorgeous rock formations.

Devil's BridgeAfter 3 days in Sedona we headed up to the Grand Canyon since Daryl had never been.  We drove down Desert View Highway, one of the most gorgeous drives I’ve ever done, and through the park just as the sun was beginning to set on the canyon.  We stayed in the park that night and went out to see the stars once everything was dark.  We stood on the edge of the canyon at a look-out that hours before had been filled with people clamouring for the best shot, Ipads in hand, and now it was empty.  Just us, the rocks, and the Milky Way.

grand canyon

My sister lives in LA, and the west coast was calling, so from the Grand Canyon we headed west, along Route 66, and through the Mojave Desert to Joshua Tree.  We were exhausted after 7 hours of driving, questioning whether this trip had been too ambitious for two tired teachers.  But then we were reminded that Joshua Tree catches you by surprise.. It reels you in, the piles of rocks, the scraggly trees, the bright blue skies. The weird, but oddly enjoyable vibe of 29 Palms, and the vast desert that seems to extend forever.

Joshua Tree

We finally made it to the coast, and are now relaxing on the beach with the waves crashing around us… but after a week in the desert I can hear my father’s voice in my ear reminding me that sedimentary rocks have lots to offer because they help create beautiful landscapes.  And I am reminded that a U.S. road trip can take your breath away in a second.

So where would you rather spend the rest of your life?  The ocean, the forest, the mountains or the desert…. they each can make a great argument.  And those rocks can grab you.

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Re-turn

Re: the Latin prefix with the meaning ‘again’ to indicate repetition, or with the meaning ‘back’ to indicate backward motion.

We are back! After a lengthy hiatus from writing, Daryl and I have returned to the blogosphere. It’s only fitting that we begin writing again on vacation in Sedona, Arizona – one of my most favorite places to return to.

The next question is – where have you been for the past 8 months?  I wish that I could respond with an elaborate and impressive explanation like “we were inventing this amazing thing that you can’t live without!”, or “we were doing volunteer work in an impoverished country where we had no electricity and we were too busy helping local people.”

But those would be lies.

Yes, we were working and living our regular everyday lives, and we kept talking about writing a new post but then an episode of Elementary would start and I would say “but Johnny Lee Miller is so witty and well-dressed and I just really need to see what this episode is about.”  So then a couple more months passed.

And then we returned to Europe after a 10 year hiatus (traipsing around Rome on Spring Break with high school students in tow does NOT count as a vacation), and we really really should have written while we were there. After all, we went to a beer spa in Czech Republic, and danced around at medieval celebrations in Slovakia – events that were well worth a post, but we complained that the internet was too slow.

Two more months passed.

And our last big excuse was that we decided to get married. Yah!  It was amazing – a brief fervour of excitement and planning where all of my allotted internet time was devoted to Pinterest and Wedding blogs.  If there’s anything that’s going to kill your creative energy it’s the pressure associated with reading Wedding blogs.  Fucking overwhelming.  I never knew that I was into crafting, but the pressure that comes with planning a wedding just gets to you.  Your brain starts tricking you by saying “of course I need wild flower bouquets arranged whimsically in mason jars along the aisle. It’s obviously a wedding necessity.”

Our wedding did get off without a hitch though, and I have to say the following morning was one of the most liberating moments of my life because I knew that I would never have to look at Pinterest or a wedding blog ever again.  Oh, I was happy that we got married, but really, I was more grateful about being able to say goodbye to Martha Stewart.  Show me a picture of a crepe paper origami garland and I will start to have a panic attack.

And now here we are.. December 26th, and finally returning to the keyboard again.  The sun is setting on the GORGEOUS Red Rocks I can see from the picture windows of our hotel room, and I am at peace.  Daryl is laying on a lounge chair on our private deck wearing a fancy robe… absolutely decadent.  I look over and notice that he is not looking at the scenery but rather is playing Candy Crush on his phone and this reminds me that traveling as a married couple is about romance 100% of the time.

We promise to be more disciplined this time.  Because writing is cathartic, and necessary.  A life without a creative outlet just isn’t a life I”m interested in living.

Already thinking about the next post.

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Travel Theme: Light

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Let there be light. Especially if it’s beautiful sunshine hitting the snow on a day off of work.  This picture is taken during a snowshoe trip on Cypress Mountain in British Columbia.

amalfi

The sun shines bright on the Amalfi Coast in Southern Italy.  Sometimes I like to stare right at the sun on days like these – the glare is so strong that you have to close your eyes.. I like to think that I can feel the energy building inside me, especially during those endless rainy days in Vancouver.

getty

When I think of light, it’s often of twilight, my most favourite time of day.  It’s the fading light that gets me, every time.  In this picture above, the sun sets over the Getty Museum in Los Angeles.  No filter, just beautiful purple and pink skies.

IMG_3402And the light fades even more in this shot — it’s almost dark in Nadi, Fiji.  Looking at these pictures makes me think that summer couldn’t come soon enough for me.

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Join the fun with Aisla’s Travel Theme Challenge at Where’s My Backpack.

  • Create your own post and title it Travel theme: Light
  • Include a link to this page in your post so others can find it too

Gratitude and Liminal Spaces

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It has been a tumultuous week.  Sometimes our minds travel to far off lands, while other times, our attention is drawn closer to home.

I want to join others in acknowledging the sadness I felt in watching the violence in Boston this past week.  And then the explosion in Texas..  I am filled with compassion and empathy for those in crisis both in these situations, as well as those suffering elsewhere.

When we feel personally connected to or affected by a particular tragedy – wherever they take place in the world – we are forced to confront our own mortality, and we are often moved into a place of introspection.   We are forced to pause – our flow interrupted – and we reassess our values, our life choices, our direction.  Through this process, a space is created.

A liminal space.

The place of waiting, of transition, of uncertainty.  A space that can become a dark void of sadness and fear; a space that can become a ‘blip on the radar’ that we may later forget.  Or, it may become a place of transition – a threshold that we cross in order to move forward in a new direction.

I watched the images of the Boston Marathon as a bystander, far removed from the scene of the events, yet it struck a chord immediately.  I was forced to stop and connect with my loved ones, I was reminded of how lucky I am to be healthy and alive.  I am grateful for this moment, since nothing is certain.

I stumbled upon a beautiful TED talk  by Louie Schwartzberg, an award-winning cinematographer, producer, director and photographer.  Titled ‘Gratitude’, he presents his project ‘Happiness Revealed’, accompanied by his stunning still-life and stop-motion photographs of nature.  While I would encourage you with all my heart to take 9 minutes and 38 seconds of your life to watch this beautiful and mesmerizing piece, I have transcribed the words from the film below, in case you choose not to.

Sometimes things capture your heart and your mind, and you are left with no choice but to share it with others.

Happiness Revealed – Short Film by Louie Schwartzberg

Excerpt found in his TED talk – Gratitude

You think this is just another day in your life… it’s not just another day.  It’s the one day that is given to you.  Today.

It’s given to you – it’s a gift.  It’s the only gift that you have right now, and the only appropriate response, is gratefulness.

If you do nothing else, but to cultivate that response to the great gift that this unique day is.  If you learn to respond as if it is the very first day of your life, and the very last day… then you will have spent this day very well. 

Begin by opening your eyes and be surprised that you have eyes that you can open, that incredible array of colours that is constantly offered to us, for pure enjoyment.

Look at the sky.  We so rarely look at the sky.  We so rarely notice how different it is from moment to moment, with clouds coming and going.  We just think of the weather.  And even with the weather we don’t think of all the many nuances of weather.  We just think of good weather and bad weather.  This day, right now, this unique weather, maybe a kind that will never exactly in that form come again.  That formation of clouds in the sky will never be the same as it is right now.

Open your eyes.  Look at that.

Look at the faces of people whom you meet.  Each one has an incredible story behind their face.  A story that you could never fully fathom.  Not only their own story, but the story of their ancestors.   We all go back so far.

And in this present moment, and on this day, all the people you meet, all that life from generations and from so many places all over the world, forced together and meets you here like a life-giving water if you only open your heart and drink.

Open your heart to the incredible gifts that civilization gives to us.  You flip a switch and there is electric light, and you turn a faucet and there is warm water and cold water.  And drinkable water.  A gift that millions and millions in the world will never experience. 

And these are just a few of the enormous number gifts to which you can open your heart.  And so I wish that you will open your heart to all these blessings, and let them flow through you.  So that everyone you meet on this day will be blessed by you.  Just by your eyes, by your smile, by your touch.  Just by your presence.  Let the gratefulness overflow into blessing all around you. 

Then it will really be a good day.

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