One Year Later…
As of December, 2013, we’ve been living off and on the road ~ traveling the US and into Canada ~ with everything we need in the back of our Nissan Murano ~ for an entire year. Can you imagine? (Check our map out below. Forgive me if the geography isn’t quite right but you’ll get the picture.)
Oh, the Places You Will Go ~ Dr. Seuss
Reflections on the Journey
Holy Cow, what a year this has been! Just look at that map.
We began our journey on December 21, 2012, the date of the Winter Solstice (the longest night of the year), which was also the day that marked the end of the Mayan calendar and, for us, the beginning of a new era committed to living our lives mindfully. It was also our wedding anniversary.
Today, December 21, 2013, in celebration, we stop to reflect ~ on where we’ve been and what we’ve learned. We reread every blog post ~ from the very beginning. We revisited the entire trip. We realize even more how rich and intense this journey has been. (Each photo to the right links to the blog post about that place. Click through if you want to remember.)
It helps if we take time to stop and remember. Living life consciously requires that we reflect on the deeper meanings and the so-called coincidences of our lives. And we’ve had hundreds of them on this journey.
Here are a few of the questions we asked ourselves as we look back on this magical year:
What was the biggest so-called coincidence for you on this trip?
Kathy: For me, all of the places that appeared in front of us at just the right time with just the right message, challenge, or experience were the best so-called coincidences of all. Places like Ring Lake Ranch and Ratna Ling Retreat Center. We didn’t know that Unity Village had a service week just at the time we happened to be passing through. Who knew there were 200 Indian Pandits chanting and meditating 24/7 in Iowa? And there were many more surprises.
Michael: I was very excited about our plan to stop in various retreat and spiritual centers. Ten days into our trip, we did a silent Zen Buddhist retreat. It didn’t work for me and I was very disappointed because Buddhism was something I had always wanted to explore.
Amazing when I think about it ~ the first experience of the trip was a difficult Zen Buddhism retreat and the last experience of the trip was a month at Spirit Rock Meditation Center. Being in the presence of master Buddhist teacher, Jack Kornfield with his wisdom, gentleness, humor and accessibility was overwhelming. Finally, I was introduced to a Buddhism that I could understand and embrace. A coincidence, probably not.
What experience stands out the most and why?
Kathy: Probably our month of service at Hollyhock on Cortes Island in British Columbia. The opportunity to immerse myself in an environment dedicated to human growth was just what I needed to make the break from old patterns and behaviors. I was able to meditate and do yoga daily as well as attend numerous programs and events. It was here that we met Atum O’Kane who is a spiritual teacher for us now. Hollyhock is also where I learned the true value of karma yoga ~ selfless service. It was humbling and rewarding to wash dishes, clean rooms and to do other chores for the center.
Michael: This year has been filled with so many grand experiences. Pick one? Among my favorites are these two:
1. Glacier National Park. We saw so many beautiful places ~ Grand Tetons, Yellowstone, Ring Lake Ranch, Lake Louise, Cortes Island, the coast of Oregon, Big Sur, and on and on. I have always found God, stillness, and serenity in nature. But for the sheer magnitude and beauty, Glacier National Park just wrapped it’s arms around me and it felt like heaven on earth. I want to go back.
2) Yogaville is an active Hindu ashram in Virginia that is filled with gentle loving people. Their main message about spirituality is One Truth, Many Paths. The Lotus is their temple they built to honor all the religions of the world. It is truly a sight to behold. The portraits of 50 saints in the dining hall peer over you every day during breakfast, lunch and dinner ~ from Jesus Christ to Mother Teresa, from Martin Luther King to Sri Swami Satchiananda. Though it may be an ashram with a funny name, Yogaville is one of the most peaceful and powerful interfaith retreat centers in the US.
What was your biggest personal gift or lesson?
Kathy: Learning to let go and learning to just flow. I am a recovering control freak. Everything about this journey has taught me to let go of my physical and my emotional stuff, On this trip I have learned how to get still, listen for my inner guidance, trust it, and then step into it. That’s how we found all these cool places to visit. We were wide open to everything. Then we simply said YES. I can now say I am fully recovered ~ I have given up trying to control every next move in my life.
Michael: The biggest gifts were the people we met on this journey. They renewed my faith. Life is not the distorted, divided picture that we are fed on TV. Without TV, I found myself out among the people, seeing their hospitality, their caring, and their service to others. For a year, I have entered all of these places as a stranger and left with new friendships and tremendous admiration for all they do. My biggest lesson is simply that we are all more alike than different.
What was your biggest challenge?
Kathy: Same as above. Giving up control. Isn’t that the way it goes ~ your biggest challenge is your biggest gift?
My other biggest challenge was not letting my mind get ahead of me. This is where meditation practice pays off ~ in learning to calm the incessant chattering in the head, the mind settles down and then it can become the servant of the heart, rather than running the whole show like a pack of drunken monkeys. On this trip, I have had ample opportunity to practice not letting my mind scare me. Now I try to remember to use my mind and my inner chatter to encourage and support the path of my soul.
Michael: My biggest challenge was driving. Not knowing where anything was and having to make quick decisions definitely raised my level of stress. Once we got the GPS working, things got better. When we stayed in places for longer periods of time it felt good to know where to go without the GPS. I realize there is a big lesson here for me ~ it’s okay to be lost ~ it’s okay to not know ~ and everything works out eventually. Sounds great. Now if I can only live it.
Did you ever doubt you’d make it for the entire year?
Kathy: Yeah. There were moments when I felt homesick, homeless, and lost. But they were only moments. The trip has been filled with so many interesting experiences that I would soon be engaged again in something truly magical and new. Now I’m more concerned about whether or not I’ll ever want the journey to stop.
Michael: No. I’ve taken a year off twice in my life and taken time to travel. But I was concerned about how Kathy would do. I’m really proud of how she has grown into a world traveler.
Kathy: None. Not one moment of regret. About anything. I’ve never heard of anyone who took off on a spiritual quest such as this and said at the end of it, “I wish I hadn’t gone”. In a recent survey, the number one regret of people was “Not traveling when I had the chance.”
Michael: No. This has been the best year of my life so far.
Kathy: Well, obviously, it’s not over yet. We still are living out of other people’s houses. We haven’t made a decision about where to call home for now. We know the answer will reveal itself to us. In January, we return to our beloved Charleston for a five-week visit and to faciliate another New Year’s Retreat for Women at Old Edwards Inn. During this retreat, I will be asking myself, yet again, now what? What’s next? In the meantime, we are in SLO, nestled in for the holidays and life is good.
Michael: I’m looking to settle and begin a life of service.
We hope our year has been of interest and maybe even of service to you.
We hope we have encouraged you to step up and
say YES to whatever is calling you in 2014.
Happy, Happy Holidays
Here is a sweet ten-minute meditation I recorded last Christmas. A gift for you to listen to as you sit in front of your Christmas tree – or your Menorah candles – or out in nature – or somewhere within the light of your own heart. Whether you are Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, agnostic or aetheist, this is the season of peace.
Give yourself the gift of peace. Take ten minutes every day during this season. Light a candle or turn on your Christmas tree lights. Let yourself reflect on the deeper meanings of the season and your life.
The Gift of Peace – A Guided Meditation
A New Year’s Retreat for You
On the weekend of Jan 30 – Feb 2, 2014, I will be offering a New Year’s Retreat for Women at the spectacular award-winning Old Edwards Inn in Highlands, NC. Come and join me and other women for a time for reflection, rediscovery, and rejuvenation. This is a time for remembering who you really are and what you really want, and an opportunity to set a direction for 2014. Where do you want to be a year from now?
Join Us on The Journey
We hope that throughout the year you will keep clicking through to see where we are. We are requesting input and feedback from all of you. Tell us where you’d like to go. Make suggestions for us. Ask us to check some places out for you! We are also hoping some of the places we visit and the experiences we share will ignite your life and maybe even set you off on your own spiritual journey. We’d love to hear from all of you. And if you know anyone who may be interested, please share our blog.
Tags: Cortes Island, Fairfield, Galcier National Park, Grand Tetons, Iowa, Jack Kornfield, Lake Louise, Old Edwards Inn, Pandits, Ratna Ling, Ring Lake Ranch, Southern Dharma Center, Spirit Rock Meditation Center, The Raj, Unity Village, Vedi City, Winter Solstice celebration, women's retreat, Yellowstone, Yogaville, Zen Buddhist retreats
20 Responses to “One Year Later…”
I’m proud of you both and happy for you both….You are a great inspiration to many and these experiences will obviously deepen your understanding of what really matters in life…..the journey itself….On a quest too ( of the mind and soul, which began when I met Simran Singh, author of “Conversations with the Universe”, and then learned about our gene keys and how they work…We are preparing for entrance into the next dimensions and more, so we are not physically traveling, but we are mentally traveling ! Love you both and look forward to being with you again soon. Roger and Karen
I love that, the inner journey – even more magical and necessary. Hope to see you soon.
Words can’t express how much I have enjoyed following your journey. Thank you for sharing!
From a fellow world traveler, I’d love to hear your stories. We all are on a journey, aren’t we?
You’re inspiring me to start my own journey, living more consciously right in my own home, my own community, starting today!
Carole, you’ve been on this journey ever since I met you. You are an inspiration in how you live your life. Hope to see you soon.
Awesome. Thank you for including us on this great journey. You inspire! Excited to know where you land next. 🙂
Wishing you both continued love and blessings.
I can’t believe that we met on a silent retreat where we never exchanged a word, yet now we are friends. I love that you stay in touch and are with us on this journey. Your encouragement with Buddhism is one of the reasons we stuck with it. We are so thankful!
Thank you for sharing a most amazing and holy experience. I loved reading about your journey. I just listened to your meditation and am so grateful to have come across both of you. You are great teachers. You don’t just talk the talk, but walk the walk. Much love and Merry Christmas!
Don’t you just love that meditation! It’s so soothing. You’ve been such a good support on this trip and I thank you from the bottom of my heart. It means the world to me.
I have so loved following you on your journey this passed year! Thank you for sharing it with us. Wishing you and Michael a Blessed Holiday season.
Looking forward to seeing you at Seabrook. We will spend a day together! Love keeping up with your beautiful photography on FB.
Wow…can’t wait to hug your neck and “be with you ” in spirit at The Old Edwards Inn retreat…I have loved being on this journey with you but, then again I have embraced the journey with you a long time ago which i have gratefully learned much . see you in Jan. my dear Heart friends. Also Happy Annivariery .
loving blessings, Brenda Whitlow Craig
We are going to have the best retreat ever at Old Edwards (how many have you been to now?) But they are never the same….I love you so much and can’t wait to be with you and share our past year…yours too.
Is it a coincidence that I dreamt about you, Kathy last night only to wake up and find your blog post in my email? I think not. Clearly there is some sort of cosmic or spiritual connection. Maybe I don’t need to understand it but just acknowledge it. In any case I look forward to meeting you soon. I will tell you about my dream in detail offline because it was very profound.
Best wishes for a happy holiday season.
I have always felt that way about you. Even though we’ve never met face to face, I have known you deeply. Thanks for being a heart friend. And I am so looking forward to your coming to Old Edwards for the retreat!!! Yay! Can’t wait to hear about the dream.
Kathy, I have loved reading your posts and following your great adventure. I will admit to selfishly wishing you were still here in Charleston and available for an impromptu lunch from time to time.
I learned so much from you and have learned as I followed your new path.
Hope you have a wonderful Christmas!
Love and hugs for you
Merry Christmas Everyone….see you in Jan when we will report on being home again!
Michael says Merry Christmas too!
THANK YOU….for giving me your email one year ago and “inviting me” to be a part of your journey! It has given me “thought” and time to help my family and now it is time for me.I am not sure of the plan but i know there is one and am ready to move forward….wherever it may take me. Enjoy Highlands ;)… I hope in the future i will be able to partake in the retreat as well. Happy New Year..!