Some Thoughts on Leaving…
When you love something, it’s always hard to leave…
~ Winnie the Pooh
One of the parts of this trip that I honestly hadn’t anticipated was the constant leaving. We are always leaving someplace, something, or someone. Beginning with the big ones ~ our home, our beloved city of Charleston, our family, and life-long friends. It wasn’t easy.
Now, on quite a regular basis, we are leaving new places and new people that we’ve fallen in love with along the way. This journey of traveling to and from spiritual centers around the country sets the stage for having deep, rich experiences and building close connections. It can be intense. And when it inevitably comes time to leave ~ it’s always a bit sad.
We thought we were ready to leave after a month of service at this premiere learning center in British Columbia. Quite honestly, we were tired of working. Even though it was fulfilling and wonderful, being a volunteer was just plain hard work. We were exhausted.
However, we weren’t ready to leave the magic of Hollyhock. This past month has been the most peaceful and contented I have been in decades. (Sorry ~ we skipped several weeks of blog posts but we were busy being fully engaged in paradise.)
Many people visit Hollyhock and Cortes Island and never leave. It’s that powerful and magical. But we knew this was not our path. It was time to leave but it was hard to drive away.
Spending this much time in Canada has answered a life-long question. Because I was born there, I’d often fantasized about returning to maybe live there. While we’ve come to love this country, for now, we’re sure we don’t want to move here.
But we will return ~ to Hollyhock, to Cortes Island, and to the beautiful town of Victoria. British Columbia may just be the best place in all of North America to spend the summer.
After 6 weeks, it was time for us to leave Canada and this felt very sad. We’ve had life-changing adventures here. It seemed fitting to leave by one last ferry ride from Victoria across the border to the USA.
Arriving Back in the USA
We are very happy to be back in the States. We keep asking each other, doesn’t this just feel like home? On this trip, just seeing this small slice of the US (it’s a big country), we are blown away. We have some of the most beautiful natural lands, the most loving communities, and certainly, some of the most interesting stories right here.
Our first stop back in the US was Port Townsend, Washington. One of Michael’s newest friends from Unity Village, author Stone Spicer, lives here and had asked us to visit. So we went. This was the perfect place to transition from the pure and pristine world of Hollyhock. After a month of summer camp living, it was nice to take a bath. We had pizza, beer, and ice cream. Then we went to the movies ~ a double matinee.
Port Townsend has many charming features, like the Tides Inn where we stayed right on the water’s edge. However, it’s the enchanting Rose Theater that is the reason to travel here.
The Rose is an authentic, small town theater that shows contemporary films. The space is so exquisitely restored and preserved. Before each film, the theater director comes in and tells about the film we are getting ready to watch ~ like she’s teaching a film class. We are both movie fanatics so we loved this.
We took yet another ferry from Port Townsend to Whidbey Island. The islands in the Pacific Northwest area are the main attractions. They are little jewels to be discovered along the way. It was no coincidence that our most well-loved poet, David Whyte, lives in Langley on Whidbey Island. Being the groupies we are, we had to visit this town and see where he chose to live. (Love all the sailboats in the harbor.)
We’re surprised more people don’t know about Langley. This place was created by and for artists and all creative souls. There are no big box stores here. Only locals selling their crafts…and very successfully too. It is clear that Langley is dedicated to beauty and to life-style. It’s amazing how island-like and yet how urban a small town can feel. Don’t worry, David. We’re not going to move next door.
From Michael’s Point of View
After Whidbey Island, we made a quick pass through Seattle. We didn’t see the #1 tourist attraction, the Space Needle (it was overcast), but we did go Pike’s Market on the bay. This is where big, burly fishermen toss big fish back and forth. It was fun though unbelievably crowded and noisy.
We finally arrived at a sweet oasis called Live the Dream in Portland, Oregon. Here I’ve found the perfect place to rest and reflect .
We took this journey for a number of reasons: we wanted to experience different spiritual communities to help expand our own practices and we wanted to explore this great country and Canada while we had the time and energy to do so. We have been overwhelmed with the beauty of this land and, for me, it has been a reminder to stay in nature. It’s what nourishes me.
If I had to sum up what I’ve learned it would be ~ there are so many ways to live and to experience life. Our task is to find what feels best for us and live that life. When I’ve seen the high rises in the big city , the row houses in the small towns, and the lone house in the middle of nowhere, I’ve wanted to stop, knock on the door, and ask, “What made you decide to live here?” “Did you decide to live here or did it just happen?” “Tell me about how you have chosen to live your life.”
Some People Never Leave….And That’s OK
There are those who never want to leave where they are. Ben, the cowboy we met at Ring Lake Ranch was born in Dubois, Wyoming, and that is where he wants to stay and raise his family. Our dear friend, Tommy, in Chapin, SC, doesn’t care to leave his zip code. Peter, the host at Hollyhock, has lived on little Cortes Island for over 16 years. He told me “Michael, I can’t do a trip like you but here all the interesting people come to me. My life is rich.”
As I reflect on these three men, they have a lot in common. They are each very happy, they have a lot of wisdom, and they are a joy to be with. They show us that you don’t have to travel to know the world or to know happiness.
And then there those like us who are the wanderers. Those who want to explore the unknown. Those who enjoy the challenge of figuring out how to navigate new waters Those who soak up the new and the different. These are also the ones who are always saying hello and goodbye.
“You are not leaving, you are arriving…”
To be a traveler, one needs a proper perspective on this constant leaving business. The antidote to the sadness of the inevitable leaving is to instead focus on the arriving. Every leaving is to enable us to arrive somewhere else ~ somewhere else we need to be in our lives. Being able to leave, even those things you love, is sometimes necessary.
What do you need to leave in your life so that you can arrive someplace new?
We actually knew from the beginning that it was going to be hard ~ even wrote about it on our first blog ~ The Journey Begins. Way back then I posted a video of our favorite poet of all time ~ David Whyte ~ telling the truth about leaving. He reminds me so brilliantly that it’s not about the leaving, it’s about the arriving. I needed to hear this again. You too will want to listen to this man. He has the voice of an angel and the wisdom of a true renaissance man.
The Inner Journey
For me, the biggest challenge has been leaving people – my new and my old friends. It’s bittersweet. I have some of the best friends in the world, scattered across the land, and at some point, I’ve had to say good-bye to all of them. (Thank God for this virtual world we live in today ~ I may not be there with you but I’m still here. That’s why I love writing this blog ~ it keeps us connected.)
I miss each and every person that I love….everyday. The ones in Charleston, Hilton Head, Seabrook, Bluffton, Columbia, and Pawley’s Island and the ones we’ve met along the way.
Some very deep friendships were formed during our visit at Hollyhock. Living and working with other people creates a unique environment for getting to know each other and a month is a long time.
We spent many hours in deep discussions, talking circles, yoga and meditation classes, sharing nature, and supporting each other throughout the days. There was practically no internet and certainly no TV, so we entertained each other with our soul stories. We birthed a whole new group of sisters that will be with me wherever I am…always.
We will be leaving Portland today for a slow drive down the Oregon coast. We have no predetermined places to stay ~ probably a couple of “no-tell motels” along the highway. (Yes, Shari, we will be visiting the Sylvia Beach Hotel.) Then we land in Petaluma for about a week before heading for a spiritual retreat at Ratna Ling Buddhist Center in Northern California. We will be working in their book bindery where they make sacred Tibetan Buddhist texts which are donated to India. You can read more about the Yeshe De Tibetan Text Preservation Project here. Then we’re moving on to Esalen in September. That’s a lot of leaving… and arriving!
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: British Columbia, Cortes Island, David Whyte, Esalen, Hollyhock, Oregon, Pike's Market, Port Townsend, Portland, Ratna Ling Center, Ring Lake Ranch, Rose Theater, Stone Spicer, Sylvia Beach Hotel, Tides Inn, Unity Village, Victoria, Washington, Whidbey Island, women's retreats
26 Responses to “Some Thoughts on Leaving…”
Awwww! I’m so happy to hear that!!! Take a pic or two for me and say “hi” to the kitties if they’re still there (Keats and Shelly, of course!) Looking forward to getting back there myself one of these days…
So will you be in San Francisco so you can leave me too?
I’ve loved traveling with you two and wondered where you would stop in Oregon, my home. My great grandfather (Wheeler) BUILT the Sylvia Beach Hotel! My mother (Jessie Cooper) grew up on those dunes. This Sunday (July 28) she would have been 100! You’ll see lots of old photos of families in black bathing costumes – Jessie is one of the few children in the 1913-1920 era. Before you get to Newport, however, you’ll pass through Depoe Bay (where I spent weekends and endless summer stretches, and, in fact, where I will be with my sister and brother on Monday, Aug. 5). Before the bridge that crosses the inlet to the smallest natural harbor in America, there is a small, colorful B&B (Whales Rendezvous) overlooking the ocean. This was my mother’s house for more than 30 years where she watched mother whales nursing and playing with their young. She traveled the world from that window and deck through books and in her imagination. Right at the bridge, on the harbor side, is The Spouting Horn with the BEST Marionberry Cobbler you’ll ever eat! Tell Betty (owner, pastry chef) the Wedels (Paula, Linda and Mark) sent you! It is absolutely worth the stop – especially if you stopped first in Lincoln City at Mo’s for their world famous (truly) clam chowder! If you look out the window of the Spouting Horn to the fishing dock below, the tiny harbor berthed my dad’s little boat (the PaLinMar). I can smell it all right now as I’m remembering. Thanks for triggering this little preview trip home!
Kathy and Michael, thank you so much for the opportunity to live vicariously through the two of you. What a journey! What an adventure! What a blessing!
On your way south on Hwy 101 be sure and stop in Mendocino, CA. One of my favorite places along the coast. Be sure and have dinner at the Mendocino Hotel Restaurant and order salmon. You won’t be sorry. (Mind you, I ate there about 15 years ago.)
You two inspire me.
You won’t believe it, but my Aunt has a niece that lives on WhitbyIsland! She has always talked about how remote and beautiful it is.
While you change beds/rooms almost daily, why not bless each room as you enter to clear any negative energy from the space (not that you have any), yet as a protection:
Joey Korn’s Simple Blessing Process
“Dear God (or however you address the divine), Please bless the energies of this room and remove the energies of any people who are energetically connected here and are no longer appropriate to be in this space, leaving only the energies of others that would be beneficial to me, my spouse, and future occupants.” Thank you, Amen.
Blessings and safe travels to you. Diane
Great stories & I’m so envious! Travel safe & miss you guys…
Kathy and Michael, Thank You for this opportunity to follow your travels it has been a wonderful journey and I wait each day for another one.
Kathy I know in my heart as I read and go to the links provided thirsty for each word, Mom and Dad are very proud and are also enjoying the trip.
Take care love to you both and will be patiently waiting for more.
Love You and Michael,
Mike and Kathy – I am glad you are having a wonderful journey. We miss you!
“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard” Winnie-the-Pooh
I miss you lots!!!!!!!
Thanks for all the comments and words of encouragement. We are so glad you are enjoying this journey with us. And we love the suggestions. As a matter of fact, Linda, we are at the Sylvia Beach Hotel this morning. What a wonderful place. We slept in the Alice Walker room last night. And thanks, Pattie, we will stop and eat at the Mendocino Hotel. This trip is truly the journey of a lifetime and we thank each of you who are sharing it with us. It truly helps us feel we are still connected with those we love.
While out west, I do hope you can get to a performance or two of Swami Beyondanana…it’s a different kind of spirituality! http://wakeuplaughing.com/about-swami.php. In the meantime, I’m really enjoying your journeys -and I’m sure there’s lots you aren’t telling us.
Kathy, welcome back to the U.S. of A.! We are still in Ontario and will remain here until October. Love reading about your journey and hope you and Mike continue to have safe travels. I agree that the U.S. (and Canada too) are absolutely breathtaking in so many places. But I can also tell that your interaction with the people is another treasure we can be proud of in this country. Best to you both and hope to see you soon.
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