Gypsy Wednesday – Rollasole Product Video Review

Welcome to Gypsy Wednesday! Every Wednesday, I strive to highlight all the juicy morsels related to travel and beyond.

Calling all women travelers!  Don’t you crave fashion once in a while, not just function?  Introducing Rollasole!  Watch and learn:

In the video I said LA twice, my bad.  Initial cities for launch are New York, Las Vegas, Miami and Los Angeles.

Check their site for stock and events: www.rollasole.com.

Rollasole is also sold at these retailers:

Acceptance

This article is part five of a seven part series on unplugging from the cubicle.  Read the full introduction here.

The Breaking Point

I had to search the records management sector of my brain.  March 6th or 7th, right?  Definitely 2009.  Maneuvering towards my desk clumsily, my feet felt encased in concrete.  I coughed in reaction to that stifling meeting room.  Funny how meeting rooms can be mistaken for sealed off mausoleums.  No air, always rife with dead bodies.

We were under siege, I had managed to walk away unscathed — this time.

Others weren’t so lucky.  The scene of redundancy mimics the rituals of a funeral, too.  Observers gather, appearing silent.  Meanwhile, their emotions are bubbling.  The whys?  Hows?  Who’s next?

No arrow through my chest, but a virus had entered my system.

“We’ve had to let a few people go.  We are busy, but need people in certain areas, namely where you are right now.  Soo.. moving upstairs to work with Shelly won’t be happening.  At least for 6 months.”

A death knell looming over me.  I thought back to 2 months earlier, when the prospect of “moving upstairs” reinvigorated my work ethic in this company.  The carpet tiles were just pulled from under me.  Promotion, gone.

My attitude and will to be present in the cube wilted, plummeting to earth as Icarus did, his wax wings softening under the sun.

When 6 months had passed, movement upstairs fell eerily quiet.  A year was approaching, and I had no more corners to hide in any longer.  My concentration suffered, in tune with any desire to wake up and haul my carcass into work.  My patience was a teetering pile of brittle sticks.

I officially had it, what to do now?


When it dawns on you — time to go!


Own Up to It

If your situation is similar to mine – promotion reneged, longer hours or quadruple the job duties, it’s time to face a truth: accept.  A scenario you hoped would change or improve, hasn’t.  The previous stages covered how our clever minds fool us by playing by the system, essentially denying our true feelings.

Perhaps the moment has come when you can no longer shovel dirt over the problem.

I had to dig hard, deep into my emotional landscape and embrace the unavoidable.  Be honest with yourself.

I point you to a fitting article by Sonya Derian of Tiny Buddha, aptly named 5 Ways to Let Go of Resistance.

Be clear on how you participate in the reality you continue to experience. Ask yourself: What limiting thought, belief or pattern of behavior am I currently holding onto, that is standing in the way of my desire? What story do I keep telling myself or others that affirms the current position I’m in?

What part of the equation am I participating in that continues to get me the same results? Because the truth is, you are always living your unconscious expectation. Becoming aware of your “status quo” will give you the first clue on where your work lies.

Take 100% responsibility for being the powerful creator that you are.

When you’re ready to embrace a large dose of self-honesty, you begin to accept the position you’re in.

What Does Acceptance Actually Mean?

Acceptance can boil down to that moment you tell yourself, “No more denials or distractions.  I put myself here, am present.  AND know for certain I can’t be ‘here’ any longer.”

In my estimation, that’s the first step.

What arrives next is a spiritual explosion.  I combed through every proactive decision or passive action taken in my job.  I was finally able to see I had done everything conceivable to create that conventional life so many of my friends were embroiled in.  I followed the steps, poured over diagrams intently.  I could press ahead with a clear conscience.  I could actually admit without guilt, “I don’t want this life, I want something else.”

Real acceptance is knowing you did your part, and emotionally peering forward without major regrets.

You stop replaying events, stop wishing it could be this or that.  And what might be unearthed is an inviting cloak of peace enveloping you.  A lucid state never before reached.

Most of all, accept your power to change, because going backwards isn’t an option.  You’ve already been there, why continue to repeat?


With open arms


How Will I Know?

Just like that Whitney Houston song, how will you know this stage has flourished?

  • You stop harping on the past.
  • You begin to review concrete options, instead of choosing methods to mask the obvious (i.e., consumerism, escapism, booze).
  • You stop blaming others.  A common theme, in an attempt to explain why you ended up at an unrewarding job.
  • You no longer feel helpless.  A spark is lit internally.  One that will ignite action.
  • You take responsibility for how you got there in the first place.
  • You are afraid.  People skitter from fear, but I contend that the fear of doing something new signifies a close proximity to what you long to do.  Whatever your passion is.  It’s a renewing fear, not the kind that closes you off from possibility.
  • Physical signals of stress begin to lift.


A truce with the cube


The fable of Moses leading the Israelites from Egyptian enslavement serves as a powerful allegory.  Become the Moses of  your destiny, part the sea of confusion and ineffectual behaviors to cross over into acceptance.  Making amends with the cubicle will bring you closer to freedom.

Photos: JesseMensJeff Bauche and Katlew

Roundup of Calgary, What’s Next?

Calgary has been nothing short of sleepy.  The intention was always to land here and close up logistics.

I’ve been spending quality time with my brother and mom.  A slew of food excursions and mall outings piled on the calendar, among the pleasantries of daytime TV viewing.  Who knew Oprah could be so enthralling again?  Not I.

To sum up, there are more gear items to purchase, bank accounts to be amended and website maintenance – it’s never ending.  Would I return to the cubicle?  A resounding “NO”.

As for the culture here?  Alberta is officially cattle country, so a pescetarian, bohemian profile like me skirts its natural laws.

I’m positive Calgary has more SUVs, trucks and ball caps per capita than it does recycle bins.  There’s not much of a walking mentality here.  My slow gait garners attention on the streets.  Yeah, I’m the rock star of walking.

Given my brother’s SUV (yes, shameful), I tool around in it – stopping at my high school or the house of my formative years.  My childhood home underwent a drastic makeover.  New roof shingles, dark green siding.  I didn’t recognize it!  I was sure the teenager watering the sculptured landscaping wondered who that creepy woman in the SUV was.  Watching, remembering.  Call the cops.



Downtown Calgary Skyline



Perhaps I outgrew this town, but Calgary is a perfect city to raise kids, grab open, wide spaces and earn a comfortable wage.  What I crave is adventure.  To learn a new set of rules, ones that don’t involve mortgage rates or car maintenance.

So no, Calgary has far from challenged my travel survival skills, just the emotional ones.

There was a tiff or two with the brother, all in an effort to know him as an adult.  A tear or five shed while visiting my mother in her nursing home.

The big news is a potential meet up with my ex is sooo off.  Yeah, yeah you all told me so.  Revisiting the past can’t be good.

I had goals.  See, I’ve undergone such an evolution that it was time to readdress unfinished business.  Maybe I just needed to know I made the right decision breaking up an 11 year relationship.  Maybe I hoped he changed as much as I had.



Stephen Avenue - downtown Calgary



I charged ahead and booked a Greyhound ticket to Moosejaw, Sasketchewan.  Where is that exactly?  Directly south off Trans-Canada Highway #1, affectionately referred to as “flat” country.

Anyone who is from the grain belt of Canada or the US can relate, Sasketchewan has a lot of crops, not a lot of choices.  In keeping with sleepy, I spent a few summers there moving through slow liquid.  It’s that kinda place.

I gave it one day in Moosejaw to catch up with him, then out that night on another bus to big city – Toronto.

Whoah, did that blow up in my face.  Although positive emails were exchanged, I sensed too late that unresolved feelings existed.  For him, not so much for me.  It was time to close shop.  Funny how closure can take place without ever having to see the person face-to-face.

It was crap time!  Stuck with a ticket to Moosejaw (should have bought a refundable ticket – duh!) what the hell would I do for 8 hours?  Thankfully, Moosejaw discovered geo-thermal healing waters from a deep well originally drilled  for natural gas.  A geo-thermal wall and pipeline was raised in 1980, a full scale spa constructed around that.

Folks, I’m going to spend July 2nd at the Temple Gardens and Mineral Spa.  It’s $15 CDN for an all day pass, it’s half a block from the Greyhound station, and free wifi – poolside.

And that’s traveling.  Rolling with the punches.

What else I’m discovering is sometimes one must navigate internal travel.  Emotional hurdles or pshychological truths.  That’s me.  Coming to peace with things that happened in childhood, or what didn’t – saying hello to old mates, even if they aren’t physically present.  It’s all good.



Moosejaw saying Hi



I’ve added a little Google/Flickr map on the sidebar to inform y’all where I am, where I’m off to next.  Check it often.

As I round up Calgary, Toronto won’t be wrought with so many emotional landmines.  It’s gonna be all fun.  The entire month of July!

Watch for some grand experiments in Canadian couchsurfing, hosteling and hopefully I can piece together a raucous Toronto meet-up.  If you’re a Toronto travel blogger, email me and join the party.  Let’s do up July in humidity and smog right!

Finally, I’m dying of curiosity – is travel internal or external for you?  Or both?  And why?

Photos: quack.a.duck, Edmontonenthusiasit, and dmix06

Gypsy Wednesday – Lost Girls Chat and Free Swag!

Welcome to Gypsy Wednesday!  Every Wednesday, I strive to highlight all the juicy morsels related travel and beyond.

Does it count that I feel 28?  Cause I do.  When I plunged into The Lost Girls memoir, I danced with fear that rock music and young upstarts are beyond me now.  It’s prune juice and a decent chiropractor all the way for this pup.

I was proved wrong when peeling back that first page, hearing the spine crack with anticipation.  Holly Corbett, Amanda Pressner and Jennifer Baggett left their high octane media jobs in 2006 to lose themselves in the world map.

Their whirlwind trip was documented in a popular blog that won the 2007 Travvies for “Best Group Written Travel Blog”.  Upon returning to the States, the girls had gathered not only fans, but a sense of themselves, and a new set of ideas on how to live life to the fullest.  To this day, The Lost Girls website continues to inspire young men and women everywhere.

The similarities to my journey are hard to ignore.  And the 28 bit?  The essence of the book could be compared to Chiron mythology.  Chiron is a planet thought to be positioned between Saturn and Uranus – a bridge to temper obsidian Saturn and chaotic Uranus.  Chiron’s influence is so complete, so erratic – extending to a person’s spiritual, physical and intellectual make-up, the idea of “meaning” ties in directly to the birth chart.

A Chiron quest to find a sense of purpose or attach meaning to our lives spans lengthy generational periods that can begin as early as age 5, as late as 28.  While I’m pitched far afield from 28, somehow my mission to alter the chemical compounds of my life brings me to that point of no return.  There are questions, and losing myself will force me to grow further than imagined.  Just as it did for Holly, Amanda and Jennifer.

I’ll let the girls convey the rest.

Q: What does it mean to be a Lost Girl?

A: Being a Lost Girl means embracing uncertainty, and using that restlessness and curiosity to go out and explore both yourself and the world around you.  A Lost Girl knows that fear is a normal human emotion, but she doesn’t run from it.  If you’re a  Lost Girl, you don’t let fear to hold you back from going after your dreams, and you continue to push yourself to keep imaging and dreaming bigger.

Q: I most identify with Amanda when she wrote, “I want my life to look a whole lot different than it had the year before I left.”  So, did it change for the 3 of you?  And how did it change from who you were in New York?

A: Yes, the trip definitely changed us, but it didn’t yield an instant, shout-from-the-rooftops epiphany.  Rather, the changes happened subtly, revealing themselves most when we returned to our “normal” New York City lives.  Once back in our familiar city, the three of us all realized our priorities had shifted, and we began to spend more of our time doing things that are in much more in line with our most important priorities.

It may sound silly, but we now know that spending a Saturday inside the office isn’t going to bring us closer the lives we’ve dreamed of for ourselves.  So we’ve created clearer boundaries between work and play.  We started to place time with our friends and our family on top of our to-do list rather than reserving that space mainly for our careers.  Travel reminded us just how lucky we are to be in a position where we can use our time to give back, and so we’ve all made more time for volunteering.  We no longer define ourselves mainly by our jobs, but by our closest relationships and how much we live out our passions.  Amanda started taking photography classes, Jen made more time to watch movies since film is one of her great loves, and Holly did something she’d always dreamed of—training and competing in triathlons.

Q: Why choose travel as the metaphor to wake up to life?

A: Travel is like being a child again in the world—you’re surrounded by different languages, culture, food, architecture.  Everything is new again and your senses are heightened and that makes you feel more alive.  And sometimes getting out of your comfort zone and changing your scenery is the best way to get a better perspective on your life.

Q: Please recount a memorable moment on the road.

A: There were so many memorable moments on the road, but if I had to pick one I’d say hiking to the ancient ruins of Machu Picchu in the Andes. Peru was our first country, and the four-day hike and camping outside was a really good bonding experience for us. We spent our days immersed in nature after years of sitting inside cubicles, following this very spiritual path that the ancient Incas had taken. And when we finally made it to the Lost City, it was our first real on-the-road accomplishment as a team. Well, besides getting on the road in the first place!

Q: I’m a solo traveler, but could always learn a thing or two about group travel.  What advice can you give to friends traveling, so nobody goes home mad?

A: Compromise, compromise, compromise.  You have to learn to put the group’s needs above your own wants most of the time to keep the peace. But you learn so much about yourself from traveling with other people who see you at your best and at your worst and stick with you through it all.  Also, talk to your travel partners about how much alone time you tend to need before you get on the road, and then allow everyone the freedom to spend time by themselves without resentment.

Q: I loved Holly’s sentiment about having faith, trusting that somehow you’ll end up on the right path with the right people.  How do you maintain that in post-travel life?

A:  The bottom line is that we all need other people, and nothing great was ever achieved alone.  So, we can choose to look for the worst in others, or choose to seek out the positive.  Whether we’re in an exotic location or wandering around our hometown, we always try to assume people have good intentions until they prove otherwise.  And that assumption proves right far more often than it proves wrong!

Q: What words of encouragement do you give wannabe Lost Boys or Girls?

A:  Dream big! Don’t let fear hold you back from doing what you know in your heart is that thing you’re passionate about, whether that’s taking a big trip or breaking free from a dead-end relationship or starting your own business.  If you see it, you can be it!

Free Swag!!

Share the adventure of a life-time with The Lost Girls.  A chance to have this heartfelt memoir in your hands is here!  Tell me in the comments section how you bring meaning to your travels.  Do you keep a journal? Share via a blog?  Engage the locals? Best answer takes home a copy of the book.  Courtesy of HarperCollins.

Canadian Gear List

I lay myself bare.  Sometime ago I posted a message on Facebook that yes, my pack weighs 40 lbs.  Many of you said, “TOO HEAVY!”

I have clear weaknesses that need to be rectified even after banning 90% of my possessions.  Can you point them out?

Gasp!  I require other items not pictured in the video:

  • SteriPEN.
  • Sleeping bag liner.
  • Doorstop.
  • Possible Pacsafe backpack and bag protector.
  • Sturdy windbreaker.
  • Hiking shorts (pockets).
  • Power converter.
  • Smartphone (switch out current phone).

A video introduction, pictures… be merciful.

Keep in mind, I am in Canada at the moment, so some of the rules are lax.  Wayyy lax.

Offer your comments, I’ll offer a limp wristed defense.

 

Photo: 4BlueEyes

Gypsy Wednesday – Is the Cubicle Slowly Killing You?

Welcome to Gypsy Wednesday!  Every Wednesday, I strive to highlight all the juicy morsels related to travel and beyond.

The reality of our world is we all have to provide for ourselves and our families.  Which means a vocation.   But, have you considered how your thrust upon profession could be affecting your health?

I didn’t – never dawned on me that stress or misery could ultimately destroy the one aspect I needed the most: vitality.

Top 3 Mistakes Cubicle Hanger-Ons Make

Now that I have oodles of free time, Dr. Phil is part of my daytime TV routine.  Criticize my TV choices later, just listen.  This particular Dr. Phil featured the top three mistakes we don’t know we’re making, and how those mistakes can have an unforeseen impact.  Your present circumstances call for retaining a job that gives you stomach knots.  I guarantee whatever currently looms is peanuts compared to future damage.

1.  Do what you have to do, not what you love. Time and again, I constantly took whatever worked for my pocketbook, not calculating the psychological wear and tear it had on me.  The only description of my former self is beaten down.  I started believing my capabilities stretched to faxing or answering emails promptly.  Now I know better.  If doing your hearts desire yields more pleasure than profit, do it somewhere else.

2.  Plan for a lifestyle, not a life. The central mantra of the developed world is quantity over quality.  Material comforts are not on trial here, but ask yourself why you want more than your fair share?  Could be a compulsive shopping problem or a deep emptiness.  Even worse, trying to keep steady with the Joneses is the definition of stress.  My tip?  Build a self first, then assess your lifestyle.  You may discover that “stuff” doesn’t smother you, but adds to who you are already.

3. Work shouldn’t be art or play. Somehow we shoot from our magical childhoods into drudgery.  Work becomes that thing you MUST do.  Imagination or sensation is left to ten year olds.  No wonder parents are consistently fascinated with seeing the world through their children’s eyes.  Finding artistic beauty in work will lead to lowered stress, and higher fulfillment.  And don’t assume I allude to writing or painting.  Even mathematicians see creativity in a complicated equation.  Work should be joyous, not painful.

I know, you’re rolling your eyes.  Haven’t I preached this crap before?  And how does this affect health?

Adrenal Glands

I had lunch with one of my besties recently and during the hour she recounted all the reasons why her husband hated his job.  No surprise there, but she brought up an interesting article about adrenal glands.

See, adrenal glands are those two small glands at the top of your kidneys.  Composed of the adrenal cortex and the adrenal medulla, these glands secrete hormones that help regulate many aspects of the body. However, it is the adrenal medulla, or the inner part of the adrenal glands that help regulate stress.

The adrenal glands are designed to regulate how much epinephrine or norepinephrine is being pumped into your bloodstream.  When humans are under duress our instinct is to “fight” or “flight”, a natural biological reaction enabling us to withstand physical impact or dash rabbit like from a dangerous situation.

What cubicle offenders miss are the signals of extreme stress – the kind that won’t balance.  It’s critical mass.

  • Fatigue.
  • Irritability.
  • Insomnia.
  • Susceptible to sickness.
  • Depression.

You might conclude it’s just a busy work day and that explains the fatigue.  Think again.  You might feel down, but divert focus by shopping for new clothes or electronics.  Reassess.

I’ve Fallen and Can’t Get Up!

Norepinephrine is a powerful natural vasoconstrictor. A vasoconstrictor causes the veins in the body to become more narrow. This increases the workload on the heart to pump blood through your body.  It also results in high blood pressure often seen in people experiencing stressful situations.

It doesn’t take a genius to connect the dots, high blood pressure leaves a person vulnerable to a stroke or heart attack.  I sound like an anti-drug PSA, but don’t end up there.  Traveling to an exciting foreign land is far more beneficial than traveling down a road of illness.

Don’t Sybil Out

Besides the physical ramifications, staying in a terrible situation – job or not – takes a toll on your self-esteem.  We want to insist we’re above the politics or dissatisfaction at work, but that’s false.  Humans emote, and the longer we stay, the further we absorb that environment, which leads to bouts of depression and hopelessness.  In that  state of despair, we start to think ourselves into a corner.  Instead of possibilities, we cower and cling, not realizing we have choices.  You do have them!

So?

Many people ask how I’m doing since the lay off.  Fantastic!  My entire being has experienced intense changes, almost akin to the adolescent variety.

  1. I sleep longer and deeper.  I use to be perpetually exhausted.
  2. I’m alert and rested.
  3. My stomach experienced pain or digestive problems during the past 5 months of my job.  No more.  No gurgles or trips to the loo doubled over.
  4. My right shoulder was frozen for over 3 months – last month it actually readjusted itself into the correct position.
  5. Any overall tension in my neck and shoulders – gone.  A past nickname for that area of my body – ‘spare tire’.
  6. The constant scratchy throat I nursed – suddenly disappeared.
  7. I feel strong and confident. Bloody, utterly peaceful.
  8. I can walk up stairs and not wheeze.
  9. Past injuries are steadily healing.
  10. Stress level?  Reasonable.

The Solution?

Change.  A heady word, one that causes ripples of panic.  Don’t feel isolated.  Find inspiration from others.  I can’t boast credit for this article.  Spunky Girl Monologues aka, Pamela MacNaughtan just discovered acutely how stress infiltrated her life.  Take her cue to rethink how you want your life to play out.  Don’t wait for a health scare to knock on your door.

Photos: rustybrick and Chealion

Source: eHow