Gliding in Spain

Spain came and went easy as a carafe of sangria. It was soothing for my weary traveler soul, perfectly fulfilling for my kitchen-missing-soul and surprising, even for my ‘seen and done a WHOLE lot lately’ soul.

I decided I was just over being ‘on the go.’ And so, I made a game-time decision to trade in the beautifully bustling Alicante for sleepy, olive-producing Algodonales. Again, I traded my hostel bum for the country girl life, where I met Mike.

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Mike, like all three of my previous hosts, greeted me with the most generous spirit, beautiful home and invitation to take on his nemesis [aka one of my greatest joys]–cooking. All I did for three weeks was cook to my hearts content. Old favorites and new experiments. It didn’t matter. I was in a kitchen and I blared Michael Buble and I sipped on a fat glass of red and Mike and I shared meals and stories galore and I was completely content.

And when I wasn’t in the kitchen, I was by the pool.

And when I wasn’t by the pool, I was making sweet new friends and soaking up views so pretty they may as well have been a painting.

And when I wasn’t by the pool, I was PARAGLIDING.

And when I wasn’t paragliding, I was working. Cause yall, from a million miles away, I was recruited for a pretty amazing job opportunity. Proof, that taking time away from the hustle does NOT make you less desirable. In fact, I think this journey and letting go of the ‘need to succeed,’ is precisely how I found a job offer just dumped into my lap. It just makes sense. Take care of yourself and others and God will take care of you back.

Yep, my Spain was easy livin..really, it was just like gliding.

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Word vomit from a Spanish villa

I don’t know if it’s because I’m a million miles away from real life and the ‘talkin over the white picket fence’ thing. I don’t know if it’s because I’ve kind of spilled my guts on this little blog or because everyone knows I’ve had my heart completely shattered and feel empathy deeper than I know what to do with. I don’t know what it is…and it doesn’t really matter….but people have shared with me in this last year, like never before. People from all nooks of the world, all with a different story, have poured their hearts out to me. All looking for encouragement, or understanding or at the VERY least, acknowledgement of their reality. And no, I’m not going to spill those stories…But there ARE some things sitting hard on my heart from this pretty little Spanish villa today, and so without an ounce of expertise on any of this, I’m just gonna word vomit for a few:

NO, you do NOT have to work at a job that you hate. You don’t even have to stay at a job that you ‘tolerate.’ WHY on earth should you? Life is short. Love how you spend your 9-5.

NO, you do NOT have to work more than a 9-5. Get this. You do not even have to work any hours at all. Life is short. Honor your personal time. Spend it watching sunsets and doing yoga and cheering on the Hawks and hiking and drinking wine. Don’t look back in 50 years or in 5 days and think “gosh, all I did was work.” Always, always respect play time.

NO, you do NOT have to stay in a relationship that doesn’t overflow your love cup. Being in love shouldn’t be hard work. Effort? Sure. Compromise? You bet. But why would God, who IS love, create relationship, if it wasn’t intended to look like, feel like, sound like easy, flowin, God-like love? Life is short. Love shouldn’t be THAT hard. And if it is, then maybe you’re not following the best advice I ever got: ‘don’t love the potential of a man….love the man himself.’

NO, you do NOT need to be rich to travel. I know everyone wonders how I’m financing this trip. Only some of you ask, but I know you all secretly wonder 🙂 And so I’ll write a post all about that, but for now, just know, that if you really want to travel, then you can just do it. Life is short. The world is beautiful. Go see it. You will make time and money for things that you truly want to make time and money for.

NO, your life is not over if you wreck your car or get a divorce or lose your job or get your phone stolen in Cambodia [[or church]]. It doesn’t have to be anyway. And nope, I haven’t always felt this way…I thought getting cancer was IT [[not cause I was afraid of dying, I just thought life.was.over. as a baldie 18 year old]]. Then I thought my family falling apart was IT [[it’s different now, yes, but I do indeed still have a family]]. Then I thought yup, that heartbreak was IT [[but I suppose had said heartbreak not have happened, I wouldn’t be going paragliding in southern Spain tomorrow]].

And NO, yall, none of this is as hard as you’re probably convincing yourself that it is. I’m no expert, but I am sure as hell walking, living proof of all of these things.

Just flippin believe in yourself and trust God and lean on your people and jump. Life is short. Jumping is usually worth it.

Cause sometimes when you jump, you find a view like this:

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New triggers in Ireland

Is it just me, or do sounds and smells throw you back to certain moments in time, more than any other triggers? I love those triggers. Especially when they throw me back to the glory days of University of South Florida life…

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The smell of Thai food, tanning oil and tequila [yuck] throw me back to my 18 year old self when I first met Lucia [my little elephant lovin friend]. The sound of bats crackin into a ball, cheering against FSU in the best whiteout ever and crazy dance music in Ybor throw me back to when I first met Lucia’s man, Chuck.

They were good, good days, those college days. And last week we did a lot of throwin back. Lucia and Chuck, along with new friends Kathryn, Scott, Andrea and Bella met me in Ireland for a week of birthday celebrations, foodie marathons and Irish music. And I am certain that in years to come, I’ll do a lot of throwin back to those Irish days too. Just with slightly different triggers…Liiiiike:

The sound of an accordian playing Waltzing Matilda at an old pub in Killarney while we cheers-ed with a pint.Waltzing

And the smell of a Mexican-tasting lasagna at a restaurant in Temple Bar that claims to ace food ‘from Mexico to Rome.’ It doesn’t, for the record.Food

And the sound of bicycle bells as we speed down and curse up the hills in Killarney National Park (it’s gorgeous and completely worth the 20 miles of cycling. Just wear yoga pants and get a padded seat).

And the smell of e-clairs…E-clairs from gas stations and fancy bakeries and everywhere in between. [[Chuck tried every single one in the country in one week, so consider him your personal Irish e-clair Trip Advisor.]]

Dare to Eclair

And the sound of Guinness glasses clinking at the Gravity Bar, atop the Guinness Brewery in downtown Dublin (best tour I’ve done on this trip. LOVED it. We all did. Like, did you know that 8 million gallons of water flow from the Wicklow Mountains to the Guinness factory every single day?! That’s why it tastes so good. It’s got Irish mother nature pumped into it.)Guinness Factory

And the smell of lavender that covered the Dublin Castle grounds.

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And the sound of the jail cell doors slamming shut that one time we were in prison (Blame it on Scott, the eternal troublemaker).

And the smell of rainbows and pots of gold in the National Leprechaun Museum (just wreaks of magic).

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Yep. Those are my triggers that’ll throw me back to that one week we spent trompin around Ireland like a bunch of college kids.11870841_10104185756801661_1517085854207675396_n

Chasing Delight

Meet Orla. She’s beautiful. Like, she glows. She’s one of the most radiant and inspiring and genuinely good women I’ve ever met.

OrlaI’m helping Orla with her health and wellness business this week, but the health and wellness she’s pumping into my soul is the real help exchange. She’s sharing her life with me—a life she centers around delight. Whatever delights her, she does. That’s it. It’s really that simple.

And right now, delight for me comes in the form of new experiences with new people.

I think one of the greatest gifts that you can give yourself when traveling is to approach all new things with an open mind and heart. Take what you will from each experience and leave whatever doesn’t resonate. Orla’s given me the opportunity to exercise that gift tenfold here in this quiet little village set  atop a proper old Irish golf course. I mean seriously…

I chanted with Hare Krishnas at a temple in downtown Dublin.

I hiked around Glendalough–old monastery grounds in the Irish wilderness, where Vikings and Monks once dwelled, in their own time.

I was invited to dinner at a budding conscious community, where three amazing families live together under one roof– three times the laughs, blonde tots and helping hands.

I milked a fake cow at a country fete [quite successfully by the way, for which they assure me there’s a lineup of Irish farmers ready to change my last name].

I played tambourine in a garage band with a bunch of beautifully talented musicians.

I learned about natural healing remedies: oils and vitamins and energy work.

I followed in my brothers footsteps, and adored the sweet little fishing village of Howth.

I went down to the river to pray. Literally. Just like the song. I love that song.

I checked out a poppin gay club on Banking Holiday weekend on a rooftop in Temple Bar.

I made crystal meditation jewelry with two ladies who will sit hard on my heart when I leave this town.

I sipped a Guinness with Tom, during which a perfect stranger became a friend over swapped stories and a frothy local brewski.

I even saw a mini miracle…

I got my phone stolen again this week…At a temple…During service. And it was just one of those times that I couldn’t stop the tears. I was so mad at myself for not learning my lesson. I mean this happened once before. But wouldn’t you think you could let yourself go and close your eyes during worship? Yeah, bad intentions exist all over this world, in every nook and cranny. But this time, Orla was on my side. And that girl’s got somethin special in her. She came up to me with a firm squeeze, a quick prayer and a ‘don’t worry…we’re going to get your phone back today.’

Yeah. Right.

Yeah…..Right. She was right. The community of people I was with sprang into action. And they found my phone in the bottom of the trash can in the men’s restroom [‘loo’ as they call it]. It was stolen by someone with bad intentions in a place full of good intentions. Good intentions brought it back, I think.

And while it was a powerful reminder of ‘stuff just being stuff,’ it also delighted me to see how powerful our thoughts and prayers can be, even in the most mundane of ‘problems.’

Yup, Ireland has been pretty special so far, thanks to my lovely Orla. And now that I’ve alighted the dreicht, I’m in full-on sprint-mode to the delight!

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Girl time, gelato and Greece.

If you’ve read this, then you know how I feel about my momma. And if you read this or this, then you know how I feel about my cousins. So how flipping cool is it that they just flew across the Atlantic to do some Italy and Mediterranean adventuring with me?! I just had the sweetest two weeks with mamacita and my cousin, Morgan. And my sister. Oh, that sister of mine…

I don’t believe in perfect people or perfect places or perfect travels. But I do believe with every ounce of my heart that God gave me the.perfect.sister. Ten years my junior, we’re probably not destined to be in the same phase of life at the same time…not “supposed” to have a ton in common…Jordan’s in highschool. Still a babe. And I’m….not. But that girl is as much my soul sister as my biological one. And oh my gosh, did I need some sister time.

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Two weeks with these three gals made my heart smile big…

We wined…We drank fresh table wine at small hole-in-the-wall Roman joints. We clinked bubbly [[or bubs, as we like to call it for short]] on the cruise ship, dressed to the nines, while a good ole Greek Isle view faded into the horizon. But my favorite wining was the proper wine tasting day…the most picturesque day spent in Tuscany filled up my soul. Our charming driver, Mauoro, shared his favorite three wineries with us. Wineries set amidst the olive trees with sweeping Tuscan vineyards that produce brilliant wines. But the best was no doubt, the last. Our host poured wine after wine after wine to test our pairing palates with the salad and cheese and minestrone and cured meats and aged balsamic and Grandma’s lasagna drizzled with truffle oil. It was a treat and a half; and a checked bucket list item for the books.

And dined…From Mom’s spaghetti scoglio, Morgan’s caprese salad, Jordan’s penne alla arrabbiata and ALL of our gelato, Italy is the home to ‘eat’ in ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ for good reason. Don’t even get me started on cruise food. I’m still detoxing.

We walked…Mom and Morgan might disagree, but walking is just my favorite way to explore. You just follow your feet. Sometimes they find the Colosseum, sometimes they find the Bridge of Sighs and sometimes they find perfect Greek beach to cool off. I don’t know where we totaled in mileage, but I do know that walking time company with my girls was so appreciated.

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And cruised…For as long as I can remember, Mom’s been telling my half Greek cousin Morgan that one day we’d go to Greece together. As moms do, she made good on her word, and Greece we did. In style. On the Splendour of the Seas. And as much as I’ve been on a completely different wavelength for the last 6 months of backpacking, I have to admit, easy, stylish travel felt really nice. It felt like a treat. It made me feel girly and clean. It was as it sounds…splendid.IMG_1168

We explored…Temmes are used to traveling. But not this way. Not my way. My new way, anyway. Exploring without agenda feels nice and natural. When you show up in Florence and have no idea what’s around the hotel and what’s best to do, you just go find the good. It’s that simple. I loved exploring little medieval Tuscan towns and winding Venice pathways and adoring the Roman doors and finding the perfect little Greek cafe with my ladies. May as well just call us all Dora from here on out.

And rested…The thing I’ve had to learn, to force myself to accept, is that rest.is.ok. Taking a nap is good for the body and soul. Sitting on a bench and people watching is often just as culturally enriching as racing around with a tour group in the Vatican to see the Sistine Chapel might be. We walked and explored. But we also rested. And it makes the exploration that much lighter and appreciated.

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But best of all, we laughed…that sister of mine keeps me in stitches. She is as witty as they come. She does goofy accents with me and let’s me call her ‘the half to my bruise’ when we happen to wear black and blue dresses to dinner. She does puppet shows with the towel elephants and calls mom ‘Bert’ or ‘Marge’ or ‘hey lady’ [to which my mom always responds…?!]

And laughed…We laughed like only sisters can laugh. Real deep belly kind of laughs. We laughed for 14 days straight. The Italians and Greeks probably thought we were off our rockers. And that’s why I love me some sister time.

I can only pray that when we’re 90 and 80, we find some really sweet old rockers [[preferably in Tuscany, for old times sake]] and laugh ourselves out of those ones too.

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Alighting the Dreich

“Drrreicccchhhh…you have to roll the ‘r’ in that throaty way… If you can learn to pronounce ‘dreich’ like a Scot, then you’ve really accomplished something here in Scotland,’ said Mairi.

I’m not sure I learned how to perfectly pronounce ‘dreich,’ but I do think I perfectly understand what it means…gloom, drizzly, grey, ‘blah’ Scottish days. Days that aren’t all that far off from a sluggish Seattle February day. I get that. I get that way deep.

Mairi also taught me that the way you spend your birthday sets the intention for how you’ll spend your year. And so she, along with her precious little blue-eyed blonde kiddos, made sure I did a lot of birthday smiling.

We cheersed with Prosecco on that sweet little reflection patio.cheers

We sipped proper Scottish whiskey with proper Scots in a proper Scottish bar.whiskey We drove through those green, green highlands that Pinterest tells you, you must visit [an absolutely accurate Pinterest reco. Do the highlands. Find the cows. Drink the whiskey. Thank me later]. We pulled over for photos with waterfalls and to hike around old castle ruins.

And they gifted me with a grey and white brush-stroked canvas to remember that sweet place that set the intention for my year.img_1108 At the end of a foreign fairy-tale birthday morning, I hugged my new friends with an overflowing heart and walked off to catch my train [a train that would wander through the most beautiful valleys ever…an opinion apparently shared with J.K. Rowling, as yes, it was indeed the setting for Harry Potter’s Hogwarts Express].hogwarts Three hours of gorgeous train ride later, the announcer with the Craig Ferguson accent invited me to ‘alight’ the train at my final stop back in Helensburgh, and it slapped me in the face….

I spent my birthday in the Scottish Highlands alighting the dreich. I left the gloom. I’m deboarding that dreich train, yall. Birthday intention set. Bring it on, 27. IMG_0868

Heathfield Souls

It’s so blissfully quiet. Just the faint humming of the heater, the tap of my fingers touching the keyboard and birds chirping in the distance. I’m sitting cross-legged on an old comfy couch with a piping hot cup of vanilla chai. I’m surrounded by glass windows in every direction, leaving a sweeping view of a Scottish loch, the rolling Highland hills and the greenest lushest earth on the planet. Week one in Scotland is in the books and I’m now finding this blissfully quiet moment to reflect on yet another powerful period of self-growth, graciousness and the best that humanity has to offer.

I’ve found during my first week in Scotland, that the absolute, purest, best that humanity offers, comes in the form of a few characters I’ve met recently; each showing me a different lens to life and each showing me something new in myself. Heathfield [[the old, original name for the 1870s Scottish estate, turned yoga retreat central, that I currently call home]] is a special place. It’s old. Really old. And parts of it are fairly battered up [[for which I’m thankful, getting to live out my HGTV dreams, tearing down old atrocious wall paper and revealing the real bones, ready for some love and a fresh coat of paint]]. But atrocious wallpaper aside, this manor has real soul. And so it attracts soul, too…


Sonya. For an accent-obsessed gal like myself, I have no idea how Sonya’s French-ness evaded me for three days. Though horrible to admit, maybe, I usually find a French accent quite piercing. But Sonya’s voice…it’s the softest, calmest voice I’ve ever heard. A yoga teacher for a reason. She left me with a softened ear and Indian incense to practice my yoga with. Soothing beyond measure. All of it.

Paula. She brought me back to one of my happy places. People always ask me, “so, do you miss anything about ‘home?’ to which I always reply…my kitchen [[and the gym, but that’s another story]]. While I still miss my kitchen, Paula tucked me under her wing in the Heathfield kitchen last weekend and it brought me back to the rhythmic meditation of chopping veggies. Done with so much love and so much focus, it was exhausting. Like Thanksgiving on repeat for three days, as we cooked for the yoga retreat group, 15 strong. But oh, how fulfilling those sweet hours in the kitchen were. Community is built around the table. And an adoration for Paula is built behind the stove.

Angie. With bold black specs, fierce blonde hair and a firecracker of a personality, I was drawn to Angie like moth to a flame. A professional matchmaker for the millionaires, an elegant cook and an even more elegant wine-o, some of my fondest moments this week were spent listening to Angie’s stories about relationship and partnership and family. I don’t think her life is perfect, but I think her journey is. And that’s what it’s really all about, isn’t it?

Mairi. Mairi might be my Scottish kindred spirit. She gets me. I don’t know how or why someone should ‘get you’ after only a few hours of newfound friendship, but somehow she does. She gets my story. She gets my fears and hopes. Hell, she even brought me on her precious family vacation back to her hometown in the Highlands for a night. She showed me the Scotland I dreamed of experiencing. And so here I sit, in this blissful quiet moment of reflection, all because of her. She’s a picture of generosity and understanding. For that, I hope she feels my overflowing grateful heart.

Lawrence. The reason I’ve come to meet any of said souls. My host. My teacher. My yoga partner. My Ty Pennington. Sonya and Paula’s friend. Angie’s brother. Mairi’s partner. No label defines him, but all somehow coalesce into the important print he’s stamped on my life in the last week. About a year ago, Lawrence bought into a dream when he took on Heathfield. He’s poured out his soul into the place, ripping up old tile, sanding down the beautifully strong wooden floors, creating a yoga studio out of ram shackles. But I hope he knows that the soul he pours into it is doled back out tenfold for the blessed souls who step foot on that estate.

How thankful am I to be one of those souls…